Friday, April 5, 2013

Completely Covered: knit nursing cover tutorial

I have seen several knit nursing tops pop up on pinterest, and when I saw them I immediately knew I needed one! I already have one of those cotton fabric ones like this one that is great. But there were a few times with my last baby that I wished I had a little bit more coverage (on an airplane) plus the knit fabric looked so comfy and stylish! (don't burst my bubble if you don't think it's stylish, let me stay in ignorant bliss)

The cover online cost $80, I made this for less than $5! I found this fabric that was on clearance for $2 a yard. sweet! (Since it was on clearance, it's now sold out. sorry) 

want to make your own?

You will need:
  • 1 and 1/2 yards of jersey knit fabric (the fabric I used was 68" wide- as long as your fabric is at least 55 inches wide you will be good) Determine your measurements before buying your fabric, you may need to buy more fabric if you are taller or wider than I am
  • 1/8 yard of knit ribbing (optional, but highly recommended)

1. First you will want to make your measurements to determine your dimensions. With your arms stretched out measure the length from one wrist to the other. This will be the width of your cover. Next measure from your shoulder down to your thigh, multiple this number by 2. This will be your length of your cover. Then measure the distance between your collar bones, this will be the width of your neck hole.

Do I need to buy more fabric? If your shoulder to thigh length doubled is larger than 54 inches, yes. you will need 2 yards of fabric.

2. Cut your fabric. It will be a large rectangle.
3. Next fold your rectangle in half lengthwise, then in half again widthwise. You are ready to cut out the neck hole! (you want to be cutting right in the middle of the rectangle, so be sure you are cutting on the corner with all folded edges, no raw edges!!!) on the right side measure down 1 1/2" cut a little slit. Now, remember your collar bone to collar bone measurement? (mine was 10") divide it by 2 (10/2=5"). Measure from your corner out that distance (5") and cut down at a slight curve to the slit you cut (1 1/2" down)
Unfold the fabric, and you will have a nice opening for you neck! (this photo was taken after I added the ribbing, but you get the idea) This is knit fabric so it doesn't fray. If you want this to be a no-sew project, then leave it as is, you are done!!!  If you want your cover to be a little more professionally finished, then continue on.
4. Remember your collar bone to collar bone measurement? (mine was 10")  multiply that by 80% (10 x .8 = 8") now add 1" for seam allowances (8+1=9"). This will be the length of your ribbing. Cut your ribbing 2" wide by the length you just calculated (9").
5. Sew the ends of ribbing together (with 1/2 inch seam allowance). You will have a little circle.
Now give it a tug to stretch it out a little bit and then set it down to let it "relax" for at least one minute. This pre-stretching will help your ribbing to not stretch out after you sew it in and be all wavy/ugly.
(now at this point the photos are not going to be to scale. I made the nursing cover and then decided to go back and write a tutorial for how to make it. So I used my scraps to show the steps. Hopefully it's not too confusing. some pictures are better than none right?)
6. Fold the ribbing in half lengthwise so the raw edges are together (seam on the inside). Next fold it into quarters and mark with pins so that your ribbing is marked into four equal sections. Do the same thing to the opening of your cover.
7. Match up your pins. You will have to stretch the ribbing just a little bit to get it to fit (the pins will ensure that you have an even stretch). Pin raw edges to raw edges.
8. Sew (with a 1/2" seam allowance) the ribbing to the cover using a zig zag stitch (a zig zag stitch allows the fabric to stretch)

9. Turn it over. Top stitch the ribbing (again with a zig zag stitch) aaaand you are done!

If you really wanted to, you could finish the edges of the nursing cover, but I chose to leave all those edges un-hemmed. If it really bothers me I may go back and turn all the edges under.

 Enjoy your lovely new nursing cover!


  1. This is the best idea of all ideas. Why don't all nursing covers offer this much coverage? This is something I might actually make!

  2. I have one I made kinda like that totally love how much it covers especially when jack is kicking! I made mine with only a yard I like how yours is longer!

  3. If I ever have another baby I will definitely be making one of these. Genius!

  4. Just a question, did you mean to double the length of your ribbing? I followed the calculations for my 11.5" collar bone measurements but the 10.2" ribbing length was WAY too short to go around the neck (which after measuring was a circumference of about 30"). Maybe my measurements were off or I cut wrong?

    1. Yikes! That's a BIG mistake! oops. You are exactly right! that should be DOUBLE collar bone measurement. I will go back and fix that.

      If your measurement is 11.5, multiple by 2 (23) times 80% (18.4) add an inch for seam allowances equals 19.4. Which means your length of ribbing should be 19.4 inches long.

  5. Thank you so much for posting this! I somehow lost my nursing cover that I used with baby #1, which I wasn't crazy about anyway (it was one of the apron-style ones that didn't have great coverage and left me feeling a little exposed), and I really wanted to get a poncho-type cover this time around without spending a fortune. I just followed the instructions to make my own cover, using some really cute double-sided fabric (stripes on one side, polka dots on the other), and I love the way it turned out! I'm lacking in sewing skills, so I just used the no-sew method, and it still looks so cute. Can't wait to use this when baby #2 is here. :)