I recently found a black thrifted top made by Old Navy, which has quickly become my favorite maternity top! Not only was it perfect as I was transitioning into maternity clothes (that lovely "normal clothes don't quite fit, but neither do maternity clothes" stage), but it's just an all-around lovely top. I love, love, LOVE the ruching/gathering in the front, and find the overall shape to be quite flattering -- flowy, drapey, and probably perfect for post-partum because it hides a bit of bump and will work well for nursing. Plus, it doesn't require a modesty panel (though I did have to stitch up the neckline just a bit).
The only problem? Just one. This is a top I'd love to have in multiple colors! I even searched my favorite second-hand clothes sites for more of the same style in any color, because I'd have gladly bought another one (or two!) in black. I know I will be wearing this top out in short order (based on how frequently I've worn it already, and I'm not even half-way through).
The only solution? Knock it off. But this top was no picnic to figure out! The front alone seemed to be constructed of three separate pieces, of undefinable shape.
But in the end, I was determined enough to find a solution -- and here it is!
See that little "bar" across the center ruching? It feeds through to the wrong side of the bodice front (it's a circle/ring), so by carefully cutting the stitches from that bar on my original top, I was able to remove it and make sense of the construction. Turns out, the bodice is only made from two pieces:
Looks bizarre, doesn't it! It was still a bit of a pickle to work out the pattern, and it's just as crazy to put together (though not actually difficult). I would never, ever, have guessed just from looking at this top or trying to figure it out without removing the fabric tab. It's so very clever -- I like this top even more now that I know the "engineering" behind it!
My original mock-up was a slightly heavier striped jersey (I had yards and yards of it, so thought it would be good for experimenting). As I suspected, the construction method for this top makes black-and-white stripes just a bit overwhelming! However, it helped me work out a few kinks and decide upon the best construction process, and the striped version is now a favorite pajama top.
This second top went together in no-time-flat, and construction was even easier. I used a pink jersey I picked up for just over $2 a yard when the local Hancock's went out of business. It's the perfect weight for this top -- and I have more in a minty green!
The original top had gathering along the front and back shoulder seams, but I opted to just gather the front -- it simplifies construction! You might be able to see that the back neckline is bound, but the front neckline doesn't have any kind of hem -- it's an ingenious folded-under detail that gives a lovely, "stitch-less" finish to the front neckline.
And here's a view of the side. I have one more final edit for my pattern (I'd like to adjust the angle of one seam for what will hopefully be a slightly better fit), and then I hope to eventually transfer it to a printable format and put it up on the blog -- for free of course, because I like you and because this is a knock-off instead of an original pattern! *wink*
It's lovely to have another staple in my maternity wardrobe -- to pair with cardigans now, and to wear by itself as the weather warms up! Speaking of which, I'm going to have to do something about my skirts soon, because Spring is almost here...