Sewing for a Belly: simple yet very useful alterations

Mad Mim maternity sewing_Moqui Tee Alterations

I call this the Moqui Tee Refashion. It’s not a true refashion, but it has some simple yet very useful alterations: Side-ruching and bringing in and up a neckline. I’m sure there’s probably a million side-ruching tutorials out there (I haven’t looked), but I think it’s worth adding or sharing the few little tricks that work for me.

I thrifted this shirt the other day with the idea of making a summer shirt that didn’t require a cami underneath. It’s getting hot round here. The original shape of the tee was kinda awkward–it was a-line, triangular (not enough to make it look like it was supposed to be that way), and probably looked pretty weird on a normal-shaped body (hence why I found it at the thrift store). It also had a plunging wide neckline, and long sleeves that had to be dealt with.
Mad Mim maternity sewing_Moqui Tee Alterations

I began by ruching the sides: I measured about 3 inches up from the bottom edge and put a pin in, from this pin I measured 10 inches up and put another pin. Mad Mim maternity sewing_Moqui Tee Alterations

Then I pinned 5″ of 1/8″ elastic to my marked points. (so my elastic is half the length of side length marked. Mad Mim maternity sewing_Moqui Tee Alterations Here’s where I experimented, and discovered something that might be useful to you. In the past when I’ve sewn elastic into the side seams, I’ve always used a zig zag stitch. It’s always annoyed me how much it curled and snaked. This time I ended up taking the zig zag out, and just using a straight basting stitch, and found that it snaked much less, and laid much flatter on my side.  So stretch your elastic to the full length of the marked portion, and use a long straight stitch to sew it down to the seam allowance. Mad Mim maternity sewing_Moqui Tee Alterations Now about that low/wide neckline that’s too low/wide for me. I figured out this little trick a few years ago, and it has served me well to make necklines more modest and with minimal effort or alteration. I snip the tiniest little hole on just the inside layer of the neck band. I then fish some thin cord-elastic through the neck band (which now acts as a little casing), until I reach the hole again. I pull it through and adjust until I’m happy with the fit, and then knot it off. I finish by pulling the knot into the casing so it can’t be seen. It would probably be a good idea to whip stitch the hole up, but I’ve never bothered and been none the worse. This small little alteration makes a big difference but is also very subtle. This shirt was really pretty low and wide before, and now it’s perfectly modest without a cami. Mad Mim maternity sewing_Moqui Tee Alterations Mad Mim maternity sewing_Moqui Tee Alterations

To really make this summer worthy I hacked the sleeves and hemmed them.
Mad Mim maternity sewing_Moqui Tee Alterations

I’m really happy with the way it turned out, and was jazzed at how much better it was with these quicky alterations. This Moqui Tee will get lots of action for the next SEVEN weeks. Yes, that’s right. I have SEVEN WEEKS left. Can you EVEN IMAGINE THE WRATH OF THIS BELLY IN SEVEN WEEKS?!?! Yeah, me either. I’ve always gotten huge, and I should be used to people trying to convince me that they must have “missed one” in my ultrasound because there’s got to be twins in there. But I’m not. I don’t like feeling like I’m a spectacle every time I go out in public. I sometimes even just look in the mirror and marvel because it almost seems unnatural to me.

Mad Mim maternity sewing_Moqui Tee Alterations

mad mim maternity sewing_the moqui tee alterations Mad Mim maternity sewing_Moqui Tee Alterations

Don’t be fooled by my smile—I can’t FATHOM how my Mom did this NINE times.

21 Comments

Becca

I love the shirt alterations. You are awesome. I can’t wait to see you in July!

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Glennda

Great tips, can’t wait to try them out! And I totally feel your pain, I get huge too! When I met my best friend, we were both preggie. She was 7 months and I was 7 weeks and our bellies were the same size! I usually become a hermit the last month or so because I get so sick of all the ridicules comments.

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Melissa

Mim! You saved me! I bought a bunch of shirts from Old Navy, but they all stretched out. The necklines became almost obscenely low, but after five minutes and your tip, I’ve fixed them all up and I can go out in public again. I can’t tell you how much I love the blog!

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Miriam

Melissa– I’m SO excited that it worked for you. I love sharing tips that are actually useful to peeps. Thanks for sharing.

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Martha

Hey there Indian Princess, don’t think I didn’t catch that Moqui reference. Oh, I did! Anyway, great T! And for all your talk about how big you are … um …. you aren’t. At least you don’t look it in these pictures.

P.S. How does your hair look so effortlessly awesome at all times? I have a hair crush on you. I want my hair that way! I am killing myself to grow it out and it just seems to be more lion mane than hippy. I want Seattle Hippy Hair! Is that so much to ask? And you’ve got it, you darn Utahn. You’re supposed to stick with the pouf and flat iron!

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Kristi

Uber cute. I actually noticed this neckline on a shirt you were wearing at the play group and I loved it. I’m in the same cami-hating group (at least come summer time) so I’m loving this neckline alteration… I think I may have to experiment sometime soon!

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Lei

Oooh cool! I’ve been wanting to try that ruching thing on a couple of shirts, but I’m scared of messing up. Now I know what to do. Thanks! 🙂
By the way, NINE times?? Wow! I can’t wait to have a baby. I know, I’m crazy. 😛 You look great. 🙂

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the mither

great improvements! and a great smile. Here’s the secret: don’t make the decision about having the next one while you’re pregnant. (or in labor)

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Melissa

I love your updates! That top looks fabulous on you.

I keep wondering the same thing about my mom & my mother-in-law. How on earth could they stand to be pregnant so many times? Thank goodness they were, though. I love my siblings & my in-laws.

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Helen

Loved finding this site and used your suggestions to alter my favorite tee shirt. Worked great! Thanks. Helen

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Katie S.

Thanks for this great tutorial! I’ve been searching all night for an easy ruching tutorial for maternity shirts and this is by far the best one I’ve found. Most say to use a zig-zag stitch (but I think your way looks much better!) plus the rest I’ve seen don’t say how long to make the elastic so this was VERY helpful! Thank you!

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Lynette

I am going today to find some shirts to alter for maternity. I don’t know how I missed this post in your series, but I found it today via a roundup at luvin the mommyhood. I can’t believe how easy it is to fix the neckline! I will definitely have to try this as I have very little shoulders. If I buy a bigger size to alter for maternity, then my necklines are going to be FALLING OFF! 🙂 Thanks for the tutorial, I am pinning this idea for sure!

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Donna

Wow, I love the neckline alteration! I’m going to gather my “too low” shirts and start an assembly line. Thanks!

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Eliska Comeaux

I love the shirt and will surely use this idea. You look great for only having seven week to go and congratulations on your new little one.

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Lynette

Another trick I have recently discovered, especially when adding the ruching is to use a clear thread when it’s hard to match the color the the shirt to thread. It is itchy on the ends (where you clip them) if it’s going to be worn against skin sometimes, just a heads up. Thanks so much for this trick, I revisited it to prepare for a hot summer pregnancy with #2!

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Sharon

This neckline alteration is so good, the simple things are usually the best. I have tried so many times to improve a neckline all much more complicated but this looks better can’t wait to try it out. Thank you.

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wendy

I am prego now and I can’t tell u how much this will help me make my clothes fit instead of looking all weird. Thanks!

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