Ease-in to Motherhood

Monserratt, over at mexicanpink, are launching a motherhood sewing blog event called

Ease-in to Motherhood

Junior Prom
It’s been a while since I eased into motherhood.  My eldest is 17, and my youngest is 14, and that’s it, only 2. Isabel is on the right in the image to the right.  That’s from her junior prom, and no, I did not make that dress. Tony is below.  He’s about 6 feet 3 inches tall (190 cm) … at 14.  He broke his humorous a couple of months ago, and the surgeon told us that his growth plates were still open.  He’s still growing! 
My cute kid.
There are two reasons that I started sewing clothing.  I had been making quilts, and I liked doing that, but I’m a bit of an exhibitionist.  I love being the center of attention.  I love showing off my work, whether it is sewing, art work, gardening, or my professional work in engineering.  I want people to see what I do.  I decided the best way to show off my quilts to those around me was to wear them.  I started making quilty clothing and art-to-wear.


Then I had Isabel.  I wear size XXL, 1X, or 2X.  Do you think I could find nursing tops in my size? Well, I could find one or two.  They were in polyester or nylon; I prefer natural fibers.  I was into attachment parenting. The book by William Sears recommended the Nursing Mothers Sewing List, so I signed up.  The e-mail list introduced me to Elizabeth Lee Designs, which is no longer a business, but she produced patterns for nursing tops.  With the support of the mailing list members, I was off and running … I mean, sewing. I don’t have a lot of pix.  Year 2000 was before digital cameras were common, and it was a lot harder to get digital images.  The image to the right is me nursing my daughter in one of Elisabeth Lee’s designs.  I was still in my art-to-wear phase.  🙂

I made a lot of nursing tops. I made us matching tops (below).  I look at those tops below and think, “Both Isabel and I loved those tops. Why isn’t purple panné still in fashion?” It’s a lovely color.  It’s nicely fuzzy.  It’s warm and comfy.  Ah, well.


My favorite nursing top that I made was a jacket.  It also was an Elizabeth Lee design, and I put the nursing slots in it, but I never nursed either kid while wearing it.  It is pictured below.

That jacket was really warm.  The center front panels were doubled, and there was a layer underneath.  It had great pockets, too.

The design had a double layer front panel that zipped in to allow for a baby in a front carrier.  I carried Isabel or Tony in a sling.  We went out in weather in the 20s F (subzero C), and Isabel or Tony and I stayed very comfortable.

In the 14 years since Tony was born, my sewing skills have improved a lot.  I make a lot of my clothing today.  I have joined a lot of sewing communities on line.  You might know me as Neefer.  I’m not as active in those on-line communities as I was 5 or so years ago, but as a result of those communities, I met some local sewing folks with whom I am now very close.


Pattern Review: Elizabeth Lee Nursing Classic 206

jacket3aPattern Description:
This jacket has slashes in the underlayer to allow for nursing, and there is an optional zip in panel, pictured to the left, to turn the jacket into a “Mama’s Coat”.
Pattern Sizing: Accurate.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
They were very easy if you read them with care. It’s a little tricky getting the overlayer on straight.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It’s easy to sew, and it makes a functional jacket.

Fabric Used: Cheetah patterned fleece.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: None.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I recommend it to others who want a jacket with nursing access. I have used it that way when exercising, and it kept me from getting chilled while nursing outside.

I’ve carried my daughter in a sling in the jacket using the panel. I was wearing a heavy wool sweater under the jacket and DD was wearing a sweater and warm jacket. We were out in 20 F weather, and neither of us got cold.

I probably won’t make it again. It’s not like I need a closet full of jackets like this, and this pattern doesn’t inspire me to make wearable art like some jacket patterns do.

Conclusion This is a very functional jacket for a mother.

Pattern Review: Elizabeth Lee Designs Nursing Classic 307

Pattern Description: This is a nursipannetopng top designed where you lift the overlay to nurse. The underlay is a center piece with large holes at the arm allowing for nursing access. IMHO, this is the best design for nursing access on this sort of top, much better than slashes over the breasts.

Pattern Sizing: Accurate.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very easy.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
This pattern is very easy to sew, and because you can use the overlays from NC 107 and 207 as well as 307, you have lots of options.

Fabric Used: Purple panne. This was the second garment that I attempted out of panne. I’d been unsuccessful making a NC205 out of panne, but after asking for help from various online sources, I was able to succeed with this top.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I know I lengthened the overlay by 2 inches so that it would reach my waistband, and I lengthened the underlay by 2 inches so it would stay tucked in, but I can’t remember if I altered the nursing access holes. Usually, I have to lower and lengthen them.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Absolutely.

Conclusion This is a nicely designed top.

Nursing Wear

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.