DIY Strapless Bandeau wide leg jumpsuit – sew your own!


CJPatterns-Jumpsuit-225x300This DIY jumpsuit with wide legs is super simple to make. Drafted from the Christine Jonson Wide Leg Pants and sewn with an attached tube top is a very fast-to-make and easy, elegant weekend look.

Sewing this fun, comfortable and easy-to-wear garment is easy. You’ll need your choice of knit pants pattern. The one I’ve selected is Christine Jonson’s Wide Leg and Taper Pant. This pant has a choice between a wide leg (shown here) and a skinny pant. If you want a skinny pant under a bandeau top, go for the slim leg pant, if you want a wide one, like I have on, go for the wide.

Christine recommends that you chalk around your pattern pieces, remove them and then cut them out. I highly recommend it, as you’ll be able to adjust the width of the leg at the hem. This pant (even in a wide leg) has a slight taper, and I prefer it to go straight down from knee to hem.

This pant has no side seam, and neither does the bandeau top, so it’s a perfect match up.

To begin, you need to calculate the bandeau top dimensions. The reason for this is that the bandeau top is a rectangle and your pants are not. So mating up your pants top to the bandeau bottom is best if they are the same width (you’ll see photos in a moment.)

I’m marrying the wide leg pants to a bloused tube top. The tube top’s width is determined by your full bust size  – mine’s 36 inches and to create some ease, I’ve added 4inches to this width (2in. each side) for 40in., plus seam allowances, to 42in.  You might want MORE ease, so just add more to your full bust measurement. I’ll be using a center-back seam on the tube top. Measuring from my high bust to my waist is 15 inches, so I’ve added 6in. to this measurement to account for the waistband seam allowance, a casing for elastic at the top and blousing. My finished flat pattern measurements will be 42w” x 21h. If you want to be sure you have enough blousing, cut this longer and you can always hem the casing at the top shorter when you get there.

In measuring the flat pattern waistband top of the trousers, the size 12 is 38 inches across. I tapered out to a 14 for my slightly wider waist, but you can still see that 42 inches married to 40 inches means I ‘ll have to add 2in. to the waistband (you’ll be gathering this later with elastic casing.)



As you can see at left, pants, (back) and tube (back) are ready to be sewn together.  I have also provided a drawing of this part of the instructions as well.




To do this sewing together AND making a casing at the same time, you will mark the actual waist line of the pants on to the right side of your fabric (see the dashed line on the drawing).  Then, you’ll flip the tube so it’s right sides against the right side of the back of the pants. You’ll actually be laying the seamlines together but NOT the raw edges – you could just match up the raw edge waistbands here too and sew a 1.75″ seam allowance, trim away one layer and then fold that up as the casing, but I actually lowered the tube down so it’s seamline matched up with the drawn waistband line on the pants as shown in the drawing.



Once sewn, you’ll now have a big seam allowance with which to create a casing, so fold that up on the inside, enclosing the raw edge from the tube top part of the garment.

Pin the casing down from the right side of the fabric. Stitch along the pin line, leaving an opening to insert elastic on the back side of the jumpsuit.

In the photo at left, you can also see I’ve folded the top tube casing down for stitching as well as pinned the waistline casing from the outside. Turned under 1/4″ and then 1.25″ (I’m using 1″ wide elastic). You can topstitch that down too, leaving an opening in the back for inserting elastic.

Casings done, it’s time to insert some elastic! Cut elastic to your high bust measurement – this is above your full bust where the top of the tube will rest. Snug it up comfortably, you won’t want this to slip down, but you also won’t want it to be too tight.

Cut your elastic, thread it through the casing and stitch it together before stitching the opening closed.

For the waist, measure a piece of elastic around your waist plus 1″ overlap on each end. Again, snug, but not too snug. You’re not holding up the pants with this (that’s the high bust casing) but you are looking to add definition and sag at the waist = bad. Thread the elastic through, overlap the ends, sew the elastic then sew the casing shut.

You’re almost done!

Hemming tips: I measure a pair of well-fitting pants and do a press-and-pin to that inseam measurement to try them on with the shoes I think I’ll wear. I tend to wear flat shoes most often, especially in summer casual wear, so I hemmed mine with a deep 2.5″ hem straight stitch. Because these are wide legs, I do not need stretch at the hem. Skinny legs, though, you’ll want to use a stretch straight stitch or zigzag or twin needle hem for stretch over your ankle.

That’s it! Slip on the jumpsuit, add some fun jewelry, grab a bag and go!

I also frequently blog about fashion for breastfeeding mothers, and this one is a perfect match of style plus baby feeding friendly. If you feel more comfortable, drape a scarf across your chest (but not over baby’s head) as you nurse to cover your cleavage. I didn’t like to feed my babies under a cover, and they didn’t like to eat under one either.


Must-have mom style: Maxi dress with blazer

There’s nothing like wearing something that is comfortable, hides a multitude of sins, comes in every price point and

Maxi Dress with blazer fits nearly every body. The Maxi Dress is a wardrobe staple for moms year round. In a knit, it feels like a nightgown. And who doesn’t want to get away with wearing their nightgown in public, especially when you can look this chic in it!

When I talk with moms – especially new moms – about wearing dresses, the first question that comes up is how the heck do you nurse a baby in one? For the nursing mom, I recommend a strapless bandeau style or a surplice wrap style maxi dress. For the strapless bandeau style, La Leche League makes a strapless nursing bra that is so nice, I wore it long after nursing (but then felt guilty I was hoarding such a gem and sold it to another mama!) If you wear a jacket over the dress, you are reasonably well covered. A scarf around your neck will cover any additional excess cleavage, while still leaving your baby’s face open (I am opposed to nursing covers as a rule – you need to look into your baby’s eyes while nursing, or at least watch their lashes fall on dewy cheeks, no?)

When I was a new mom, probably six months postpartum, I went to teen consignment retailer Plato’s Closet with a friend. I found a strapless maxi dress in yellow and gray print and thought, indeed, I can nurse a baby in this dress! I have worn that dress so much (that baby, then another one, and now, four years later STILL wearing it!) the elastic is getting stretched out. Maxi dresses suitable for nursing moms and all moms are at every price point. There’s even a collection at Meijer right now you should check out. Stick one of those on the top of your cart between the baby carrots and the quart of milk on your way out of the store.

For the rest of you, any shape or style you like that fits and works for you is what you should choose. Maxi dress with blazer Maxi dress with blazer

All moms of any size look good with the maxi dress belted – either slightly bloused over the belt or not, your choice. And for added polish, warmth and style, layer a blazer over the top. Maxi dresses can be worn with flat shoes year round. In the winter, choose a flat heeled tall boot, in the summer, a flat sandal, in the shoulder seasons, ballet flats. I have even worn them with topsiders (indeed!) but only because I’d gotten a blister from the sandals I packed and I needed an alternative pair of shoes to wear.

Cool weather maxi dress style: Layer a blazer over the dress and top with an infinity scarf around your neck. Ballet flats.

Cold weather maxi dress style: tights, flat boots, layer a thin sweater over the maxi dress, belt the sweater and wear a blazer over it. Infinity scarf.

Summer maxi dress style: Just on it’s own, with flat sandals and a great bag! Want more inspiration? These are pics from my Pinterest board.  Follow me on Pinterest and check out my Effortlessly Chic and Enduring Style board for more maxi dress styling ideas for moms.

DIY Sew an Easy Nursing shawl/poncho out of two Pashmina scarves

Looking for an easy-to-sew and fun to wear garment for postpartum?  This nursing shawl can be worn while you’re nursing a distracted baby or a sleepy baby, or it can be worn over a tee and jeans to add some style (and hide extra baby weight!)


You’ll need two Pashmina scarves (or two large rectangular scarves approx. 72″ long) There are many sources for Pashmina scarves – from really fancy cashmere, to more affordable acrylic blends. Try some from or the sample ones we’ve sewn here from teen retailer Five Below.

You can also make them from any lightweight, drapey scarf, including georgette, chiffon, crinkled cotton or lightweight linen gauze.

To start, mark the center of the long edge of the scarf. You can do this precisely with a measuring tape, or just by folding the scarf in half and marking the halfway point with a pin.


Then, measure 7″ on either side of the pin. This creates a 14″ wide opening for your head (when worn as a nursing poncho/shawl). It creates enough room you can peek inside and watch your nursing baby or get latched on.

Place the scarves right sides together. Most scarves have a tag in one corner, the tag side is the WRONG side.

Pin perpendicular from one edge, to the spot you marked 7″ from centerline. Then, place a pin parallel to the edge. This second pin provides a “stopping point” reminder to leave the neck opening. Place another parallel pin inside the other 7″ mark for the other side of the neckline.

Continue pinning perpendicular to the shawl til the end.

Then, threading your machine with matching thread, sew 1/2″ away from the top of the shawl’s edge to the neckline pins. Backstitch to begin and end at the neckline. Cut the threads. Move to the other neckline edge and backstitch, sewing down to the end and backstitch again.

That’s it! Trim your threads and you’re done!


Nursing and babywearing clothes and jacket









Custom sewn babywearing coat in cream fleece has a nursing opening hidden under front facing, two deep pockets and a zip out babywearing or maternity panel. Size S/M up to about 160lbs.

$20 for coat, babywearing insert panel

Nursing funnelneck top with 3/4 sleeves and a nursing panel hidden under front overlay. Black rib knit. Size S. (custom sewn)

$4 for nursing funnelneck top. Necklace is Teething Bling coral and red nursing necklace, $5.

Black and print babywearing panel will fit zippers with a 5v on back. Black parka not for sale.

Babywearing panel: $10

Message ann (at) or call 517-402-8500. Other nursing tops/swimsuit and nursing/pumping bras available for sale.

As I have weaned my last, and he’s too big to carry (and I sold my Ergo over the summer anyway), I’m selling my babywearing coats. If you want to search this blog for the original posts I blogged about when I sewed them, search the categories at right under nursing tops and dresses or use the search box for babywearing. I loved these items and they served me well.

The fleece coat is polarfleece, and as such, it is not warm enough for a -5F degree day like we’re having today (1/6/14) but it would work fine for the 38F degree weather we’re supposed to have five days from now (gotta love Michigan) as well as spring and fall weather.

The babywearing coat works over any type of baby carrier – ring sling users – can be zipped down on one side only (so your baby’s face is not covered). If you’re not sure of the kind of zipper you have for the inset panel for a parka, just message me and I’ll help you locate it on the back of your own coat’s zipper.

Breastfeeding nursing tops, dresses and swimsuit for sale



White stretch cotton, long sleeve, with nursing access under the top layer. Has a tie in the back to make the top more or less fitted. Custom sewn by a seamstress.



Nursing swimsuit. Double layer front with nursing openings in the underlayer. High waist bottom with elastic in the casing. Size 8 Motherwear, fits about like a 10. Wore it postpartum at 135-145lbs.


Floral embroidered tank, Motherwear, front nursing underlayer only. Size M but cut for a postpartum figure. I wore this 4 weeks postpartum with both children.





Paisley and wool sweaterknit ‘twinset’ (the nursing openings are in the lowered armholes in the tee shirt underlayer. Stretch poly/nylon tee with sweatercoat (mid thigh) length wool blend sweater knit (hand wash, lay flat to dry). Sleeves are slightly bell shaped and slightly cropped. Custom sewn by seamstress. About a size 6-8.



Stretch cotton print dress in a coral red with pink floral. Nursing openings under the top layer. Sleeveless, knee length. Dress fit adjusts with ties in the back to be more or less fitted. About a 6-8. Custom sewn by seamstress.



Stretch poly/lycra matte jersey print dress. Nursing openings are in princess seams along the dress sides (see charcoal dress below). Fits about like a size 6, custom sewn by a seamstress.



Crossdye lime green/periwinkle linen dress with nursing openings under the top layer. Sleeveless, slight swing shape, above the knee fit, about a 6-8, custom sewn by seamstress.



Rayon/lycra jersey long sleeve dress, by Milk. Size small. Necklace is a MommyNecklaces collection limited edition necklace, also for sale.




Charcoal gray rayon heathered long sleeve dress. Nursing openings are hidden in princess seams on the dress sides. Above the knee, slightly swingy fit, 3/4 sleeves. Necklace is a MommyNecklaces in a red/coral mix, also for sale.


A whole wardrobe of nursing clothes! Great prices!  $4 for tops, $5 for dresses, or make me an offer for a bag of items.  Many of these were custom sewn, with nursing openings under a top layer for ease and privacy while nursing without having to use a blanket. Also great for pumping at work.

I also have more nursing tops for sale not shown here (yet.) There are also two maternity/nursing summer cotton nightgowns – roomy for your last trimester and made from pretty cotton fabrics.

Many of these were reviewed/previewed here on SewParadise (search the categories at right if you want to see photos of them on me.) Although I am sad to not be using these just once more for another squishy new baby, I hope that someone will!

Fall style for moms

It’s that change of seasons again, and moms are taking to hoodies and jeans. But wait! There’s better style to be had. Here are my favorite looks for busy moms on the go. These are everyday outfits (SAHM, or after work or weekend looks.)  I’ve included a selection of sewing patterns for most of the elements in this Mom style series, because, well, it’s called SewParadise for a reason. I don’t, however, expect most moms will sew the jacket (and there are so many good RTW options, you shouldn’t have to.)

The jacket. With everything.

I know, I know, I post about this every 10th post at least. The benefits of a great jacket cannot be overstated. There are many options for a perfect jacket – at every price point from $3.99 Goodwill, VOA and thrift stores, to $9.99 secondhand boutique or Target knockoffs on up to $129.99 investment pieces at retailers like JCrew, Ann Taylor, LOFT and Talbot’s (yes, that Talbot’s, it’s not just for your grandma.)

Fit: Jackets should fit in the shoulders and it should button if possible. If the ‘girls’ are your biggest asset, go for a 3-button fit, to keep them in line (and make sure you can button all three of them). If your waist is your problem area, go for a 1 or 2-button jacket. If it fits in the shoulders, it should fit across the waist, but if you can’t button it now, no sweat, just keep it open and keep chasing your kids and eating their leftover fruit and veggies but not their mac n’ cheese.

Fashion: Black is an old standby but it is hard for moms to wear because black/dark fabric shows milk stains (mother’s milk or otherwise.) Also if you had a crappy night up with little ones, you’ll look haggard in black.   I recommend a bright color, a textured tweed, plaid or houndstooth for most moms. It can be worn over even a fairly ratty tee shirt and jeans and make the whole look a polished one. Add a scarf and you can cover up milk, spitup and juice stains in a jiffy!

nursing mom fashions

Elizabeth Lee Nursing Pattern # 209

Nursing mothers: Elizabeth Lee Sewing Patterns makes a pattern called the Mother Cover. It is basically six versions of a shell that has lowered armholes. Put the shell/top on, slip on that jacket and when it comes time for a hungry baby, just pull aside the jacket slightly, pull back the top’s armhole and voila, covered up nursing.  Don’t stress about the dated photos – I’ve made modern-fabric versions of the Elizabeth Lee patterns and gotten tons of compliments on them.

I wear the jacket with everything, but mostly with jeans or cords on the weekend. The jean shape is up to you, I go skinny OR wide – the rule is the shorter/tighter the jacket, the wider the pant can be. The looser/longer the jacket, the narrower the pant should be.  And I finish this look with ballet flats, sporty flats or (with skinny jeans) tall flat boots.

The Tunic and Leggings (with or without skirt)

Jalie 3132 tunics for nursing mothers (or not)

Jalie 3132 tunics for nursing mothers (or not)

My second favorite outfit is the tunic with leggings look.

Fit: below-crotch length on the tunic is most flattering. End the tunic below the widest part of your leg, wherever that may be on you. Tunics look best skimming the body, and this is for all bodies – if you’re plus-sized, just sew it so it’s not skin tight and all moms should consider a shaper underneath. This shaper/smoother pattern from Christine Jonson is awesome, can be made to sausage-casing strength or with less snappy knits, a more comfortable smoother.  You could also morph the top of this smoother with a leggings pattern (Christine Jonson has one of those too.) for a high waisted, smoother legging! I have not tried this but I’ll bet it will work.

Fashion: Depending upon the length of your tunic, you can go without a skirt, but if you feel more covered up, go with a sleek wrap skirt, a flippy knit skirt or a short A-line skirt. I love the tunics from Jalie, 3132 is an awesome pattern. The tunic is long enough to pass as a mid thigh short dress on me, I am 5’3″. It can be made with nursing openings or not (I’m now past needing them, but made four of them when I was still nursing!)

Christine Jonson cowl neck tunic sewing pattern

Christine Jonson downloadable cowl neck tunic pattern

I also love this cowl neck top/tunic from Christine Jonson Patterns ePattern/downloadable line. It is one of the VERY best cowl neck fitting I have ever seen. Christine agonized over the fact that most cowl necks leave a giant blob of fabric near your armpit/above bust that is really unattractive and took that out with careful and amazing drafting of this pattern. Best part? instant gratification/download.

Nursing mothers, I have posted a version of a tee from Christine Jonson that can be adapted very easily for this pattern. See links at the end of the post.

With the tunic and leggings, I wear sleek ballet flats, or socks and high boots with a flat heel.

These two great looks are part of my weekend/evening wardrobe with kids and they never do me wrong. I always feel great, polished, and confident. I think they help me navigate even the worst toddler tantrum with style!

Want to see more mom style articles? Check out this one on the Six Mom Essentials, this one on the Mom Cape, and this one on modifying sewing patterns for nursing / breastfeeding access.

Pita project o the week


So, I am working on this vintage dress I picked up at the PatternReview PRWeekend a year ago. It is very on trend again and fun. But of course I had this brilliant idea that I would alter it for nursing and proceeded to make it way complicated. But I have only the waistline casing and then I can toss it in a dyebath and rock a chic maxidress a la 70s.

Preppy nursing fashionista

I had a friend describe my style as ‘preppy’ a few months back. I always termed this ‘modern classics’ myself, but OK, preppy. It fits. I’m a sailing mom in a midwest college town, and I love beaches up north Michigan. Yeah, that’d be preppy.

So what’s the preppy nursing fashionista wearing these spring days? I love a striped top with wide leg pants. It just feels so summery. But of course my boat neck striped top is not nursing compatible. I define this as it covers my belly AND breasts. I get by this by wearing a nursing camisole, but I am also going to sew a nursing top (Jalie 3132, with some mods for a different neckline, a lapped bateau neck).

This mama pairs this outfit with a big sailing canvas tote. I have bunches – made from actual sails which are not as nice as the one I saw at Land’s End Canvas tonight, of course, since they’re cut from 30 year old sails left in someone’s attic (or the sailing club, for years!) But I think if I found one of the white-ish ones, added some blue canvas trim, and leather handles, it would be a chic version of my grocery shopping and boat sail totes.

Wedges. Boot cut jeans, a pretty top with a seersucker jacket belted over it (this is why you need a nursing top, otherwise, every time babe/toddler asks to nurse, you’re unbuckling belt, opening jacket… yada, yada.Of course you could buy a cheap or thrifted striped tee and follow these instructions for making a nursing one to wear under a jacket, too.

Yeah, I could rock that as a casual friday or weekend look. Preppy, indeed. This summer, hoping to finally get out sailing again, now that our toddler is a bit older (2 in June) and our preschooler will big enough and experienced enough around the boat to be reasonably helpful.

I also have docksiders, the actual Sperry ones, that I bought years ago at a marine flea market (about 15 years ago). They’re in good shape, but my foot got bigger after babies and they’re tiiiight, so I don’t like wearing them a lot. I need to stretch them out somehow. Of course I don’t wear any of this on the actual boat 😉 It’s more like shorts, a tee shirt (nursing is fine) and Keen sandals.

Jalie nursing tunic

As soon as I saw this pattern previewed on the Jalie site, I knew I had to have it. I had my MIL preorder it for my birthday, and it arrived the day after! Of course, it took me 3 months to sew it (kidding, two) with my schedule. I made this tunic version and boy is it long – I mean, with leggings or tights, this is totally doable as a dress. I plan to wear it tomorrow with slim black wool pants, and a cashmere poncho to a client meeting. I have also cut up an old Michigan State tee shirt and some white organic cotton/lycra to make a Spartan spirit hoodie version with kangaroo pocket. Fun! I expect I’ll get a lot of requests to make those (not gonna happen!) for other Spartan nursing mamas!

Jalie 3132 nursing tunic

Jalie 3132 nursing tunic

DIY No-sew nursing tops


Reach in, pull over the lowered armseye to access breast

This is a super easy tute, and cheap to do. You can purchase inexpensive knit shirts, or get some from thrift or second-hand stores. Don’t be afraid to cut up a trendy tee with some detail at the neckline or down the front, to make stylish versions of this. I’ve used a basic tee from my Goodwill bag.

Lay your tee shirts on a flat surface. Measure down from the neck/shoulder edge


Measure down 12.5" from neck/shoulder edge and pin at the sideseam

to 12.5″ and put a pin at the sideseam. This is about the right measurement for almost any nursing mom (assuming the tee fits you in the bust). Then, using a curved ruler (this is a french curve) or even just hand-drawing a curve, cut a shallow curved shape in from the sideseam, curving up to the shoulder. You’ll be cutting the sleeve off close to where it’s sewn on, making a low-armhole tank top.

Using a french curve or freehand, draw a nice curved shape

Then, you wear this tank under a jacket or cardigan as I’ve shown here, and when you want to nurse, just reach inside and pull the lowered armhole across to access your breast.

You can even sew these too – any basic shell (woven fabric) or tank top pattern will do just fine. You do not need to finish the armseye edges if it’s a knit fabric. This can go dressy in silk under a work blazer or leather jacket. It can go casual in knit cotton under a denim jacket.

Two low armseyes, ready for nursing!

The peach knit top example was too large for me, so I added pintucks across the midriff to cinch it up a little. This involved actual sewing 😉

Worn under a jacket or cardigan, this nursing tee looks like a regular tee

Fashion Blog Theme by Nimbus Themes

rss Follow on Twitter facebook linkedin flickr google+ email