Here’s a confession for you: I love being a mom. I even love being pregnant, when I’m not nauseous/cranky/toddling about on ankles the size of telephone poles. But I HATE maternity clothes.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the type of body that just goes along through pregnancy completely normal except for a slight front bulge- nope- I get puffy/round all over. It’s not pretty, at least, it doesn’t feel that way, no matter how I dress. Add to that the fact that maternity designers seem to think women should go around with a giant bow around their middle like a walking present for ten months….and by the t ime I’m done, I don’t want to see anything that even remotely reminds me of maternity wear.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a pregnancy announcement post- I’m not currently, and never plan to be, pregnant again. But it is an explanation for why I’ve studiously avoided empire waist/peplum styles for the past three and a half years- they remind me too much of those hideous outfits I had to wear on repeat (because who wants to waste time and money making/buying a really great variety of something you’re only going to wear for less than a year?).
Somehow though, when Terra posted the testing call for the Women’s Melbourne Top and Dress, I felt compelled to try out the style, just to see if I could somehow pull it off while I wasn’t expecting.
I’ll be quite honest with you- my first version was terrible. I literally walked into the living room with tears in my eyes, as I took my fit pics, wondering how on earth I was going to model this for the internet. Fortunately, as I regrouped, I assessed my mistakes, and determined that:
- I tried gathering with clear elastic, and it was too “snappy”, making my gathers look uneven and wavy
- Out of anxiety about my small chest not filling the crossover bodice and gaping, I did a 1/2″ small bust adjustment, which brought the under-bust curve up too high on my torso (which tends to be pretty long for my height).
- I also felt like the entire thing was a bit loose on me- I’ve lost some weight recently, and decided to try sizing down instead of the SBA/shortening, to see how that worked.
A fellow tester also recommended using braided elastic in place of the clear, which is something I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years, but she was right on- the braided stuff is much stretchier and easier to handle. The smaller size was also more flattering on me, and ended up being just the right length sans adjustments to wear with skinny jeans or leggings.
Without the SBA the underbust seam hit me in a better spot as well (which is to say it was actually under my bust!). I know Terra took all of this into account and put a handy guide for shortening or lengthening the bodice into the pattern, and it’s worth taking a close look at the instructions and making a muslin to determine if/how you should adjust for the best fit.
You can see that my standard bra strap does peek out a bit at the back here- the sleeveless version is slightly racerback cut, and you could either wear a racerback bra, or cut the back shoulder a little wider to compensate.
I’m happy to say that despite my sadness over the demise over my original ITY version, I’m really happy with my second (made from Double Brushed Poly from So Sew English), and plan to make this pattern again in the future (maybe even tightening the elastic a tad bit more next time, or sizing up on the skirt for more gathers).
There must be some serious magic about the angle/curvature of the bodice seam, because it doesn’t even feel like maternity wear to me, and I’ve yet to get a knowing “congratulations” look in public, either!
As an extra bonus, the crossover front is great for nursing, and I think the scoop neck version is also low enough for top-down access. There’s even an adorable girls’ version if you want to match your little (Sophia didn’t get in on the action this time, but I’m sure she’ll be making a future request- she’s a sucker for full skirts and dresses).
All of the testers ended up with gorgeous iterations of this dress, so I think it’s safe to move this style from the maternity-only category to the “fun and flirty top” list, don’t you (though if you ARE pregnant, congratulations- the testers who were expecting were stunning in it as well! Maybe if this pattern had been around three years ago…)
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