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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nursing Sleep Bra: The Tutorial (with pattern)

A big thanks to all of those that expressed interest in this tutorial.  I love to hear from you and know what it is that you like.  It takes quite a bit of time and energy to write up tutorials and scan in patterns, so it was very nice to know that there was some interest in this one.

Before I get started I must apologize for these photos.  I hadn't looked through them until recently.  I noticed that there was a smudge on my lens in several of the photos, and some of them were taken at night with a flash, my apologies.

I mentioned in my initial post that this is a bra that I created by analyzing an existing sleep bra that I own.  Mine is a size medium, but according to the sizing chart on the manufacturers website, this medium sized bra can accommodate 34 D and E, 36 C and D, and 38 B.  I'll be providing a pdf pattern if you want to use mine, it's not perfect, but it worked for me.  

If you need a different size then I'd recommend either adding or subtracting from the seam allowances on the sides of the bra.  I'm assuming that there probably isn't a huge difference in the size of the front lapping pieces, but you could add a little extra room to the top of the front pattern pieces if your well endowed and would like more coverage.

So before I start on the full tutorial you can find the downloadable/printable pattern pieces here.

The materials are listed on the pattern, but I'll re-list them for you here.


1/2 yard rayon/spandex knit fabric (I purchased mine at Joann's)
Coordinating thread
1.25 yards 1/2" elastic
1.25 yards 3/4" elastic
1 yard or so of elastic trim (purchased here)
Ball Point sewing needles (Joann's or any fabric store)
Sewing Machine and Overcast Serger

The first thing that you'll want to do is print off your pattern pieces.  Trim around the inside rectangle, and tape the pattern pieces together.  Cut out both pattern pieces.  Align the back pattern piece on the fold and cut out.  With the fabric still folded, cut out the front pattern piece.  You should end up with a total of three pattern pieces: one back, and two fronts that face opposite directions.  I really should have photographed this, sorry.

Serge the scooped edge of the back piece of the bra.  If you don't have a serger you could overcast zig zag the edge, or leave them raw. You will also want to overcast the top scooped edge of the front pieces. 

We will now attach the elastic trim to the front and back pieces. Cut three pieces of elastic trim, each piece should be about one inch shorter than the length of the pattern piece.  Cutting it slightly shorter in length helps pull the bra in toward the body.  Find the center of the pattern pieces by folding them in half, this point should be quite easy to determine on the back piece.  On the front piece you can meet up the top and bottom corners and mark the center point with a pin.  Pin the center of the elastic to the center of the pattern pieces.  You will match up the bottom edge of the elastic trim with your overcast edge of your pattern pieces (right sides together). Pin along the length of the elastic, easing the fabric and elastic as you pin.

Using a zig zag stitch sew along the lip of the elastic trim.  I used 1/4" seam allowances for this step. Using a zig zag stitch will allow both the elastic and the fabric to stretch. Ease the fabric as you sew.

Turn the elastic toward the back of the fabric and press.  Topstitch 1/8" away from the pressed edge using a narrow zig zag stitch. Repeat for both front pieces and back piece.

Take your two front pieces and pin them together at the sides matching up the bottom edge.  Stay stitch them together along the sides, this will prevent them from shifting position when you stitch the side seams.

Pin your secured front piece to the back piece, with right sides together, along the side seams.  Use a 3/8" seam allowance and stitch in place.  Overcast the edge to finish. 

Serge the raw edges of the material along the armholes.

With right sides together pin and stitch the shoulder seams.  

Finish seam edges and press the seam toward the back of the bra.  

Stitch the shoulder seam down to prevent chafing. 

Cut your elastic. Cut two of the 1/2" width elastic to 18 3/4". *Cut one of the 3/4" elastic to 29".

*At this point you may want to wrap the length of the elastic around your rib cage to ensure that it isn't too binding.

Once your elastic is cut you will want to overlap the ends of the elastic and stitch them into loops by zig zagging 1/4" away from the elastic edges.

Turn bra right side out.

Divide your elastic  and the bottom of the bra into quarters.

Match up quarter points and pin in place, overlapping the bottom edge of the bra by 1/4".  By pulling on the elastic ease the difference in lengths and pin the center of you quarter marks.

On the right side of the fabric/elastic, use a three point zig zag stitch to sew along the top edge of the elastic.  This should catch the knit fabric. In the photo above you can see the right side of the bra on the right, and the underside on the left.

Turn the elastic toward the inside of the bra.  Use the three point zig zag stitch 1/2" from the bottom edge of the bra to secure the elastic. There should be a slight elastic lip that shows along the bottom edge.

Use the same technique to attach the elastic around the arms.  Instead of stitching 1/2" away from the outer edge stitch 3/8" to finish them up.

That's it. You've finished your own Nursing Sleep Bra.  Clear as mud?  Let me know if you have any questions.  I know that my photos weren't quite as illustrative as they could have been.  Sometimes it's just difficult to know what shots you need as you go along. Like I said let me know if you have any questions about the tutorial or the pattern.


Jenny said...

Thanks so much for the tutorial! It looks so much comfier than the sports bra I used. :-)

Janice said...

Thanks! Now just to find the time to make it...

Emily said...

Looks great! Hopefully one day I'll get to use this. :)

Kae said...

Thanks! And thanks for the pattern- I have issues with pattern making :D

jennie said...

Thank you so much for putting this pattern and tutorial together. I know it takes time and I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate it and look forward to making one (or more!) for myself:)

Veralyn said...

Thank you soooooo much!!! I look forward to making it!!!

Prissy said...

Thank you! My daughter is expecting and this will be perfect to make for her. Just found your blog and I just love it.

Anonymous said...

I am 39 weeks pregnant and am making this tonight! Thanks so much for posting it! I will need to adjust sizing...

KChu said...

Tricia thank you so much for this pattern and tutorial. I have spent so much money purchasing these for my two kids...they are super comfortable. Glad I found you so I can make some for my last baby on the way. Truly appreciate the work and time you put in for this one!!!

Ryzzie said...

Thank you for this pattern, I have actually used it to make a nursing nightgown by just attaching a skirt to the bottom of the bra. Saved me a good deal of money since I used fabric I already had!

seemesew84 said...

Thanks for posting this pattern! I was wondering do you put elastic in the arm holes too?

Julie Rosenhan said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I've been wanting to make a nursing sleep bra for ages, but couldn't figure it out and didn't want to go buy one just to tear it apart and use it for a pattern. You are a life saver!

Jennifer said...

Thank you for all the work in putting together and sharing this tutorial. I'm a 32 I and sleep bras are no where to be found in this size, so I was able to alter this pattern a bit to make it work. Finally, I can be rid of my frustrations of not being able to have something that fits! Thank you!

FiklPIkl said...

Woah, this is almost a billion years later, but I used your pattern and its great! I kind of joined some of the steps together to save time, but the pattern fits me well. Thanks so much for your tutorial!

LingerieAsk said...

Thanks for sharing this great article. I found this resource also helpful: Best minimizer bra for heavy, full-figured & large breasts

Lovemere said...

Wow! Great Article, I am impressed with this post. Thank you and keep it goings on.
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Lovemere said...

This blog post serves as an excellent guide for new moms seeking a nursing bra. With its informative content and practical tips. It empowers women to make informed decisions while ensuring their comfort and convenience during the breastfeeding journey.