McCall’s 7193 — My Fave Maternity Top

M7193 Sewing pattern top maternity hack

This top was a flagrant (and only somewhat successful) attempt to regain my sewing mojo during pregnancy. I wandered the aisles at Joann’s on a lunch break, waiting for something to jump out at me. This poly blend did the trick: cute minty color, cute gold foil arrow motif, what’s not to love? I rushed home, cut out the pattern, and then sat on it for weeks before sewing it up.

McCall's 7193 sewing pattern

I used McCall’s 7193, view D. The only alterations I needed to make this into a maternity top were to making a deeper front pleat (I added maybe 2 inches total) and cutting the top longer in front by several inches and tapering up to the standard length at the sides to accommodate a growing bump.

McCall;s 7193 Maternity Top

It worked perfectly! This may be my favorite maternity make — it’s easy to wear, it worked from late winter to spring and into summer, and it just looks better than a lot of RTW maternity clothes out there.

The construction is pretty straightforward. I had a bit of a challenge figuring out how to make the front pleat, but honestly, I’m not sure if it was confusing instructions or just prego-brain. It’s a standard pleat, so there’s a good chance that one’s on me. Everything went together smoothly, and the pleated v in front came out looking clean and sharp — not always the case with this style of top.

I also added sleeve tabs, which I totally recommend. I think this top looks much more natural, and accommodates a wider range of occasions and temperatures, with the 3/4 length sleeves. Plus, you get to add a couple of nice buttons, which can make a garment look slightly less homemade if done right. Honestly, making and attaching the sleeve tabs and buttons took as long as most of the rest of the top combined — there are so few pattern pieces that it flies together once you have the pleat completed.

Sleeve tab addition to M7193 pattern

Sleeve tabs, I love you.

One note on fit: it’s a bit tight through the shoulders. While I’m not exactly in a position to talk about standard fit at the moment, I somehow doubt my shoulder breadth has been affected by the pregnancy. (Right? Right?!?) I cut a small, since I didn’t want to be swimming if this ran large, but I’d recommend that if you’re between sizes or on the fence, pick the larger size. I think a medium would’ve been ideal for me, but it hasn’t really compromised how well I can move my arms in this top.

M7193 Back View

Eh, I’ll admit it: the back is pretty boring.

Bottom line: I recommend this top both with and without maternity alterations. It’s easy to make, it’s got a chic MM.LaFleur vibe depending on the fabric (I would definitely stick with drapey, light fabrics), and it’s a staple garment without being boring. As for me, I’m just stoked that I think I can continue wearing this top beyond maternity wear. Welcome to the closet, my Gold Foil Bump Embracing Blouse!

Fabric close-up

Close-up for the fabric!

Bumpin’ the Thread: Four Maternity Hacks from McCall’s 6886

Well, that was a lovely hibernation. I moved, started a new job, and… well, wound up pregnant. And now it’s summer, I’m just about due, and I wanted to share some of my maternity makes for posterity.

It’s funny — pretty much from the moment I found out the news, I lost the desire to sew. Like, completely. I mean, I still haven’t finished that amazing brocade jacket I cut out back in November and was super excited about. I had the time, and some days the energy, but man, the desire? That was so gone. My sewing hobby has definitely been off and on through the years, but I’ve never had such an abrupt “off” period.

Then I hit 20 weeks, got a bit of energy back, and sewed myself a mini maternity wardrobe, using pretty much just McCall’s 6886. When I wrote about this basic knit dress back in November (a lifetime ago, people!), I was excited about how well the pattern could function as a block, ready for customizations and hacks.

I just love being right.

Once I got the itch to sew, it hit hard, and I went right to work! I made a couple of pieces not from this pattern, and I think I’ll cover those later.

Let’s start with the first hack, in which I turned 6886 into a basic maternity dress. The beauty of this pattern is the lack of extraneous details, which makes tweaks super easy. I just cut the front length about 8-10″ longer than the back, gathered the extra front fabric to the back at the sides, and BOOM! Instant maternity dress. McCall patterns 6886 maternity dress

The fabric is a scuba knit from Joann’s in the most perfect shade of emerald green. I imagined sewing this up and wanting to wear it every day, forever. I do love it, but there are a few catches. The biggest is that the scuba knit performs differently than I expected. Whereas I thought the thick, spongy fabric would cover up lines and lumps, it most assuredly does not. I love my bump being on display (seriously, I’m a creepy out-of-control bump-rubber), but my bra straps and underpinnings? Not so much. But that’s the only strike — all else is right with this dress. I especially love how a basic zig-zag stitch looks natural and fun on this fabric — making necklines and hems super fast and easy.

So, I pushed my luck and used the same extra-long-front-gathered-at-the-sides technique to make a bodycon maternity dress from stretchy athletic fabric.

M6886 Bodycon Maternity Dress Hack

Love this one! It can be casual, or work appropriate, and is great for fluctuating spring temperatures. Plus, it came together so quickly and easily — this was truly a “make it in the morning, wear it in the afternoon” type of project. McCall's Patterns Pregnancy Dress

Hey, a dress worked, so why not a tee? I used the same pattern and technique to make a cute maternity top that was long enough to allow me to wear leggings in public. (Because I’m not living without my leggings right now. Not happening.) I just eye-balled the neckline to lower it. The neckline curve ended up a little deeper than I envisioned, but who cares? Not me right now. Also, I accidentally cut the front shorter than planned and had to patch a strip back on. Again, who cares? And again, not me. This tee is pretty boring, but I wear it a lot because I made it to fit exactly what I needed from a tee. Sewing win!

McCall's Patterns 6886 Maternity Tee

Complete with doctor’s office selfie because #legit.

Final 6886 make: a very, very necessary maxi dress. My plan was to cut the same bodice, leave the sleeves off, curve in the armholes a bit, raise the neckline, and add two rectangles to gather to the waistline for the skirt. It seemed super easy in my head, but turned out to be a hassle. I ended up taking up the shoulders quite a bit to raise the armholes to where I wanted them. Conveniently, that gave me the higher neckline I was looking for. (Inconveniently, the neck hole is just a wee bit smaller than my head, so I have to be careful taking this on and off. Pfft. Not worth redoing the neckline for a dress I’ll only wear for a few months, in my opinion.)M6886 Maternity Maxi Dress Hack

Also, I wasn’t sure how much skirt I wanted, so I cut the rectangles extra wide — probably about 28″ across on both the front and back. Too much — I ended up taking the sides in a couple of inches on each side. It’s an easy fix, but there were definitely more “try it on, check the mirror, repin, baste, and try again” iterations than I hoped for.

In the end, though, I think the maxi is my favorite of the bunch. It’s so dang comfortable, the stretch cotton/poly feels light and breathable, and I like the cut-in armholes. I should have used something to stabilize the gathered waist seam, since the bodice fabric is a bit stretched there and the skirt adds a lot of weight, but I think I’m the only one who can tell and the rest of the world will never know. (Well, me and you now, but let’s keep it hushed up.)

M6886 Maternity Maxi Dress pattern hack

I love it so much I wore it to the baby shower and was comfy *all* day!

All of these makes have been surprisingly enjoyable. I took a sharp right turn from my usual, “Buy a pattern, follow the instructions, and inevitably get frustrated somewhere along the way” type of sewing. I decided that I was going to wing it on everything and be okay with the results, whether they were what I envisioned or not. I gave myself permission to just play, and screw things up, and be okay with that, in the interests of not feeling stressed. I also gave myself permission to not sew any maternity clothes at all.

Working with ridiculously simple shapes and forgiving stretchy fabrics really facilitated my “no-stress sewing” goal. I’m glad I have a bit of perspective after sewing for years — at least enough to know what would be biting off more than I can chew, what corners can and should be cut, and how to make things easy on myself where possible. Sometimes the hard-earned knowledge is not a fancy technique or perfected process, it’s the ability to ruthlessly streamline and still get what you want.

Thanks for reading — I’m glad to be back in the mix, at least for the moment!

Simplicity 1019: Better Than Basic Tee

I promise you -- the camera is crooked, not the art. Because I can't live in that kind of madness.

I promise you — the camera is crooked, not the art. Because I can’t live in that kind of madness.

How many times do you buy a pattern for one specific piece, only to find yourself making something completely different? It happens to me all the time. I bought this pattern for the leggings, which I haven’t made, and ended up stitching up this cute little tee, which I hardly glanced at when I bought the pattern.

This is a Mimi G pattern from Simplicity. Due to the limited amount of fabric I had (I had a scrap piece of knit and was determined to make something with it!), I shortened the length and the sleeves and took this from a potential statement garment to a simple tee. I’m so pleased with this not-so-basic basic!

s1019envelope

Here’s why:

  • There are bust darts drafted in for a non-boxy fit
  • The side slits let you easily make this into a longer tunic
  • The button panels along the shoulders are actually functional

I seriously thought they were faux panels or epaulettes. Turns out, this is a working button and buttonhole. (And, if you have a large head, you might need it — the neck is rather tight.

I fought the process. I wanted a quick and easy make, and I didn’t care about whether the buttons were functional. The instructions have you make a facing to finish the neckline, and I didn’t want to fuss with a facing on a t-shirt. After trying to find a shortcut and eventually just following the instructions anyway, I think that’s the way to go. The functional buttonholes are a nice detail, and the facing isn’t an issue (unless you’re working with a tissue knit or sheer knit). I was trying to be a fabric cheapskate, but I had just enough to create the facings.

Close up on the functional not-actually-epaulettes!

Close up on the functional not-actually-epaulettes!

I will note that if you don’t like a high neckline, this might not be the pattern for you. I don’t mind it, but I can imagine some people would be driven crazy.

Another note — this pattern is great for fabric leftovers. I was able to squeeze this out in tunic length with short sleeves in less than a full yard! Making wearable pieces from scraps is SO satisfying!

s1019back

I think the hardest part of making this was picking out the buttons. There are a lot of cheesy, tacky, dorky buttons lying in wait in your average Joann Fabrics. I don’t think these would be my first pick if I had more to choose from, but my husband talked me out of the fake crest-ish buttons I was leaning towards. (And I thank him for it.) If you’re got some cool 1/2″ buttons laying around, that’s just another reason to try this tee.

While I’m clearly not super-inspired by this project, it’s another solid basic that I’ve already gotten some good weekend-wear out of. Score, I guess?

Slightly out of focus, but you can see the slit and bust darts.

Slightly out of focus, but you can see the slit and bust darts.

Welcome to the closet, my Scrap Busting Slightly Fancy Tee!