Posted on Thursday the 25th July 2019 by Sew Mama Bear
Trying to find a good basic maternity tee pattern was a struggle, there just aren’t a lot around. I get that you’re only in them for a few months, but for someone that sews their own clothes this is a lovely time to be able to make something for yourself.
This Burda Pattern contains a few different styles which is great for versatility and options. It has 3 different stretch top options, a stretch skirt and a woven fabric floaty top option. So if you’re looking for a pattern that’ll enable you to add a few pieces to the wardrobe this is definitely a good option. I decided I wanted to do the jersey top that gathered at the sides, it’s a really flattering style when you’re pregnant, and I had it in my head that to use it postnatally I could simply shorten it and remove the gathering from the sides (I do love to have an option of how to alter maternity-wear so it can stay in my wardrobe after the baby has arrived)
This Lady McElroy Cotton Jersey Fabric is simply stunning. I’m a big lover of mustard anyway (although it comes in navy too if you aren’t that way inclined) but the dragonfly design absolutely makes this. The quality of this jersey is the other thing that needs to be noted, it is beautifully thick and not see-through in the slightest (as this can be a problem with thinner jersey fabrics). This means that it holds its shape really nicely and was an absolute joy to sew with.
My biggest bugbear with a Burda pattern is the limited instructions and finding the information I need. This is because everything is in a different place to where I’d normally expect it, so after hunting around for a while I finally found the size chart was on the pattern itself. I was however delighted to find a finished garment chart as well, as this is something I love to reference when choosing the size I want. The pattern states that you should use the size you were pre-pregnancy (unless you’ve grown in size dramatically), the biggest trouble with that was I have never made something for myself using a Burda pattern so actually wasn’t sure what size I was with them. So I measured my bust and against their size chart and came up as a size 20, but when I then looked at the finished bust measurements my instinct was to make up an 18. The reason for this is wearing ease – which you don’t need in jersey as the stretch creates the ease required for wearing the garment. For a woven fabric the finished size should be approx 2” larger than you, but for stretch garments the finished size should be either the same as your measurement (or up to an inch smaller, depending on how you like the fit). So taking all these things into consideration, I decided to trust my instinct and cut an 18.
For this top there are only 4 pattern pieces so it cuts out really nice and quickly, and with only a couple of notches and no tailors tack marks I was at the machine ready to sew so quickly it was phenomenal.
The first instruction was to sew the front and back together at the shoulders. I was shocked though to find that the instructions said nothing about stabilising this seam. It is good practice to stabilise a shoulder seam when sewing stretch. This can be done with either a twill tape or clear elastic. This seam holds the full weight of the garment so it’s crucial to strengthen this to prevent it from stretching out. So even though the instructions made no mention I decided to trust my judgement and used a clear elastic to stabilise this as I stitched. Never feel bound to a patterns instruction if you have experience that tells you there is a better way of doing something, you’ll find you get a better outcome from doing these extra steps.
Once the shoulders are sewn, it’s time to finish the neck and armholes. This is done with a binding method and looks very smart. If you’ve done a t-shirt edge finish before there is no reason why this wouldn’t work and look great too if you prefer that.
The next step in the instructions seems really out of place because usually hemming the garment is the last thing to do. The reason it’s done now though is because of the channels that need to be created at the sides to create the gathers.
It recommends using a twin needle to get a stretch finish hem (particularly important on this when you consider how much it will need to be stretched to get over the growing bump). A twin needle finish scares some people but I have never had a problem with it on my machine. I don’t adjust the tension at all (I don’t even buy a 2nd spool of thread, I just wind another bobbin to use as my 2nd spool) I simply thread the machine as normal but at the very end send each thread through the separate needles. Always test it first to make sure it’s behaving but that should be all you need to do. If you’re not feeling confident to do it though, there are usually a few different stretch stitch options on most sewing machines, most famously the zig-zag so just use that instead.
The gathering at the sides is created by topstitching the seam allowance from sewing up the side seams to the top to create 2 channels on each side. There is a notch that marks the top of this channel as it does not run the full length of the top. The pattern then instructs to thread a ribbon through these channels (securing at the top of the channels) that can be pulled and tied to create the gathers.
I chose to create this effect using elastic instead. I find I get frustrated when wearing tops with loose ribbons when they’re tied in this fashion so decided this would be a really easy adaptation to make it a bit more me. I used 30cm lengths of elastic to get the top to the right length for me (use a longer length if you’re taller or like your tops longer). I thread each of these through the 4 different channels and secured at both ends… and that is it!
I am so thrilled with how this top has come out. It is the perfect size, I’m glad I chose to trust the finished garment measurements. The elasticated gathers at the side create the space that my bump needs and make it really comfy to wear. I’m confident there is going to plenty of space in this top for my bump to fit all the way to the end of the pregnancy too which is just fabulous. I have a meter of this fabric left over after completely confusing myself with the pattern envelope and how much was needed, but I’m looking forward to making something tiny out of it for this growing baby to wear when it arrives… nothing is ever wasted in this studio.