The Annelaine All Seasons Dolman is such a quick and versatile pattern which makes it the perfect addition to any lady’s wardrobe. It has a hood and a fun tie feature that I just love. This blog post will help make this dolman top even more useful with two different ruching maternity hacks! One way will show you how to ruche just the front of your All Seasons with a gathering stitch, and the other method will show you how to ruche both the front and back by using elastic. This post will also look at how to grade between sizes and how to lengthen your top which are very easy and common alterations for sewing clothes during your pregnancy. The best thing about this pattern though is that it is super fast to sew up and beginner friendly!
Grading From a Smaller Size to a Larger Size
It is very common to need to adjust your sewing patterns when you are sewing for pregnancy to accommodate a growing belly. I find that I most often need to adjust from a smaller size up top to a larger size at my hips. Some women may not need to do this if their chest size grows as well. For this pattern you will want to choose your sized based off of your upper chest measurement. You will want to measure under your arm pits around your chest (including the top of your breasts). See the picture below.
For the time being, ignore your waist size and choose your size based on your upper chest size just like the tutorial suggests. My upper chest measurement put me in a size 4, but my hip measurement (around the widest part of your hip/butt) put me in a size 8. This dolman pattern does have some ease around the waist and hips. Considering my increasing size however, I decided to grade to the larger hip size.
For grading, use the layering feature to print out your two sizes. For me I selected the size 4 and the size 8. You will be grading your pattern from the smaller (red line in picture above) size to the larger size (blue line in the picture above). Looking at the side seam you will start at the smaller size line just above the crop top cut line on your pattern piece. Draw a new line (orange line in the picture above) from the smaller size (red line) towards the larger size (blue line). Eventually your new line (orange line in the picture below) will gradually merge into the larger size at the bottom hem of your pattern piece. I used the relaxed fit (solid line on your pattern) for my first grey colored dolman and on my second teal one I used the slim fit (dashed line on your pattern).
Choosing your Fabric
You want to choose fabric that has a 4-way stretch. The grey top is made from cotton lycra from Elevated Fashion Fabrics and the teal top is made from 190 GSM athletic brushed poly spandex from Bow Button Fabrics. You could probably get away with a 2-way stretch, but it will be the most comfortable and you will get the best fit if your clothing is able to stretch both horizontally and vertically around your belly. If your fabric has in between 50-60% stretch horizontally, I would go with the relaxed fit (solid line on your pattern) to be able to wear your top comfortably through your whole pregnancy. If your fabric has more than 60% stretch horizontally, you can use the slim fit (dashed line on your pattern) without worrying if it will last.
Do You Need to Adjust Width?
With more slim fitting patterns, you may find that you will need to adjust the width of your front pattern piece at the belly. The All Seasons Dolman has ease built into the pattern at the waist and at the hips. To check the ease you will need to do some simple math. Measure across the front and back pattern pieces right at the waist. This will be right around where you see the crop top length cut line. Remember that each one of these measurements are half of what the true measurement equals because you will cut your fabric on a fold. Your measurement also includes seam allowance.
[Measurement at the Waist – 0.25 (seam allowance)] x 2 = Finished Measurement After Sewn
Here are my calculations in the picture below of the back pattern piece.
You will then add the front finished waist measurement and the back finished measurement to get your total finished waist measurement of the garment. The size 4 was 37 inches at the waist which is equal to my current waist measurement at 18 weeks pregnant. By using fabric with good stretch and recovery, I felt confident that I did not need to add any width to my front pattern piece.
Adding Length for Ruching
With these two hacks I included extra length for both ruching and for a few extra inches of length. I added 5 inches to the front pattern piece at the waist and only 2 inches to the back pattern piece for the gathered ruching maternity hack. I added 5 inches to both the front and back pattern pieces at the waist for the elastic ruching hack. To add length at the waist cut your front pattern piece at the crop top cut line like in the picture below. I am 5’7” so the added length is needed. If you are shorter, you may only need 4 inches added (for the gathered ruching add 1 inch in the back if only adding 4 inches to the front).
I used a sheet of paper to create my extra five inches of length. I left a little bit of space above and below to tape it to my pattern pieces.
Tape this 5 inches to your pattern piece and redraw your side seams. Trim your side seam piece. Remember if doing the elastic ruching hack you will need to add length using this method to both the front and back. If only doing the gathered ruching, add 5 inch length to the front and only 2 inches to the back. For the elastic ruching, I also added 1.5 inches to the bottom hemline for added length. Adding length in this manner helps to make sure that your length is evenly distributed.
Gathered Front Ruching
For the gathered ruching hack you should have added 5 inches of length at the front waist and 2 inches of length at the back waist like in the previous step above. Mark where you added length on the front pattern piece like in the picture below.
Using your regular sewing machine, sew a line of gathering stitches in between the two marks on both sides (see picture below). Do not lock in your stitches. Gather each side by gently pulling your bottom bobbin thread. Gather until your gather is about 2 inches in length (see picture below).
Sew your shoulder seams by following the instructions in the All Seasons Dolman Tutorial. Match up your side seams. It should look like the pictures below. I like to sew with the gathering ruffles facing up so that I can make sure I catch all of them with my stitches.
For the elastic ruching hack you should have added 5 inches of length at the front waist and 5 inches of length at the back waist length. You should have also added 1.5 inches to the bottom hem of the front and back pattern pieces for added length. You can see detailed pictures in the Adding Length for Ruching Section.
Cut out the fabric with your new pattern pieces and follow the pattern tutorial to sew up the garment. If you sew using a regular sewing machine, do not trim your side seams. Try on your top to see where you would like the ruching to start and stop. See the picture below. I gathered my fabric across my belly like it would if I had already ruched it. Mark where you would like your ruching to start. I marked mine 6.5 inches from the under arm and 2.5 inches from the bottom hem.
Pin or clip your ¼ inch elastic evenly from your marked points. My elastic measured 10 inches.
Using your regular sewing machine you will sew down the length of your elastic being sure to lock in your stitches at the beginning and end. I use Maxi Lock Stretch Thread in the bobbin, but you probably will be just fine using a straight stitch so long as you evenly stretch your elastic between your marked points. You can see a picture of what the thicker yarn like stretch thread looks like below. When using stretch thread, it is recommended that you hand wind the thread onto the bobbin.
When you lock in your stitches at the beginning and end of your elastic, do not stretch your elastic. You want the edge of the elastic to be even with your side seam. Position your needle in the center of your elastic (see picture below).
Once your beginning stitches are locked in stretch the elastic evenly from pin to pin (I generously pinned/clipped evenly along the elastic). Continue sewing from pin to pin until you reach the end of the elastic. Relax the last little bit of elastic and lock in your stitches.
Now you have a super quick pattern to sew up some of the most comfy pregnancy clothes that will last you through your whole pregnancy!!!
***This blog post does contain affiliate links. If you buy the pattern, I will get a small percentage of sales. It will not cost you anything extra. It helps me be a work from home mom and stay home with my little ones.