Celebrate BABY—TUTORIAL: semi-homade maternity shirt

by Dana on April 10, 2012

It’s weird to see pictures of myself pregnant again.
But if we’re celebrating BABY, then we must celebrate pregnancy too.

And here is the one and only maternity project I sewed.
A semi-homemade ruched shirt:
I bought this long T-shirt/tunic top from Old Navy a few years ago.
And wore it once on the blog when sharing the Big Bag (made from a couch cushion slip cover from the IKEA as-is bin).
But it always felt like a maternity shirt to me. So when my belly started growing, I started wearing it with leggings. I even wore it to the Alt Design Summit when teaching my class.
It looked pretty cute.
But then I actually saw the photos of myself in the shirt…..
Not so cute.
The shirt made me look bigger than I was, since the bottom wasn’t contour with my body.
Not very flattering.

But…..with simple ruching on the side it was an easy fix!
(In fact ruched shirts from Target made up a majority of my wardrobe during my pregnancy).
This is very easy to do.

• Start with a long shirt (easy to find at Target, Forever 21, Old Navy, the usual suspects)
• You want the shirt to fit you well on the top. So, if you happen to find a cute shirt on clearance that’s too big for you, you could always take it in a bit on the sides so it fits better and leave more room on the bottom for your big belly (sorry, no tutorial on this but I’m sure you could google it and find one).
• Basically, you want a long T-shirt similar to the one below.
• On the side seam of the shirt, measure from the chest area down to the hem of the shirt.
• Cut a piece of elastic that’s 1/2 to 3/4 of that length (skinny 1/4 inch wide elastic works best).

- There’s no rhyme or reason to this. Just do what works best with your shirt size, guestimating how much you want it to ruche up.
- Ruching means gathered on both sides, rather than gathered on one side, such as the Simple Skirt.

• On the inside side seam, pin the elastic down the length of the shirt.
• First pin it to the seam just below where your chest would be. Then pin it at the bottom of the shirt. Then pin it in the middle. Then continue splitting the difference so you have it pinned in about 8 spots. Remember that the elastic is smaller than the area you’re pinning, which is what you want. The elastic will stretch as you sew and gather the shirt up with it.
• Sew the elastic to the side seam.
Start at the top of the elastic and use two hands to pull the elastic taut, down to the next pin. Sew to that point, remove the pin and do the same thing down to the next pin. Continue this all the way down to the bottom.
At this point you have ruched sides!

Now….because my shirt was especially long, I also added elastic around the front bottom of the shirt to help it “cradle” around my belly even more.
- Cut a piece of 1/2 inch wide elastic that’s appx 2/3 the length of the front hem.
- Pin it in place as we did above.
- Sew it by stretching from pin to pin.
A much improved maternity shirt.
This actually become one of my favorite shirts to wear in the final pregnancy months.
And in case you’re wondering….no I don’t always wear leggings so exposed like that. This shirt worked better with a pair of yoga pants I had from Forever 21.

And in case you’re also wondering what I looked like on a day-to-day pregnancy basis, here you go.
Keeping-it-real photo:
Dude I look hammered.
Growing a baby is serious business.

Check out the Celebrate BABY archives HERE.

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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Krista Hansen April 10, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Love it!! Growing a baby IS serious business. This third one is just about killing me. Plus we’re trying to sell our house. Crazy timing. I love your blog!


2 Felicity @ Our Little Beehive April 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm

I did the same with a couple no-so-flattering old navy maternity shirts and they became my favorites. Oh how I wish I had as much clothing that fit me now as I did last fall….


3 Jenna April 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Ruched tops are a lifesaver during pregnancy! Megan Nielsen has a great pattern! I’ve been sewing (and blogging) the majority of my maternity clothes this time around and I’m really enjoying it. :)


4 Michelle April 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Wonderful! I got a couple of bags of hand-me-down maternity shirts from people who tower above me. I was wondering what I could do with the tunic-length (on me) ones. This looks quick and easy.


5 Jana Kimmel April 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Since it’s celebrate the baby time, I thought I would share this…

We had twins in June 2011, born at 25 weeks. Our boys were 1 lb 8 oz and 2 lbs. Sadly, we lost one of our boys at birth. In memory of him, I have been working on a project to sew tiny flannel diapers to donate to local hospitals. The hospitals give 2 diapers to each family who has lost a child, one for the baby to wear, and one for the family to keep as a keepsake. I just finished my first 60 diapers and will be delivering them this week! I wish there wasn’t a need for these, but I hope they can bring comfort to other families in the midst of tragedy. If you want more info or are interested in helping, this is the website. http://teenytears.blogspot.com/


6 Tiffany Y April 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm

The shirt looks great. But WHERE did you get those BOOTS??!?!!!!! LOVE Love the boots! Please share!!!


7 Jenni April 10, 2012 at 1:12 pm

cute! I loved the tops with the side elastic when I was pregnant, as well. It was a perfect way to look put together, but still wear a t-shirt! :)


8 Emilie Ahern April 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm

THAT. is. adorable.
I never would have thought to do that to those oversized maternity shirts.
Genius, dude.


9 hotdish April 10, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Oh sure, now that I’m done with babies (so my hubby says), now I find a way to make shirts look nice?

Heehee… “..you could always take it in a bit on the sides so it fits better and leave more room on the bottom for your big belly (sorry, no tutorial on this but I’m sure you could google it and find one).”
No tutorial on what, exactly? How to get the big belly?? Yes, I’m sure there are a few examples of how to get one of those on the internet. ;P


10 Britty April 10, 2012 at 1:43 pm

This is great! I’m not pregnant (hopefully someday), but I have a couple shirts that are too long that I’d LOVE to add ruching to! I’ve tried sewing elastic once before with a straight stitch and it didn’t seem to work. The bottom looks like a zigzag stitch; is that what you typically use for this? Thanks a bunch!


11 Fianna January 13, 2016 at 6:41 am

Yep, zigzag stitching is best for elastic. :)


12 Readkapke April 10, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Oh i love this one! I remember it in case i get pregnant again! Greets from Holland!


13 Renee April 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I’m not pregnant, but I love shirts with ruched sides & I’m going to try this!


14 Jacqueline Mukweto April 10, 2012 at 3:42 pm

Dana Dana! Always doing amazing things. I think I am all done with the prego stage but How I wish I had this in mind when I was having babies. I will have to keep this in mind for all my tiny friends having babies and trying to make big clothes look good. Great tutorial!


15 Lorajean April 10, 2012 at 5:11 pm

This shirt makes me want to be pregnant again!! It is so cute! I miss my cute pregnant belly all I have now is my not pregnant belly and no matter how much elastic i add it isn’t cute :( OK I don’t really miss being huge and uncomfortable and I am so happy to with baby being out and a thinner belly.


16 Julie April 10, 2012 at 6:35 pm

Man this post makes me broody, and I had a really tough pregnancy, so that’s saying a lot!


17 Leigh Anne April 10, 2012 at 6:44 pm

I totally agree with you about the fitted shirts being the most flattering. My friend gave me a bunch of cute maternity dresses, but when I put them on, I felt big as a barn! I attempted this when I was preggo and it turned out pretty cute. Good idea to put elastic along the bottom too. LOVE the last pic….thx for keeping it real!! :)


18 Allie April 10, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I love semi-homemade ideas! you look adorable. :) I’m saving this great idea for the future!


19 Rebecca April 10, 2012 at 11:04 pm

cute! you know what’s funny, i actually bought a shirt at old navy once that looks like this exact same fabric that was a maternity shirt and i didn’t know it until i got home and looked at the tag!


20 katie Evans April 11, 2012 at 12:21 am

Okay, that turned out so cute!!! I’m on the lookout for some cute long shirts… So fun at the pool today…just like old times. :)


21 Connecting Four April 11, 2012 at 5:02 am

Wow that is quite the transformation… I love it!


22 becky April 11, 2012 at 6:10 am

hammered, duked or whatever,,,you’re still special inside and out…


23 jennie April 11, 2012 at 6:43 am

Thank you so much for this, I’m 25 weeks now and I’m starting to need baggier clothes but most are so unflattering, I have a cute floral top thats going to get this treatment, maybe today!!! Thank you


24 Mónica from Tenerife Spain April 11, 2012 at 10:43 am

Hello..it´s a lovely idea..and not just for pregnancy woman, it´s really good. But y love this bag, the jean´s bag…it´s beatyful too, please put the DiY soon. Thank you and I allways reed your blog, Sory by my english i know it´s bad…kisses for all..!!!!!!!


25 delia April 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm

You are beautiful! …especially in the last photo. :) Man, I wish I had a Forever 21 closer to me.


26 anna April 11, 2012 at 1:44 pm

i love this! and I always love how you have creative solutions to problems as you go along – I can be so horrible at that, so I really admire you for it. :) and yes, hammered, hahaha, love that


27 Nite Nite Mommy April 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Great post. According to others I am always “all baby”– or whatever that means! ha! It’s always tough to find really cute clothes that will cover my massive baby belly. ahhaa you say hammered.. i say “glowing”.– from a mommy who has had 3 kids in 4 years! amazing! woot woot! :)


28 Mary Ann B April 11, 2012 at 10:34 pm

After my daughter had her twins, I did something similar to ‘take in’ the huge (to fit those twins!) maternity knit tops she had, being she was going to have the post babies belly for a while! I bet you could also cut the side seam and take the tops IN and re-elasticize the sides for a SKINNY ruched top!


29 stacey April 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm

perfect timing- you saved one of my favorite shirts. i loved the top but hated the bottom but wore it anyway :) thanks for sharing this tutorial!


30 Astrid April 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Wow, great job.


31 Anna Lin April 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm

I think this maternity dresses have nice design and will be comfortable to wear!


32 Anshu April 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm

The “After” pic looks so cool. Stumbled this post.


33 Carol April 21, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Hi. I am a fan of your blog. What is “splitting the difference”? how much should I space in between each pin? Thanks a lot if you could reply me!


34 Dana April 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Just keep cutting the difference in half. there’s no hard rule on it. Pin it at the front, then the back, then the sides, then half way in between all of those, then halfway between all of those, etc.


35 Maile June 29, 2012 at 11:10 am

I have this EXACT shirt that I used when pregnant with my first child and always hated the way it fit. Doing this today! :) Thanks for the awesome upgrade idea!


36 katie September 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm

i wish i would have seen this nine months ago;
ill be having my baby in four days and this would have been awesome!!!!
Until the next baby,
you have such great ideas :) thanks for sharing!!!


37 Laura September 12, 2012 at 10:02 am

Afterward, is the shirt still long enough to cover the maternity pants elastic? I’m looking to make some shirts for work. Thanks, great tutorial.


38 Dana September 12, 2012 at 2:41 pm

yep! but my initial shirt was pretty long so I had a lot of length to work with. A Men’s tshirt would also work, but then you’d have to take in the sides/neck to make it more feminine :)


39 Allison September 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Where did you get those boots?! Waaay cute!


40 Lottie Stevenson October 2, 2012 at 5:42 am

Thank you for a great maternity pattern! I love that it’s so easy and quick to do. Plus, it’s hard to get tops to cover a 6-month bump without looking like you’re wearing a tent.

Just discovered your website today and love it. Am going to make the simple skirt for my daughter and you’ve inspired me about getting labels done!! Thanks again. Lottie x


41 Shirley October 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Hi this is totally lovely!! Love the new creation. You look great :D
Could you do a tutorial on the big bag with ribbons (from “IKEA AS-IS”) pleassse. I love that so much!! Thanks if u cud.


42 Lauren Fraser October 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm

You are so funny. . . Growing a baby IS serious work, you are right. I think it’d make round ligament pain and a sore back seem less of a bummer if I could wear a cute homemade shirt like this one, though! Thanks for the great tutorial. Some people like to keep this knowledge to themselves but you went on ahead and shared it. thank you!


43 Lori December 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Hello there – just was introduced to your blog. You are inventive, creative, and HYSTERICAL! Ok, question: in sewin on the elastic in the side seems and the bottom, did you zig zag? The bottom looks it.


44 Samantha Benson May 31, 2013 at 10:49 pm

I am overwhelmed with so much stuff that I can do to stretch my clothes for my growing belly. Thank you for your help!


45 Laura June 13, 2013 at 12:00 am

I’mActuallyWearingThisShirtRightNow! IHaveToDoThis. DoFarI’veJustAlwaysWrittenThisSHirtToBed. ThankYou!


46 Kimber April 5, 2014 at 9:20 pm

I visit every day some web pages and blogs to read content, except this blog
gives quality based content.


47 B To B Maternity July 21, 2014 at 9:18 am

What’s Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It
positively useful and it has helped me out loads. I’m hoping to give
a contribution & help other users like its aided me.
Great job.


48 Em J March 16, 2015 at 8:32 pm

Wow love it! Thank you for the great idea.


49 Dayla Dee August 22, 2015 at 2:08 pm

Thank you so much for this tutorial! I am going to work on doing this today. Very helpful.


50 Fianna January 13, 2016 at 6:39 am

I’d be more inclined to use drawstrings than elastic on the sides (I just think they look nice, TBH), but for this method I’d do a quick gathering/running stitch up each side to help gauge how much elastic is needed to make sure you don’t end up with too much or too little.

Thanks for the tip about yoga pants! I refuse to accept that leggings are real pants and wanted something comfy but tasteful for days when wearing my mom’s UK size 14 jeans are too much to bear (I’m normally a UK 10, and my butt is still clinging to that memory but bump has other ideas…)


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