Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tutorial: Nursing alteration for t-shirt sewing pattern

Can you stand another post in which I mention breastfeeding? Since this week is World Breastfeeding Week, I thought it would be a perfect time to show you my absolute favorite (and one of the very few) nursing tops that I made, and how you can make your own!

About a year ago, my local BurdaStyle Sewing Club had a sew-along in which we all used the BurdaStyle Lydia t-shirt pattern to sew a top for ourselves. It was great to see everyone's interpretations. I used the pattern as a starting point for a top based on a RTW nursing top that I saw online (and can no longer find to show you, unfortunately...).

Navy/cream striped fine sweater-knit cotton jersey purchased during Summer 2010 at Pacific Fabrics.  The bolt was actually labelled "100% recycled cotton jersey" - recycled from what, I don't know...

Notes on construction/tutorial
I didn't take any photos during construction so hopefully words will suffice.  I know, a tutorial with no photos is no fun.  Sorry.

There are a few different ways you could make this style, but here's how I did it:

1.  Cut out the front, back, and sleeves as normal.  I altered mine by cutting a deeper front neckline and by cutting the side seams a bit wider with more of an A-line shape, and I also added length.  During those first few post-partum months, I avoided anything fitted in the waist!

2.  Cut a second front bodice piece, but not the full length - this will be the shorter, top layer of the bodice.  You'll want it to fall at least a few inches below your bra band.  For now it's better to cut it too long than too short, you can check the length in a bit.  I'll refer to this as the "short front" and the other front bodice as the "long front".

3.  Stitch the 2 fronts together at the neckline, with the wrong side of the "long front" facing the right side of the "short front".  Turn so that the "short front" is laying on top of the "long front".  You should be looking at the right side of the fabric on both pieces.  Baste together at the shoulders.

4. Finish the neckline of the back bodice with your preferred method.  I used a strip of the fashion fabric to bind the back neck, you could also just press the raw edge to the inside and topstitch.

5.  Stitch the front and back bodices together at the shoulder seams.  Stabilize those shoulder seams with some interfacing, if you're so inclined.

6.  Now is a good time to check the length of the "short front".  Baste the side seams together (we're still sleeveless at this point) and put the top on.  You'll want the "short front" to provide a bit of coverage below your bust, but the final length is up to you.  Cut off length to shorten if necessary.

7.  Hem the "short front" with your preferred method.  I decided to play with the direction of the stripes of my fabric and hemmed it with a narrow band.  Baste the "short front" and "long front" together at the side seams.

8.  Stitch the sleeves to the bodice.  I always set my sleeves in flat when I'm working with knits.

9.  Stitch the sleeve seams and side seams.

10.  Hem the sleeves and bodice, again however you prefer.  I used vertical stripe bands to hem my sleeves in order to complement the bodice.

11.  Now put the top on and mark both bust points on the "long front".  Take off the top and cut a small circle around each bust point.  Smaller is better at first, you can always cut a larger circle if necessary but you can't go the other way!  Initially I tried cutting just a slit instead of a circle, but that didn't provide great access for me, so I ended up with circles.

Voila!  You are the proud owner of a stylish nursing top.

I get a lot of compliments on this top.  From people who don't know it's a nursing top.  (I think it's the stripes, actually.)    It's so simple yet one of my favorite pieces I've ever made.

Leave a comment or shoot me an email if you have any questions about the construction!


EmilyKate said...

You clever thing! I have had no babies but I just wanted to give you props on what looks like very smart functional wear!

Gail said...

I like the look of this top - I'd wear it now and I haven't breastfed for 15 years!

cidell said...

I love stripes! I would wear this in a heartbeat -- breastfeeding or not :)

BConky said...

Great tutorial. Next daughter that's nursing will get this top. Thanks.

Anne said...

Nice top!! I linked to your alteration tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing:


Anonymous said...

Fantastic! I would never guess it's a nursing top. And I think it's totally fine to mention BF'ing. I look forward to the day when I don't have to add nursing clips to my bras, but I'm not there (#2 is now 4 months old), and it is helpful to see what other people do to get through this part of our lives without totally losing our own senses of style.

KayY said...

This is completely stylish, as well as functional. I can see why it is a favorite!

kathy said...

So, I normally am not a fan of the cropped over-layer as I think it's totally obvious that it's a bf'ing shirt. But this one? The band on the short front totally ties into the band on the sleeves and is totally awesome! Thanks for sharing!

Peggy L said...

Super cute!! My DIL is pregnant and I'll put this in my "file" to make for her.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Love the way you played with the stripes here! It doesn't look like a utilitarian piece at all, just a stylish tee.

mamafitz said...

very cute! if you look through my pattern reviews there is one for a kwik sew top that i converted to nursing a few times. it's very similar to what you've done here, only i think yours looks connected at the neckline? mine was more an overlap style, but i loved it.

senaSews said...

Cute top! And great idea to adopt the pattern. I think i will copy you on that! Thanks for the inspiration!

Rachel said...

That is so cute and stylish!!!

Nancy Winningham said...

very cute and very clever!

Kitty Couture said...

Love it - totally stylish!

Katharine said...

Thank you! This looks like the nursing tops from Boob wear from Sweden, also Jalie has a nursing top pattern but a DIY version is always preferable! I'm still nursing DS and DD and need nursing tops for weekends. Thanks because this tutorial saved me $$$ on international shipping :)

KP said...

Thank you! I followed your instructions and made a very nice nursing dress from a dress pattern I had.