Sunday, July 28, 2013

DIY Nursing Shirt- How to Make a Discreet, Up-Cycled Nursing Top for Breastfeeding in Public

Have you seen/read/heard the poem "Embarrassed" by Hollie McNish? It has become viral on the Internet but if you haven't seen it you can watch it here. In her poem she talks about how mothers are made to feel ashamed for feeding their babies in a public setting. They are made to feel as though breastfeeding is an act of seduction or perversion instead of the simple act of JUST feeding a hungry baby the way BILLIONS of humans have been fed before. Many mom's do not feel comfortable nursing in public and some feel that that a nursing cover or blanket draws extra unwanted attention... so what is a mom to do?

My answer was discreet nursing tops- Tops that pull up and pull down. The only flesh exposed is that which is in your babies mouth. I like this because I 'personally' found it more discreet than nursing covers and less revealing than just pulling my whole shirt down. I purchased a few of the store-bought, "designer" tops which were a bit expensive but a nice splurge and I wore layers and struggled to fish my clothes around and keep them straight. Then I had an epiphany, why not just make some cute nursing tops? They couldn't be that hard to make could they?

Guess what? It's not. Actually I made one in roughly 25 minutes. It came out super cute, it is more functional than layering tops and I spent no money making it. I just used a couple of tops I had laying around that were in the pile to be given away. So raid your drawers, visit a local thrift store, pick out some cute tops (or a dress), and get sewing!

Here's what to do-

First pick two tops.
I chose a stretchy, brown tank to be my top shirt and a cute, lacey, tank that has been sitting in my donate pile because it was way too small and short for my undershirt. Stretchy material works best for the top layer.
Take the undershirt and cut it in half.
Cut off the straps 
and cut the back in half so it opens up.
Hem the bottom. To hem all you need to do fold the bottom up a half inch and then fold it again. Press with an iron to help keep folds straight and pin it.
Use a simple strait stitch to sew the hem. 
Because of the material of my undershirt I did a second layer of stitching to ensure a good hold.
Tada! The under layer is done! Now to attach it to the top shirt. 
First, turn the top shirt inside out with the front of the shirt facing towards you.
Lay your undershirt right side down on top of your top shirt.
Pin the shirts together along the armpit seam. 
Since my undershirt was smaller than my top shirt the seams do not line up perfect, but that is okay. 

Place a pin facing along the top shirt's side seam so you know where to stop sewing.
Pin the left and the right sides this way.
With thread that is an "exact, to close" match to your top shirt, sew the two shirts together along the armpit seam. Try to sew along or as close the top shirt's hem line as you can.
When your two shirts are attached along the armpit seams, place a pin sideways at your side seams to mark the bottom of your undershirt. Your side pins will hold the undershirt in place.
Flip the shirt outside right, and sew along the side seam, directly on top of the seam. 
It is SUPER important that your thread matches your shirt!
Stop at your sideways pin.
If you stayed along the seam you won't be able to see the stitches! :D

Repeat on the other side, then flip the shirt inside out again.
You will see your seam on the inside.

Trim along the seam on both sides. 

You now have an under layer!

Flip your shirt outside right again and enjoy! 
In roughly 25 minutes you made yourself and up-cycled, discreet, nursing top!
If you want to add an extra touch (and your shirts are the same size) You can take the bottom of the undershirt and add it to the bottom of your top shirt for extra length and a layered look.

Nurse on mama! (and don't be ashamed to do it in public!)


  1. LOVE!!! Wish I had known about this when mine were still nursing.

  2. Much better than the ugly, expensive nursing tops I found myself wearing

  3. I double layered. Same idea, but not as much work and not as cute. lol. Outer shirt up, under shirt down, for those who aren't crafty!!

  4. I just bought four of the "outer" type tank tops to use for layering, but now I know what I will be doing instead! Thank you for this! Separating layers and trying to juggle baby and be discreet is a pain.

  5. A very nice informational blog. Keep on making such important blog post. Your work is really being appreciated by someone.That's useful .
    Maternity And Nursing Bras

  6. How could we make this shirt so we can pull up instead of down? I guess putting the flower shirt on the outside?

  7. great tutorial! thanks for sharing- it's really great to have nursing options for public. I refuse to go sit in a bathroom this pregnancy!


  8. Thank you thank you! Modesty up top is just as important to me as keeping my stomach covered and was a big issue with my first baby! I have also been wanting to do something like this for low-cut non-nursing shirts and it is so nice to see the steps visually explained.

  9. Love this! I stink at sewing though. :-/ I am going to try try try though! So much better than a big noticeable cover, and not as hot for baby in summer!

  10. My husband suggested: just cut the inner top by half, hem the bottom and wear the two shirts on top of each other. That would work even for those who stink at sewing, don't you think? :)

  11. My daughter is expecting her first baby in October and is planing on nursing. I will be making several of theses for her. Thank you so much for putting so much live into your tutorial 😍


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