If you have a t-shirt pattern that fits you in the chest and arms you can hack it into a variety of different maternity shirts pretty easily. In this blog post we’ll walk you through how to hack a pattern into a belly skimming swing maternity tee shirt.
Start by selecting a size on your shirt. Our general rule for using a standard pattern while pregnant is that you’ll probably want to go up a size or two from your pre-pregnancy size, and/or if your shirt pattern has separate cup size options you may want to choose a larger cup size. Over the course of pregnancy you gain weight all over your body, not just your belly. The amount each woman gains, when during her pregnancy she gains it, and how that affects her size (especially cup size) is different for each woman and if this is your first pregnancy it can be hard to predict. Better to have your shirt be a little loose than uncomfortably tight during a time when all of you is uncomfortable to begin with!
All that being said about size selection, the way we add volume to this shirt actually adds volume to the upper bust and full bust so this may be enough to compensate for weight/cup size gain and you may not have to start with a larger size.
Next select your fabric. You’ll want to follow the fabric suggestions (most especially the stretch percentage) of your original shirt. Another way to ensure that it will be comfortable as you gain weight (other than going up in size) is to use a higher stretch percentage fabric so consider using fabric that’s even stretchier than that suggested by the pattern.
It’s up to you whether you want to add the extra volume to both front and back or just to the front. In this example we added swing to both. It makes for a maternity shirt that is loose all over and works well for postpartum because the looseness looks intentionally styled (instead of when it’s just in the front and only emphasizes your belly). This is what it looks like on a body with a small belly.
To make the swing pattern, draw a line from the shoulder to the hem on your Front (and Back if you want). Cut along the line leaving a small attachment at the shoulder and pivot the pieces apart. It’s up to you how much width you add. Too much distorts the shape but too little won’t fit a third trimester belly. In this example we added 7″ with the pivot.
A large belly takes up both length and width. You can see in the photos that Gillian’s shirt rides up a bit in the front. If you don’t want this you can add a few inches (3″ is a good place to start) to hem at the center front of your shirt and draw a new gently curved hem (keeping the side seam length the same). This makes the shirt unsuitable for postpartum but you can always re-hem it.
Of course if you don’t want to draft your own pattern, you can always buy the perfect pattern already ready for you in our shop! Browse all of our knit shirts or, if you’re specifically looking for a swing style we recommend:
Erin is one of the co-founders of Maternity Sewing. She also publishes patterns as Tuesday Stitches where she publishes patterns to help you play Every Day Dress Up, whoever you are. She believes in empowerment through sewing and encourages inclusivity, representation, self-love, and self-expression.