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Shirts to fit my baby belly

June 6, 2012

I’m at the half-way point in this pregnancy, and have been squeaking by with my non-maternity t-shirts and a Bella band for probably way too long.  Even I realize that I can no longer pull it off…  A t-shirt that ends a good inch above my belly is not so appropriate on my 35-year-old pregnant self.  But t-shirts and I have a love-hate relationship: I love to wear them, and I hate to buy them.  I have a very small frame on top – narrow shoulders and not much in the way of a chest, and this + my freakishly long torso = an endless search for t-shirts that fit.  And that’s when I’m not pregnant.  When it comes to maternity tops, forget it.  They’re either tents on me, or else they’re as short as a regular t-shirt… not very attractive on a baby bump.

So this go-round, I decided to give up on ready-to-wear and just make my own, using the Megan Nielsen Ruched Maternity Tshirt sewing pattern and the Laguna Stretch Cotton Jersey Knit (which just went on sale today! ) recommended to me by Jenna of Sophisticated Seams.  I wish I could say that the process has gone super smoothly, but sadly, my small-frame issue has reared its ugly head even here.  I had a hunch from both the pictures of the finished product and the pattern itself that the pattern was written with bustier women than I in mind… and I was right.

Here’s how it all played out: I started by making test-run #1 of the extra small (with the length graded out to the medium size and the neckline made less-scoopy) using some spare interlock knit yardage… results: not spectacular.  The pattern itself is well written, but it was way too loose on top for my body shape.

To try to fix it, I messed around with seam widths on test-run #1 until I got a t-shirt that seemed to fit better, then cut apart the finished product, traced it onto pattern paper, and re-added normal sized seams.  (Please let me take a moment now to refer you back to my previous post about how much I don’t enjoy drafting patterns).  Here’s the difference between the fabric as cut to the pattern (on bottom) and as cut to my modifications (on top) – look closely at the left-hand edges:

I sewed up test-run #2 in the same fabric, and… results: better, but the neckline stretched out so much in the back that it would have been embarrassing to wear in public.  I attached to rib knit to the neckline to reel the wavy neckline in, and ended up with a serviceable but meh [shoulder-shrug] looking t-shirt.

Was the crazy neckline the fault of my hand drafting, or of the interlock (which was way heavier and much less stretchy than the Laguna I would be using for the final product)?  I didn’t feel like adjusting the pattern yet a third time to find out, so I decided to go with what I had and make a t-shirt out of the Laguna.  Results: PERFECT!  Exactly what I wanted.  It’s so amazing to wear a t-shirt that’s legitimately long enough for my torso, able to handle my baby bump, and to know that I made it myself and that, as A told me this morning, “looks like you bought it in a store!!”

If you’re still reading this, it’s probably because you’re considering buying or making this pattern.  If you do, I’d tell you: a) it’s a well written and visually attractive pattern but not ideal (as it’s drawn) for women with narrow frames – I’d say that if you can wear shirts from Lands End without it looking like you’re swimming in them you’ll be fine, b) it uses up a lot of fabric because of the ruching (I probably could have eked out 2 t-shirts out of the 2 yards but sadly had only bought 1.5 of the green), c) the Laguna knit is a fantastic fit for this pattern.  I will hopefully adjust my already-adjusted version of this pattern post-pregnancy and just make my own t-shirts when I need them.  How liberating!

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