Wednesday, July 13, 2011

nursing covers

When my first son was a baby, a friend of mine showed me a nursing cover she had been given at her baby shower.  I thought it was the coolest thing ever for nursing moms!  I measured hers and saw how it was put together.  When we got back to Virginia (where we lived at the time) I made one, then another, and another.  They are so easy to make!  Let's get started making some.

You need:
18" of 1/2 boning- this is sold by the yard and is usally by the elastic and velcro
2 D rings I think mine are 1", but smaller would work well too (that is the measurement of the flat end)
        (if you don't like the D rings, you could also use a button)
a rectangle of lightweight fabric 36" wide and 25" tall
two strips of that same fabric- one 2-1/4" (or bigger if you want fatter straps) by 26" and one 2-1/4" by 7"
       you can make the smaller one shorter if  you want the D rings closer to the cover
       (if you are using a button instead of D rings, you want only one strip 33" long)

I usually just use the pretty cotton prints from the fabric store, but I made one out of a silky fabric once, and it turned out really nice.  You just don't want it to be too heavy, or the baby might get hot and sweaty. 

Okay, first you want to wash, dry, and iron your fabric.  Then cut out your rectangle and straps.  In this picture my straps are already sewn into tubes.  I forgot to take the picture before I started sewing.

Sew the straps into long tubes with the right sides together.  Then turn them out and press with the seam along one side, or in the middle (if you are using a button, put it on the side so it's not in the middle of your button holes later).  Or, if you have a serger, you can just fold it in half with the wrong sides together, and serge down the open side (or both sides to make it match).

If you have a serger, finish all four sides of your big rectangle now.  If not, skip to the next step.

Fold under, pin, and iron three sides of your rectangle, leaving the top (one of the longer sides) alone for now.  If you serged the edges, fold them under 1/2".  If you did not serge them, fold them under 1/4" first, then 1/2" to hide the raw edges.

I usually fold over and iron the two short sides and then fold the bottom up over them, but you could do it how ever you want.  It would probably look really nice if you folded the corner in first, then brought the sides up to meet eachother, but that's more work and I'm kind of lazy. 

Sew the three sides using just under 1/2" seam allowance.  Make sure you go all the way to the edge to get all the seams sewn down (you will sew each side separately).

Before we work on the top, we need to finish the ends of the straps.  One end of each strap will be sewn into the top hem, so it's only the other end we need to work on.  It doesn't need to be anything fancy, just tuck in the raw edges and sew close to the edge to hide them.

Do this for one end of each strap.  They should look like this (or better hopefully).

Now, find the middle of your top edge of the cover by folding it over in half. 

Mark the center with a pin.

To make a casing for the boning, fold the top edge over about 3/4" and pin and iron it.  Do not sew it yet.

Mark the center of your boning with a pen or sharpie (the sharpie might show through light fabric) or just hold onto the center with your fingers.  Line it up with the center of the casing you just made and slip it in there.  Now, boning has a natural curve to it.  You want it to bow out away from your body when you are wearing the nursing cover to make a little "window" to see your baby, and to let the air in.  So make sure it is bending down in the middle, and up at the ends.

Pin the casing closed on each side of the boning and under it at the center to keep it in place.

Now it's time to add the straps.  Take your short strap and insert the raw end of it up into the casing over (or under) the end of the boning to your left.  Make sure it is on the boning, not next to it.  (If you are using a button instead of D rings, this is where you'll put the button when you are done, so don't do this step)

Then fold it up so it is sticking out over the top of the cover.  Pin it in place.  Do the same for the longer strap, but this time on the right edge of the boning.  (If you are using a button, put your strap in this spot)

It should look about like this now.

Sew the casing closed all the way across, making sure to keep the straps coming out of the top so they get sewn in.

After you sew the top hem, sew a square on each strap to sew it and the boning in place.  (If you are using a button, sew it on through the boning where the short strap's square would be.  Then, sew a few button holes along your strap starting 14" from where it attaches to the cover and putting one every 2" or so.)

To attach the D rings, fold the short strap over the two rings about an inch and sew in place with a line or two of stitching. 

D rings are really easy to use.  Just slide the long strap through the midlle of both rings, then back over the first one and under the second one.  You can tighten or loosen the strap all you want to get the fit that's right for you. 

That's it! You're done!  Now you have a super cute and really useful gift for yourself or someone else.  To use it, just slip it over your head like an apron.  Then you can nurse your baby without worrying that your blaket will fall off (or be pulled off by baby).

Here's a picture of one I made with a button instead of the D rings.

They can be customized a lot of different ways.  You can add a triangle of flannel in one of the bottom corners to use as a wipe for baby's face, and a pocket for nursing pads (though I've never thought the flannel was very useful for me).  You can also add cute embelishments on the front, like fabric flowers, buttons, or yo yos.  Just make sure they are well attached, and will hold up well in the wash.  I'm afraid this cute one probably gets squashed after going in the washer.

This is one of the first ones I made and is still one of my favorites.

After using one of these a few times, I was hooked.  I have nursed all three of my babies until they were one, and have a few of these covers that I just love!  I had two boys when my little Berkeley was born, and we spent many days at the zoo or park or who knows where.  These really did make it easier to nurse when we were not at home.  They are light-weight, hands free, and fold up nice and small to put into that diaper bag that's already overflowing with all the other crap you need.  They can also double as a blanket, changing pad, stroller or carseat cover/shade, or a towel at the splash pad if they need to.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.  I think nursing your baby is so awesome, and I'm all about things to make it easier!

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