So I totally get the irony that last week I was lamenting that black doesn’t look good on me and this week I am posting a black dress. This was not actually my planned Project Sewn Week 2 entry, but it’s highly doubtful I will finish the blouse for my planned look in time to photograph and blog it before the deadline and this one pretty much fits the bill. You do whatcha gotta do — I’ll try to get the other one up tomorrow (I hope)!
This dress has a great 70s vibe to me — the time when the modern maxi dress was born. Seventies fashion drew heavily from earlier eras like the turn of the century. The long skirts and empire waists from that more genteel period came roaring back in the 70s, though with a distinctly hippie feel.
I made this dress when I was about 35 weeks pregnant and had two commitments that would require something dressier than cargos and a tank top.
This is my second iteration of the Megan Nielsen Pina Dress, which is probably my favoritest maternity dress pattern that I came across. I extended this one to maxi length because maxi dresses are uber-comfy and hide a multitude of sins (like unshaven legs). The fabric is a basic cotton-spandex knit from Girl Charlee that was in my stash. It’s not very exciting in basic black, but it’s great quality, a little thicker, and has wonderful stretch and recovery.
So why do I love Pina so much? It’s quite simple — when pregnant, the cut of this dress made me look pregnant, not just like I’d put on a bunch of weight and for some reason decided to wear a tent! I loved how the cut of the knit hugged the curves of my belly with no gathering or ruching or other device. It’s all in the cut of the skirt pieces.
And when not pregnant, I can still wear this dress because there is no gathering or ruching or other device that makes it obviously a maternity garment!
The neckline, while uber-low-cut, is nice and stretchy, which makes it perfect for breastfeeding, but also perfectly usable once my BFing days are done.
However, I’m not particularly keen on showing off mega amounts of cleavage and I don’t typically like having to wear a tank under a dress because they tend to bunch and I don’t like stuff around my waist, and yada, yada, yada. So, for this dress, I figured out an incredibly easy — like “duh” easy — way to insert a modesty panel that covers my tatas nicely and requires minimal additional work.
If the Pina dress otherwise appeals to you, but you don’t like the idea of showing cleavage that extends practically down to the equator, read on!
Here’s what I did to insert a modesty panel, and I hesitate to even call this a “mini-tutorial” because it’s so straightforward!:
1. Take a few measurements to figure out the size of the rectangle you need to cut for your fabric. (1) The measurement you need for width is: the distance between the two front raglan sleeve seam allowances — i.e. going across your chest — plus about 1″. (2) The measurement you need for length is: the distance from the top of the panel (i.e. the middle of the measurement you took for width) to about 1″ below the bottom of your bra strap plus a 1/2″ inch for seam allowance.
2. Cut out your rectangle of knit fabric. My rectangle was 10″ wide by 8.5″ long.
3. Fold the top edge (my 10″ edge) over 1/2″ and sew it down. I just used a basic zig zag stitch, but a double needle would work well too. You can leave all the other edges raw since they’ll be hidden under the bodice of the dress and knit won’t fray.
4. Attach one side of a sew-on snap to each of the front raglan sleeve seam allowances.
5. Attach the other side of the sew-on snap to the right side of the top edge of your panel, about 1/2″ in from the side.
6. Snap on your panel, and smooth it out under the bodice of the dress. I just tuck the bottom of mine under my bra strap, though I don’t really need to because the elastic at the empire waist holds it in place just fine.
If you wanted, you could sew the panel to those seam allowances, but I liked the idea of snaps because it allows me to make a few different modesty panels and change them out for a whole different look. I also wanted the bottom of the panel to be loose because I need to pull it up to breastfeed, and having the bottom secured down would kind of defeat the whole purpose of this neckline for me.
If you don’t want it loose, I would just hand sew it to the inside waist seam. Because of the way the empire waist is constructed, there is no loose seam allowance to which to attach it, so any machine sewing would show on the outside of the garment. Therefore, I think hand sewing would be the way to go.
Like I said, “duh” easy, but quite versatile and it dramatically ups the wearability of this dress!