As my belly continues to grow, I find myself searching for sewing resources geared towards pregnant mama’s. Recently, this search led me to a great Facebook group called “Maternity and Nursing PDF Pattern Group,” which is entirely geared towards ladies like me – sewists who don’t want to quit their hobby but find themselves in a much different shape than normal! The members of this group are pretty active, and posts range from exciting maternity hacks to pre-existing patterns, suggestions for patterns and fabrics that include baby bump friendly modifications, and ideas on how to DIY different maternity or baby items that are floating around on the internet! One of my favorite finds so far has been Ellie and Mac Patterns, an indie pattern company I’ve not heard of previously but that have lots of super cute and trendy patterns. Best of all, many of their knit patterns don’t even require a maternity hack to be baby bump friendly!!
In preparation for summer maternity sewing, I placed a pretty sizable order from Knit Pop in late June – I posted about my first make with the fabrics from this haul here recently! So when I realized I had a wedding coming up mid-July, and none of my normal wedding guest dresses were going to fit around my belly, I started thinking up patterns to pair with some of these fabrics! I fell in love with this Sage Wildflower print when it was featured on Knit Pop’s instagram, and ordered a LOT of yardage (more than I normally do!) hoping to be able to use it for a couple of different projects and definitely having visions of wildflower maxi dresses. Fabric chosen, I started hunting around for a pattern.
Another member of the maternity sewing facebook group posted the Ellie and Mac True Beauty Dress at just the right time! I love the off-the-shoulder look that is so popular right now, so I was immediately drawn to the silhouette of this pattern. The post that caught my attention touted a few great features – first of all, as an empire waist garment, this dress worked straight off the pattern without any adjustments to accommodate the bump. Second, Ellie and Mac does an awesome weekly promotion called Wacky Wednesday, during which they feature a pattern (or a few!) for only $1! The True Beauty pattern was featured that day, so I figured hey – why not? Best case scenario, I end up with a great dress… Worst case scenario, I wasted a dollar. Seemed like pretty great odds to me!
I printed out the pattern, which unfortunately doesn’t have the layer by size feature. However, they did have a cool no-trim feature that I hadn’t encountered before! It took a little bit to get used to, but I did end up enjoying not having to trim all those individual sheets of paper! The pattern offers a variety of lengths, from peplum top to maxi skirt, as well as three different sleeve lengths. I chose the maxi length, in order to maximally show off my awesome fabric and hopefully look fancy enough for a wedding, and the short sleeves, because Texas in the summertime.
The pattern notes that the dress lengths are made for a 5’5” individual, and to add 0.5” to the pattern for each inch taller that you are. As you know, I like a good floor-sweeping maxi that hides my big kangaroo feet, so despite the recommendation indicating that I should add 1.5” to match my 5’8” height, I added a full 3” to my skirt length. I’m glad I did, and will probably add more in the future – I ended up not hemming the skirt, and it was still a tad shorter than I really would’ve loved. In the future, I will probably add 5” total to the recommended maxi skirt length to allow me some room to overlock the edges and double fold the hem.
This pattern was not difficult to construct, and the size small, even at the maxi length (with additional length added, in my case!) calls for less than 2 yards of fabric. I did NOT believe this when I read it, but I was pleased to find out it was true! Between the cost of my DBP fabric and the pattern, I believe I spent less than $20 on materials for this dress. Can’t beat that, huh? The only additional materials that I used were the elastic for the neck (shoulder?) line, clear elastic for waist reinforcement, and my trusty heat n’ bond for the sleeve hems.
Though my fabric and I got along a little better with this make than with my Coffee Shop dress (you can read more about my recent DBP struggles here), I still had a few little mishaps where my machine wanted to chow down on the fabric, despite all the precautions I took! I used a brand new ballpoint twin needle, and sewed my fabric with a layer of tissue paper between the fabric and the feed dogs as a bit of a stabilizer. To make things as easy as possible, I serged seams wherever possible and limited use of my sewing machine to visible stitching, essentially really only the neckline and sleeves.
Overall, I loved this dress! It fit over the baby bump, which was really the most important factor, but was also super comfortable and felt dressy enough for the occasion. I dressed it up with heels and some cute earrings, but I love that it can easily dress down for more casual use with a pair of flats and my everyday jewelry, like in these photos. When I have a waist again, I imagine it will look super cute with a belt, as well! The construction was straightforward and fairly quick, so I am looking forward to playing around with some of the other length and sleeve options over the next couple of months, now that I know how well this pattern works for me!
If you haven’t had the pleasure of checking out Ellie & Mac patterns, I’d definitely suggest looking them up today! They’ve got a great array of patterns, and I’m considering which one I might decide to put into my cart next. Keep your eyes peeled for their Wacky Wednesday sales, too – you never know what great pattern you could grab for only $1! Today, I’m just really thankful that Ellie & Mac were able to help me throw something acceptable together for a wedding in a short amount of time!
- XX Elizabeth