In my first blog post on maternity sewing, I brought up some questions I have about making clothes for pregnancy. From what I’ve noticed, many women who sew have had similar ones. Because pregnancy is temporary, some fear they will “waste” fabric when making clothes they might not wear once the pregnancy is finished. At the same time, I’ve had people tell me they want to sew more for clothes they “need.” There is a bit of a contradiction here, since pregnancy is a time when, more than any other time, you might actually need new clothes. Plus, you might need new clothes after the pregnancy, too.
That said, as some have recently told me in my Instagram post on maker’s guilt, guilt from the inability to make all, most, or any, of your maternity clothes might creep up as well. While I’ll touch on this point (spoiler: don’t let it bother you!), my focus is to consider the value of home-sewn maternity clothes for those who want to do so. Far from being a prescriptive list–because no one needs more of that in pregnancy!–I simply intend to share some of the ways I’ve decided to continue my sewing practice in pregnancy:
1. Pregnancy is super uncomfortable.
Ok, this isn’t so much of a tip as a starting point. Pregnancy is super uncomfortable. It is even more uncomfortable if you are used to sewing, and most importantly, fitting, clothes to your liking. After years of home sewing, a trip to a maternity story can be a regrettable experience. Although I didn’t t have a visible bump until I was well into the pregnancy, certain types clothes stopped fitting well very quickly. In my case, sewing for pregnancy is to improve the over all experience. It is one of the rare ways I’ve been able to feel more like myself.
2. I don’t try to make everything.
While continuing to sew my clothes helps me maintain some personal and emotional consistency when everything seems to be changing, I knew early on that my sewing output was going to change and not just in terms of time and quantity. It’s true that I no longer have the same energy and focus for sewing as I used to. So, I had to rethink the types of garments I make. My projects needed to be simpler, quick to completion, with less fitting and less technical sewing. The process needed to be more mechanical than intellectual. My garments needed to be more flexible too. This meant one thing: privileging jersey sewing projects. I also firmly decided that I would make some clothes for pregnancy, but not all or most. I bought pregnancy jeans and exercise clothes because I knew this wasn’t going to be the type of sewing I’d enjoy within my current limits. I decided to stick with sewing what I like best: dresses. Making choices about what I would and wouldn’t sew helped me feel confident about my projects. Limiting my focus keeps maternity sewing enjoyable and prevents it from becoming a task.
3. I remembered I can sew.
This might sound silly: as I began sewing garments for pregnancy, I reminded myself that I know how to sew. More specifically, I reminded myself what that truly means. It means I have the skills to adjust and refashion. It is possible to choose adaptable styles which may be better suited to adjustments and refashioning. Something as simple as leaving larger seam allowances may be a game changer. In a later post on fit and adjustments, I plan to give some examples. I haven’t wanted to spend too much time pattern-hacking, but I’ve done some. Many patterns can be adapted to pregnancy. As I’ve learned, “maternity clothes” don’t need to replicate certain styles dictated by RTW standards. They are just clothes that fit during pregnancy. Remembering that point expanded the scope of possibilities.
Just like many now value using second hand clothes, sharing maternity clothes post-pregnancy is another way to consider their worth. Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve lent out a few garments I don’t expect to wear for a while. I’d be glad to do the same with some of my maternity clothes. I would likely only lend or give clothes I’ve made to close friends and family, but there are probably many ways to share clothes online or in swaps, too.
5. Home sewing is tradition.
One of my “quality control” techniques for evaluating my personal sewing standards is to ask myself if my garments could end up in a future vintage shop or if they could be passed down. I am often inspired by heirlooms and older homemade clothes. I try to incorporate this idea into my own practice. My maternity clothes, like the clothes I make for other times in my life, are special to me, as I imagine they are to many of us. I am confident they could be special to someone else someday. Homemade clothes have a historical and sentimental value that goes far beyond any immediate use for them. So when I make something new, this is one of the reasons why I aim to make my garments well, and with a balance of personal emphasis and everyday wearability. While it might seem odd to think someone close to you (or not even) would later value your personal projects, remember that lots of people on the internet already like to discuss and look at each other’s garments!
6. I’m resisting the promise of “pre-pregnancy” clothes.
This is probably one of my strongest motivations: I love my homemade clothes. I love the fabrics and styles I’ve chosen. I love, for the most part, the fit I had achieved on many of my garments. I’ll be glad to rediscover many of my pre-pregnancy clothes when that day comes–if that day comes. I decided early on that I want to consciously resist the expectation of fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes immediately. So instead of making maternity clothes with the goal that each would fit throughout the entire pregnancy, I thought about things a little differently. When I was early in the second trimester, and still comfortable in semi-fitted woven garments, I realized that whatever I made for my body at that stage might not fit after six months (but some still do). However, there is a fair chance they will be my best fitting garments in the weeks and maybe months after the pregnancy. I wanted to reduce possible later frustrations of some clothes being too big and others too small, and on top of that having no energy to sew for a little while (please just be a little while!). I had enough of that in the first trimester. By planning nice transitional pieces, I especially wanted to give my future self some grace by lessening the pressure to “bounce back” to my pre-pregnancy shape.
So, are maternity clothes worth making? From my perspective, yes! If you have the means, time, energy, desire, and if you have the habit of making your own clothes, I’d say go for it.