How to Take in a Maternity Shirt

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I wanted to wear unique vintage maternity clothes but found them to be way too expensive. So, I sewed my own maternity shirts using a real vintage pattern. I had been doing bikini competitions and actually had to gain weight to get pregnant, so because I was already feeling pretty large, I presumed I would be an XXXL pregnant lady. I got the largest pattern I could find and extended the pattern to make it even bigger.  Well, turns out I didn’t get as big as I had presumed and was even smaller for my second baby, so the shirts went unworn.

Now here I am, pregnant with baby #3, and I’m so far an XS/S kinda pregnant!  So, rather than letting those shirts get even more dusty in the closet, I decided to pull out the sewing machine and take them in.  All I did was Google tutorials for taking in a regular shirt, and it was super simple–put a shirt that fits well on top, pin, sew, and trim the excess. Easy!

How to take in a big maternity shirt

Before, not looking pregnant at all…

How to take in a maternity shirt

…After, much  better!

Now that I’ve done it, I thought I’d offer just a quick tutorial for how to take in a maternity shirt, as I feel I could have used a few maternity specific tips.

one: find a shirt that fits how you like it that is the same style of shirt that you’re sizing and lay it on top, both shirts inside out.  Don’t use a t-shirt to size down a blouse, or a smock to size down a t-shirt. Maternity clothes in particular have different fabrics and cuts, so you need to make sure you’re matching your style. I used a vintage, hand sewn maternity top I got on Etsy (you can see me wearing it here) to size down my smock, but in hindsight it wasn’t a great choice because it is straight on the sides while the smock is more triangular.

How to take in a shirt maternity

two: use the small shirt as a guide to pin the large shirt. As I said, I should have chosen something with a more similar shape rather than following the yellow shirt so closely. I should have pinned it looser at the bottom and tighter at the top to maintain the smock shape, but oh well!

How to take in a shirt maternity

three: sew along your pins at the sides but don’t make your armpit hole too small. I did this and had to undue a few stitches and re-sew at an angle to make the holes larger.

four: turn it inside right and see if you like it. If you don’t, pull out that seam ripper and start over, don’t ruin your shirt by cutting it if it isn’t what you want!  If you like it, then flip it back inside out and cut off the extra fabric. Done!

How to take in a big maternity shirt

Before, not flattering at all…

How to take in a maternity shirt

…After, there’s that baby bump!

Perhaps it’s unusual to need to take in a maternity shirt; all the tutorials I found online were for making regular small shirts into large maternity shirts!  But if you are like me and have a few things that are just too big, I hope this helps you get some wears out of your clothes!


Jeans: Jessica Simpson Maternity

Smock Shirt: Handmade!

Yellow Shirt: Vintage handmade from Etsy

Vintage Maternity Pattern: eBay


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