Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tutorial: Adding Elastic to the Side Seam of a Maternity Tee

Last week I showed off my new maternity Renfrew, which I sewed using this tutorial from So, Zo...


The tutorial is great for showing you how to modify an existing pattern, but a little skimpy on the details of how to account for all the extra length in the front when you're sewing the thing together. There is something like 5" extra in the front, which to me is just too much to "push forward" and gather on the machine whilst sewing. For my top, I decided instead to gather with clear elastic (3/8" but 1/4" would be fine too). It's a bit tricky since you're only gathering a small portion, not an entire seam, and I kind of just winged it. But I'm here to say that it worked, and you can try it too!

First, cut two pieces of elastic the length of the BACK pattern piece between the notches (the notches you get from following Zoe's tutorial). In other words, the length that the gathered portion will be when gathered:


If you look closely, you can see two blue chalk marks at the ends of my elastic. Again, this is the BACK pattern piece which has not been altered. The front has extra length which will be contained between these two notches.

Next, tack the ends of the elastic to the wrong side of the FRONT piece, with the ends at the notches:


You could use pins here, but I'll be feeling sorry for you because they're certain to fly out later. And pinning elastic stinks.


Above shows the elastic tacked at the ends near the notches. You can see all that extra fabric between the notches that needs to be gathered to the length of the elastic.

I did the next part on my serger, but you could use a regular machine with a zig-zag stitch. Stretching the elastic until it's the same length as the fabric, sew the fabric to the elastic. On my serger, I disengaged the cutting knife.


You may need to hold the fabric behind the presser foot as well as in front, since you're probably stronger than your machine. I recommend starting a little so the machine can grab hold, then stretching and sewing the rest.


When you're done, you'll have all these pretty gathers!

A note about seam allowances: if you're smarter than me with my pregnancy brain, you'll notice that I sewed my elastic right at the cut edge of my fabric. Since my elastic is 3/8" and the pattern calls for a 5/8" seam allowance, that was pretty dumb. It means that my elastic will be cut off and removed if I serge my side seams at the required seam allowance. The fabric will still be gathered, but I'll lose that extra stability from the elastic. My solution was to sew with a 3/8" seam allowance on the side seams. That allowed me to keep my elastic and also to give my pregnant self a bit more breathing room. Alternately, you could trim off a bit of fabric from the sides, or sew your elastic on the seam line instead of on the cut edge.

I examined a few of my RTW maternity tees and there are other ways to add elastic to the side seams:

  • Lengthen the front and back bodice a few inches. Sew elastic in the seam allowance using a long straight stitch.
  • Lengthen the front and back bodice a few inches. Sew the side seams with a regular sewing machine, NOT a serger. Use the seam allowance to create a casing for the elastic.

Any other ideas? Questions? Leave a comment and I'll be happy to help!

1 comment:

  1. That is such a clever idea. Oh well, I'm way past the age of being pregnant, and I probably would have miscalculated the SA and elastic. Do you have more of these planned?

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