There are tons of styles of nursing shirts out there, and while I think some of them are super cute, I usually just do ok with pulling my regular shirts up. It is nice to have a few nursing shirts though, especially when you have to nurse in public, because the last thing you want after having a baby is for people to see your belly hanging out while nursing, right?!
The concept I used for my nursing tops is the overlapping seam under the bust. I like it because it isn’t too obviously a nursing top, it is functional yet cute, and it keeps you covered above and below. There are some great patterns you can find for free online for this kind of shirt if you want to sew it from scratch, but I wanted to use up some shirts from the bin of “refashion candidates” I have that I wouldn’t otherwise wear. “Use what you have”- my personal motto.
I made two nursing tops, each using parts from two different shirts. Here are the “before” shirts:
These shirts were both maternity shirts that had been well- loved and were no longer suitable for wearing.
This shirt was given to me and is not a maternity shirt, but is a babydoll style that lends itself well to the type of refashion I had in mind. I also used a bit of a plain white T-shirt (not pictured).
I did the pink shirt first, and learned a few things along the way that I used the second time for a better looking shirt. For the pink shirt, the first thing I did was try on the shirt and mark dots where I would cut a seam under the bust line. Then, I connected the dots to give a straight line, and I cut all the way across.
Then I cut off the sleeves of the darker pink shirt, and trimmed them a bit so that they were straight tubes. After the sleeves were more or less even, I basted both ends of each of the sleeves, and pulled the threads to make gathers.
Then I pinned one of the sleeves on top of the raw edge of the top portion of the shirt and sewed it all the way across. I did add a few gathers under the bust to try to give it a more fitted look.
I cut a piece of lightweight, clear elastic which was 3/8″ thick and about 2/3 as long as the width of my shirt. I sewed it with a zig zag stitch directly onto the raw edge of the bottom portion of the shirt. If you were using a fabric that frayed, and if the length of the shirt was not an issue, you could sew a small casing and thread regular elastic through it. The elastic is important, because it will keep the bottom part of the shirt from sagging down. The gathered band will hide this part- it will not show.
With the elastic on and the shirt turned inside out, I carefully pinned the sides together so that the darker band was sandwiched in between the front and back pieces of the shirt. Here is what the shirt looked like at this point, inside out:
I actually sewed the side seams together at this point, but didn’t like how it fit or looked, so I added the other sleeve in the back, took in the sides of the shirt a bit, re-sewed the sides, and trimmed the excess off.
For the next shirt, I used a little different method. I cut along the seam that was already there, then used my seam ripper a few inches down the sides. I cut two rectangles from a white T-shirt, one was about 14″ x 3″, and the other was 14″x 6″.
I basted and gathered the short sides of the bigger rectangle, like I did with the sleeves on the previous shirt, then I sewed the long edges together, turned it right side out, and sewed it to the top portion of the shirt. I added the elastic on the bottom portion and sewed the sides together exactly like I did on the pink shirt, except that I didn’t make the band go all the way around the shirt, only in front.
I knew the shirt was too low cut to wear on its own,but wearing a tank top or camisole under it would defeat the purpose of the shirt, so I found a white tank top, also in my bin of “potential refashions”, which I inserted under the top of the shirt. All I did was cut the shoulder seam on the top of the tank top, match it up with the shoulder seam of the shirt, sew them together, then pin and sew them together around the neckline of the shirt. I just cut away the rest of the tank top. Here is what that looked like inside out:
Here is a photo demonstrating how the shirt works- just lift up the top portion of the shirt; the bottom part stays in place with the elastic.
I actually wore this shirt all day Sunday and found it to be very comfortable and discrete. I think this kind of refashion is easiest with shirts that are already babydoll style, but you can use any shirt that fits you well. I would recommend the second method I used for making the gathered band, instead of using sleeves- it just works better. Also, the material you use for the gathered band needs to have a fair amount of stretch to it, or it will not pull up easily, and it will be difficult to put on as well.
I have some ideas for other styles of nursing shirt refashions, so stay tuned and hopefully I will have more to post soon.