Monday, January 20, 2014

Maternity Dress for 50 cents

Having had 6 kids and carrying my 7th, I am well versed in maternity wear. I’ve had all brands/styles, from the (what I consider) to be more expensive store Motherhood Maternity, to the big box stores Target and Walmart. I find either to be just fine, but I do not like paying a lot of money for clothing that gets a short life span.
Fortunately for me, I am pregnant a lot, so my maternity wear may get more usage than some. However, like a lot of mom’s by the time I am out of my maternity clothing after pregnancy I am so sick of wearing it, I don’t want to see it again, and give it away.
Easiest way to conceive again? Get rid of all of your maternity and baby stuff. True story.
So, when I had baby #4 I vowed to keep at least some of my maternity clothes, and I did. Then I got pregnant with my twins. Most of the pieces still worked except that #4 was a summer baby, and the twins were due in February. Uh oh. Thankfully I still made it work, sweaters and such are pretty forgiving. I opened lots of awesome maternity wear on Christmas morning 2011 super excited to have clothing for the last 2 months of pregnancy. The twins were born 3 hours later. So it got post-partum wear for a bit, and then back in the attic it went.
Here I am pregnant with #7, another summer baby. I have summer maternity clothes, but its January and cold. Boo.
What I really wanted was a dress, something that could work for both winter time with tights and a sweater, and summer time when I’m huge and miserable, and HOT (did I mention we live in Texas).  Not to mention something I could sleep in, there are plenty of days you need a nap, and regular clothes are too uncomfortable to sleep in. A soft dress works just like a nightgown for me.
But again, I’m cheap and can’t see paying a ton of money for a bunch of dresses I will only be able to wear for a few months. I have a couple, but wanted more.
Whilst killing time with my kids one day, we ventured into the Salvation Army Family Store near our house. I like to go there, not as much stuff for the kids to break as a regular store, and if they manage to break something, it doesn’t cost me much money to buy it. The day we were there, everything happened to be 50% off. Not that the full price is anything to balk at, $1.00 for brand new with tags Children’s Place kids clothes, sign me up. But 50% off, I can’t say no to.
Wandering through the store I found an item in the “sleepwear” area of the store that looked perfect for a refashion project. Thin cotton material (so a slip is required for daytime wear), cute detailing at the neckline, and HUGE. It was 3 sizes too big, and even 20 weeks pregnant, it came to my ankles. Perfect.
The re-fashion is pretty simple, and didn’t take any time at all really. Excuse the horrible selfies; no one was around to take my pictures.
First, try one your awesomely large dress/nightgown and decide you think it may be just fine the way it is, seriously, it’s soft and breezy. It could work. But no, we want to try and cute it up a bit.

Then decide where you want to take in the waistline. For me, it was right under the bust area, so I could have belly growing room. For you, it may be lower. It’s all about where you like it. Non pregnant, I would have gone a bit closer to my natural waist, but let’s be honest, I won’t see that again for quite a few more months.
Turn the dress inside out and mark with a fabric marking pen, or chalk, or whatever your favorite marking device is (I use #2 pencils because I have them everywhere and yet my fabric pens keep wandering off). Make a couple of marks on the inside of the dress where you want the waist line to be.
Take the dress off, lay it flat and connect the marks, then follow them all the way around the dress making one long line. This is where your elastic will go. It will cover up the marks, but be sure whatever you use doesn’t show on the right side of the dress.

Take your elastic, use whatever size you are comfortable with. Mine here is ½ inch, it’s what I have an abundance of, but you could go 3/8 inch if you wanted, or even wider if you prefer. Wrap the elastic around your body (best to do without a shirt, or with a very thin and form fitting shirt to ensure a good fit) where it will hit once sewn to the dress. You don’t want to stretch the elastic tight, just wrap it snugly. It should be tight but not stretched out.
Cut the elastic strip and get ready to start sewing. I like to start sewing on the side, close to a side seam, to keep the start/stop less visible when I am wearing it. But this is a preference, so do what you like. Line up the elastic with your marks and place a pin. Or if you’re a rebel like me, go to the machine, and use the presser foot to hold it in place.

Start sewing, my machine uses a 3 step zig zag to attach elastic; this is great for that purpose. Allows everything to stretch without being puckered weirdly, and is cute enough to have on the outside. I do a straight stitch forward and backward for 5 stitches to start, and then move to the zig zag. As you sew, you want to pull the elastic a bit, but not the fabric. Don’t pull too tight or you will run out of dress and have elastic left over, and it will be too tight to wear. I like to pull about an inch more than the fabric its being sewn to. This gives a good amount of stretch to the finished item. Do this all the way around, ensuring the elastic is always lined up with your marks on your fabric. When you get back to the beginning, overlap the elastic an inch or sew with the original piece, straight stitch forward and backward for about 5 stitches, cut your threads.
Now try on the fitted item and see how you like it. Now we can measure for the length. While I like long dresses, I felt this one was still miles too long. I wanted it right above my knee. So I tried on the dress, and got my measuring tape. I held the tape right at the elastic line above my belly button. Then I measured down to knee length. Record this number, mine was 24 inches. Be sure to include a couple of inches for the hem, if you want it to hit at the knee while being worn, measure about 1 ½ to 2 inches below your knee.
Take the dress off; lay it out flat on your cutting board. Measure from your elastic downward to your new measurement, and mark that line. Then do so from the other side of the dress. If you like, draw a line all the way across at the measurement you need, it’s up to your comfort level. Now cut it off. Don’t toss that scrap yet, we’ll use it to make a belt.

Fold and pin your hemline. I fold up an inch, press, fold another inch and pin. This gives a nice clean hemline on the inside. Sew your hem, you can use a fancy stitch here if you like, I did a straight stitch because it worked well with the fabric, but do whatever you like.
Try on again; decide if you need to take in the sleeves. I took mine in as they were pretty large, but alas, I didn’t take a picture. Boo. Basically I just took in an inch on each sleeve, I started at the bottom of the sleeve, sewed an inch away from the existing seam until I hit right below the armpit then trimmed away the excess. Now the sleeves don’t seem so billowy and appear a bit more dress like.

To make the sash, I took the remainder scrap of skirt, cut open one of the side seams so I had a long strip. Then I cut a 4 inch wide rectangle, using the whole length of my scrap.
I’m a horrible tube turning sewer, I can do it, but it involves lots of swearing. So instead, I folded my rectangle right sides together, sewed each end to a taper (you could do blunt if you prefer), and then flipped it right side out. Then I folded in the top about an inch on each side and pressed together, pinned and top stitched. Same result as sewing a tube, turning and then top stitching, but much less swearing on my part. Which is always a good thing, the kids repeat too much of what they hear.

Now, it’s too chilly here to wear the dress alone, so I grabbed a cardigan from my closet (this is also a re-fashion of an old shirt that didn’t fit right), popped it on, tied the sash around my new waistline and went about my day.
This was amazingly comfortable to wear, as I mentioned, this is thin so a slip was required to keep everyone from seeing everything I have in the sunlight. But luckily I own one, so no biggie. I wore it all day, and had no issues with the elastic. I had no angry red marks on my growing tummy, I was able to sit and kneel in church without issues. It leaves plenty of baby belly room without looking too "gowny". If you like, you could take in the side seams to fit it some more, and I may do that after I have the baby. But for now, this is wonderful. 

It was very easy, all said and done it was less than an hour of sewing time, maybe an hour total if you count trying on time, cutting time, and the brief time outs I took from sewing to talk to my wonderful husband.

It passes the kid and husband test, all said they really liked it. I can’t wait to wear it as seasons change; I get bigger and even after the baby comes. 

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