February 27, 2020

An everyday Alcott Dress for the busy Mum lifestyle


What’s this? I’m writing a blog post?? About a dress I actually made??? For myself ?!! Will wonders never cease.

In fact, there is a very specific reason for this change in events, which is that my one year old daughter is finally consistently sleeping through the night (she was an amazing newborn sleeper, then… err…. not so great from months 8 – 12). The upshot of that is I feel like a human being again for the first time in over a year, and actually have the energy to do more than the absolute minimum required in life. Result!

So what did I decide to make? An everyday, winter-suitable Alcott Dress using this gorgeous Liberty knit jersey which I picked up when I was in London over Christmas.

I’m still breastfeeding, and that’s been quite rough on my wardrobe, as easy boob access typically means separates. So when I wanted to make myself something that would be a go-to but not jeans-and-a-sweater (UGH I’M SO BORED OF THAT), I decided to make an Alcott, because not only is the style super comfortable and forgiving of post-partum tummies, but it’s also great for nursing. Not just because it’s a surplice top, but because we added elastic in there, which means it pings straight back into place when you put the boob away (or try to remember, I have most definitely sat with a bra cup hanging out for at least 5 minutes in public places).

Subtlety is my middle name (and Third Love is the name of this surprisingly chic underwired nursing bra that’s available in a 38H)

Right now my boobs are even more immense than usual, but in anticipation of my daughter finally taking a cup (please, please, J, take a cup), I went with my “normal” size 18, through the shoulders and arms, and then graded up to a 20 G/H everywhere else. Technically I think my boobs are a 22 or 24 GH right now, but knits being what they are, the 20 fits fine.

Apart from that, the main changes were I took the view B sleeves (sans ruffle) and put them on the view A, and I lengthened the skirt by 3 inches to give me an almost-midi look. I kicked myself after we did the Alcott Dress cover, because I realized that the styling made it look like a special occasion dress only, whereas it actually works really well as a throw-it-on, secret pajamas garment – and I think this proves it! Deciding on the cover samples is always so nerve wracking, because it has a massive impact on sales – especially the fabric that we pick, and the styling.

I wore this to daycare drop off today instead of my usual insanely boring Mum uniform and I felt just a touch chic, especially paired with my slightly bonkers lilac coat (I bought it assuming it would be for occasional novelty wear, but nope I wear it on the reg).

So finally, I have a new item of clothing, and it’s just possible that I might have enough energy to make *another* garment in the not too distant future.

I’m back in the game, woo hoo!

34 thoughts on “An everyday Alcott Dress for the busy Mum lifestyle

  1. Donna F says:

    I love the dress but stopped reading at “breast feeding a year old”.

    1. What an odd thing to say. As it happens, my daughter has a pediatric feeding disorder and still requires nursing for her health. But even if she didn’t, breast feeding a 12 month old baby is hardly a rare thing, nor a bad thing.

      1. Janis says:

        Although I’m now 57…. I think I was breast fed until almost 2. I’ve never had any childhood diseases (mumps, measles or chicken pox). Never been ill outside the common cold and not allergic to anything. While I understand many women can’t do it… I think it’s great if you can. Keep it up if you can!!

      2. Lorraine b Calhoun says:

        You go girl! You are awesome. Continue what is best for you and your family and ignore “naysayers”

    2. Miriam says:

      Bummer that the first comment is so ignorant and rude. WHO recommends breastfeeding until age 2, and regardless it’s NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS. Learn some manners.

      1. Donna F says:

        I will continue to think no child should be breast fed past 9mo to 1 year. In USA, employers don’t have to accommodate a mother past the first 1 year.

        1. @Donna that’s an unusual position to take which isn’t supported by health authorities or science, but by all means don’t breastfeed any babies you have longer than you want to. I would suggest it isn’t very kind or polite to criticize other people’s breastfeeding choices in a public forum, however, especially when you have no idea of their personal health circumstances.

          1. Janis says:

            Babies that are breast feed up to two tend to benefit from their mothers immune system and healthy lifestyle choices. Studies show that after two there isn’t much difference… except bonding and attachment if someone is struggling with that. I don’t get why breast feeding and infant safe sleeping are such contentious issues… it’s all for the betterment of the child…. who wants any less than that?

        2. michelleinsea says:

          You are entitled to your opinion; medical evidence says otherwise.

        3. ivygirl2112 says:

          Fortunately for Jenny she is self employed and able to make the best choices for her and her child, and is not at the whim of narrowminded employers.

        4. Alerina says:

          Donna: Your comment is ignorant and not backed up by scientific evidence in the least. Breastfeeding into the second year has been shown to contribute significantly to healthy brain development, child immunity ( https://www.nourisher.co/blogs/the-milkful-blog/the-benefits-of-breastfeeding-past-year-one )and of course, to child and maternal attachment and well being. ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6096620/)

          I will add that, for mothers who have adopted, or for heath reasons cannot breastfeed, or cannot continue to breastfeed, please be kind to yourselves and know that the most important gift to your children is you, however you are feeding them.

          As a Canadian, I’m actually appalled at how little state and employer support parents, particularly nursing parents, get in the US in terms of maternity/paternity leave. What the state allows, in terms of time, bears no relationship to what you or your family may actually require.

          Jenny doesn’t need to justify her choices to anyone on her blog. It is none of your business how she chooses to nurture her child.

      2. Crista says:

        This. Beautiful dress! Amazing that you can breastfeed in it!! I breast fed four littles and had plenty of whopsie-daisy moments, but none as chic as this gorgeous dress and that miraculous nursing bra!!

  2. Jude says:

    Jenny this dress is amazing, love the whole look. I haven’t bought this one but will now re-think. You look gorgeous as usual, hilarious boob shot (only you lol), totally in love with your fabric.

    1. Janis says:

      I think the bra should have been in lavender!!

  3. Janis says:

    I have a question about fabric … I find knits confusing and I don’t sew with them often. I have found some great patterns in fabric that I view as swim type or leggings type fabrics (very stretchy,thin, but not see through) …. are these considered your lightweight knits and are they appropriate for this kind of dress? This fabric that I saw recently is nylon spandex … too thin or will it work?

    Is the knit in the kit for the fuller… since I bought it… is that considered a medium weight knit? Am I the only one having confusion about knits?

    1. So you’d generally not want to use things like nylon spandex for a dress – that’s for swimwear or workout gear. For the Alcott the best options are things like bamboo Jersey, cotton jersey, rayon jersey, ITY or lightweight ponte. The Fuller Kit is a mid to heavyweight sweater knit but it doesn’t have enough stretch for the Alcott and would be too heavy.

  4. ELIZABETH MCALISTER says:

    You look fabulous, and so does the gorgeous dress. Hope your little one continues to be a world champion sleeper.

  5. Tracy says:

    I am so glad you posted your dress! I don’t have a lifestyle that supports many dressy dresses, but secret pajama dresses—bring ‘em on! I wasn’t so interested in buying the pattern originally, but I will now. Love it!

  6. Gillian Whaites says:

    Oh, you made me giggle! A perfect description of how we feel as mums with a beautiful demanding little human to care for. It brought back happy memories from a loooong time ago. You’re doing so well. Go girl.

  7. Gillian Anderson says:

    Such a cute outfit – and paired with that lavender coat it’s to die for.
    So pleased to see you back and blogging – just a shame the first/every response wasn’t about the dress. When will the world learn to be nice?
    Sew on girl 😉

  8. Sarah W says:

    It’s fantastic Jenny, and how wonderful that you can make something that you feel and look so gorgeous in and can continue to nurse your little one for as long as you both need it. The negative comments about you still breastfeeding her are beyond rude and ignorant. Thanks for posting and providing inspiration to other seamstresses that need ideas for nursing friendly garments.

    1. Donna says:

      I was not rude or ignorant. I am tired of accommodations for smokers, for mothers, for peanut allergies, for families but not for others. For having to do extra work or roaming around because an office is not available because of a breasting feeding mother. Mothers can do it with respect for others around them. They can just stop and think of others in the public space they are in. You and others can stop screaming at me. I don’t need to watch a 3 or 4 year old being breast fed with no thought to privacy for everyone.

      1. My child is 12 months old, not 3 or 4 years old. I’m self employed and don’t work in an office. I don’t ask anyone to make accommodations for me or my child. None of the things that apparently anger you were mentioned in this blog post, except for the fact that I breastfeed, which apparently you object to on a theoretical basis.

        It sounds like you have some personal issues that trigger you around this topic, but just be aware that even if you don’t think it, it does across as rude and ignorant when you talk like this. Hopefully you’re not attacking nursing mothers in real life in the same way that you’re happy to do online.

        I would suggest you stop reading the blog however as we are coming out with a line of nursing patterns and I imagine that will upset you.

        1. ivygirl2112 says:

          You must be seething Jenny, but I admire your calm, informative and dignfied response.

  9. Sarah Barnes says:

    This dress is just lovely!

  10. Natasha says:

    Love the dress Jenny! It’s great to see a blog post about one of your own garments, it brings back happy memories. I think it’s great that you are still nursing. There has been stigma around nursing for too long. I hope that as women we can all remember to lift each other up. Thank you for sharing your dress. I love the more casual styling. Happy sewing!

  11. Gillian Vieilledent says:

    What a pretty dress and coat. You look amazing! One day, we have to get together and I’ll look after mini J and you can make something for me as I can’t sew to save my life! 😘😍 G xx

    1. Thanks Gillian, we need to make that happen!!!

  12. Julia says:

    Jenny, kudos for your expertise and sharing both your personal and professional journey. Thanks for creating these great patterns that women can really relate to and use, and give us joy and confidence. It’s exciting you will be creating breastfeeding mom patterns! That time was a while ago for me but I can tell you, I love the sound of that. I was lucky to have a group of other supportive moms, it really takes a village… You are helping many.

  13. Mary says:

    Jenny, maybe it’s time to take down the comments on breastfeeding. Out of control. Nothing positive about the comments. It’s none of anyone’s business anyway. This is a sewing blog.

  14. Addie says:

    The removal of the flared sleeves and hem does give this dress more of an “everyday” vibe, especially as you styled it. This print is exceptional and the colors so Spring! I have a hard time finding good printed fabrics where I like both the fabric content/substrate and the design. But if I come across something I will definitely consider this pattern. I don’t need maternity or breastfeeding friendly patterns currently but I am glad you are going to make a line of patterns. Women need more support and style choices in all phases of our lives.

  15. Jane Ricketts says:

    It’s lovely to see this dress – I’d dismissed the Alcott as something that wasn’t me, but having seen this version I’m going to revisit that decision.

  16. Bianca K says:

    Lovely to see this dress styled for everyday and kudos to you Jenny for the boob shot. I’m a breastfeeding Mum of an 11 month old and really enjoyed reading your post. Looking forward to seeing the nursing range! It’s a strange world when people feel justified in releasing their anger, over the top criticism and righteousness online & in social media. Courtesy, acceptance and tolerance of each other’s life choices seems to be out of fashion.

  17. Marg. says:

    I love your dress Jenny. You look so happy in it.

Let me know what you think!