A sewing blog about building a functional, cohesive handmade wardrobe, one garment at a time.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Nesting (for myself)

With my first two children, I wore Bravado nursing tank tops at night.  I soon sized out of those tanks, though - they top out at an F/G and were no longer comfortable to wear any time, let alone at night.  And I can't forgo nursing pads at night if I don't want to wake up in a puddle, so I need something to keep the pads in place.  After my son was born, I invested in a nursing sleep bra.  It was not supportive at all but it did the job and I wore that thing right out.  It occurred to me this time around that I could probably make two or three sleep bras for cheaper than I could buy them, so I went searching for a pattern.

I found one - the Sweet Blossom Lingerie pattern.  For $7, you get four patterns - a sleep bra, nursing camisole, nursing gown, and a midriff cover.  The pattern comes in six sizes - but they aren't number sizes - rather they are named after flowers in the spirit that all women are beautiful.  A sweet thought but when I was cutting I kept forgetting which flower I was supposed to be.   I don't have that problem with my number size.  Plus the smallest size is named after the smallest flower - the violet - and the largest size after the largest flower.  So it's all still based on how big you are.

But I digress.

The pattern is supposed to fit up to a C cup, and includes directions for an FBA, including a handy-dandy cutting line built right into the pattern.  For my muslin, I made a 2-inch FBA onto the size that corresponded with my high bust.

Whomp whomp whomp.

It was way too small.  I needed more coverage on the sides and in front.  It probably would have taken me several iterations to figure out how exactly to alter it to fit me better, but then I remembered that the pattern came with a seemingly random pattern piece for a size 32I/34H/36G.  There is no mention of this piece in the instructions, and it is the only additional size offered, but as it turns out, it was the right size for me.   A comparison of that pattern piece and my own FBA pattern piece (which should have been roughly the same, but were not) revealed that the pattern is actually not that easy to size up to the much larger cup sizes - it requires more than just the simple FBA outlined in the instructions.

I sewed my first bra out of some Free Spirit Essentials cotton/lycra jersey from the stash.  I serged the elastic directly to the neckline and armholes, and did not turn it over, because I wasn't sure whether I could afford the 1/2" loss in coverage (turns out I can). I used 3/4" plushback elastic for the underbust because I was skeptical that 1/2" would be sturdy enough for my girls. I think that was the right move, and 1" elastic would have been even better. I serged the elastic to the right side of the bottom of the bra, then turned it out so the elastic shows. The result is not particularly pretty (especially not on my dress form, whose bra I had to stuff with fabric scraps to get it to approximate my shape) but it is functional and that is what I am going for. 

Having got the fit down, I next cut out the sleep gown.  I recently scored big at the G Street Fabrics $2.97 table, and one of the things I picked up was this gorgeous melon-colored mystery knit.  It has fantastic recovery but still drapes beautifully.  It doesn't feel plasticky at all.  I'd guess it's a rayon or viscose blend with lycra and maybe some cotton.  I wish I had more!

I serged the raw edge of the neckline, then turned it under and sewed some brown ruffle elastic to the right side of the fabric. Worked perfectly. I didn't have any more plushback elastic so I used 1/2 inch as per the pattern for the underbust seam. I think this works ok for the gown.  I followed the pattern instructions for attaching the elastic to the armholes and waist, and I finished the hem with a lettuce edge by turning over and stretching the fabric whilst zigzagging. I'm really pleased with the gown and plan to make one more this week.

Lastly I cut out one more sleep bra using some fabric scraps.  I lined the back fully, hoping for a little more support, and added some side support pieces to the front (it didn't work at all).  t had some picot-edged elastic to use for the neckline, but I had to use 1/2" for the under bust as that was all I had on hand.  It definitely doesn't work as well as the 3/4" I used for the first one.  But I have more lingerie elastic on the way (thanks eBay) so I will be all set to make another when it arrives, hopefully tomorrow.

I should note that none of these items are really at all supportive in my size.  So if you are larger busted and are looking for something you can wear out of the house I'd keep searching.  But I tested the bras out by putting them on and rolling around in them - the girls stayed put and did not fall out, and as that is main goal I'm calling these projects a win.  I'm already wearing the bras around the house because, at 38 weeks pregnant (!!), my regular ones are just torturous.  Now if that elastic would arrive so I could make more ...

Linking up to Gray All Day.


  1. 38 weeks...Wow! Baby will be here before you know it.:) The bras look soft and comfy and good for holding those nursing pads in place at night.

  2. How clever you are to make your own nursing bras! They look great and I'm sure it will be nice to have a ton of them! I remember never having enough, especially since laundry wasn't getting done on a very regular basis with a newborn. Great job!

  3. This is great! I am sending a link of your post to a friend because, truly it is so economical to make this night time nursing bras. I had Medela night time bras and loved them but there really isn't much to their construction. You are really doing great nesting for yourself!!


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