Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nursing Cover Tutorial

So this weekend I made my nursing cover. (One week before my due date....I may have been pushing this project a little.) I got a nursing cover at my baby shower, but when I took it out of the package I realized it wasn't giving me the coverage on the sides that I wanted...so I decided my only alternative was to make one that custom-fit me. :)

It really was pretty easy. It just took a little bit of pondering as I went to figure out exactly how I wanted it.

I started by ironing my fabric:
Then I cut it down to the size I wanted it. I wanted a lot of coverage, so I ended up basically using an entire 3/4 of a yard. With the excess I'd cut off, I made sure I had a piece long enough to serve as the neck strap.

Originally I was going to do it all in one strap (ie not make it adjustable) but later I changed my mind. You see here though that I cut it into a straight line and pinned the strap as though it were going to be one long strap. You can do it this way and then cut it down after, or you can just start by cutting the two straps to the length you want them. It's not a big deal either way. (You'll see what I mean later.)After getting the two pieces of fabric to the size I wanted them, I faced them toward each other (so front sides facing) and then pinned them together so I could stitch the edge. (This picture shows the back folded over onto the front.)
Once I had them pinned, I just took it to my machine and stitched all around the edge (leaving about 6 inches or so to pull the fabric through.)
Once you pull the fabric through, stitch up the hole. (I was originally going to trim the whole thing with bias tape, so I didn't worry much about the stitching of the hole, but in the long run I didn't end up doing the bias tape, so mine has the stitching showing...which isn't a big deal, but you may want to do it differently so it doesn't show.)
So when it's all stitched up, it will look something like this on the edge (except for the hole part, which will look like the picture above):
It will basically look like a blanket at this point. Notice my lack of concern about the white edging...I was going to bias tape it, so I didn't think it would matter, then I decided it looked good enough I didn't want to waste my time stitching around it all again. The moral of the story is to always make your project look as nice as you can as you go so you can change your plans without worrying about things that "should've" been covered up. (Oh well...)
Now stitch your strap up the side so it's nice and strong, and then inside out it and iron it. (Or if you are doing two strap parts like I ended up doing, you can cut the strap down to the sizes you want at this point to make inside-outing it easier.)Now for the neckline. I had a little bit of a struggle at the fabric store deciding how I wanted to go about this part. JoAnn's only had 1/4 inch boning available, and I was worried it was so skinny it would roll or not be able to carry the weight of the rest of the cover well. They also had what they call 1" "belting" (I assume for the waist of dresses, etc.) but it wasn't as sturdy as the boning (since the boning has wire). So I ended up buying both (you need approximately 12-13 inches) and then I hot-glued the thinner boning onto the inside of the thicker belting, so I had the pliability of the boning combined with the thickness of the belting (so it wouldn't roll so easy). Sorry if that makes no sense. You can kind of see what I mean in the pictures.

Belting and boning:
Boning glued on inside of belting:
It worked for me. Most of the tutorials I've read online about nursing covers say to just use the 1/4 inch boning, so obviously that works for people. So if you don't want to go to all the trouble of hot gluing, etc, then just do the boning.

Next, pin the boning/belt combo onto the top of your cover. You will just basically set the boning on, fold the cover over it, and then pin as close to the boning as you can. Measure where the center of the cover is, as well as the center of the boning so that it's right in the middle.
Now comes the tedious stuff. If you are doing one strap that just goes around your neck, you just need to take the strap and pin it on the edges of where the boning is. You could also make two equal-sized straps and sew them on so you can just tie the cover around your neck. If, however, you want your neckline adjustable without having to constantly tie and untie, here's what you do:

You need two D-rings. I sacrificed one of my husband's belts he never wears so I could use the rings. You can buy them at the craft/fabric store too if you want (I just didn't do that because I wasn't planning on doing it this way when I was at the craft store.)
Now cut approximately 5" of strap, and loop it through the D-Rings. Then pin the strap as close to the rings as you can, and stitch them on. Then pin the strap onto the (not-yet-sewn) neckline. I tucked the strap down into the fold, and then folded it back upward and pinned it again. I know that's confusing...but does it kind of make sense? If not, just do whatever makes the most sense to you.Once both the D-ring side is pinned on as well as the strap for the other side (that will hook into the D-rings), you can stitch away along the neckline there. Stitch the neckline so you get your straps hooked in, then take the pins out, flip the straps upward, and stitch an "X" shape on each strap as well to 1) keep the boning from sliding up and down on your neckline, and 2) to add support for your straps and get them holding up the right direction. (Email me with questions.)
Once you've stitched everything, your D-ring side should look like this (sorry for the blurry pic):
Your strap side should look just like your D-ring side, only without the D-ring (and obviously that strap will be much longer, since it's the main "strap" part. I think mine's about 20" long? This really depends on how tall you are, and how much adjustability you want built into your strap. Just try it and adjust as you go.
Okay, you are officially DONE (unless you want to edge it in bias tape). It should look something like this when you are done:
The boning/belt neckline combo should make it poke out kind of like this, so you can peek down at your baby while they are nursing:
Not too hard, right? It just takes some time. If you want to speed up the process, you really don't have to line it with two fabrics, you can just hem around one piece of fabric. Just make sure it's dark enough and thick enough that you're not worried people will be able to see through it...because that would be awkward. For everyone involved. :)

I understand that my explanations are wordy, but you just kind of have to trust your instincts on the parts that seem confusing. (Or if you aren't an "instinct" person, email me.) There's no easy way to explain it.

Good luck!

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