When I went back to work after 12 quick weeks of maternity leave (seriously, how do 12 weeks just disappear? Oh yeah, I just can’t remember them because I wasn’t sleeping), I faced quite a challenge from a wardrobe standpoint going back to work though — none of my pants fit. Seriously, not a single pair. After a lot of hard work over the last three months, almost all of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit again, but that certainly wasn’t the case back in November when I first went back to work.
To remedy that situation, I spent the last couple weeks of maternity leave focusing my sewing on work staples. Today I’m sharing what were staples in my office wardrobe those first few months, and still get a decent amount of wear — basic jersey pencil skirts and my Day-to-Night Drape tops.
There’s nothing earth-shattering about this skirt. (I made 4 of this skirts, all exactly the same. I’m showing you one and figured you could use your imagination from there!). You’ve seen them in every women’s clothing store and from every line for years. There are a dozen tutorials out there on how to make your own from your own measurements (like here and here and here and here). They’re comfortable and flattering and easy to alter!
Personally, I hate (as in H-A-T-E hate) the find-a-garment-that-fits-well-and-trace-it-for-your-own-pattern approach to sewing clothes. There are so many lovely indie pattern designers who have already done that hard work for me, and I’m perfectly happy to throw a few bucks their way for a nice, tested, graded pattern! Or of you’re not inclined to drop the dough for an indie pattern and are in the US, just head to your nearest Joann’s or Hancock Fabrics. They pretty much always have one of the Big 4 patterns on sale for $0.99.
In this case, I used a pattern that was already in my stash — the Megan Nielsen Ruched Maternity Skirt. Adapting this clearly maternity pattern for my non-pregnant body was surprisingly easy. Rather than using the front pattern piece (which has generous proportions for a growing belly) for the skirt front, I simply cut two of the back pattern piece. Easy peasy!
I also didn’t need the skirts to sit just under my bust, the way the maternity skirt does. Instead, I figured out where I wanted the waist of the skirt to sit on my body, identified where the curve of my hips was, and then measured the distance between the two. I applied that measurement to my pattern piece, and measured up from the curve of the hip on the pattern piece to find where the waist should hit. Then I added about 1 1/2 inches for an elastic casing, and shortened the pattern piece appropriately.
The top is the Day-to-Night Drape top by Maria Denmark. You may have seen Sew Busy Lizzy gush about this top here or Winnie of the Scruffy Badger here. After making a couple of these tops, it is no longer a mystery to me why sewists with office jobs are dedicated Maria Denmark fans — she is the F-ing queen of business casual patterns!
The Day-to-Night Drape top is a perfect example. This top is cute, fast, and incredibly useful for an office environment. It goes with just about anything, looks great layered under a jacket or cardigan (since us office dwellers love to layer — never know that that air conditioner is going to do), and is super comfortable for sitting around in all day.
And a plus for me — the drapey neckline is perfect for nursing! I’ve made two of these tops so far, both in bamboo jersey, which was perfect for this top. Bamboo jersey is typically a true medium-weight knit, which makes it really easy to work with, but also tends to have some spandex content, which gives it a super-stretchy four-way stretch. Four-way stretch may not be strictly necessary for this top, but it sure is nice if you’re planning to pull the neckline down to nurse all the time!
Fit: Great. Maria Denmark does a great job fitting knit tops. The pieces fit great with an appropriate amount of shaping and ease.
Fabric: Bamboo jersey from lowpricefabric.com. I love this jersey — it’s pretty much my go-to for solid knit fabric. I also made one in a navy polka dot bamboo jersey from fabric.com. Sadly, I think they are now sold out. However, Girl Charlee just started carrying some bamboo jersey — currently all they have is stripes.
Pattern Format: PDF pattern — not the best I’ve ever worked with, but certainly not the worst. I didn’t have any problems with this PDF. Everything went together just fine and the pattern lined up well. There aren’t many pattern pieces (only 2), so this wasn’t too cumbersome.
- Very fast and easy to make.
- Great for an office environment.
- Drape top is execellent for nursing.
- Fit is great.
- The finished product looks amazingly RTW.
- To me, this style pretty much reeks of business casual. I love having these in my wardrobe, but it’s not really something I wear other than to work.
Overall grade: A. I think this is such a great office wardrobe staple. And I’m sure it’s perfectly appropriate for non-office wear too, if that wasn’t so ingrained into my brain. You can’t beat a fast, easy top that gives a truly RTW look!