MaternitySewing.com launches today. The site is a marketplace for maternity and nursing patterns by independent designers and aims to become an online community for mothers who sew. Maternity Sewing was founded by Erin Weisbart, of Tuesday Stitches (formerly Seamstress Erin), and Lisa Kievits of Paprika Patterns. The two became acquainted years ago as sewing bloggers and pattern designers and bonded more recently when they both became pregnant and gave birth to daughters around the same time.
“Lisa and I both live rurally,” Erin explains, “and we didn’t really have local friends that were experiencing new parenthood at the same moment and so it was through emails that we became close.”
Lisa and her daughter.
Erin lives on Vashon Island, which is a 15-minute ferry ride from Southwest Seattle with no bridge in between. Lisa is originally from the Netherlands but now lives in the Morvan regional park in Burgundy, France where the nearest town is twenty minutes away and Dijon, the closest big city, is an hour and a half drive.
When Erin and Lisa were pregnant and nursing they both found it extremely challenging to source stylish, well-designed maternity and nursing patterns. Although these patterns existed, they were scattered and it was very difficult to know which patterns would work at which stages. As avid sewists needing to sew many new pieces for their own wardrobes quickly this felt frustrating and they knew other women must feel the same way.
The idea for Maternity Sewing was to create a central marketplace where women could easily search and buy maternity, nursing, and postpartum patterns in one place. Although they’re 5,000 miles apart and have never met in person, Lisa and Erin felt committed to making the idea a reality and decided to go into business together. Creating a business with a US and European partnership presented particular challenges that took time and a skilled lawyer and accountant to overcome, but the pair has been patient and is excited to finally be launching the site after a year of preparation.
In order to find patterns to stock the shop Lisa and Erin did intensive research. “We learned just how much bigger the independent sewing pattern world is than we even realized,” Erin says. They looked through lists of independent sewing pattern designers compiled on various blogs, read roundups of maternity and nursing patterns, and combed maternity Facebook groups in order to find designers to approach. All together they contacted about 100 designers are launching with over 20. Another 20 designers have expressed interest and are currently undergoing the onboarding process.
Designers get a generous cut of each sale. Having both wholesaled digital patterns themselves, Erin and Lisa wanted to be sure designers were fairly compensated. They also worked to make the file uploading process quick and smooth. “We want this to be a win for everybody,” Erin assures me.
The Maternity Sewing shop allows customers to search by stage of pregnancy including early maternity as well as postpartum. “After you’ve had a baby you don’t ‘poof!’ go back to the body you’ve had before,” Erin says. “It may take a long time, it may never happen.” To help women sew clothes for their body at all stages the shop includes a curated selection of patterns that aren’t necessarily maternity but don’t have fitted waists including tops and dresses that are trapeze, swing shape, A-line, flowy, and peasant blouses that are loose through the waist. “They may not be specifically maternity, but they will last you through early maternity and after maternity so that you get more bang for your buck and the clothes won’t be so disposable,” Erin explains.
“We’ve also done a ton of annotation. Every pattern is categorized and annotated in a bunch of different ways to make it even easier for women to shop. We have them listed so you can filter by the cup size that comes with the pattern, by the size ranges it comes in, by the trimester or stage like whether it’s suitable for early or postpartum, late maternity or nursing, if it’s a pant a or a skirt, if it’s an underbelly waistline or an over belly waistline. Basically, any filter that we could think of that would help women easily find the pattern they were looking for.”
Maternity Sewing includes three exclusive patterns at launch: a swimsuit, a t-shirt, and a camisole. These are maternity versions of three of Erin’s Tuesday Stitches patterns made on a new maternity block. Lisa has some exclusive patterns in the works as well. The pair hopes to commission more exclusive patterns for the site in the future.
The shop also carries nursing patterns, but this is an area that Lisa and Erin would like to build up further in the months to come. “I think there’s just not as much out there,” Erin says. They’re also hoping to add some patterns for diaper bags.
Erin and her daughter.
Five percent of profits made on the site will be donated to Every Mother Counts, an international charity that supports women’s health. Erin and Lisa are encouraging customers to make a donation to Every Mother Counts with each purchase as well.
Maternity Sewing includes a blog which Erin and Lisa hope will become a community resource for readers and customers. “Your body undergoes changes through pregnancy, postpartum, and nursing, and sewing can be a really empowering way to feel confident and comfortable in your body,” Erin says. “When you can make your clothes to fit you and fit your life and your needs, you feel better.” The blog will include sewing tutorials as well as interviews and stories about sewing and parenthood and they’re currently accepting submissions. Future plans include a Maternity Sewing Facebook group and podcast.
Their daughters are now just over two, and Lisa is pregnant with a second child. Motherhood has shaped them in more ways than one. “We created Maternity Sewing not just because we saw a gap that could be a business opportunity,” Erin says, “but also as a community because we felt very alone at the time that we were going through pregnancy and new parenthood and wanted to take what we learned from that time and create a community resource.”
Check out Maternity Sewing at MaternitySewing.com