When I started photographing more expectant mothers, I really wanted to add something elegant, and special to my studio’s wardrobe. I am a huge fan of fabric wraps, and draping fabric during my Maternity sessions, but I wanted something more. I did a little bit of searching, and found some really gorgeous Maternity gowns for sale. Unfortunately, they just didn’t fit my budget.
Most of the gowns were upwards of $75 and some more like $150 (which are prices I am totally supportive of and would have paid in a heartbeat if I could have). My budget was very limited at the time, and I’m a Do-It-Yourselfer at heart! So I set out to make a beautiful, lacey (because I simply can’t get enough lace into my life lately), and classic looking DIY Maternity gown.
I know many other photographers (or perhaps you own a shop where you would like to sell these gowns) are in the same position I was in, so I’ve written up this how-to tutorial. I’ve been creating these DIY maternity dresses for approx. $11 and about 2 hours of my time. I hope you find this budget friendly tutorial to be useful and fun!
Here is my disclaimer though……I am a knitter and crocheter who likes to pretend I know my way around my sewing machine occasionally. Check out my knit and crochet work on my blog here! I am by no means a seamstress. So if you actually know what you’re doing when it comes to making garments (instead of faking it like me) there are probably quite a few ways you can improve upon this tutorial. Please use it as a great base for your project and take or leave whatever parts of it you choose.
- 2.5 Yards of lace fabric for a longer gown, and 2 Yards for a floor-length gown. My fabric was 60″ (152.5cm) from selvage to selvage. Look for fabric with beautiful edges or selvages (notice the shell design on the edge of my dress).
I found my fabric at Joann’s. Using a 50% off coupon (which they send you regularly if you sign up for their text messages) I purchased all my materials for $11.
- .25 Yards of matching solid colored fabric (to be used for the bust section).
- Matching thread (or at least similar – theoretically you shouldn’t see any of it, but since lace is see-through, it doesn’t hurt to have a similar shade)
- Measuring Tape
- Scissors or Rotary Cutter (I used scissors, but if you’re more of a perfectionist, you might choose to use a rotary cutter for more precision)
Step Number One
Measure the bust of the person you are creating the gown for and jot down this number. If you are un-sure what size to make, consider the following average measurements:
Small: 31-34″ (78.75-86.5cm)
Medium: 33-36″ (83.75-91.5cm)
Large: 35-39″ (89-99cm)
X-Large: 38-42″ (96.5-106.5cm)
If you are making the gown for a photography studio, you may consider making a larger size and using clamps to size the dress down if necessary. You can always clamp the extra fabric in the back (in fact this photo is using clamps in the back) but you can’t add extra.
Step Number Two:
Cut approx. 16″ (40.5cm) for a small or medium sized dress, or 18″ (45.75cm) for a large or X-large sized dress off the end of your fabric, and then cut the selvage or edging off as shown.
Step Number Three
Cut this piece of fabric to your desired bust size plus .5 inch (1.25cm) after choosing from the chart above. I made a medium size at 37.5″ so I cut my piece of fabric to 38″ in length.
Step Number Four
Fold your piece of fabric in half (hot dog style, haha) so you have a long skinny strip.
Step Number Five
Create a gather directly in the center of this folded piece of fabric. Then sew one line down the flat part of this gather as shown.
Step Number Six
Place your gathered piece of lace fabric on top of your solid colored fabric. The solid color will be a lining for the front of the dress. Measure 10″ (25.5cm) from the center of the gather and cut your solid fabric to that length. Then cut around the entire piece of the solid colored fabric approx. .5 inch (1.25cm) from the edge of the lace fabric. This will create an inside liner.
Step Number Seven
Sew the liner onto the inside half of your lace fabric. Do not attach it to the outer layer. This can be tricky, but will keep any seams from showing.
Repeat for second side.
Step Number Eight
Return to your long piece of lace fabric and pin it (right sides together) to the bust section. You should pin the very edge of the fabric to the base of the gather in the bust section. Make sure you pin it to the bottom (raw edges – not the folded section) of your bust piece.
Step Number Nine
As you’re pinning your fabric, create pleats by folding the fabric over and pinning it. This will not only create a beautiful look, but will help your gown to be the right size. Since you started with 60″ (or whatever length from selvage to selvage) and you are reducing down to 38″ (or whatever size bust you chose), these pleats will make your dress the right size around without being baggy in the back.
You’ll want to use one half (measured from selvage to selvage) of your fabric on this one side of the bust. I created 4 gathers for mine.
Step Number Ten
Wrap your fabric around, to the second side of the bust and repeat all the steps. Be aware of creating a tube in the center of the fabric. Make sure you don’t twist it as this is where the person wearing the dress will be.
Step Number Eleven
Sew around the bust section, connecting it to the gown. Start at the gather and sew all the way around, removing the pins as you sew.
Step Number Twelve
You will now need to sew up the back of the bust section. Fold the dress with right sides together and line up the two un-sewn edges. Sew a line straight down the back.
Hem up the bottom edge.
Step Number Thirteen
Place gown over clothing and strut around the house! You know you totally want to!
Are you excited about this tutorial? Please leave me a comment telling me what you think!
Also, please share with any friends you think might like to give it a go!