After I had my baby, I had a hard time finding nursing tops that fit. Hah! I had a hard time finding nursing tops, period. Nursing a baby is difficult enough without struggling to keep your clothes out of the baby’s way and not fully exposing your breasts. Tops with nursing access make all the difference.
One of my books on attachment parenting recommended The Nursing Mother’s Sewing List (NMSL). I found the e-mail list to be very helpful and informative. The people on the list are warm, friendly, and inclusive of all who join. It’s a chatty list, and they do, occasionally, drift off topic.
Before I joined the list, I had made a few outfits, but I found the process to be frustrating. The sewing machine is my friend, and I’ve been quilting since about 1988, but sewing clothing was just too hard when I could go out and easily buy what I liked. Since nursing tops were few and far between, in general, and practically non-existant in my size (42G bra right after Isabel was born, and now a 40DD), I decided with much trepidation, to attempt sewing clothing again.
With the help of the people of NMSL, I have been very successful. The image above is an Elizabeth Lee Design, specifically Nursing Classic 205. Everytime I wear this shirt, I get compliments on it. I combined 3 different woven cottons: the front overlay and back is a multicolored, hand-dyed-looking fabric, the front underlay is gold stars on the green fabric, and the sleeves are gold trees on the green fabric.
I attempted to make another NC205 out of panne, but panne is stretchy and slippery, and I could not get the overlay and underlays to hang straight (probably because I stretched and distorted the fabric when I was cutting). I gave up on this top and strongly recommend that beginners not make the 205 out of a stretchy, slippery fabric like the panne. However, I did make a panne top from Nursing Classics 307. It is featured above. This pattern is much better suited for panne for the beginning sewer.
I have also made the original Nursing Classic 107, not the updated version featured at ELD website. I prefer the nursing opening of the 205 and the 307 over the openings in the 107. However, you can use the 107 and 207 overlays with the 307 underlay.
I wrote a review of Nursing Classics 206, Coat for NMSL. The picture above left shows the coat with the “Mama’s” panel zipped in. The picture above right shows the coat without the panel. I did not use the panel very much. I did use the nursing openings. They worked great when I had to stop exercising (and was still all sweaty) to feed Isabel. Without the coat on, I would get chilled.
I have some tips and hints that I have saved from NMSL and other sources at my Nursing Mothers Sewing List Tips page. There are also crafting hints and tips.