Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Nursing Aprons

Here's a great DIY baby gift for moms who are planning to breastfeed. I absolutely could not live without mine, and have made them for several friends who also bf. You've probably seen these sold at boutiquey places, or found the largest manufacturer online . I, of course, didn't want to pay $35 plus shipping for one of these things, so after studying the pictures, I have put together a pattern for them here. Hopefully these instructions and pictures will enable you to make one for yourself! Please leave comments/feedback so I can clarify these instructions as needed!

Materials Required:
  • 1.5 yards of an 100% cotton fabric, pre-washed and ironed (you do want to do this, I know it takes time!)
  • 1.5 inch D-rings (see picture)
  • Featherlight Boning (you'll need about 13 inches worth)
  • Iron and Ironing Board
  • Scissors, pins and thread
  • Sewing Machine
  • Yardstick or see-through ruler (like what quilters use)
Step One:

Lay out fabric and fold in half so that it measures 45 inches wide (along fold) and 25 inches from the fold, leaving 4 inches below the top layer. Once everything is nice and square, cut off the 4 inch strip. This will leave you with a doubled fabric that is 45 by 25. 45 inches is pretty wide. I like wide because I'm self-conscious about my sides showing! But if you hold it up to yourself and are like, "This is way too much!" now is the time to cut some off! If you are tall and slender, you may elect to cut the 4 inches off the 45 inch side, and make it 41 by 27 doubled over. Once you have it cut, and the corners are nice and lined up along the "top" iron a nice sharp crease along the "bottom".

Step Two:
Sew the 4 inch strip wrong sides together 3/8 from the edge and flip though to make the neck strap. I like to make a point at the end for easier threading. Make sure you iron everything nice when you are done. Then cut 33 inches from the pointed end to be the neck strap, and cut 8 more inches to fasten the D-rings. You'll have just a few inches left, which you can discard if you like.

Step Three:
Fold your fabric right-sides together so that it is 45 by 25. Now fold it again into quarters, and find the center. Measure 6 inches from the center on the top (open sides, not the fold) and mark the wrong side of the fabric. That mark will be the inside line of the straps. Unfold it from quarters to half. Now pin the straps hanging down between the layers on the inside at the top of the fabric, and again about 3 inches from the top. You will be sewing the layers together 1.5 inches from the top. Make sure your D-rings are threaded onto the attaching strap before you pin it.

The picture shows that I've folded down the top 1.5 inches, but I will actually be sewing where the fold is. I decided it's a little sturdier if I let the straps go all the way to the top of the fabric because then they are sewn in twice, as you will see in just a sec... After you sew the line along the 45 inches across the top, fold down that part and iron (so it will look like the picture, but your the tails of your straps will be longer!)

Step Four:
This is the tricky part! Now we will be putting the boning in place. Cut the boning so that it is about an inch longer than the distance between your straps. (hopefully about 13in) Scootch back the fabric from the end of the boning and cut off half an inch, and round the end so that the plastic corners of the strip of boning aren't sharp. Do the same on the other end. So the plastic part of the boning is 12 inches (or slightly less than the distance between your straps) but the fabric casing is about half an inch longer on both sides. You will be sewing through the fabric casing to attach the boning to the collar of the apron. Lift the ironed over edge and pin the boning so that it is under the top side of the fold, but not too tight to the fold. You need a smidge of lee-way so you can fold it over and it doesn't bunch. Pin it so that the casing ends overlap where the straps are on the inside. You will then sew both ends securely, along side each of the straps on the top side of the fold. (The straps are sandwiched inside the layers, on the other side of the fabric you are sewing)

When it is done, it will look like this, though you will have longer strap ends sticking out the top of yours. Now turn the fabric right side out, and pin the fabric underneath the boning so that it is somewhat tight, and nice and flat. The boning can be stubborn sometimes, so try to work with it, not against it. You will not be able to sew right up under it anyway because of it's thickness.

Step Five:
We now just have to finish everything off. The fabric should be right side out, pins along the collar holding the boning tight inside. Now we'll close in the sides, so fold in (under) about an inch of fabric on each open side of the apron. Iron the folds to nice crisp creases so that when you sew the sides it will have a nice finished off look. You may need pins to accomplish this. Sew along each side as close as you can to the edge, making sure that the folded under/creased edges line up just right. (again, pins!)

So, now we have it all enclosed, but we need to secure the boning permanently, and go around the other edges one last time for strength. Starting at the top left corner, give yourself a half an inch before beginning your seam that will go across the top, securing the boning in place. Sew about 3/4 inch from the edge all down the top, being careful when you get to the boning not to get in too tight to it because your pressure foot will avoid it giving you a nice jag in your seam right in the front of your apron! Continue the seam until half an inch from the end, turn the corner and proceed all the way around the apron, a half an inch from the sewn/creased edge. This will give it a nice finished look and keep everything from twisting/separating. There you have it! You are done! I like to store mine folded in half (bottom to top), then in thirds, and rolled so that the collar keeps its shape.


Kraig and Meg said...

Thank you so much for putting up this pattern with instructions and pictures. I'm a beginner at this, and it still worked out great! I appreciate it!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I currently live in japan and I have no idea what featherlite boning is. I could order it online but it will take at least a month so my question is what could i use instead or do i have to have it at all

Rachel said...

featherlite boning is a plastic boning encased in fabric. It is often used in sewing womens undergarments like decorative corsets. It is a more flexible, soft boning than metal boning. I would suggest visiting your local craft/fabric store and ask for an encased plastic boning. If they have more than one, choose the most flexible. If all they have is metal boning, you could make it work, but the nursing apron will not roll up for easy transporting. If metal boning is all you have to work with, you will need to deviate from the directions, and sew the second seam along the top, (right side out) making a tube to slide the boning into, then sew an extra seam on each end of the boning to keep it in place in the middle. This is a little more tricky, but it would work. You may also want to consider using something like a pipe-cleaner instead, as it would be more flexible, though you would have to re-shape it often. Hope that helps!

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Anonymous said...

Great post! What store did you find the featherlight boning at? I'm in the states & am having trouble finding it.

Rachel said...

I have a Hobby Lobby near me, which is where I usually buy it. It would be in the fabric section, on the back wall with all the sewing notions. (around the same place you will find the D rings!)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rachel! There aren't any Hobby Lobbys in PA. = ( I'll just have to keep looking. Maybe I'll have luck at a more craft oriented store like Michael's, rather than continuing to look at fabric type stores. Thanks again! This is a great pattern to follow!

Brit n' Ryan said...

Hi, and thanks for posting this tutorial, this is a GREAT blog. I haven't sewn for years, but my husband just got me a sewing machine for my b-day last month and I'm dying to create something. I'm due with my second baby in 6 weeks and I know this is one thing that I just can't live without! I tried to start it today, but I'm totally confused...where do the D rings fit in? I'm stuck in step you have any other clarifications? I'm not understanding how/exactly where the straps attach. Also, in step 2 (I think)you have to put the wrong sides together for the strap and then flip it. Shouldn't it be the right sides together, then turn it right side out? Not saying you made the mistake, but I just don't want to mess this up, so I'm double checking. Sorry this is so long, but if there is any way of putting it in even more simple terms for the girls like me, I'd appreciate it! Thanks so much and keep posting your great ideas!

Rachel said...

Okay, that was a complex question! In the middle, on the open side (top) you are making the strap that will go around your neck to hold the "apron" on you while you are nursing. The D-rings will be attached on a loop of strap on one side of the neck, and the long part of the strap will be on the other side, just like many aprons do it. If you don't want to use D-rings, you can make two long straps that tie behind your neck instead.

What I'm trying to describe in step 3 is how to find the middle, and how to space the straps each 6 inches from the middle, or 12 inches apart, centered in the middle of the apron. I like the fold technique, but your could just measure with a yard stick if that is easier. The fabric should be folded so that the RIGHT sides are together, and the straps should be pinned INSIDE with little tails sticking up through the top of the fabric layers. This is so when you sew across the top, then flip the fabric through, the straps will be attached on the outside. Hope that helps!

Sitha said...

Thank you for sharing. I want to try but first I need to learn how to sew. Thank's again.

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IM Hardware said...

Pretty! This was a really wonderful post.
I've to put it here Kitchens in Lahore

ativanonline said...

Thank you for sharing. I want to try but first I need to learn how to sew. Thank's again.
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