Pattern exploration: sewing for feeding mothers

In thinking about sewing nursing clothes (well, dresses really) I’ve worked out there are three main ways of giving your baby access to food: pulling your clothing up, pulling the neckline down, or an opening down the front. So with this in mind, I’ve pulled together a list of patterns that I know of which will fit in with these or could be modified to do so.

First up: the nursing-specific patterns I’ve discovered.

  • Megan Nielsen has an extensive range of maternity and nursing patterns including the Amber and Alissa (version 3) tops, both of which I expect could be lengthened into a dress relatively easily. She’s also got the Pina dress and a nursing nightie, but neither of these are available for sale right now (darn!).
  • I stumbled over Peek-a-boo Patterns just this week – they sell a specific alteration pack to turn their camisole pattern into a nursing singlet top. They’ve also got quite a few maternity patterns.
  • EYMM has a nursing bra/tank top/dress set that looks like it could be made up as is or altered into a whole range of dresses.
  • I’m told there’s a good nursing top pattern in Anna Maria Horner’s Handmade Beginnings book.

Next, patterns that would give you quick pull-down access.

  • Cowl-neck  dresses. I’ve previously made the fabled V1250 DKNY for Vogue and two versions of Simplicity 2580 view D and both would work fine for feeding if sewn in something nice and stretchy. In fact, a new version of the V1250 is high up on my list of sewing plans, since my old one has had a fight with the washing machine and is a bit holey. Looking at the Simplicity drawings, view C would probably work too since it’s just the cowl neck with a tab to hold it in place at the bust.
  • I’m keen to try Cashmerette’s Appleton wrap dress, which Jenny assured me via Instagram would work fine for feeding. I’ve got a RTW wrap dress I’ve worn a few times recently that has worked well.
  • Lily on Instagram contacted the team at Colette about their new faux-wrap dress Wren, and was told they’d tested it for accessibility during the design process.
  • Speaking of wrap dresses, I also have the Papercut Midsummer Night’s Dream dress pattern, although I’ve yet to sew it. This is designed for a woven fabric but if you sewed it in a knit instead and stabilised the neckline you’d be able to yank it about. Otherwise, Kat has described how she made one up in cotton and modified it for feeding, with snaps on the straps.
  • I’m also planning on giving the Sewaholic Yaletown a try, possibly just the blouse version first to see how it works before I commit the four metres of fabric the dress requires.

Then clothes with fronts that open up (or which could with some modification).

  • The last thing I sewed while pregnant was the True Bias Southport dress, which definitely works well for feeding although I’m not completely convinced the silhouette is for me (I’ll get around to photographing it at some point). I made it with snaps instead of buttons with the thought that it would be easier to do up one-handed.
  • One of my first-made and favourite dresses is Jamie Christina’s Mission Maxi. I’m turning over in my brain at the moment how to give this a button/snaps placket down the front to the waist. It could also be a candidate for turning into a false-front dress (like the one I made earlier) or possibly its neckline would be ok to pull down with some elastic stabilising it.
  • I’ve also got the pattern for the Colette Aster shirt, mainly because I liked the flutter sleeves of version 3. Again, possibly this could be lengthened into a dress or have a pleated or gathered skirt added.
  • Sewaholic’s Davie dress would be pretty easy to make with an invisible zipper down the front centre seam, instead of having the keyhole opening. That said, I’m not sure how unzipping yourself would work in practice…
  • Similarly, I suspect the True Bias Sutton blouse could also have a zipper in the centre front seam, although it would depend a lot on fabric choice. I’d want to make this one up as per the pattern before giving that a try.

There are tons more button-down dress patterns out there; I’ve just highlighted the patterns I already own and am planning to try out.

What patterns have you found that work for breastfeeding? Did you have to modify them or did they work fine as is?

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3 thoughts on “Pattern exploration: sewing for feeding mothers

  1. Bron November 20, 2015 / 3:07 pm

    I haven’t tried it myself but there is a tutorial on the made by Rae blog about making the Washi dress with a feeding top – it might also be handy for converting other patterns =)

    • tinawheeze November 20, 2015 / 3:32 pm

      I’ll check it out, thanks!

  2. oanh November 21, 2015 / 7:22 am

    Rae’s tutorial is to effectively add an invisible zip in front; totally doable for anything if that’s your thing!

    I’m more a separates person, so I’ve made a few EYMM tops, and have lots of button up tops that need retiring from my work wardrobe. I would like to make some longer tunic-y button ups. I’ve also made the McCalls mock wrap dress 6429 and I figure all my Sewing Cake Tiramisu dresses will work fine. I don’t know yet, because it’s early days and I’m mostly in a dressing gown (or topless!) at home…

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