Thursday, March 24, 2016

Easter Dress (for me!)

When I was a kid, I could always count on getting a new, fancy dress at Easter. That tradition is still ingrained in me, for myself and for my own kids. This year my kids got new dresses from the Gap (laaaaaazy) but I realized I had nothing for myself. Well, I take that back, I have maybe three maternity dresses that would be appropriate. And I've had those same three dresses through multiple pregnancies. It was time to treat myself to something new.

My three maternity dresses are actually all the same. The first was from Target, and then I copied it and made two more during my last pregnancy. I was more than happy to find a new dress pattern, but it also needed to be nursing friendly. You know my deal. The pattern I used here is Simplicity 1469, and it's a reprint of this Megan Nielsen pattern.

This side view makes me look enormous.

I've had this pattern for way too long. I even cut out the tissue during my previous pregnancy and never made it! Fail. This particular dress is a size XS. Based on my bust, I should have been a Small, but I made a top in a Small (unblogged) and it was too big all over. Luckily (weirdly) for me, I had two copies of this pattern and was able to pull out the other one and cut an XS.

I made a few modifications. The original has pleating along the bust and the front skirt. When I made my "muslin" top in the Small, I kind of hated the pleating. Plus it takes a long time. So I changed the pleats to gathers. I think the effect is much more pleasing to the eye and will possibly look less weird when I'm NOT pregnant any more.

The second change I made was to line the bodice. If you've been reading for long, you may recognize this fabric. It's a VERY lightweight rayon knit and it is the devil. I'm sure I'm sworn it off many times, yet I keep coming back to it because I started with, like, 6 yards. It's from a Bargain Lot from Girl Charlee. Like most rayon knits, it's super comfortable to wear and that's what keeps pulling me back to it (plus the color is divine). Anyway, I lined the bodice because the pattern tells you to hem all the openings. Yes, the front neckline, the armholes on the sleeveless version, the nursing panel underneath...all of the edges are finished with a hem. I have a coverstitch and I still didn't want to do it on this drapey, show-all-mistakes knit. 

Lining the bodice instead took quite a bit of brainpower in addition to sewing power. I cut two each of all the bodice pieces and applied the lining like a neckline facing, understitching and turning the lining to the inside. But I also had to account for the nursing panel and make sure that was completed and sewn to the lining first. All I can say is that it worked...if you have questions please ask in the comments!

Once the bodice and lining were assembled, I had to finish the armholes. I could have, of course, turned them under and hemmed with the double-thickness of the two layers. I asked my husband whether I should use the easy way or the hard way, and his response was "do it the right way". He usually knows best.

The right way is to clean-finish the armholes. Believe it or not, it can be done entirely by machine! It's super fiddly and annoying, but at least it doesn't involve hand-stitching. I followed this tutorial from the Colette blog. It works, even if it seems crazy.

With my method, the nursing panel 
goes right to the edge of the armhole.

It took me twice as long as it should have because I basted the nursing panel to the back of the armhole instead of the front, and because I forgot to use a stretch stitch. All my seam-ripping resulted in a small tear on the back shoulder seam. But I can't complain about how it looks, it definitely was the best choice!

One last thing...I've committed a cardinal blogging sin and shown you an unfinished garment. I have yet to hem the dress. I just can't bring myself to coverstitch it when I've worked so hard to clean finish the bodice. But I also don't feel like blind-hemming it, either by machine or hand, since the fabric is so thin. I'm sure all my blind-hemming will show. Thoughts? How do you hem your thin, drapey knits if you're trying to go for a nicer look?


  1. Looks very comfy! I've made 2 of those dresses thus far. It was my go to dress during pregnancy! Do you find the nursing access holes big enough? I finished mine with a coverstitch and it doesn't stretch at all :(

    1. Mine does stretch but I used a high quality rib knit for the nursing panel. In the top I made, I used a cotton/spandex knit. I think you definitely need a fabric with good stretch and recovery AND a coverstitch/stretch stitch.

  2. I love that color, what a great job you did with the lining and nursing panel.
    What do you think of a rolled hem?


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