maternity shirt

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.

  1. 1) Krista Hansen

    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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  6. 6) Tiffany Y

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

  7. 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. 8) Emilie Ahern

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

  9. 9) hotdish

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

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

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

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

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

  16. 16) Leigh Anne

    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!! 🙂

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

  18. 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!

  19. 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. 🙂

  20. 21) becky

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

  21. 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

  22. 23) Mónica from Tenerife Spain´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..!!!!!!!

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

  24. 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

  25. 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! 🙂

  26. 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!

  27. 28) stacey

    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!

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

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

  30. 32) Carol

    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!

    • 33) Dana

      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.

  31. 34) Maile

    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!

  32. 35) katie

    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!!!

  33. 36) Laura

    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.

    • 37) Dana

      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 🙂

  34. 38) Allison

    Where did you get those boots?! Waaay cute!

  35. 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

  36. 40) Shirley

    Hi this is totally lovely!! Love the new creation. You look great 😀
    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.

  37. 41) Lauren Fraser

    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!

  38. 42) Lori

    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.

  39. 43) Samantha Benson

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

  40. 44) Laura

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

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  43. 47) Em J

    Wow love it! Thank you for the great idea.

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

  45. 49) Kelly Jo

    Lqtm. Your comment about looking hammered. My baby sister was pregnant with her first baby last year and towards the end of her pregnancy she was upset that I never told her that pregnancy would be like waking up with a hangover every single day for nine months. You want to be real with people about pregnancy without scaring them. A sense of humor is excellent to have while in human creation mode.

  46. 50) Ruth Kidenya

    very cool – thanks for this!

  47. 51) Kathy

    I’m almost 70, short, and not over weight. I love this style of tips to help hide my pouch from having kids that seems to hang on. Tops these days are made short for my size. I’m into leggings with the longer top. It’s either but a larger size to get the length of buy maternity tops!
    I love altering tops to fit! Larger sizes are too wide for me in the neckline so I fix that, then I do the side seams!
    Works for me!

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