Saturday, May 26, 2012

Drawstring Peasant Dress for Baby and Beyond

I don't know about you but I heartily detest most maternity clothes I have found in the store. I am aware that there are indeed kind hearted clothing merchants who do actually sell maternity clothes that are cute and fun and flattering but usually their offered goods are out of my price range. I stick to my haunts at the local thrift stores, and, occasionally Wal Mart or K Mart or Target. I don't like spending a lot on clothes since at this point in my life a $40 blouse bought new or a $2 blouse bought at Goodwill are likely to experience the same fate. Life is rough on clothes when you have a houseful of boys.

I have made do so far this pregnancy with "normal" clothes, for the most part. (okay, I did buy ONE maternity top and wore it for Easter, did not find it flattering and it has never been worn again.) All my pre-pregnancy skirts and jeans fit if I wear them below the bump. Long, hip length tops, especially t shirts and camis, have been invaluable. I can pair them with one of my pre-pregnancy button up shirts and either wear the shirt open over the cami or tied up over the bump.

It's been harder to find dresses in my closet that will still work well for maternity, though. A lot of my dresses don't have room for bust expansion and the waistline is too low. And I hate the look and feeling of wearing a waistband right around the middle of The Bump. Above or below, totally fine, but right across the middle???? Nope can't do that.

With the little girl due in about ten weeks, more or less, I have reached the point where I think it is pointless to make something that is for "maternity only". I don't want to spend time on something that I can't wear after the baby gets here. I decided to pair two of my favorite styles, a peasant top and a peasant skirt, to make a peasant dress that will work for the remainder of the pregnancy as well as for breastfeeding. And then, when it has accomplished it's purpose (and if it is still wearable after all that), it can be worn as a "normal" dress, because the style isn't particularly maternity, or breastfeeding, or anything. It's just a simple dress that anyone could wear.

This was my first trial run with the concept. I used some rose printed cotton fabric I've had the past few years. I bought it before I started hennaing my hair so it's not something I would have chosen if I were buying new fabric, (the reds kind of clash) but since I already had it on hand I decided to use it. The bodice is just a raglan-sleeve style bodice with short sleeves. I traced a pattern off one of my favorite peasant tops in my closet and shortened the waistline so it hit a bit below bra-band level. The skirt is 3 tiered and the flat, ungathered edge of the bodice waistline is sewn to the flat, ungathered edge of the top tier. I made a casing in the seam and so the waist is drawn up with a drawstring. Another drawstring goes through the neckline binding so I can loosen the front bodice for nursing access.
Let us caress the haybale. Get your love on for the haybale. But this is probably the best picture of the overall look of the dress - it's hard to photograph a style when it's made up in such a large, busy print. 

It's a tad long, I think. . .of course, in these pictures I was in the tallish grass so on a flat surface the hem hits at the top of the foot. I may shorten it another inch or so. And the bodice does look. . . dumpy. . .but I think that is because I deliberately fitted the bodice over my "comfortable" (i.e. not "fashionable") favorite nursing bra, and added some ease since I know sizing flexibility in that area will be needed after baby arrives. But I totally love the style. It's me, it's comfortable to wear and I like being able to have a dress to choose from instead of always wearing the skirt/cami/shirt combo. I think one of these dresses in a comfy knit would be totally nice. This cotton is a bit heavy so is not the best choice for this style.

To keep the ribbon drawstrings from flying, a couple of wooden beads threaded onto the ends works wonderfully and adds to that peasanty look.
One other nice thing about having the due date creep closer and closer? It's the time of year we start sitting outside most evenings, looking at the gardens, walking down the road, talking, watching the kids (and cats!) play on the lawn, watching the sun set. It's the start of our Summer Evenings.

And one of these summer evenings, in the not-too-distant-future, we'll have a fat little baby bundle to sit outdoors with us, watching the world with wide, wondering eyes, while her brothers, learned in the lore of boyhood, will romp and scream and set up all sorts of imaginary worlds and kingdoms. And David and I will look at each other and smile and sigh, all at the same time, and say "these are the things we'll remember when we are old." It's a good time of year.



  1. I think you look quite pretty in that dress. And your summer evenings with your family sound lovely. Can't wait to see your future creations for the little one!

  2. I love your dress!! Totally agree with you when it comes to maternity clothes! I'm 27 weeks (another boy, yay! Our oldest is a girl ;)), and I almost completely hate the whole everything is based on sweat pants maternity style that seems to be in stores (yeah, it's because I refuse to pay a lot for them, lol). I found a really good solution for me with our last son was to buy vintage maternity patterns (ebay or etsy). Not only are they often more flattering, in my opinion, but if you can get a coupe of the forties and fifties ones they often were made to be worn before, during, and after pregnancy!!! Plus they often have a lot of versatility to them with different options and fabrics. I have especially found the forties/war era ones to be most practical, as they usually take minimal fabric, require no zips or buttons, and are very sophisticated looking. They are often quick sewing, too. It's really only been in the last fifty to sixty years (or since the "pill") that there were mass produced maternity clothing to only be worn a few times in your life during a span of a few months. Prior to that, it was expected that you would at some point, and probably multiple times, become pregnant. I really enjoy seeing someone else's creative ideas for maternity sewing, and can't wait to see more of what you will be sewing for your sweet baby girl. Praying for you, your family, and baby. Love in Christ!

  3. I think your dress turned out great, and I love the rich colors and print. Beautiful job!

  4. Wow, that is so pretty, I am almost 23 weeks and regular clothes are starting to not work for me...really. You've inspired me in these pictures, I now really want to make this dress, it looks so good on you and baby :)

  5. It's lovely, Sarah Jane! And perhaps it's just the light, but I think the print of the dress actually looks great with your hair! :-) It's so hard to find transitional styles that work throughout pregnancy and beyond, so kudos for your feminine and creative solution. If only the maternity clothing industry would sit up and take notice... :-)


  6. That's lovely. I was more shocked at the prices for dresses (I got most things from friends for free, but only rather short dresses). I made the turn about the room dress from diy maternity, my first experience sewing with knits - it's a free pattern, looks good (sort of late forties style), and works for nursing. I made it from a rather heavy knit, as I was due in January, but it would likely work in a lighter weight as well. That and a floaty dress with an elastic waist (that became empire) saw me through pretty well -and a wrap skirt, until it stopped wrapping far enough!

  7. Beautiful dress! And I agree with Shannon - I think the print is very becoming to you, even with henna'd hair :-) I tend to be afraid of large, all-over prints because I am so tall, but your dress looks so nice that maybe I'll have to give it another try!

  8. Iy love everything about the dress, the style the pattern. I want one.
    Funny enough, although I'm plus size, I'm an apple shape with super skinny arms, legs, but a big tummy and chest, so I actually find the clothes in target's maternity section fit and flatter me better than the clothes in the plus size section.

    22 years ago maternity clothes were hideous, if you did find anything cute it was so overpriced. Being the super vain girl I was, I had to be cute, so i got pretty inventive. I dont sew, so my solution was to hit inexpensive places like kmart, target, thrift stores, but instead of the maternity section, i hit the plus size and mens dept.

  9. I really like the print & think your hair is very striking w/ it. It's a dress I'd be happy to wear, I like it!

  10. I agree, maternity shopping is no fun and post-partum/nursing isn't a walk in the park, either. Most of my favorite tops this past pregnancy were "normal" clothes that were blousy enough to expand with the bump. Your dress is very pretty! It's so frustrating to spend a lot of time making something that will only fit for a short time, but it looks like you've made something that will serve you well through a couple of seasons.

  11. I was going with "lovely" instead of "dumpy" when I saw the pictures of this dress - what a beautiful job you've done! I welcomed my little girl almost three months ago now, and used a wonderful and free pattern to help with my maternity wardrobe that hopefully will give you some resource as well! Are you familiar with Alabama Studio Style? Anna over at Pleasant View got me hooked on it, and the basic jersey tank dress is wonderfully comfortable during pregnancy. I got the book from our library and traced/copied the pattern - I've used mid- to thick-weight jersey so that it didn't need to be lined, so don't let the yardage scare you if you decide to make one (I can make one out of about 2.5 yards by slimming the skirt just a touch and not lining it - much cheaper than 6 yards!)! I kept the back fitted, but adjusted the front seams to accommodate the bump that was Little Miss :) Also, you can use the soft leftover jersey to make a little something for Miss Anne :) Hope it helps!

  12. I love your dress! I myself have decided I need to come up with a dress pattern that will fit through all stages and could accomodate nursing. After deciding that a full length tiered peasant dress was just the thing, I did an image search and found your blog. I haven't been able to find a pattern yet and decided, as you have, to copy one of my favorite peasant shirts for the bodice, but the skirt has me a bit baffled. I would love to know the dimensions you used for the tiers. Again, you are beautiful. Great work on the dress, and keep doing what you do. It's the best job!

  13. Thanks!

    For the tiers, I based it off a simple 1.5x plan. The top tier (about 8" wide) was sewn flat to the edge of the bodice. So its length was equal to the flat edge of the bodice. The second tier (also about 8" wide) was cut to be 1.5x as long as the first one. Then the bottom tier (about 12" wide) was made 1.5x the length of the second tier.

    You could also go with 2x the length and that would make a very full (although perhaps slightly heavy) tiered skirt. Made in a lightweight fabric it would be fine though, I think!

    Congrats on your new blessing! I still really love this dress and am nursing now. The style works really well for nursing although I wish I had made the bodice in front a little fuller, so I had more fabric to let out and down.

  14. Wow! Nice Blog, Thanks for sharing this useful information about beautiful maternity clothes. I read this read this blog carefully. This is very helpful for all moms and moms to be.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!