DIY: Turn your favorite bra into a nursing bra

DIY: Turn your favorite bra into a nursing bra

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If there's one thing I've learned from my years of breastfeeding experience thus, it's this: I hate nursing bras.

I was never blessed with a buxom bosom, but I always thought that once I was had a baby and began breastfeeding, I would have the voluptuous breasts I dreamed of as a prepubescent teenager. Alas, whatever entity is in charge of doling out the good sized mams must have overlooked me. Even when my milk came in, and I was engorged, I still sat on the fence between a B cup and a C cup.

And whoever designed nursing bras apparently had no regard to those of us less endowed. The same level of support necessary for the larger-breasted ladies is not necessary for us smaller gals. Nursing bras were eating me alive with their 2 inch wide straps. I have no use for four clasps in the back, they just make it harder for me to get dressed.

I tried to find a nursing bra that was cute, even *gasp,* sexy. The sales lady told me she had something that might fit me in a D or E cup, even after I told her I'm a 34 B. Either she doesn't understand how bras work, or did not have a firm grasp on the alphabet.

I was fed up. I decided to take matters into my own hands. A scary thought, since these hands are not crafty hands. Nightmares of Home Economics class came rushing back. I don't want to sew my sleeves to anything again. But I took the plunge, and am quite pleased with the results, so I thought I'd share this easy tutorial. This DIY works for any sized bra, therefore, any sized lady.

Without further ado, the nursing bra conversion for the craft-challenged mama:

  • A regular bra of your size. I used a wireless. Read my note below regarding bra types.
  • Thread in a color to match your bra
  • Nursing bra clasps. You can buy black nursing bra clasps here; they also come in white.
  • Sewing needles. I needed more than one. I may have broken a few.
  • Elastic. I bought my 1/2-inch elastic here; if you want to buy the elastic off Amazon like the bra clasps, I like this 5/8-inch black elastic; you can also find it in white, pink, blue, and many other colors.
  • Scissors
  • Time: The first bra I sewed took me about an hour. I also made some mistakes and had to redo some things. Subsequent bras took anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.

It's also a good idea to figure out what type of knot to use. This is the knot I used to start, and this is what I used for a finishing knot. If you're a craft failure like me, you'll want to practice on something before you start on your bra. Once you get it, it's easy, I promise!

I'm not a fan of swimsuit-style clasps, or other snaps. I think they're too cumbersome for clipping your bra up or down with one hand. I prefer this style, and that is what this tutorial is based on:

Step 1: Cut your bra straps. This is the most nerve wracking part. You're cutting the straps of a perfectly good bra. I made my cuts about 1 inch up:

Step 2: Sew the bottom clasp onto the end closest to the cup. I use about 3/8 inch to secure the clasp on:

Again, I'm not crafty. I don't know any special stitches. I just attack everything with a good in-and-out stitch several times to really secure everything. If you're using a matching thread, it won't matter, since the only person close enough who might notice your haphazard stitching, is your nursing baby.

Step 3: Sew the other clasp onto the strap. Same technique as above. I recommend double checking everything before you sew it together. I may have sewed this clasp on upside-down on one occasion.

Step 4: Cut a piece of elastic long enough to extend loosely from clasp to bottom of bra cup, plus a little extra (just in case!)

Step 5: Sew elastic onto the bottom of the above pictured clasp.

Step 6: Sew elastic to the bottom of the bra cup. You'll want to leave a little bit of slack, like I have in the picture. This is the elastic that keeps your strap from falling behind your back.

Step 7: Repeat on the other side

See? That wasn't so bad, right? Now you have a nursing bra that fits your personality and comfort, with the pride of making it yourself.

Here's the end product in action. I don't normally show my underwear on the internet, but I've made an exception here. I would have used my husband, but he's an inadequate and unwilling bra model.

A quick note on bra types: Underwire bras can cause mastitis and blocked ducts in the nursing mama if they don't fit perfectly. Plus, it is much harder to sew the elastic onto the wired edge.

Good luck!

Images by Jenni Buckley, Nick Buckley

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