Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Making a Maternity Bridesmaids Dress in One Day

 I'm going to be an aunt!!!!

This aunt thing is going to be happening very soon as my sister-in-law is about 9 months pregnant right now. This will be my parent's first grandchild, so it's an exciting time in our family! Meanwhile, my sister-in-law's sister recently got married, and my brother and sister-in-law were in the wedding, of course.

Shopping for a bridesmaid's dress - I'm sure we can all come up with other things we'd prefer to be doing. Shopping for a bridesmaid's dress that will fit when you're 9 months pregnant? Now that's rough, really rough. Thus, as my sister-in-law contemplated ways dresses could possibly be altered to fit, I offered to just make her a dress. It just seems simpler to me to just make a dress that fits from the start rather than altering an existing dress. After a couple trips to look at dresses and figure out what styles and materials would work well with her growing baby bump, my sister-in-law agreed to this plan.

Plan formed, she and I headed to Joann's to obtain the materials. We picked a lightweight silky polyester knit for the skirt lining (Knit so it would stretch over the bump since we figured baby would grow more before the big day.), a sturdy ponte de roma for the base layer of the bodice, a rayon spandex for the bodice lining, and  a soft stretchy tulle for the skirt and bodice overlays. The dress needed to be navy blue, but the only nice navy tulle Joann's had was a shade too dark for our purposes, so we bought two different colors of tulle, the dark navy blue and a royal blue. When the dark navy was layered over the royal blue it gave us the exact shade we were going for.

We didn't bother buying a pattern because I figured with my extensive pattern collection there would be something I could hack. Two years ago, I made my sister-in-law a dress for the firemen's ball based on a vintage dress we found on Pinterest.  She loved that dress, so we decided to use the same inspiration picture this time, just making it long and maternity friendly. 

As mentioned earlier, the dress would primarily be made out of knit fabrics so it would stretch over the baby bump. This made things easy for me since a stretchy dress meant no zippers or other closures would be necessary, and minimal fitting work would need to be done. Very good things, since I'd only set aside one day in my schedule to make this dress.

For the bodice, I essentially needed a form-fitting tank top pattern which I could drape tulle over top of. For the skirt, I wanted a full A-line pattern which tulle could be gathered over. I found exactly what I needed in my collection of Winter Wear Designs patterns, acquired over the past few years of doing WWD blog tours. 

For the bodice base, I used the knit under bodice pieces from the Crop Dress pattern. I shortened them to end above the baby bump and changed the scoop neck to a v-neck. 

I cut the bodice out of ponte de roma then basted it together to check the fit on my sister-in-law. Once the fit was established, I took out the basting and pleated the tulle onto the flat bodice pieces.

This was definitely the most time consuming part of the entire dress construction.

The tulle was pleated onto one side of the bodice back and machine basted in place.

Then the tulle was pleated onto the other side of the bodice.

And hand tacked in place.

Looking at the pictures of the finished dress, I really should have done a bit more hand-tacking here to keep the pleats laying nicely.

 In keeping with the style of the front of the dress, I also added a few pleats to the tulle overlay on the bodice back.

Once all the tulle was pleated in place, I assembled the bodice and lined it in rayon spandex using the burrito method

For the skirt lining, I opted to use the maxi option of the Boulevard Skirt pattern and just eliminated the center front button placket. I cut a couple sizes larger than my sister-in-law measured so I could add some gentle gathers at the waistline.

I cut two widths of tulle to go over top of the skirt lining and gathered those to match the waistline measurement of the lining. Rather than messing with gathering threads in tulle (no fun!), I adjusted to differential feed of my serger and used that to gather the tulle. It worked beautifully.

The tulle and lining were then basted together and pinned and sewn to the bodice. After less than a day of work, we had a completed bridesmaid's dress.

My sister-in-law tried on the dress for a final fitting. I leveled the hem, took in the bodice a touch at the side seams, found a navy ribbon in my stash to tie at the waist and then she was good to go!

A custom-made maternity bridesmaids dress in one day. Not something I'm going to make a habit of doing, but my sister-in-law looked absolutely beautiful in that wedding, and I was thrilled to be able to help her out! I do enjoy sewing for my family members!

I'm so excited that there will soon be a child in this family to sew for!! Kids are the best!


  1. Congratulations, on Aunthood! You are going to love it.
    I became an Aunt for the first time in 2019, and my little niece is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. :)
    I've had fun sewing for her.
    She recently came for a visit (she lives out of state) and I had the privilege of making her a custom fall themed dress for her first birthday. It is a blast making little people clothes.

  2. Absolutely gorgeous! You are so loving and generous. Very proud of you.

  3. Congrats to your whole family! Aunthood is the best <3 I've been one for 4 years now and those little ones will steal your heart.
    Yes, making from scratch is always simpler! I used to help a friend do alterations for a bridal shop...
    I have always wanted to see ruching done! Now it makes complete sense.
    A lovely dress. Your sister-in-law could not have looked prettier!