megan nielsen

Amber maternity dress

After a week of successful sewing projects (the wrap cardigan and maternity Agnes), I was bummed to try this on initially and find it so… meh.

Amber maternity dress (pattern by Megan Nielsen), made by Small Bobbins

This is the Amber maternity/nursing shirt/dress pattern from Megan Nielsen. She has a whole collection of really awesome looking maternity patterns that I discovered earlier in my pregnancy, only to find out that most weren’t available. When she sent out a newsletter announcing that this pattern was being re-released as a PDF, I bought it that minute!

But… I should’ve taken my time with constructing, I was on a high of speedy sews and not really accounting for the slippery fabric (purchased at a fabric fair here in Ghent, no idea what it is). I should’ve made fitting changes sooner; I had tried on the bodice and noticed it was gaping, but assumed the skirt would fix that. In the below picture I’m trying to show how baggy the top is, and it’s already covered in pins to keep it looking decent! (The busy pattern does make it hard to tell though.)

Amber maternity dress (pattern by Megan Nielsen), made by Small Bobbins

I also should’ve checked out the length before hemming. I ended up cutting off a huge amount, so it would’ve saved some effort.

Amber maternity dress (pattern by Megan Nielsen), made by Small Bobbins

I can anticipate that the bodice might … fill out a bit more in the coming months, but it’s also a stretchy fabric. My main concern was getting everything much tighter for now and then letting the knit fabric do its job if my measurements changed. I unpicked the bodice band from the bodice, made the modesty panel smaller (since it was already stitched to the shoulder seams and I didn’t want to unpick all of that, I cut off two giant stripes that would stay hidden and sewed the pieces back together. Total hack!), took some width out of the side seams, attached the modesty panels and front bodice pieces higher up, and shortened the bodice overall when reattaching the skirt.

Amber maternity dress (pattern by Megan Nielsen), made by Small Bobbins

The results are great! Like I said, it was a total hack-job, but it fits so much better now.

With my current measurements, I fell just a bit bigger than a size medium, but cut the straight medium anyway. Next time I may try a small! I almost forgot to cut the back bodice piece, which was nearly a problem because my cutting layout wasn’t as efficient as it should’ve been. I think I even cut a few pieces off grain (although, can a 4-way stretch fabric really have much of a grain?). I had 2.7 meters of this fabric, but it seemed like so little in the end. I planned to cut 3/4-length sleeves, but didn’t want to cut the pattern, was too lazy to trace, and then I forgot about my plan when I cut the fabric, oops! Long sleeves it is. Also, what a difference it is to have a fresh blade on my rotary cutter, it seems so obvious now but it made such a huge difference!

Amber maternity dress (pattern by Megan Nielsen), made by Small Bobbins

Also, I changed the pleats to gathers on the skirts. I don’t have much (read: any) experience with pleating, and maybe it was just this fabric, but it was super difficult to get them to look nice on the bodice, so I threw out the idea for the skirt and just gathered it in the front. I’m pleased with it! I really like that the gathers(/would-be pleats) fit my belly now, but will (hopefully) not look so obviously “maternity” after the little lady is born. Plus, the nursing panel is super practical.

The pattern skill is rated 2/5 and I would say that’s accurate. This was really easy to sew, you might want a few knit garments under your belt before tackling this but really, there’s nothing out of the ordinary and only eight pattern pieces. I’m already planning a shirt version in a simple black jersey, plus I think I may steal the bodice/modesty panel pieces to franken-pattern other tops and dresses. Making a nursing top was definitely on my “to sew” list and I’m so glad that this pattern was re-released so I didn’t have to figure out how to make it on my own.

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wrap cardigan

I have a this charcoal-colored sweater knit (not super tight or loose, a bit see through, two-way stretch) that I bought recently. I was originally thinking to make a dress, but once I saw this wrap cardigan tutorial from Megan Nielsen on my Pinterest board, it clicked.

Wrap cardigan, made by Small Bobbins

Even for a super beginner like myself, it was really easy and fast! It’s not quite a “free pattern”, but Megan provides all measurements (it’s a one-size tutorial). Using her instructions, I drew out my own pattern; essentially some rectangles with a few curves for the armholes and neckline. I just bought a curved ruler recently, so it was really simple to get nice lines on my pattern.

Wrap cardigan, made by Small Bobbins

Maybe my cutting was off, but my front pieces were a tad longer than my back piece.

Wrap cardigan, made by Small Bobbins

Constructing it took me a minute to wrap my head around, especially once I sewed the shoulder and side seams together. Figuring out how to get the collar from this massive rectangle of fabric took a few attempts at pinning, but then once I got it, it seemed really obvious.

Wrap cardigan, made by Small Bobbins

The long, drapey cardigan is perfect for wearing over my recently finished Alder shirt dress. It feels as cozy as it looks, and the shape of it definitely doesn’t say “maternity” so I can continue wearing it throughout Belgium’s many seasons of chilly weather.

Wrap cardigan, made by Small Bobbins

This knit fabric is so forgiving that the pattern fits me just fine with no adjustments, and looks fine without any finished seams (and I’m too lazy to finish them if I really don’t have to). After spending a day cutting out the fabric for a bunch of projects at once, I was able to sew this up in just about an hour on a weeknight. The sleeves could be a little looser and the shoulders a bit less square (you can see they have a tendency to stick up in the pictures above), but any small flaws I notice are hidden by the overall look of the cardigan.

Wrap cardigan, made by Small Bobbins

Wrap cardigan, made by Small Bobbins

Here you can see how the front and back pieces didn’t quite match up to each other. All it takes it two seconds with a rotary cutter to taper that edge, and it’ll be good to go (even though, the two sides match perfectly and it doesn’t stick out that it’s an error).

Overall, I’m so pleased with how this turned out! It’s so satisfying to spend so little time on something I know I will wear a lot. It’s an old tutorial, but I highly recommend it for anybody who’s looking for something similar!

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