Tuesday, June 16, 2009

DIY: transform your regular bra into a nursing bra

Nursing bras in a full size range that give good support and look good are hard to find. Add to that "cheap", and you can change "hard to find" into "practically non-existent".

I swore that I will never again wear those horrible limp nursing bras that were so so stretchy that the band was on my neck and my boobs were on my belly, and so ugly that you don't need contraceptives. No wonder I didn't enjoy nursing.

   This time around I realised that no typical nursing bras come in size 30(65)FF anyway. Why do maternity bra producers think a nursing woman needs a loose band ? I'd like to see them with two water-filled balloons in their loose-band bras. And running.

As I couldn't afford Hot Milk (sigh), I decided to take matters and material into my own hands. Basing myself on this tutorial, I turned my favourite bras into nursing bras.

And I love the result.

My home-made nursing bras are comfortable, sexy, and give real support ! Granted they are a little bit harder to open and close than some nursing bras, but that's a small price to pay for the support and comfort !




NURSING BRA TUTORIAL

In this tutorial you'll learn how to attach the bra hook for quick opening, as well as a tape so that the shoulder strap does not escape.







TIPS:

  • You don't need any special sewing skills. Just do a strong backstitch ! Although knowing the blanket stitch helps.
  • Sew tight and strong. Preferably, stitch everything twice. Use double thread. Remember that the bra will get a lot of wear and tear !
  • Use a bigger needle, since bra straps are not exactly thin !


What you will need:

  • A bra that fits you well. For this makeover I used an M&S Ceriso: this sexy model gives surprisingly good support -- which BTW is not usual for this brand, hence I don't normally recommend it.
  • Nursing bra closures, or metal "hooks and eyes". They must be as close to the width of the bra strap as possible ! You could also use the kind of hooks you find on bras with detachable shoulder straps.
  • A length of strong ribbon, cloth tape, or shoulder straps from another bra, close to the width of the bra. I like bra straps best, since they are stretchy. Don't forget that the colour should match !
You can use an old nursing bra for the closures and the shoulder straps. I bought several in a flea market, for 2€ each. This is the best option if you can't buy maternity bra closures, since they are really the easiest to open and close with one hand !


* HOW-TO:*

* Step 1: cut the shoulder strap above the cup.

Don't cut it exactly in the place where it joins the cup, as you'll need extra length to attach the hook. It's always better to cut too high than too low !

 



* Step 2: Sew the top of the hook to the shoulder strap.

Make sure that the hook isn't backwards !
I like to do the edge with a blanket stitch first, so that I don't have to fold the end strap double. Less bulk !





* Step 3: Attach the "eye" to the bit of shoulder strap above the cup.




* Step 4: Cut the ribbon / cloth tape / old bra strap to the required length.

That means from the hooks that you just sewed onto the shoulder straps, to the bottom of the band (see photos for next step). The band will go on the side, almost to the armpit (see photo on the bottom of this page).
Add a small margin for sewing, but don't make it too long. I made them too long, and then the hook on the shoulder escaped to the back ! So I had re-do the band to make it shorter ! If you are using an old bra strap, remember that it is stretchy !



* Step 5: Sew the ribbon / cloth band / old bra strap to the bottom of the bra band.

I sewed it to the place where the bra band joins the cup. For less bulk, do the edge with a blanket stitch first, then you don't have to fold the end over.
If using an old bra strap, note that it has a soft fuzzy side and a hard & better-looking side. Keep the soft side on the inside, where it will touch the skin.
In the photo below, it is soft side up :)





* Step 6: Attach the other end of the ribbon / cloth tape / old bra strap to the lower part of the hook.

Make sure that everything is facing the right way ! I had to re-do this step since I didn't noticed that the shoulder strap was twisted.


This is how it should look like:







Ta daa ! You are done !


      



*More info*

Another nursing bra tutorial, using metal hooks & eyes
* You can't understand this tutorial, but the photos are quite informative. They use hooks from convertible bras, BTW.





  This post is a part of a series on pregnancy and nursing bras. Other posts in this series are:

BREAK OUT OF THE MATERNITY BRA MATRIX
Why are they so ugly and uncomfortable, and how to find your right size.

GIVING THE BEST SUPPORT TO YOUR BREASTS:
Whether to invest in bras for pregnancy or for nursing, on measurements, fabrics and other maternity bra FAQ.

DEBUNKING PREGNANCY BRA MYTHS:
On underwires, wide straps, and “bras that grow with you”. 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PREGNANCY BRA:
You don't need a bra especially labeled “for pregnancy”, look for an everyday or sports bra with these characteristics.

RECOMMENDED BRANDS & MODELS OF NURSING BRAS
A round-up of the best and the over-rated.

WHERE TO BUY BRAS FOR PREGNANCY & NURSING:
Now that you know what you need, a guide to where to get it.






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