Friday, February 15, 2013

Maternity pants tutorial

I've made a few items of maternity clothing, which (in all honesty) were a bit of a botch-job!. Thankfully, they're easily hidden under shirts. But now I've had a bit of practice, I thought I'd show how I've altered a pair of shorts recently, purchased at the local second-hand shop.

I was waiting to get a little bigger to make these alterations, as I know I'm going to get 'a lot' bigger still. I'll be 25 weeks tomorrow, so it was time to get cracking on this particular project. I simply tried on the shorts and did them up. Where the zipper would go no further, that is where I determined the lowest point in the front.

Cutting the shorts

I used good old-fashioned scissors and a fabric pen to mark, then cut the curve in the front - then proceeded to cut the band off around the back completely. I cut through the zipper, as it was only plastic. Don't do it if it's metal! How far you cut on your shorts/pants though, will be determined by trying them on. I've seen two different internet tutorials, where one takes the waistband off and the other keeps it on. I can only stress that you try on your garment first, to see where it's best cutting. Plus give yourself at least an extra  centimetre, for seam allowance.

One of the things I learned by following the internet tutorials to the letter, is they just didn't work on my particular garments. This was not the fault of the tutorial writer, as they were modifying the clothes they had to fit them! I tried on these shorts numerous times and found out the best way to cut them for me. You'll have a better fitting garment if you do the same.

Finding a suitable waistband material

The next step is to find another item of clothing  (or a piece of stretchy fabric) to make the waistband with. In this case, it was an old lycra vest, which was starting to loose it's support for my growing bodice. It wasn't exactly "new" so I had no qualms taking the scissors to it either! I tried it over my belly to make sure I had enough material.

Cutting lycra vest

Once everything was decided, I cut as high as I could, to reach the first seam to give me a lovely thick square piece of stretchy lycra. Then I simply folded it over. It was about 25cms (10") wide, when doubled over.

Lycra doubled over

Then it was a simple matter of stretching the lycra around the exposed edges of the shorts. I started by pinning the two side seams, then finding the middle in the front section, and pinned it approximately where the the zipper was. Stretch, pin, repeat.

Pinning to avoid bulging fabric in back

You'll notice by the image above, the white waistband is right on the edge of the front seam of the shorts, but in the back, I have a white overhang. This is because when I tried the lycra band on (once it was cut) I had extra fabric in the back.  Through experience I've learned if you ignore this extra fabric bulk, it ends up bulging, and makes you look bigger than you are in the back! So once it was pinned safety, I cut the white overhang off. I wouldn't cut the fabric until you are happy with where you've pinned it though.

Pinning technique

I use my dress pins vertically, instead of horizontally. Not only because it's easier to remove the pins as you're sewing, but it keeps the stretched fabric manageable too. I just used my overlocker (serger) to sew the pieces together. Not only because it finishes the edges neatly, but at the same time it allows the lycra to stretch. Which is all so important with a growing belly!


When finished, this is what they look like in the front. Sorry about the photo quality. You can click on the images to enlarge. Ideally, you would have a longer shirt than mine, but I notice it just looks like a white vest underneath my shirt.


This is what the lycra band looks like. As you can see, it's very stretchy and comfortable, with plenty of room to grow!


And a gratuitous butt shot, to demonstrate how normal they look in the back. No extra bulging fabric, which is not very flattering when you're wearing a tight fitting shirt. The bulging you see, is from the shirt as I was twisting, not the waistband underneath it. Believe me, you need the bulge in the front, not the back of your shorts!

I'm guessing these modifications can be done for people who find it difficult to get clothing to fit their body type too. You don't necessarily have to be large to encounter this problem either. Most women's fashions assume if you have a waistline of a certain size, you'll have a butt-size which is bigger. But not every woman has a classic pear shape. My butt (under normal circumstances) has always been proportionate to my waistline. So I can imagine modifying clothes in a similar manner, when I'm not pregnant either.

In fact, I'm looking forward to wearing these pants after bubs is born too. I won't be as large, but I'll definitely appreciate the comfort of stretchy pants!


  1. As odd as it may sound, ths tutorial was exactly what I needed to see because I wanted to make a pair of yoga pants with the fold down waist. I have alot of fabric but no pattern....the stretch will be important to the waist thanks:) you look gorgeous!

  2. Aw, shucks, thanks for the compliment.

    Good luck with your yoga pants. They're incredibly comfortable to wear. I can see why you would want to make some. It's great you have lots of fabric on hand. I tend to make patterns from clothes that fit me well. I unpick them and then trace the fabric pieces onto paper.

    It's painstakingly slow, but worth it when an item of clothing is perfect.

  3. Chris, I will probably trace an existing pair of yoga pants that fit well. A friend told me she never unpicks. She just brings the paper to the clothing and then tidies up on a table before cutting. Of course she measures a few times when in doubt. I might give that method a try.


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