October 13, 2011

Maternity Fashion: Cowl Neck Maxi Dress

I had a wedding to go to at 14 weeks pregnant. I had no idea how big I was going to be, and seeing as I popped at 12 weeks, I was concerned I might balloon!!  So I made this dress, which fit VERY differently at 14 weeks than it does at nearly 33 weeks! BUT, it does prove that this dress will take me all the way to the end of my pregnancy!

The best part? I've gotten multiple complements on it, my bra doesn't show AT ALL, and it was "fancy" enough to go to a wedding in!  I'm not normally a fan of "cowl necks" but making this one myself, and in the manner that I did it, I like this one. This is a "crud, I need to look presentable and FAST" dress... throw it on, and go!  Hopefully I'll be able to explain the process a little. There was MUCH experimentation in making the top here, and no photos taken 20 weeks ago, so we'll see!

I started with a regular tank. High neck in the back (x2 pieces) and a low neck in the front. The cowl is actually a large trapezoid.I determined the width of the top of the trapezoid by holding the fabric up to my shoulders to form the "drape" I wanted and added 3" to each side for the shoulder straps and seam allowances. The bottom of the trapezoid was matched to the width of the front tank piece so they would align correctly. The height was the distance from my ribcage to the top of my shoulder, which was 13" (I think).

Now, the trick for me being happy with the cowl, was to sew the raw edge of the top of the cowl, to the neckline of the front portion of the tank. That means that the raw edges of the fabric are tucked inside, and can't "pop out" and turn your cowl inside out, OR show more cleavage than intended. The shoulders were... finessed into being, involving a weird kind of fold. I should have taken pictures, and I'm not sure I'd be able to repeat the process!!

Needless to say, once I got the bodice the way I liked it, I attached it to an overly full skirt. Two pieces of fabric, the width of the bolt were sewn into a tube and gathered with a basting stitch to match the "around" of the bodice. With right sides facing together, a wide seam allowance was sewn, and then a narrow one to make a casing for elastic. I had to make this elastic MUCH shorter than anticipated, due to the weight of the skirt! (I was actually worried about the skirt being about 3" too short, but the weight of the fabric just HANGING grew it to just at my ankle! Such a happy accident!  As with most of my knit projects, the bottom of the skirt is unfinished, but it's OK, because knit is wonderful!

I do apologize for this being a very poor "how to" but take confidence in the fact that it was made out of a VERY flowy knit, and with all the folds and gathering bits, I was able to make it without ANY pre-made pattern!  I am by NO MEANS a seamstress - the only sewing instruction I've ever received was from my mom at age 7, a little tip here and there from Grandma... and 7th grade home-ec!  It might look a little "homemade" but it's still totally acceptable for public wear! It's been a church staple since that wedding, and I've even gotten compliments on it!

Don't be afraid of knit - just remember to use a stretch stitch where it needs to stretch!


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