I had a night out with some girlfriends last week, and legitimately had cause to stand in front of my wardrobe and wail "I have nothing to wear!". It seems that all of my maternity clothes are either for work or are quite casual. Luckily I had the foresight to think about this several days in advance of the event because it gave me time to make an old standby for a night out: a little black dress. Well in my case not so little, but you get the drift!
New Look 6000 into a maternity version, because up until about two weeks ago I was still wearing the purple ponti knit version I made a while back and it looked quite good - I just didn't want to pop any seams or stretch the fabric too far. This time though I decided to leave off the large collar and three quarter sleeves with cuffs since we're now coming into summer and the cap sleeve version would be a much better choice.
I used a black ponti knit, which is fast becoming a favourite fabric of mine to sew with because it has the stretch qualities of a knit with the stability of a woven whilst sewing. This one was labelled a 'super ponti' and besides being $10/m more expensive at Spotlight (at $24.95/m I was glad I waited until they had a 40% off sale) it is a more thicker fabric with slightly less stretch than the purple version I made.
So I figured that to accommodate a baby bump it would probably be best to put those radiating pleats on both sides of the waistline plus a bit extra width there to create a little 'pouch'. And I'm happy to say it worked, sort of.....
Here's the front of the dress:
Looks pretty nice doesn't it, especially with my new yellow shoes? Ah, but look at the side version:
See how there is way too much excess fabric there below my bust line? And that pointy bit of fabric behind my head? That would be the zipper sticking out because the back neckline was way too wide for me, something that I guess the collar on the purple version concealed. I know that when my bump gets to be bigger I'll probably need that extra fabric and it will fit just fine, because when I pull the dress down over my bump it goes away:
But since I'm a little vain and I want it to look good now, I decided to sew a wedge of the fabric across the middle joining up two of those pleats so that the excess fabric gets tucked into the inside for now but I can take out the seam later on when needed. Here's what the inside now looks like:
And the outside:
Being black the seam isn't overly noticeable, and whilst doing this didn't completely eliminate the problem (you can see it still looks a bit puffy) it has improved it a great deal. I also fixed the gaping back neckline by putting in a dart on either side of the zipper, although I was too lazy to unpick the neck facing so I just put the dart through both the fabric and facing (tsk tsk tsk!).
In the end it turned out pretty good, and now I have a basic dress to wear to work with office appropriate pumps or I could fancy it up with party shoes and accessories for a night out.
I've had a few people ask me for more details on the modifications I've been making to the patterns I've used so far, so I'll try to give a little more detail each time.
1. For this pattern, the first thing I did was to change the front dress pattern piece from a single asymmetrical piece (because the pleats are only on the one side in the original pattern), to a pattern piece to be cut on the fold so that I could have identical pleats on both sides. No rocket science here - I just folded down the centre from the centre front neckline to the centre of the bottom hem.
2. Next I cut the pattern in two across the waistline and added an extra 5cm in length to the front pattern piece. And then I added an extra pleats in that additional length so that the centre of the dress would be 6cm longer but not the side of the dress. I also added a little extra width in this area too, bu straightening out the waistline curve. Here's the original and modified pattern pieces so that you get a better idea of what I'm saying:
3. Finally I dipped the front hem so it was a bit longer at the centre front curving up to the back hem at the sides to make sure that when my bump gets bigger the dress isn't too short at the front a la mullet style of dress. You can see in the photos above that the front hem sits lower than the back at the moment, but that will gradually even up.
If I were to make this again (or of course had I made a test muslin first) I would probably add less length to the middle section, and possibly move those pleats down a little so it was more fitted under the bust and more gathered over the bump.
And in other good news I'm now 21 weeks, so I've reached the halfway mark. So far all good, not too much weight gain this time around although the return of morning sickness most days (albeit mild) has probably helped with that. I've also been having very low blood pressure which combined with the heat we're now having means I am quite exhausted and having dizzy spells which resulted in me fainting whilst in line to buy Anna an icecream! So overly dramatic and embarrassing, but my obstetrician is not concerned about it all - his advice was just to lay down when I feel dizzy. Easier said than done!