Nursing so stealthy, you might as well be called “Ninja.”
OK. Maybe not that stealthy, but it is pretty sneaky and to doesn’t require baring the entirety of your upper chest or your belly to nurse. I bought I top like this from Motherhood way back, and it is still my favorite Sadly, they don’t seem to make this style anymore. boo hoo. It’s OK, though. I figured out how to make my own and now I am going to share it with you.
You can add this type of nursing opening to any (knit top) pattern with an empire waistband. I used a dress in this case, but it will work for a shirt as well.
You will need:
- A pattern that has an empire waist and uses a stretch fabric. I used McCall’s 6070.
- The fabric and notions indicated by the pattern above.
- 1/4″ width elastic
- safety pins
Some notes on construction.
- I did not use a serger/overlock on this project because I used some of the seam allowances to make elastic casings. It doesn’t matter if you use a knit because it does fray.
- I used a narrow “Stretch Stitch” on all seams.
- This tutorial assumes a 5/8″ seam.
- It will be helpful to label your waistband pieces with bits of masking tape or you will get confused. I didn’t and I goofed up because of it. Removing stretch stitches is horribly painful. Learn from my mistake.
Cut out fabric
First, prepare all pieces the same as original pattern directions. M6070 has you cut a second of each waistband piece to use as the lining.
You will also have to cut a piece for the waistband cover which conceals the nursing openings. Cut it the same width as the front waistband piece but with a height twice the height of the regular waistband piece. Then add seam allowance.
For example: On this dress the waist band is 2.25 inches + a 5/8” seam allowance on top and bottom (3 1/2″ total). The waistband flap is 2 x (2.25” + ⅝”), or 4.75” high.
Make upper bodice
Once all pieces are cut, assemble the bodice according to your pattern directions.
Lay the waistband back on top of the waistband front and cover right sides facing, lining up side edges. Sew up the side (short) seams, but stop 5/8″ from the top edge. Back-stitch to secure.
Attach lining to waistband
Turn the waistband right side out and slip the lining inside it. Match side seams.
You are going to pin together the front waistband piece to the front lining piece (WRONG sides facing). Keep the waistband cover out-of-the-way we will get to that later.
The starting at one side seam and going to the other, sew just those pinned pieces together using a 5/8″ seam allowance. Be sure to reinforce at the beginning and the end. Then, sew it again with a 3/8″ seam allowance to form an elastic casing. Be sure to scoot the cover piece out-of-the-way. We want to keep it free.
It should be looking like so…
Now we will baste the bottom edges of the waistband and the lining together (both front and back). Again, keep that cover piece free from the other waistband pieces.
Attach waistband to upper bodice
Now that we have the waistband assembled we can attach it to the bodice. Turn the waistband right side in and slip the bodice inside. Match up side seams, centers, front to front, back to back, and the bottom edge of the bodice to the top edge of the waistband. The waistband cover will be against the bodice front.
Pin the bodice front to the waistband cover. Keep the waistband front (the one that already has the casing sewn into it) free. Pin the bodice back to the waistband back and lining.
Sew the pinned edges together with a 5/8″ seam allowance. Keep the waistband front out-of-the-way. Remove basting stitches and sew it again using a 3/8″ seam allowance to create an elastic casing. Keep an opening to insert the elastic.
Insert elastic to bodice
You will need to cut a piece of elastic that fits just under your bust. The pattern I was using had a handy-dandy elastic size guide. Then cut a second piece 1/2 the length of the first.
Take the shorter piece and insert it into the front waistband casing (NOT the cover). Leave about 1/4″ hanging out of each end and secure it with safety pins. We will the elastic in place after you have tested the fit.
Make your dress skirt/shirt bottom
Follow your pattern directions to make the dress skirt/shirt bottom.
Attach bodice to skirt/shirt bottom
Pin, then sew together the bottom of the bodice to the top of the skirt/shirt bottom. This time keep the waistband cover free. Remove basting stitches, and sew a 3/8″ seam to make another elastic casing (optional). Leave an opening for inserting elastic.
Insert elastic to skirt top
Cut a third piece of elastic the same length as the first (long) one. Insert it into the elastic casing you just created. Test fit. Secure ends.