I love to sew, but for the past months I’ve been hesitant to start any new projects, because of my — let’s call it my unpredictable girth. I was pregnant, then I wasn’t, then I was again — so no way was I going to spend two weeks on a meticulously tailored, fully lined, snug-as-a-bug size-8 pencil skirt made of expensive wool when there was no guarantee I’d ever be able to squeeze my ass into it again.
As for sewing my own maternity clothes, I’ve been really conflicted about that, because to sew with wovens (your pants, provided you are not wearing sweatpants, are in a woven; your button-down dress shirt is a woven; your t-shirt is a knit) you have to be pretty accurate about your size, and altering all of my existing patterns to accommodate a massive chest and an ever-thickening midsection would take forever, and by the time I got a new pattern draped and drafted I’d be five sizes bigger.
Most maternity clothes nowadays are in knits, for good reason, because knits stretch — but sewing knits on a home machine is a bit problematic. You usually need a special (and expensive, and difficult-to-use) contraption called an overlock or a serger, or if you sew on a regular machine you have to use a double needle and basically be ready for all your seams to come out half-undone and fucked up as shit.
Meanwhile, I’m too big for most of my clothes now, but I don’t want to buy maternity wear if I don’t absolutely have to, because a) I hate buying clothes in general, for all sorts of reasons both practical and political (hence making most of them myself), and b) I hate even more buying clothes that I’m going to wear for six months and then never again (we are only planning to have one kid, not that it’s any of your business).
Anyway, I was fed up with wearing the same baggy skirt every single day, and the ordeal of attempting to squeeze my chestal region into my usual cabal of breezy sundresses was getting to be too much, so I had to procure something to wear. So, today I went to Goodwill and bought some big-ass jeans I can convert and some men’s button-down shirts in size huge, plus a few actual maternity tops — which was a start. But it’s summer in St. Louis, and that means round-the-clock disgusting humidity, and that means dresses.
Enter the caftan. I whipped this bad boy up using some breezy cotton I’d been saving for something special. I only had about two and a half yards of it, which wasn’t enough to make a real dress (I’d been intending to make a big, full skirt with it), and that ended up being exactly the right amount to make two giant 33″ x 56″ rectangles of fabric, hem them, sew them together at the shoulders and sides, and then install a self-made drawstring (with an elastic panel in the back — actually, with a faux-elastic panel I hacked from a t-shirt collar’s stretchy ribbing because I’m so handay/you already know/I digress).
I was hoping for more Liz Taylor circa ’70 and less John Belushi circa Animal House toga party, but I think I landed squarely in the middle. Here’s me striking a pregnant-Beyoncé-at-the-award-show pose that makes my belly look WAY more pronounced than it is.
Pros of sewing a caftan: no pattern, no fitting, very few joining seams, pretty much impossible to screw up. Pros of wearing a caftan: IT IS THE MOST COMFORTABLE GARMENT IN EXISTENCE, and anyone who is not wearing one right now totally wishes they were. Christina Hendricks was right (as usual).
Cons of sewing a caftan: Everyone gets/has to look at me in caftans for the next five months. My rule is: If I am going to be a huge pregnant fatass, I am sure as shit going to wear some loud-ass clothes during this magical, wondrous time. Cons of wearing a caftan: TRICK QUESTION, MOTHERFUCKERS, there are none, except possibly dealing with the jealousy of non-caftan-wearers.
I just pointed my husband in the direction of the VERY loudly-patterned silk I plan to use for my next, oh, I don’t know, eight or nine caftans? And he did a Sideshow Bob shudder. Whatever, guy. You did this to me.