Fashion as a breastfeeding Mum is often very limited and I was honoured when Harriet asked if I would like to write my tutorial for the Sew Me Sunshine blog to share with others who are breastfeeding and wanted more variety in their wardrobe. I have been a breastfeeding Mum for over three years ( two children and still feeding my youngest) and find RTW nursing clothes very limited, so decided to look at the construction of the nursing wear I already own and hack patterns I love to be feeding friendly to create a style I love and feel comfortable.
This tutorial will show you how to split the front panel, add a hidden crossover bodice and construct the entire front panel to be feeding friendly for any jersey dress that has a single panel front.
For this dress I mashed together a Tilly and the Buttons Freya dress
and Agnes top
to get a cute feeding friendly summer dress! I chose the Beautiful Birds cotton jersey
from Sew Me Sunshine as the colours are perfect for summer and the fabric has great recovery which is important for feeding access!
1 -The first step is altering the pattern pieces to make your dress feeding friendly. I suggest tracing the original pieces to keep them intact.
The front panel is normally cut on the fold and will look a little like this. On this pattern piece you need to mark your underbust and waist.
These are different for everyone so hold the pattern piece against your body to mark yours.
Next cut the pattern piece at the underbust line, put the skirt piece to one side while you create the top and crossover.
2 - Creating the crossover pattern piece
With the remaining top part of the pattern trace the mirror image and tape together to create the whole front. Then mark the centre front point along the bottom edge. And then mark again 3 to 4 inches along (ladies with larger busts 4 inches is better suited for you as it will help the crossover sit smoother over your bust).
Next draw a diagonal line from the shoulder to the plus 3 inch (or 4 inch) mark. Cut along this line. (If the dress has a scoop neck and it looks like the crossover may peep through at the neckline, narrow the shoulder of the crossover panel a little by starting your diagonal line a little further away from the neckline, this will adjust the angle and it shouldn't peep through)
Your pattern piece should now look like this -
This is the hidden crossover and the final pattern piece to create is the top to cover this.
3 - Top panel.
Take the original pattern piece and fold or trace and cut at the waist line. This gives you the top panel.
4 - Add a strip of paper to the top edge of the skirt panel and the bottom edge of the crossover at the width you require the seam allowance to be.
5 - You should now have 3 pattern pieces
* skirt panel, cut one on fold
* crossover panel, cut two
* Top panel, cut one on fold
6 - Constructing the front.
Optional first step - overlock the diagonal front edges of the crossover. This isn't necessary as jersey doesn't fray but it does help to stop it curling.
A - With the right sides of both panels facing up, align your crossover panels with the centre front markings matching. Baste together.
B - Right sides together pin crossover bodice to the top edge of the skirt panel.
C - Sew the crossover panel to skirt panel using your added seam allowance
Your front panel should currently look like this!
D - Next hem the bottom edge of the top panel. I overlock, fold up an inch then use a twin needle to stitch down but you can just fold up the inch and zig zag stitch down. (You must use a stretch stitch e.g. zigzag, twin needle, etc here or your stitches will pop when the fabric is stretched)
E - Once hemmed lay the top panel (right side up) on top of the crossover (right side up) aligning shoulders and sides. Pin and baste together
F - Your front panel should now look like this:
G - The construction of the front of the dress is now complete and you can carry on with your dress according to the pattern instructions treating this panel as one piece.
I hope you find this tutorial useful and I can't wait to see your feeding friendly dresses! If you need anything explaining further or clarifying please just message me and I will point you in the right direction!
A colourful, unique feeding friendly dress. What is there not to jump for joy about?
You can follow my sewing journey on my instagram account @she_made_it_sew. I was provided the fabric free of charge in exchange for this blog post and tutorial. I chose the fabric to work with.