a blog chronicling my days of unemployment and all the crafty things i'll do during it

Monday, April 12, 2010

upcycling shirts into belly bands/haramakis

my sister is pregnant, due in august. i've been trying to help her increase her maternity wardrobe by picking up fun maternity clothing pieces from second-hand stores. i managed to find some great deals at my local salvation army and value village stores on some nice pieces to add to her collection.

the other day, i contemplated buying her a haramaki, to add to her maternity wardrobe.

a haramaki is a belly protector, originally a component of samurai armour, and made of silk and lined with chain mail or iron. these days, the haramaki is a japanese fashion accessory, which is essentially a tube-top worn around the midriff.

bella bands are a similar product, specifically marketed at pregnant women. it is supposed to allow them to extend the life of their pre-pregnancy clothing by hiding open buttons and zippers; and by covering the belly that won't fit under non-maternity shirts.

in addition to extending the functional wardrobe, the haramaki/belly band keeps the belly warm and protected. it also provides light support to the belly and lower back. according to Haramaki Love, these belly bands also aid in digestion and circulation. see their list of benefits here

both products retail for around $30. i figured i could make something for a small fraction of that cost. i did some searching on the internet for belly band tutorials, but i didn't find anything i loved. so i decided to play around with it a bit.

 having recently cleaned out my closet, i had a bag of items ready to send to the women's shelter. from there, i chose 4 shirts, all made of 2-way stretch knit material (so it will stretch over the belly in length and width). i wound up using two identical tees from RW&Co (teal and red); a grey tee from Joe; and a white tee from the Gap. at this point, i decided to make 2 reversible bands, with 2 layers of fabric each, rather than 4 individual bands. the teal and red shirts even had some funky ruching along the sides which i managed to preserve for the belly band.

 the next step was to decide on a length for the belly bands and cut off the tops of all 4 shirts accordingly. i chose approximately 14", which was about the distance from armpit to hem on all 4 of my shirts. the finished belly band will be slightly less than 14", depending on your seam allowance. i paired up my shirts, and got started on the first double-layer belly band.

but, for a single layer belly-band, you could just fold over and finish the raw edge. then you'd be done. for a reversible band, keep reading...

turn one band inside-out (white) and keep one band right-side-out (grey). put one band inside the other, with the right-sides facing each other. the inside-out band (white) will be on the outside, and the right-side-out band (grey) will be on the inside (insert head-scratching here).

pin the bands together, and then sew them together, sewing around the top of the unfinished edges only. be sure to use a stretch stitch.

turn the bands around so that they are now wrong-side facing wrong-side (right-sides outward), and sew the bands together along the bottom (finished edge). this line of stitching will show on both sides of the fabric (depending on your thread colour). my stretch-stitch is kinda decorative, so i don't mind it that way.

that's really all there is to it. once i'd planned it out in my head, making these bands didn't take long.

for now, this is the best finished-product photo i've got. once my sister receives her reversible belly bands in the mail, i'll post a haramaki action-shot. ;)

if you don't have a sewing machine, or can't manage a DIY belly band/haramaki. you can order one from Haramaki Love. their product is proudly made in Canada.


  1. Brilliant! I bought my sister one (she's due in August too! Did I tell you??) and she says she wears it all the time. I bet your sister will love hers and yours was much cheaper. Love the up-cycle!

  2. jenn w! i didn't know your sister was pregnant. you're a very experienced auntie these days!

  3. http://mysweetprairie.blogspot.com/2010/10/what-would-you-do.html

    GREAT blog! Hey look what I got gifted to me... I would love your feedback! (I'm a quilter but cannot cut these up!)