Sew A Little Seam - Constance Sweater Maternity Hack
But anywho, the Women’s Constance! I’ve made a handful but it’s definitely getting too tight around my belly to wear at 36 weeks pregnant! I made one a few weeks ago in French Terry (that I spray bleached!! So much fun! More on that eventually), knowing that I’m not going to be able to wear it until after baby girl comes and after the weather cools down. It’s just wayyyyyy too snug in my belly! And it’s too hot in Arizona in 100+ degree weather. But you can see here that it’s already fairly snug. (click to enlarge) ——>
There are 2 main ways you can hack a pattern to be maternity friendly. Depending on the fit of the garment will depend on which option will be better.
Maternity Hack Option 1 // Lengthening with gathering.
Basically, you are going to add anywhere from 5-8 inches to the front bodice piece at the waist and then sew gathering stitches on the sides starting below the bust and ending around hip/high hip and gathering so the front and back seams match. This option works better on tops that are already a bit looser/more flowy. Basically the shirt still fits you in your regular size, it’s just getting too short in the front. You also could just add length to the whole thing, but some folks might just want it longer in the front and not the back.
Maternity Hack Option 2 // Lengthening & Widening with gathering
This option is better on more snug/form fitting clothing or ones that don’t require a lot of stretch. This is the option I am going to explain further on the Constance below. Since I like to use sweatery type fabric for this pattern, which doesn’t have a high stretch content, this hack option is more ideal for me.
**Note: You are only going to be altering the FRONT piece. All other pieces will be the same.
To start, you will want to print a new front piece with your sized layer PLUS the layer 1 and 2 sizes above yours. If you don’t have larger size layers to print, don’t you fret! I will give some measurements to mark to help alter your pattern piece. Or even if you can print larger layers than your size, you can still just print your layer and go by measurements. It’s up to you. If you already have a front pattern piece printed and cut, you can also use this.
It’s easiest to use tracing paper, so I am going to assume you are using some :) Start off by tracing your front bodice piece around the neck, shoulders, down the fold line to at least the shirt hem marking and then 1.5” above the lengthen shorten (L/S) line. Make a little mark at this spot. This will be the start of your gathers. If you also printed the sizes 1 and 2 above yours, get a ruler and make a mark 7.5” from the mark above the L/S line that is in between the 2 sizes. (see the first picture below)
OR you can use some measurements. Make a mark straight down from the one you made above the L/S line that is 7.25” down. Make a second mark 1.75” to the right of that mark. (see photos 2 and 3). If you were to draw a straight line from the final mark you made to the mark above the L/S line, it should be approximately 7.5” long.
Next, get your ruler again and make a mark 7.5” down that is on your corresponding hip measurement line. (again, see the first picture above)
Now we are going to connect the dots! If you have a curve ruler, you are more than welcome to use that. Or you can just freehand your line like I did in the first picture below. Once you have that drawn, you want your final dot to end 3.5” above the banded top line, making sure that your fold line on your tracing paper is forever matching the fold line on the printed pattern. Use your ruler and draw a line from your last dot to your size on the banded top line (see photo 2 below).
Continue tracing the bottom of your pattern to whichever length you are going to sew and your new maternity front piece is complete! You will be gathering in between the first and last mark that you made.
** Please note that these are just guidelines or a starting point. Depending on your body or personal preference, you may need to make adjustments, so I always suggest making a muslin FIRST. You want the gathering to start under your bust and you may decide that you want more or less gathers depending on your preference. This specific hack makes the front piece about 7.5-8” longer
If you have any questions, please comment below or you are welcome to use the contact form here.
Sewing it up!
I think it’s easiest to start off by sewing your basting stitches. Make sure you use your markings that were made on your pattern piece! When doing your basting stitches (wide straight stitch), I like to sew one inside the seam allowance and one outside the seam allowance (that I will remove after sewing) as you can see in the second photo below. You are then going to pin your side seams from the bottom of the sleeve to the start of your basting stitches and then also from the bottom of the garment up to your basting stitches like the third photo below.
Now we gather! Make sure you tie off one end to so you don’t pull out your thread! Gather until it matches up to the back bodice and tie off the end so it doesn’t unravel. Pin and you are ready to sew! The instructions don’t change so continue sewing as instructed in the pattern.
I had to try it on after the side seams were sewn and boom! It’s perfect! And then again with all the cuffs/bands sewn on. I LOVE it!! Now I need to have my next baby in the winter so I can wear this more!
Fabric is french terry from Raspberry Creek Fabrics!