Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Adventures in Maternity Sewing

As you may remember from my last post, we are currently expecting our third little baby.  I'm 19 weeks and I've been flaunting my maternity finest for a few weeks now.  And since there is just something about the change in seasons - any season :) - that brings out the crafter in me, and perhaps because I had been laying so so low over the winter, my sewing machine is out and once again earning its keep.

This week has been one adventure after another in my sewing world.  First I made a maternity bathing suit which is really attractive.  Well, you know, as attractive as a beached whale can possibly be. ;) After making that I flopped a bit when I tried to draft a pattern and make my own maternity shorts.  Then I learned a whole lot by diving in and making what I hoped would be a trendy chevron striped bias cut maternity tank dress, but ended up just making a regular bias cut maternity tank dress when I couldn't quite figure it out (again from a pattern I drafted myself).

The Bathing Suit

So here's my bathing suit!  Isn't it so cute and fun? 

I just love the peekaboo detail in the back.  I've never in my life even attempted a bathing suit before.  They seem so daunting with their exact fit and slippery texture.  But I have to confess I actually nailed this one.  I mean, it wasn't without it's struggles and learning curve, but hey, I never once had to throw it out and start again.  I did buy extra fabric assuming I'd have to do that.  So I think with the leftover fabric I'll make a little skirty wrap coverup for when there's a little more "me" in my rear than I'd like everyone at the beach to see, if you know what I mean. ;) I'm not going to post any pictures but the bottoms are a little, um, little... as swimwear bottoms generally are.

I pretty much followed this tutorial from Cotton and Curls, which was wonderful in helping visualize all the steps, but then I added my own details and made it mine.  I used this helpful post on sewing in bathing suit elastic from Creative Chicks at Play since the suit in the tutorial I used didn't have any elastic and I knew I'd need it in the ocean.  And speaking of ocean currents, I also knew I'd need straps in the water so I made detachable halter straps that tie in the back.  I also added a clasp in the back knowing from my second pregnancy exactly how difficult it is for me to pull on and off a wet bathing suit when I am 8+ months pregnant.  And I added bra cups in the lining, though I don't think I like the style and will likely be changing them out before my first beach trip.  In the end, this suit is comfortable, looks great, and perhaps best of all... it only cost me 
$15.85!! That is a total steal knowing that for a similar style in a department store I would likely pay upwards of $80!

The Maternity Shorts

So after that triumph I thought I'd oh-so-quickly whip up a pair of shorts.  Bright colored pants and shorts are so on trend right now.  So I purchased a half yard of the bright bottom weight red fabric you see in the picture below only to find, when I started drafting my pattern, was not quite enough.  We're talking barely not enough.  Like and inch or two.  So I thought, hey, I can make it work, I don't love baggy shorts anyway.  Yes, that was my bloated ego talking.  15 minutes later I was trying on a very um ... fitted pair of "trendy" red shorts that I could barely walk in.  Oops.


I also learned two more valuable insights, one - side seams or side darts allow for tapering and women's hips need that little waist taper (even pregnant women's hips) for a really good drape, and two - the cuff of shorts do not go straight across, nope, they slant down from the outsides to make a "V" between the legs.  If you do not allow for these two things there will be no drape to your shorts (in my case they may be too narrow in the hips) and your cuffs will oddly point up on the inside when you wear them making you look like you have a wedgie when you don't.  Lessons learned.  The waist band did turn out very nice though, so I can't say this was a total flop.  I almost thought, "I'll just save these for when I'm not pregnant anymore maybe I'll fit into them..." before I realized that the maternity cut waist was going to prevent that for sure. lol.  Even if they fit, I couldn't bring myself to wear a maternity band for any other reason than maternity.

The Bias Cut Maternity Dress

With a triumph and a failure under my wings I cautiously preceded onto my next project.

  This one ended up being a beast.  And I nearly cried halfway through, no joke.  What I was attempting to do might as well require a degree in geometry, I felt so lost at times.  Drafting the pattern was the easy part.  Even finding the bias wasn't bad.  I drew a dashed line down it so I wouldn't lose it again.  But what I wanted to do was to make the stripes on half the dress slant down, and the stripes on the other half the dress slant up.  I could not find a tutorial for this.  I figured it would become obvious once I laid the pieces out.  It never became obvious.  Twice, when I thought I'd had it right and cut a piece out, I had it very wrong.  Once I even cut a piece, realized it was wrong, and recut it wrong again without realizing it.  I kid you not when I say I sat there on the floor of my living room, all the pieces cut out, all the slants pointing down laid out in front of me, no more fabric left... THAT is when the light bulb went on and I finally realized how I should have laid it out.  I was extremely proud of myself in the next instant when I could have thrown a hissy fit, I instead decided to finish making the dress and chalk it up to experience.  I will be making a chevron dress! And soon. :)  The dress came together fairly well, the stripes don't match up because of the center seam, but the binding came out beautifully!  I decided I liked how it looked regardless of its quirks.  I don't think anyone who didn't know it would think it was homemade, that perhaps it was meant to have a jog in the stripes.  The bias cut drapes so beautifully it really has that tailored look.  And since nobody but me (and now you) knows that it was meant to have chevron stripes I'm not going to tell them!

So what does the coming week have in store for sewing projects?  I'll be moving my attention back to my little guys and making them some blue and white striped seersucker pants (maybe with suspenders?), and I'll be making my 4 year old a weighted blanket.  Weighted blankets are often used to help kids (and adults for that matter) with special sensory needs to sleep.  And since my guy has special sensory needs that I have mentioned previously on this blog, and since we are going on 4 years now with rare successes in sleeping through the night where he is concerned, we are going to try this. Fingers crossed.  And hey, even if it doesn't help while he's asleep it could end up being a nice lap blanket for when he's trying to concentrate during his waking hours.

And now, just because everyone likes kiddos, a picture of my guys playing in the mud in during the photo shoot. :) This mommy is happy that those red pants are my only clothes that got mud on them. 

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