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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Altering a Regular Dress Pattern to Make a Maternity Dress with a Tulip Skirt

Last weekend I needed a maternity dress to wear to my brothers wedding, but I didn't want to wear anything that made me look like a tent.  I had found some super cute tulip style maternity dresses at, but I won't be buying online from them again until they have a warehouse in North America due to insane duty charges at the Canadian border.
I love the tulip style maternity dress because it's slim at the hemline creating a nice silhouette as opposed to most empire waist dresses that fall straight from the largest part of the belly which is not slimming at all!
I've put together a tutorial showing you how to take almost any dress (or top) pattern and alter it (plus draft the skirt part) to become a maternity tulip dress.  This way you have endless options for the design of the top part of your dress!
For my dress I altered the pattern below.

The greatest thing about this dress??  It fits my "not at all pregnant" dress form perfectly, meaning that this is a regular sized dress and a maternity dress all in one!  The reason for this is because I used tucks instead of gathers to create the shape of the dress, and without a belly under the tucks the fabric will lay perfectly flat.

Pattern Alterations/Skirt Drafting

I would suggest going up a pattern size from what you would wear when you're not pregnant to accommodate your enlarged bust line.  (Check out the finished measurements on the front pattern piece to compare with your bust measurement, make sure that the size you're going to sew is at least 1" larger)
**Skip the first 4 steps if you are using a pattern with an empire waist!!
1.  Measure from your bust point down to the bottom of your bra.  Find the bust point on your front pattern piece (the circle with the lines through it) and measure down that same amount, mark here.
2.  From this mark draw a line across the front of your pattern parallel to the waistline on your pattern piece.
 3.  Lay your back pattern piece on top of the front piece, lining it up at the side seams.  At the side seam mark the back piece where the front line hits.
 4.  Draw a line across the back pattern piece from this mark, make sure that the line ends up perpendicular to the center back line.
5.  Eliminate the back darts to allow for some more "room" in your dress.
 6.  On a large piece of paper draw a rectangle:
W=Hip measurement + 6cm divided by 2
L=Length of dress from under bust plus 6cm
Draw a line down the middle of the rectangle.
 7.  At the top of the rectangle measure from the left side half the back waist measurement of your pattern piece (generally your pattern piece is already only half of the back, so just measure the whole bottom of the piece where you drew your line) and mark.
8.  Repeat this from the right side of the rectangle using half the front waist measurement instead.
9.  Measure from your under bust to your hip, then measure the same amount down on the middle line on your rectangle.
10.  Draw a slightly curved line from the hip line mark up to each of the marks along the top of the rectangle (as shown below).
11.  Divide the front and back pieces in half and draw cutting lines all the way down.  If your pattern has darts in the front try to line up this line with one of the darts.
 12.  Slice down the cutting lines stopping just before the bottom.  Open up the back tuck 8cm and the front tuck 10cm.  You may want to open these up even more depending on the size of your bump.  
13.  Draw a line 5cm parallel to the center front (or larger if required) for the center front tuck.
 14.  On the bottom of each piece you will want to add a bit of length to the pattern so that it's flat at the bottom.  
 Here's what my finished skirt pieces looked like.
The center front piece was designed to be cut along the fold.
Use your new pattern pieces to cut out your fabric.  Make sure you use notches to mark all the tuck openings.
Sewing Instructions

1.  Sew the top half of your pattern according to the pattern instructions (just remember to skip the back darts).
2.  Cut out a strip of fabric that is the same length as the bottom of your top piece after it's been sewn together and 12cm(4 3/4") wide.
 3.  Fold the strip in half with the good side of the fabric out.
4.  Cut a piece of 1" wide elastic a bit shorter that the strip (10-15cm).
 5.  Sew the strip to the top of your dress with a 1.5cm (5/8") seam allowance.  You will eventually sew the skirt part to the bottom on this strip.
 6.  Sew the tucks into the bottom pieces by folding the fabric right sides together so that your notches line up and then sew a small (1.5cm) straight line at that point for each one (as shown below).
 7.  For the front skirt press the center tuck like a box pleat, and press the side tucks in towards the center front. For the back I folded the tucks like box pleats as well.  Remember this is being done from the inside (wrong side) of the skirt.
8.  Baste the tucks into place using a larger stitch length.
 This is what the front tucks look like from the right side of the fabric.
9.  Sew the skirt pieces together along the side seams.  
10.  Sew the skirt to the top of the dress along the bottom of the band that you added.
11.  Feed the elastic piece through the waist band, secure it well at each side.  The waist band will now gather like shown in the step 5 picture....I sewed mine together in a different order, but the way I am instructing you is much easier than the order I did my waist band in...something I regretted after I was half way through haha.
12.  Sew in the back zipper, and sew the bottom back seam.  I put in an invisible zipper.
13.  Hem your dress.
I am so happy with how this dress turned out!  I'm 6months along now, and this dress will allow for a lot more growth!

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions about these instructions.

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