Maternity Sewing #1: Ogden Cami Tent Dress Hack

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the first write-up of a garment made specifically for my rapidly and weirdly changing body.

I’ve been having a lot of thoughts (feelings?) about dressing and sewing as a pregnant person who is not very into ruffles or pleats, but let’s save those for another time. For today, I want to get this Ogden Cami hack down on paper internet.

There it is, in a couple sizes up, with side gores for maximum tenting, on my 24-and-change weeks preg body standing out in a stunning Southern California heatwave to get blog pics

To begin, we have the Ogden Cami from True Bias patterns. It’s my first go with this company, and it was a good experience! But know that I have hacked the sh!t out of this pattern to get it to fit over and around my expanding bust and stomach, so those looking for a more straightforward review of the pattern should probably look elsewhere.

Those of you interested in how to achieve maximum tentage, here we go.

First: There are a lot of people who’ve been making this thing into a dress. The most common method seems to be to just extend the side seams down from the hem, with or without some flare. Then there are the lovely Ogden/Inari mashups that Dart and Thread was churning out earlier this summer. I was really into that idea for a while, but around week 20 I could tell my waist circumference was approaching the limits of Inari’s cocoon waistline as my previous sack dresses started getting a little tight (srsly).

I could have flared the side seams out from the bust, but I know from experience with fitting for my bust and butt that adding width at the side seams can just create dumb drag lines that point to the point of ‘fullness’. I wasn’t too keen on the thought of a bunch of fabric lines pointing directly to my belly.

Kelli also has a hack which would work for a pregbod if you cut the bodice off at an empire height. But gathers aren’t super my style either.

Sooooo, I pondered, and decided to add gores to the side seams. The gores can force volume to push to the front and back of the garment, rather than just sticking out at the sides into an A-line and thereby minimizing drag lines (though in certain positions I still have some, but eh). That’s what I stuck to in this black silk crepe, and I’m pretty pleased with how it went!

The basics of this hack:

:: extend front and back pattern pieces to desired dress length.

:: draft gore/godet the length of your side seam. The top and bottom widths should be determined by how much extra width you want at the underarm and then at various points on the dress. Mine was 1/2” at the top and 6” at the bottom, on each side, plus seam allowances.

:: remember to draft gores to correspond to the length of your lining. I just made a full lining for a dress, which is better for modesty anyway.

:: sew gores to front pattern piece.

:: follow the True Bias instructions for the remainder of construction.

The details:

To start, I traced off a size 10 pattern, lengthening the front and back pieces by 15” (I am 5’3”). The pattern is drafted for a C-cup, a category into which I do not fall at the moment. I did a 2” full bust adjustment (1” each side) using this tutorial, but ended up leaving the dart in, basically for sanity when trying to match up side seams given all the other changes. I then used my Curve Runner to measure the length of the side seam in order to figure out the length of my godet.

Here it is, the very long skinny trapezoid on the right. Note that I also measured where the front and back notches were along the side seams and added corresponding ones on the gores to make life a bit easier.

The center of the godet should correspond to the grain line. I made mine 1/2” wide at the top, 3” wide near the waist level, and 6” wide at the bottom. This gets us to an extra 1” at the chest, 6” at the waist and 12” at the hem. I then added 1/2” seam allowances (which is what the pattern uses).

[Re: the chest. If you wanted, you could have the top of the gore narrow to nothing, to form a true triangle where the side seams meet.  I considered this, measured my also-expanding high bust, and decided I could do with another inch in the round up there. So here we are.]

Things were really straightforward from there. I sewed the darts, then sewed the godets onto the front pieces, and then just followed the directions, treating my full lining in the way the instructions do the partial lining.

In case it helps anyone, I had to shorten the straps considerably, to about 5.5” total. I think the bust dart should be a little higher, like maybe 3/8”, but it was sort of hard to get a sense of where my bust point would be when I was flat pattern adjusting, so there you go.

Only other gripe is that the hem is wonky and a bit too long. See:

A tent dress should be a bit on the shorter side to balance out the massive volume I think, but that’s fixable. This dress probably deserves to hang on my dress form for a couple days before I remove a bit more of the length. I’m thinking I’ll only lop off 1”.

In terms of finishing, I stepped away from the serger on this one. I used a combination of pinked seams and reinforcement stitching in the seam allowance instead, towards the bottom of this Threads article. Let’s see how that goes, washing-wise.

In a total pregnancy photoshoot fail, I forgot to put my hand on my belly. I think the belly’s noticable, but here are two stand-in shots. One, which is find pretty funny, of the fabric draping over my chest in the foreground in a nice pretty fold, and then the huge bump popping out in the background. Nice.

And a second, of hand on belly when I was leaned over, talking, and – I dunno – trying to hold it in?

Anyway, there you have it. A huge tent dress for all your pregbod hot weather needs.

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12 Comments

  1. Don’t forget that as you get farther along, your dress will ride up in the front due to your baby belly. I only mention it as sometimes it can get pretty short near the end. Of course hi/low hems are still around…it could look right in style.
    Barb

    1. Yes, a good point! It’s doing that a bit already. I was thinking only about an inch, and in any case don’t see needing a silk slip dress past the beginning of October so I think it should be? (Due mid December)

  2. Super impressed. Mostly because the second it was confirmed I was pregnant, I lost every and all design to sew and be creative! Love the hack – you look comfy even though from the pics I can tell it was hot hot hot!

    1. Thanks!! I lost a ton of energy (and do not really believe the thing about second trimester burst), but have kept wanting to make stuff. Wanting being the operative word here, tho. I’ve always been slow but preg has made me slooooooooooow.

      1. Yea, I hear ya. There were days where I couldn’t quiiite make it up off the couch to get into the sewing room. But I don’t expect the opportunities for sewing will exactly grow post-pregnancy!

      2. Basically. I wish I had a good news story there, but not initially. I’ve been doing a decent amount of sewing post the 12 mth mark though – so it does come back!

  3. Nice work. I’m about 2 weeks ahead of you, and have been focussing on winter preggo clothes but now need to think summer… my word – the changes in ones bod are remarkable aren’t they? I’ve made lots of knits but have started focusing on a few woven drapey things that I can make nursing friendly too. I find most nursing patterns horrific but with a little lateral thinking I’m finding I can adapt non maternity like you have.

    1. Thanks! Yes the changes are pretty weird. The knits make the most sense, really, but I started to feel just so exposed (so many curves! All over the place!) in a close-fitting knit. My new plan is to make a couple of long-ish jackets that can be worn indoors and over the close fitting knit dresses and tops, hoping that’ll both give me room and keep me under wraps a bit more.

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