DIY Nursing Shirt #1

Ever notice how ridiculously expensive nursing wear is? Yea, me too. I certainly don’t have that kind of cash to spend, so I have been making my own 🙂 Thus far they have turned out great and I’m excited to share them with you. So far I have only done alterations to shirts to get my results, but soon I will be making some from scratch. I will share those too once I have made them.

For now I will show you a very simple alteration diy nursing top. Its made from a men’s T-shirt and a tank top. The fished product looks like this. IMG_20140814_170155IMG_20140814_170041


1 men’s T-shirt one size too big

1 tank top or old shirt (I’ll be using an old shirt for tutorial)

Matching thread

8 inches of 1/4 inch elastic



Sewing machine

Fabric marker

Ruler or some straight edge



Step 1: Put on men’s T-shirt and place a pin at the bottom of your bust. Take off shirt (mind the pin) then measure and mark 1 inch below the pin. Measure the distance from armpit to the mark and then using that measurement make the same mark on the opposite side. Using a srtaght edge and fabric marker draw a straight line from one mark to the other. Cut along the line. Then set aside  bottom half.IMG_20140812_115802

Step 2: Cut off collar and cut down the center front. Use straight edge and marker as necessary.IMG_20140812_120131

Step 3: Using straight edge draw a diagonal line from the bottom to the neckline in order to make the front on an angle. Cut along line.IMG_20140812_120253IMG_20140812_120644it should look like this when done.

Step 4: Hem neckline. ***Make sure you use the stretch stitch on your sewing machine for this entire project! Otherwise your stitches will slowly rip as you wear the shirt. Don’t know about stretch stitch? Use this to help you figure it out.

Step 5: Put on the top of the shirt you just hemmed and play in the mirror with how far you want the two edges to overlap. Keeping in mind that it needs to have some room to be pulled over your breast so you can nurse. For me it was five inches. Take off and pin and stay stitch (regular stitch across desired area) the edges together so it overlaps.IMG_20140814_135515

Step 6: Time to put the bottom back on! Matching side seams (most men’s T-shirts no longer have side seams so if that is the case with yours simply match up the sides without needing to be too particular about it) pin the sides and then the top to the bottom everywhere except where the two front pieces that overlap. You should have more fabric than you need to cover the last small area.IMG_20140814_142554

Step 7: Pleats! This will make the shirt look great. Take the extra fabric and pleat it to make it fit the last unpinned area. I find 4 pleats look best. Try to make the pleats evenly spaced and the same size. For this one I did 2 big pleats the same size and two small pleats the same size. You can do it whichever way you choose. If you’ve never done pleats before, not to worry. There are many kinds of pleats, but this shirt uses the most basic pleat, which is simply pinching the fabric and folding it down. Pin down your pleats and then pin the last area of the top to the bottom and sew all the way around.IMG_20140814_142706IMG_20140814_142849

Step 8: Ruching the sleeves. This looks way more complicated than it actually is. All this is, is elastic stretched across the center of the sleeve in order to give it a bunched/ gathered look. On the inside of your shirt mark a line down the center of your sleeve. Sew 4 inches of the elastic to the line by stretching it across while sewing. (Tip: make sure your needle is facing down)IMG_20140814_165329IMG_20140814_165715this is how it should look on the right side.

Step 9: Get your tank top and cut off the side seams and shoulder seams (if your using an old shirt than cut off the sleeves well). Once you have only the front of the tank top make a mark on both sides using your previous measurement of under the bust and adding 4.5 inches. (Forgot that measurement? No worries just go back to the men’s shirt and measure from the armpit to the under bust seam and add 4.5 inches). Mark on both sides then draw a straight line across them and cut off. (Why is the tank longer than the the top half if the shirt? Good question its for a hem allowance and so that it’s more modest. Let’s face it if its longer its easier to tuck back in place and you don’t have to worry about it coming up when you reach for things.) IMG_20140814_151018

Step 10: zigzag stitch (or serge if you have a serger) all the unfinished edges of the tank top, so that it won’t fray. Hem the bottom of the tank top.

Step 11: Add the tank top into the men’s T-shirt by pinning and sewing the shoulders to the shoulder seams and the sides into the side seams.*** For the side seams do NOT sew any farther than 1 inch past the under bust seam. Otherwise your top will rise too much when you bring the tank top up the nurse (if the shirt does not the side seams mark the sides on the inside of the fabric to guide you) (if you don’t like the tank top being longer then you can make it shorter, but you will need to put a few stitches in the center so it doesn’t come up all the time.)  IMG_20140814_164207

Tada! Your done. Now go feed that baby 😉IMG_20140814_170155

Just in case a little review is needed… To feed baby simply pull side on men’s T-shirt over and pull up tank top over the breast. To be slightly more discrete once baby is latched pull shirts a little down and over.

Anyway I love these tops. Hope you find it useful for you! 🙂 Happy Sewing!


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