This is where my blog becomes uncomfortable for the few men who still read it. This should scare them off good.
My phone app tells me Newborn Boy is on the way within 21 days or so (really??), and with a newborn boy comes the need for baby-related things. One of those things for moms who plan to breastfeed is a nursing bra.
Ever look for these in a store? One that is comfortable is going to run you around $20, one that fits well and offers proper bra-like support costs a lot more.
I am cheap. I bought one nursing bra and then thought “Hmm, I’ve heard of making your own. What would be the most cost-effective way to do this?”
BAM. A 3-pack of sports bras on clearance for $10 at Walmart.
But how to fasten the straps? Trying to find those fancy nursing bra clips around here in places like Fabricland is not going to happen. We did manage to find hook-and-eye (bra) closures there, as well as those bathing suit clips from the 1980s, and Miklos pointed out I could use my snaps for an easy one-handed release. Good idea Miklos!
Note: These take some effort, especially if you’re new to sewing. If you value sanity over money that could be spent otherwise on your baby, by all means, just buy some dang bras. I don’t blame you, in fact I envy you. But if you like saving money enough, please give this method a go and tell me how you liked the end result in the comments!
Here’s how I made these nursing bras, with three (3) different closures. To save even more money, many of your materials can be from older bras/bathing suit tops or bought new.
- Sports bra in your band size lined with a second layer under the boobs (IMPORTANT!)
- Any closures that you can sew/attach onto the straps and undo/do up easily with one hand
- Sewing machine to speed things along
- Matching thread
- Size 11 ballpoint needle helps when working with knits — less chance of holes
- Scissors and/or rotary cutter and cutting mat
- Ruler/straight edge
How to make your bras:
Fold along the front center of the bra. In my case, the new V-neck cut I wanted to make lined up perfectly with the slant of the straps. This also helped to open the seam on these sides of the bra so I could start separating the liner beneath.
V-neck shaped sports bra! And your liner is now separated, so that’ll help with the nursing part.
Now find a good height of the strap to cut which will be reachable during nursing for detaching and re-attaching easily. Keeping bra side-lined-up evenly, cut across straps completely.
Cut your liner off the front layer of bra, as close to whatever seam (usually elastic) as possible, but leave elastic/seam on the front layer. It’ll sit nicer later if you keep it on.
This next part requires patience. Fold under, pin (use very small-headed pins), IRON and then zig-zag stitch the rough edges of the liner sides that you cut. Use coordinating thread. Do the same with the rough cut edges from the front layer of the bra… keep that thread matching! You will be happier for it in the end. And trust me, DON’T skip the iron! It gives a much more finished look and makes sewing this small area easier.
Now wait just a second. It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure kind of moment.
You have three (3) options (in this tutorial anyway):
You can do hook and eye (bra) closures on your shoulder straps, or a bathing suit strap closure, OR you can do snaps. If you’re doing snaps, skip down to where you sew the liner onto the seam of your strap. Otherwise, stay right here.
Hook and eye closure, made by first sewing hook piece to the end of the shoulder strap, then sewing liner onto the back of it like we did with the grey bra (as you’ll see a couple pictures down). Then we sewed the eye part onto the front (black) layer.
Bathing suit closure. Before attaching the liner layer to the strap, we hooked the shoulder strap through the bath suit closure loop. Folded that under to hide rough messy cut parts, then sewed on the liner layer (again, you’ll see it two pictures down). Made small pleat on front bra layer to fit this part through the loophole, rolled rough edges under, sewed seam. Voila!
KAM snaps closure. Easier, but different process. See next few steps to do this one.
OK we’re back on the same page again. After you’ve sewn your hooks & eyes or bathing suit closures onto the shoulder strap, OR before you apply snaps, use a wide zig-zag stitch to sew only the liner layer back onto the strap. Be sure to roll under any rough cut areas before pinning to sew this seam. Looks much nicer after.
If you’re using KAM snaps (or other snaps), attach your socket (or female side) on the boob part of the front/still loose layer of your bra.
Yay it’s a snap. Not sure why I didn’t take a picture here, but attach your stud (male) side of the snap to the seam where you just sewed your liner onto the strap a moment ago. Then snap ’em together!
Here’s the embarrassing part. Try on the bra. Draw a light pencil line around where your boob has to go through for nursing purposes. Sew a narrow zig-zag (do this slowly if you’ve never done a circle before) onto that pencil line. Then cut carefully within that seam. Do not cut through your zig-zag! That’s there to catch any fraying later.
Yay it’s a nursing bra! You did great! And if you didn’t, no one’s going to be looking at it but your baby — I hear they’re not too judgemental.
Here they all are finished:
L-R: Hook and eye closure, bathing suit closure, snap closure. Yay! Should’ve cut the white one into a V. It was my first try… oh well.
If you give this project a whirl, please let me know how they turned out in the comments!
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