Tuesday, July 17, 2012

DIY Maternity Shirt

Repurposing is my new creative hobby.  I go to Old Navy or Target and check out their clearance section.  Usually with things on clearance, they don't have average sizes, but they have x-small or x-large or xx-large, etc.  The x-large sizes are perfect for repurposing because they give you the most amount of fabric to work with.  You still get the cute fabric and you can rework it yourself, usually using the decorative elements and sewn edges that are already there!  I bought this shirt last year on clearance at Old Navy.  It's XXL and I originally wanted to make a cute summer dress for Amelia.  Instead, I found that it would make a great maternity shirt with *very* little effort.

  • Too large for you shirt (button down works great - could be a man's shirt too!)
  • Thin elastic (around 1/4" - mine was slightly smaller) in a length that at least goes around under your bust.  There's no measurement for this, as it depends on your width and the stretch of the elastic.
  • The regular stuff - scissors, thread, pins, machine, etc.
Original Shirt
 For step one, I cut off the sleeves because I wanted the shirt to be sleeveless.  The collar was high to begin with, so I didn't really need to alter it at all.  I didn't shorten the shoulders at all, so the shirt ended up as a slightly longer no-sleeve shirt (if that makes any sense). I cut the sleeves right after the seam.
The next step would be to finish the shoulder seams.  Since I left the manufactured seam in, I just folded the seam to the wrong side of the shirt and top stitched.  So, at the end of this step, I had transformed an XXL short sleeved shirt into an XXL sleeveless shirt.

Fold over seam and top stitch to finish arm openings.

Next, I tried on the shirt and marked on one side with a pin where I would need to take in the underarms.  Since this shirt was already see through and I knew I would have to wear a tank top underneath regardless, I wasn't too worried about the width of the sleeves (and what you could see underneath).  I just went for a comfortable arm opening width. 

A pin holds the new arm seam together.

 At the same time, I marked with pins where I wanted the elastic to go.  I went for right under the bust for a nice empire-waist.
Mark with a pin where the elastic should go on the shirt.

 Next, I took the shirt (wrong side out) and drew an angled line from my arm hole pin down to midway down the shirt.  The angle of the line isn't crucial since the shirt is getting gathered at the end.  You just need to cut away some of the width from the upper part of the shirt.

NOTE:  I didn't cut at this point.  I sewed on that line, then tried the shirt on again.  THEN cut.  That way, if it doesn't fit, you just have to get out your seam ripper, not your trash can!  :D

So, draw line, sew on that line, try shirt on, make adjustments if needed.

Draw line, sew on line, try shirt on, then cut leaving 1/2" of seam behind.
 When I knew that one side of the shirt was good, I cut off the extra part of the shirt, leaving 1/2" seam allowance.  Then I used that on the other sleeve as a template of where to draw the line (adding in 1/2").  So, essentially, do to the other side what you did to the first sleeve, so both will be even.

When your sleeves are done, draw a horizontal line across the front and back of the shirt where you determined earlier that the elastic should go.  Your pins should still be there as your marking.

Purple line indicates where the elastic should go.
 Next you are going to take your elastic and sew it to the wrong side of the shirt along that line.
1.)  There is no need to measure your elastic.  I just took a length of elastic that I knew would be more than enough and used that. 
2.) Starting at some seam, sew your elastic down securely (front stitch, back stitch, front stitch).
3.)  Pull the elastic as you start sewing.  The shirt fabric should be flat, but you need to pull the elastic taught as you sew.  That way, when you let the elastic go, the shirt fabric all gathers up.  Sew it all around to where you began and secure the other end of the elastic.  Cut off any extra elastic (you should have extra elastic!).

Pull the elastic with one hand as you sew!
 Note:  My button-down shirt is no longer a full button down shirt because I sewed the elastic all the way around the shirt.  If I didn't sew all the way around the shirt, it was going to gap where the button holes were.  You might have to do this as well if you need to! 
End result:  A tunic-style, no-sleeve, partially button-down, empire-waisted, elastic-gathered maternity shirt for a 34 week prego! 

Try it! 

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