Hi everyone, it’s Anna from Anna-Jo Sews here, and this time I’m rocking my bump in a brand new maternity dress! Yes, I’m now 25 weeks pregnant with child #3, and while I don’t want to sew too much for this pregnancy as I’m sure it will be my last, I did have a major gap in my wardrobe for winter wear that would stretch over the bump.

Unfortunately, if you think there isn’t much choice out there in ready-to-wear maternity gear, there’s even less in the way of Maternity Sewing Patterns. I suppose it’s a pretty niche market, but I’m truly thankful that some of the indie pattern companies are starting to offer more in the way of cute maternity clothes that don’t look like 70s tent dresses :)

Enter the Tilly and the Buttons Maternity Agnes dress (only available as a PDF from their site, but those of you who aren’t pregnant can get the regular top version from Minerva here and hack it into a dress). I’ve made this once already in a leopard print knit, and I was keen to try again but with a more winter appropriate neckline. As one of my favourite existing me-made winter dresses is Seamwork Patterns’ Neenah dress with the cowl neckline variation, I thought I’d try out a spot of Frankenpatterning by combining it with the Agnes. I’ve been thinking of it as my very own Ag-nah dress!

Let’s talk about the fabric, because this stuff is pretty special. I’ve been trying to branch out into more textured knits as I always love wearing them, so when I spotted this striped textured Knit Fabric on Minerva’s site I snapped it up. Yes, it’s polyester which can often feel cold against your skin, but I was pleased to discover that the strange spongey texture gives it a lot more warmth than your average poly knit. The right side looks like a crinkled crepe, but the underside has a kind of fleecy finish—very comfortable against the skin and it feels luxurious.

However, lovely though this fabric is to wear, it did give me a few issues under the machine. There’s something almost teflon coated about the right side, which means when you put the right sides together for seaming the fabric slips around really easily, especially when using the overlocker as there’s no way you can keep the pins in. My stripe matching at the shoulders isn’t all that great as a result! However, by the time I’d got to the side seams I had figured out how to deal with the fabric. The secret is to pin it within an inch of its life, then baste on the sewing machine, only then finishing off with the overlocker. In the end my side seam stripe matching was pretty flawless (except for the ruched belly section, obviously!) and one of my non-sewing friends even noticed and pointed it out, which made me feel insanely proud of myself.

Surprisingly, the issues I had when sewing the seams didn’t apply to the hemming, which went like an absolute dream—easy to press with a damp cloth, no pinning required, and the topstitching sinks right in! The right and wrong sides really do have very different properties, so watch out if you plan to sew this fabric.

In terms of fit I’m pretty pleased with this dress. I went for the size 3 at the top, grading to a size 4 at the hips. Interestingly, I found the best way to go with choosing a size in this pattern was to use my pre-pregnancy measurements and the regular Tilly and the Buttons size chart. Using my maternity measurements with the chart for this pattern made my initial leopard print dress turn out way too large. Mamas-to-be, you have been warned!

There are a couple of areas where I could still refine the fit, however. As always, I could do with a swayback adjustment. Also, the shoulders are a touch too wide on me (often an issue—I have a narrow frame) and I think the armscye might be too large, which is why I’m getting a fold between there and the bust. I’ve already cut my next Agnes (a top this time) and made some alterations, so I’ll have to see if they work better on me.

As soon as I’d finished making this dress I put it on, and I’ve been wearing it at least three days a week ever since. It’s so wonderfully comfortable and I feel chic when wearing it, which is always a plus at a time in life when I’m getting larger by the day. I’m glad I stuck to a relatively neutral, classic print and colour combination as it makes it really easy to pair up with different cardigans and coats to give it a (slightly) different look.

I’d recommend the Maternity Agnes pattern to all sewists, regardless of experience as it really is a simple and rewarding make, and gives a great bodycon fit over your bump. I’m so glad that the fashion these days is for showing off the fact you’re pregnant. Much as I like a bit of retro styling, I’m not keen on all those vintage maternity patterns which all bear rather too much resemblence to shapeless sacks for my liking.

And because the Agnes pattern is so simple it makes a great base for hacks like this. I think this might be the only maternity dress pattern I need for the next few months! That said, I’ll be back with a different one next month so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Until then, happy sewing, everyone!

Anna-Jo x

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All materials for this make were kindly supplied by Minerva in return for an honest blog post. Thank you, Minerva!