Oct 6, 2010

Make your own maternity shirt!

Being somewhat poor (hey, military families only make so much!) and pregnant means finding maternity clothes cheap.  Unfortunately, most of those are downright UGLY, if not, dare I say it?  FUGLY.  What is it about designers that makes them think "Oh pregnant women LOVE ruffles!  They LOVE pastels!  Let's make REALLY BIG COLLARS so no one notices they're pregnant!  Let's put cute baby sayings on ALL THE THINGS!"


Women like me want to wear the same stuff we wore BEFORE we got pregnant.  In my case, that's jeans, tank tops and awesome t-shirts.  Now a few designers HAVE come up with some pretty bad ass maternity shirts.  Unfortunately, they also cost WAY more than I'm willing to spend on a shirt I'll wear for less than nine months.  What's a crafty girl to do?

Make her own, that's what.  For a while now I've been researching how to make a shirt using another as a template.  I've been practicing sewing on knits.  I even made a skirt that looks pretty good, if my ass wasn't lumpy with pregnancy fat (it's been retired for post-partum wear).  So when my husband and I were in Target on Sat, looking for a few things for him, I found a couple of awesome shirts that just cried out for a makeover.

This shirt:

Became this one:

Total cost?  $11 for the shirt.  You may spend a few dollars more if you need thread and ballpoint needles.

Want to know how to do it?  Well here you go.

Goonies Maternity Shirt

You’ll need:

A maternity t shirt that fits you well

A super awesome men’s XL or XXL t shirt, or one 2-3 sizes bigger than you normally wear- MAKE SURE IT’S BEEN WASHED AND DRIED. You may want to try it on to make sure it fits around your belly with some ease.

Paper to make pattern (I used freezer paper taped together, but brown craft paper or leftover wrapping paper would work fine)

Thread to match the finished shirt

Pins, lots of them

Ballpoint or jersey needles for your sewing machine (trust me here)


Chalk or a marking pencil

Scissors, both for fabric and paper

A sewing machine or serger (goes faster, but you can hand stitch if you have the patience)

And here's the pattern.....

Part 1- Make the Pattern 

Iron both shirts to make sure all the wrinkles are out.

Turn the maternity shirt inside out and tuck the sleeves inside. They likely won’t tuck in perfectly, but we’re just looking to get most of the fabric out of the way right now. Lay the shirt on the paper with the front of the shirt facing up. 

Trace the back shape onto the paper. A long ruler or a yardstick to help hold the shirt steady really helps here. 

You only need to trace one side of the shirt, plus the collar (if you’ll be hemming it later, add about an inch) and the bottom hem (add about 2” of length if you want to hem it later on). 

Fold the shape in half and cut the shape to get the full back pattern piece. TIP: Measure the bottom hem of the shirt from seam to seam and divide by two. Then make a line going up the pattern at that point to find where the center fold should go. 

Follow steps 1 and 2 as for back, but place the shirt face down this time. 

Trace the front. You may have to move the shirt around to get the shape just right since most maternity shirts have a little more fabric in the belly. 

The front will also be slightly longer than the back, and might be curved (remember to add hem length if you added it on the back). Remember, you’re only doing the one side, just like you did on the back. 

If you trace the sleeves and the bottom hem first, marking where the side seams are, you will have an easier time with the side. You will probably have to readjust the shirt to get the taper just right. Don’t worry about tracing a neckline right now. We’ll work out the neckline after the shirt is put together. 

Fold and cut it the same way you did for the back. 

Fold your paper piece in half.
Untuck the sleeves and place them on your paper, folded part of the sleeve along the fold of the paper. Trace the shape as best you can. I used the pattern pieces I already cut to get the underarm curve right. If it’s a little off, you can adjust later. 
Cut out the pattern piece and set aside. You can put your maternity shirt back in the drawer- we don’t need it anymore.

Part 2- Sewing the shirt Prep
Iron the prewashed tshirt that will soon be your bad-ass maternity shirt.
Lay the shirt out face up. 

Cut the sleeves off of the shirt, following the seams and set aside. Cut both sides of the shirt from the hem to the armpits. Cut the shoulders at the seams and set the back aside. 


Front and back 
Lay the front out with the design facing up. Lay the pattern piece for the front on the shirt and adjust it so the design is where you want it to be. Pin. Pin lots. Knit is finicky. More pins are better. 

It’s also ok if the points at the very bottom of the pattern are wider than the sides. It will make for a less flared bottom to your top. 

Cut out the pattern piece or trace it with chalk. You may want to notch or mark with chalk the top of the sleeve.
Follow steps 1 and 2 to make the back. 

Cut the sleeves open along the seams. Lay them out right sides together, lining up the hems. 

Pin and cut. You may want to mark or notch where the top of the sleeve is. 

Pin front and back together, right sides together. 

Sew short shoulder seams first. The sew the long side seams. Make sure to use a stretch stitch, if your machine has them, or a zigzag stitch and your ballpoint needle.
Try the shirt on. This is a good time to make any body adjustments you need to do. 

Fold the sleeves so the right sides are together. 

Sew the short underarm seam. 

With the right sides facing, fit the sleeves into the armholes, matching marks/notches and the side seam with the underarm seams. Sew, easing in any fullness. 

Try your shirt on. It probably still looks a little weird, but that’s ok. You probably have half a tshirt collar on there. Soon you won’t.
Go into the bathroom or another place with a mirror and start fiddling with your collar. Roll it down to decide what kind of neckline you want and how deep you want it. When you’re happy with it, make a mark at the lowest point with your chalk or marking pencil. 

Lay your shirt out and draw the shape of your neckline onto your shirt and cut it out. If you’ll be hemming the neck, make sure to leave an allowance for that. Try it on again. Make any refinements to the neckline you want. 

If you are leaving all the edges raw, I highly suggest sewing a line of stitching about 3/8” from the raw edge. Use the same stitch you used to put the shirt together. I did two lines around my hem, just because I liked how it looked. The stitching will keep the edges from rolling up too far. It’ll look like crap when you first finish it, but another trip through the washer and dryer will make it look like it’s supposed to.

If you’re hemming, hem the bottom, neckline and sleeves.

Optional finish for neckline- I used the hems from the bottom of the shirt and the sleeves to add a little bit of finish to my collar. I stitched it in, then cut the edges so there were two raw edges coming up. You can also do this with woven fabric or a contrast or really anything. Adding it the sleeves might be cool, too.

And here's the finished product....

A few tips.....
ALWAYS PREWASH YOUR SHIRT. But you already know this, right?
Make sure you use a new needle.
Knits can be a PIA to sew on. Starch them if you need to to keep them from curling. The beauty of knits, though is they stretch and forgive.
Sometimes ripping out the hems of the shirt and the sleeves will give you an extra inch or two if you need it. It’s worth taking the time to do.
You may have noticed a distinct lack of seam allowances. I used the ones on the shirt used to make the pattern, and allowed a 3/8” seam when I was sewing. If this makes you nervous, by all means, add a seam allowance. Standard is 5/8”.
Hold onto your pattern once it's done.  Tracing it onto posterboard or heavyweight paper will make it last longer.  Then you can use it over and over, and you won't have to take the time to create a new one each time you want a new shirt.
These instructions can be used to turn just about any shirt into a new one. You don’t need to limit yourself to just maternity clothes.

Now the legalese:
This pattern is intended for personal use only. You can use these instructions to make as many shirts as you want for yourself, for gifts or for charity. Please don’t reproduce it for commercial use.

HOWEVER- I am a work at home mom. I make these things because I love them and or need them. I want other people to be able to earn an income while staying at home as well. If you are interested in using these instructions to make shirts for resale, please contact me to discuss cottage licensing, either through my blog hellinawoolsweater.blogspot.com or at dorothydeanphoto@yahoo.com.


Sara said...

I bought this EXACT Goonies shirt on sale for $5 to do the EXACT same thing, so imagine my delight when I found this tutorial! Thanks! I'm also considering playing with shirring the sides as I love that on my maternity t's and I sew with knits a lot.

Please please keep the maternity tutorials coming, there aren't a lot out there other than sewing a camisole to jeans (yawn).

Dorothy said...

Hey thanks! I'm working on them. :) I noticed the dearth of tutorials myself. I'm hoping to get a kilt done soon. When I do, I'll make sure to post instructions. I still have a skirt to do, too.