Month: June 2019

Another resort collection – first up, a Bento dress

Hello lovelies. I’m rather excited as this week I’m a guest writer over at the Oliver + S blog, where I get to rhapsodise about one of my favourite patterns, the Bento tee. It was quite fortuitous in timing as I wanted to use the Bento to try a sleeve adjustment inspired by the fabulous Abby, another Melbourne seamstress, AND I have an upcoming little tropical holiday coming up with my beloved where my sartorial needs are becoming quite specific and niche as this bebe keeps growing. My guest post deadline was just what I needed to get the job done.

As seen on Abby’s tutorial the adjustment involves extending the depth of the armscye quite signficantly, to below bust level and allow nursing access through the side of the tee/dress. I must say most of the RTW nursing gear I find pretty depressimo and I have been busily planning away for some practical clothing for summer that makes nursing easy but that is still something I get pleasure from wearing. I just can’t come at the visible horizontal slash access that is the standard for so much nursing gear, so instead I am embracing the surplice neckline, the draped neckline, the button-through shirt and the RTW nursing camisole for the summer. And, via this frock, sleeve access!

This was the easiest adjustment ever. I traced off my medium Bento tee pattern, added an extra 15cm depth from the top of the shoulder about halfway through the sleeve, and extended the length to knee length, adding an extra 1.5cm width from waist to hip for a little more bump room on each side. The sleeve cuffs had an extra 30cm added (2 x 15cm). Construction was exactly the same as for the tee.

The fabric is a beautiful quality Japanese cotton-lycra from the Drapery. I decided some lycra content was wise for recovery from being stretched by the belly (for reference I’m 24 weeks in these pics). The extra weight of the fabric in the cuffs required them to be tacked down to prevent them unfolding – I did this by hand at 4 points around the cuff. Adding that extra depth to the armscye means some flashing of bra is inevitable, so I will be pairing this dress with a nursing tank (or a long line nursing crop bra if such a thing exists, I suspect not!). Do let me know if you spot a neon pink nursing tank anywhere – I rather like the idea of a flash of colour.

I may make another version – I suspect the fall of the sleeves will be a little better in a knit with more drape, but otherwise I’m thrilled with the finished dress. The style reminds me a little of the Sea Change top too – and definitely stylish enough to be worn well beyond nursing I hope!

Finished – a simple skirt for the resort collection.

Hello lovelies! I’ve just come back from 10 blissfully warm, inactive and lazy days in northern Australia. As mentioned in my last Bento dress post I was in need of a little maternity resort collection for this holiday, a few pieces that I could mix with some pre-preggo things that still (kinda) fit, and that would either be useful to wear post partum or would be made from fairly unprecious fabric from my stash. 

I had to take into account not only the warmer weather, but making garments that were comfortable and accommodated a few more months of growth.  And making allowances for an extra sartorial obstruction. From about 12 weeks into my pregnancy I’ve been struggling with a rather painful issue with my pelvis and lower back, sacroiliac instability. Laxity in the SI joints triggered by pregnancy hormones has results in muscular spasm in the back, hips and glutes. Fortunately it’s been managed with the help of a large and unsexy black adjustable elastic belt provided by my physiotherapist worn across my hips and under the bump whenever I’m standing or walking. Essentially it compresses the pelvis from the outside, providing external stability. It’s been extremely effective, for which I am very grateful, but it is exceedingly unattractive. Through autumn and winter it was easy enough to hide it under layers of clothing, but come the warmer weather I knew vanity would rear its little head and so my wardrobe planning needed to accomodate its regular on/off cycle, as well as being able to conceal it as much as possible.

I decided I needed a skirt, a casual frock (Bento, tick), a dressier frock, some shorts, some stretchy pants (Hudsons, still wearable with some extra elastic added into the waistband, tick), and a few singlet/tanks. I could make do with pre-preggo tees either tucked in or layered with tanks or a bump cover (I’ve been using some Bonds RTW versions, loaned to me by a friend, but Style Arc has a pattern that looks similar). 

So first up is this very simple, easy and inexpensive gathered skirt. I’ve been so fortunate to be loaned or gifted an enormous number of maternity patterns by my delightful sewing friends.  This one came from the gorgeous and generous Kat. It’s based on Kwik Sew 3486, a simple maternity dress designed for woven fabrics. I wasn’t interested in the bodice at all but it has a waistband piece rather than the skirt just attaching directly to a bodice, meaning I could adapt the skirt easily enough to an elastic waistband. The thing about skirts and dresses once your belly gets past a certain stage is that extra length is needed at the centre front, otherwise your front hemline gets hiked up. If you don’t mind that high-low look then no big deal, but that’s not what I was after for this skirt. A good maternity skirt pattern is drafted with the centre front an inch or two higher to account for this and keep the hemline level. It’s easy enough to draft something similar yourself (this tutorial looks useful) but I was lucky and didn’t need to! 

This fabric has been in my stash for about 2 years. It was exceptionally cheap at $2/m from Darn Cheap Fabrics. It’s a lightweight fairly sheer poly, which normally I wouldn’t bother with, but I loved the border print and immediately thought of a full skirt, lined in a natural fibre. It sat for 2 years, never being prioritised or needed until now! It’s lined in an equally cheap sheer black cotton knit.  I think all up I used about $4 worth of fabric. 

I traced the biggest size for maximum gather, and cut a front and back in each fabric. Side seams were overlocked, then the outer and lining overlocked together at the waistline. I gathered the pieces using shirring elastic within the seam allowance, then attached them to a wide piece of elastic cut to the length of my below-bust/empire line/disappeared-high-waist with a zigzag stitch (right sides together). Then the outer was hemmed and the lining trimmed to a few inches shorter and left raw (cos I’m lazy!). 

Super easy, very inexpensive and adaptable for either knits or wovens! It’s really comfortable, the elastic waistband makes it fairly easy to sneak my belt on and off underneath, and the fullness hides all evidence of it when wearing it. It’s cool to wear and I think pretty cute! In these pics I’ve paired it with an old Maria Denmark kimono tee in silk jersey that at 29 weeks doesn’t even cover my belly button anymore – but you’d never know! 😉

I’m not sure I’ll wear this post partum, but the style could be easily adjusted if made in a loved or precious fabric – simply unpick the waistband, straighten off the top and reattach to the elastic!  I almost might be tempted to make another one using a rayon….. 

Coming up next – shorts!