MATERNITY BLOG TUTORIAL: Applying the Layer Me Up Maternity Modification to Other Patterns For Pirates Patterns
Guest Blog Written by Kelly Bailey
Hi there! I’m Kelly and I am here to share with you my knowledge of making maternity garments; more specifically, how to apply Judy Hale’s Layer Me Up maternity modification to the rest of her other patterns. I have been a pattern tester for Judy for a while now and love it. I also run my own sewing shop Spindle & Seams and I work for the fabric shop So Sew English! If you are here I imagine you are expecting or expecting to sew for somebody who is. Congratulations! This is a step by step tutorial and I hope that after reading through this you feel much more comfortable trying your hand at maternity wear. For this tutorial you will need your pattern of choice and the Patterns for Pirates Layer Me Up Maternity pattern.
NOTE: I am 20 weeks gestation (4th baby) in all of these photos.
STEP 1: Does the pattern even require a maternity modification?
Does the pattern your thinking of making really need a maternity modification? There are several patterns out there that are maternity friendly without even trying to be and some that would turn into a mess if you tried. Two of my favorites are the Patterns for Pirates Free Spirit Tank in the curved hem and the Boundless dress in the empire waist option. The Free Spirit tank leaves lots of ease throughout the bodice and angles out wider as it approaches the bottom hemline. The Boundless dress, in an empire waist, is only fitted just under the bust and accentuates the baby belly in the most darling way! The Everyday Elegance can also be maternity friendly if you opt to make it using a knit fabric with great stretch. This one has a lot of ease throughout the bodice even without using knit fabric but definitely will fit you until the end if knit is used. Some patterns just are not meant to be altered to be maternity. There is one P4P pattern that I just wouldn’t attempt for this purpose; the Sweetheart dress and peplum. This pattern is drafted to be an “at the waist” and is very fitted from the waist up. The Sweetheart looks best in thicker, more stable knits like ponte or scuba that only provide restricted stretch and are the most fitted in a location where your belly is going to grow drastically.
So when looking at a pattern ask yourself; Does the pattern have an empire waist? Does it have an at the waist skirt/peplum? What is the ease like through the waist and hips? What patterns cannot be modified easily for maternity and which ones IMO just wouldn’t look great on me? What kinds of patterns are COMFORTABLE for maternity wear? Will I be able to wear this garment post partum to ease the transition back into non pregnancy clothes?
Here is a rough guide of the patterns I would, wouldn’t or might alter:
Patterns that don’t necessarily require maternity modifications:
Patterns that I wouldn’t attempt to make maternity:
Patterns that can be easily modified for maternity:
- Layer Me Up
- Pumpkin Spice Dolman
- Sweet Tee
- Relaxed Raglan
- Slim Fit Raglan
- Women’s Henley
- Boyfriend Vneck
- Essential Tank and Dress
STEP 2: Choose your fabric content wisely. What fabrics to use for maternity and what to avoid.
Sometimes you can get away without making any maternity modifications if you use the right fabric on a pattern that has enough length to accommodate. Tunic length garments can be a great way to have a before and after baby closet staple. But most of the time you will need to make the modifications to comfortably fit until after baby is born. Here are a list of some knit fabrics to use and some to try to stay away from when sewing maternity.
Fabrics that are great for maternity use:
- Rayon Spandex Blends (This can include french terry)
- Polyester Spandex Blends (like ITY or brushed poly)
- Cotton Spandex/Lycra Blends (This can include french terry)
- Cotton Spandex Interlock Knits
- Liverpool depending on the amount of horizontal stretch
- Lightweight Sweater knits with lots of stretch
These fabrics all have great stretch and recovery. 4-way stretch is great but because you are adding in length to the front bodice you can easily use 2-way stretch knits as long as the horizontal stretch is pretty good.
Fabrics to try your best to steer clear of using for maternity wear:
- 100% cotton Jersey knits or Interlock
- 100% cotton French Terry
- Nylon spandex and other athletic knit blends
These types of knits typically do not have very good overall stretch or they have what I call restricted stretch. Restricted stretch would be a fabric that has good overall stretch but is tougher to pull to get there. Similar to how some athletic knits try to hold you in as you work out. Maternity garments made with these knits may fit for a little while, but will likely not comfortably last you up until that cute little babe pops out of your full-grown belly.
Now that you have chosen a good sewing pattern and paired it with the right fabric we can move on to altering the front bodice piece of your chosen pattern. There is no need to alter any other pattern pieces. Yay!
STEP 3: Assembling and analyzing your maternity modification pattern piece and what the modifications mean.
Your Layer Me Up maternity pattern is going to give that belly some ease throughout the waist to accommodate growth width wise. It is also going to give you more length through the front bodice to completely cover your full-grown baby belly. You definitely don’t want your hand crafted top turning into an early 90’s belly shirt ¾ of the way through your pregnancy! For this tutorial you are going to need to purchase the Layer Me Up maternity mod pattern and a maternity mod friendly pattern of your choice. Now is the time to assemble both of these patterns and to cut out your sizes. Pay attention to your current bust and hip size. They may have changed since before you became pregnant. You may need to do some pattern grading because of it. See Judy’s blog post on pattern grading if this is something new to you.
STEP 4: Picking the pattern you wish to modify and lining up the maternity mod pattern correctly on top of it.
Now we are going to lay the pattern pieces on top of one another to see where we need to make modifications to our non maternity pattern. We will only be modifying the FRONT BODICE piece of the non maternity pattern. We are using the Layer Me Up maternity piece as a guide to adjust our original pattern. Line up your maternity pattern piece on top of your original pattern piece using the armpit at the reference point. The Layer Me Up mod piece should be placed a couple inches below the armpit of our front bodice piece. As you can see in this photo I have also laid the top original Layer Me Up front bodice piece to show that the reference point. If you do not own the Layer Me Up original pattern, don’t worry, just place the maternity piece a couple of inches below the armpit.
STEP 5: Adding paper along the original patterns waist curve for tracing.
You can see from the above photo that some parts of the maternity piece fall within the bodice piece of your original pattern, but there are parts that stick out as well. We are going to do some gentle transitioning and tracing on our original pattern to accommodate. First things first, decide where you need to add your tracing paper to your original pattern. Tape that piece of paper into your original pattern like so.
Now once again lay your maternity pattern piece over the top so that we can trace the new curve.
Be sure to use some gentle grading to transition the curve from your original pattern bodice piece to the maternity pattern piece. Trace along the maternity curve. When you are finished tracing trim off the excess paper.
Here is where you can decide to use the full width of the maternity curve or to trim it down about 1/3” to be more fitted for early pregnancy. If you choose to slim it down your top may not fit all the way up to your due date.
STEP 6: Adding Length to the front bodice piece.
Analyze the pattern pieces to see how much length discrepancy there is for the hem lengths. Pick a good location on the original pattern to cut and add in more length there. I like to add the length in at the shortest hem length on the original pattern. Once again, we are going to lay the Layer Me Up maternity piece on top of your original pattern piece.
As you can see from the above photo there is several inches of difference between the hem lengths. For this part of the tutorial I am going to illustrate how to add in the length necessary for rouching. Take measure of the difference.
Take note of this measurement and then cut your original pattern piece at the shortest hem length. On this particular pattern, this falls at the curved hem.
Add in your blank paper here and tape your original pattern pieces to the blank sheet being sure to only add the measured difference back into the original pattern. Trace a smooth transition line and trim off excess paper on the sides.
Now once again lay the Layer Me Up maternity pattern piece on top of your now altered original pattern and be sure that your hem lengths now line up with one another.
STEP 7: Transfer over the elastic sewing markings.
Line up the two pattern pieces and from the Layer Me Up maternity add on pattern and transfer the triangle elastic markings to your now altered original pattern.
Wallah! You now have altered your original front bodice pattern piece to be maternity!
STEP 8: Check out your new maternity pattern.
It’s super easy from here! Cut out your altered front bodice piece from your fabric and follow the LMU Maternity mod instructions as written. Make any adjustments through the bodice as necessary for a better fit for you! Again, you do not need to modify any other pieces from your pattern to make it maternity. I highly suggest trying on your top or dress BEFORE you attach the binding or hem in order easily make any necessary adjustments.