Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Make a Nursing Cover (& Case)

I wanted so bad to breastfeed my second son, so I tried preparing way ahead of time anyway I could. One of those ways was to make sure I had one of those nifty nursing covers where you could see the baby. I made my first nursing cover with old ruffly curtains I found.

I've made several nursing covers for friends, each time improving on what I did, based on appearance and experience (I've even taken apart another nursing cover I made for myself and remade it according to my new preferences). I really like having a "burp cloth" on the inside of the cover, a pocket on the outside, and wide/sturdy straps that won't crinkle up with use. Here's what I did...

You'll Need...
  • Lightweight cotton fabric: you'll need about 1 yard (1.5 yards if you want to make a carrying case for it); I've noticed from personal experience that a simple pattern (that Baby can see from the underside when the light shines through) works best, since Baby has something to keep him busy
  • 2 D-rings (they're metal rings shaped like D's... :). I use 1" rings.  You can go bigger, but I wouldn't go any smaller than 1".
  • Light- to medium-weight fusible interfacing
  • A toggle clasp or frog (or button, if you like sewing button holes)
  • Thin flannel for the "burp cloth" part. I have plenty of receiving blankets that aren't used. I cut a quarter of the blanket (about 14"x14") into 2 triangles.
  • 14" stiff corset boning
  • Coordinating thread
  • Bias tape in a coordinating color.  You'll need just over 1.5 yds.  Prepackaged bias tape generally comes 3 yds to a package.
  • Both general purpose and a heavy duty needle for your machine
  • About 2" of Velcro (I prefer the sew-on kind... it'll stick around longer... definitely do not sew the stick-on kind... you'll have to take your machine apart to clean it)

From your fabric, you will need to cut a piece 26"x38" (this is the body).

Cut a piece from your fabric 5"x6".  Cut and iron a matching piece of interfacing to wrong side of fabric.

I chose to fold/press little pleats/tucks in the pocket, to allow it to bunch out when items (such as nursing pads) are placed in there without wrinkling the finished cover.

Fold and iron all sides under 1/4".  Fold the top of the pocket under last to create a more finished look from the outside.  Sew down top fold only.  I added a small piece of elastic (I wasn't in the mood to sew a button hole...) to the top of the pocket.  You can use elastic, create a button hole, or attach half of a frog or toggle clasp to the pocket at this time.  At the end of this tutorial, I'm showing pictures of some of the other covers I've made, with examples of other pockets.

Set aside.

Cut two pieces for the straps: one is 6"x5", and the other is 26"x5".

Fold the straps in half longways (hotdog-style), wrong side out (right sides together). From the FOLD, mark 1.5" on one end, and 2.5" at the other end. Draw a long line connecting these 2 marks, and cut along that line. When opened, the strap will be a vague triangle shape, with one short end being 3" long, and the other being 5".

Trace and cut matching strips of interfacing for the 2 straps. Iron these on.

Refold the long strap with right sides together. On the shorter 3" end (or 1.5", depending on how you look at it), mark and cut a gentle curve on the UNfolded corner (the curve should be approximately 1.5-2" long). When opened, this end will come to a nice little point.

Fold under the shortest (3") edge of the smaller strap 1/4".

Refold the straps in half longways with right sides together, sew down the long edge. Keep the 5" (2.5") side open for turning the strap inside out (this edge will be hidden and does not need to look pretty). Turn both straps right side out and press flat with seam running down the middle. See how the long strap now comes to a nice gentle point? Top stitch both straps 1/4" all the way around.

Fold the finished edge of the smaller strap over the flat side of both D-Rings (make sure to have the edge going toward the side with the seam running down the middle).  Using a zipper foot, sew this edge down (no, I'm not a pro at sewing with a zipper foot, and my line is never straight :).

Set your finished straps aside.

I find ironing the hem of the cover body so much easier than pinning it all the way around. It bunches up less when I sew it, and the iron's already out, anyway. Fold the hem 1/4" all the way around and iron it. On the 2 sides and bottom, fold 1/4" again and iron. The long top edge should be folded a second time somewhere between 1/4"-1/2" (just wide enough to fit the corset boning); iron.

If you're using one of the many receiving blankets you got for your baby shower that are just sitting there looking pretty (like I am for mine), you'll need to cut one quarter of your blanket (a square approximately 14"x14") into 2 triangles.

Sew around the 2 sides and bottom of the cover body, tucking the flannel triangles into the bottom corners.

Sew across the free edges of the flannel triangles (a short-cut is to leave this open and use this as a pocket instead of one on the outside... your choice... I prefer the pocket outside).


 Align the center of the corset boning to the center of the top edge of the body (lined up with the 2nd fold).  Place unfinished edges of straps on either side of and overlapping the boning. Straps should have "wrong side" (the side with the pressed seam) against the wrong side of the cover body.  I prefer to have the short strap with the rings on the right, as I am right-handed, making it easier to adjust. Make sure that the corset boning is curving away from you (or you won't be able to see your baby :).

You will need a heavy duty needle for this part! Pin down and sew along the bottom edge of the folded hem (try to catch the boning... this prevents it from sliding later).

Flip the straps up (overlapping the hem), and sew again, this time along the top edge of the hem.  If you didn't catch the boning the first time, try again this time.

Sew the pocket onto the front of the cover.  Unless you know the mommy is left-handed, (when looking from the front) place the pocket in the middle of the lower left quadrant (wherever you feel the right hand would easily be able to reach).  Sew the button or other half of the frog or toggle clasp in the appropriate place on the cover body.

And now your cover is done!  Thread the long strap through the rings, and use it!

Cut out the following pieces from your fabric:


On piece A, use a small bowl (or CD) to round out both corners on one 9" edge.  This will be the flap of the carrying case.

Cut a 19"x2" strip of interfacing.  Iron to wrong side of piece C.

Sew piece C to piece B (wrong sides together) along all sides except for one 9" edge.

Looking at the diagram below, sew bias tape where the green line is.  Now, while it may seem a little awkward to sew, fold down the top edges of the front piece of the case (B and C) 1/4", and sew.

Sew the opposite long side of piece C to the square edges of piece A (wrong sides together). Looking at the diagram, sew bias tape where the red line is.

Sew bias tape to green (piece B) and red (piece A) lines.  I found really good tutorials on sewing bias tape

Sew (or stick) Velcro to inside of flap (piece A), just inside of rounded edges, and to outside of piece B (where the flap Velcro would fall).

Voila!  You now have a case to contain and carry around your new nursing cover!

Linking up to:
Alderberry Hill: Make the Scene
I Should Be Mopping the Floor: Mop It Up
Project Inspire: Just Something I Whipped Up
Organizing Homelife: Simply Sensational Tuesday
Ladybug Blessings: Handmade Tuesday
Threading My Way: Threading Your Way
Ginger Snap Crafts: {Wow Me} Wednesday
Sew Much Ado: We Did It! Wednesday
I Gotta Create!: Wildly Original Linky Party
Fireflies and Jellybeans: Show Off Your Stuff
Somewhat Simple: Link Party Thursday
Tatertots and Jello: Weekend Wrap Up Party


  1. A fabulous tutorial, Christine and gorgeous fabric you've chosen for the nursing cover. I find it harder to keep straight lines when I use a zipper foot, too.

    1. Thanks! Yep, not very straight lines, but sometimes you have no choice... I'd be sewing too far away with the regular/zigzag foot I usually keep on my machine. Thank you for hosting your parties! You have an amazing collection of tutorials on your site!

  2. Hi Christine,
    SO CUTE! Thanks so much for sharing this great tutorial. Love the fabric and the case to carrier the nurssing cover.
    Have a wonderful week

    Hugs from Portugal
    Ana Love Craft

  3. Thanks for sharing this pattern. I just completed one for my beautiful daughter-in-law. Baby is due the first of the year, can't wait for this to be put to use. I am blessed to have a serger and used it in place of bias binding, worked wonderfully. Made a nice neat finish.
    Thanks again.

  4. I absolutely love this nursing cover. It's soft and it folds into this little pocket so I can store it in my diaperbag. The ring that slides back and forth helps me remember where I fed last.
    phlebotomist training

  5. Hi Christine. Stunning nursing cover. I do some crafts in my own free time, perhaps I can give this a shot. Fingers crossed; I CAN make it! :D

    Evita Bour

  6. Funny thing is I've made a nursing cover for myself about a year ago (while I was still preggers) and I wasn't completely happy about it. So, I decided to search for a better tutorial, which led me here, only to discover that a year ago I used the EXACT SAME green fabric you have posted!!!!!! Must be fate :) PS..I loved my fabric but not the end result and I'm making one for a friend who is due soon! Hopefully, I will like this one better. Thanks for posting.

  7. Funny thing is I've made a nursing cover for myself about a year ago (while I was still preggers) and I wasn't completely happy about it. So, I decided to search for a better tutorial, which led me here, only to discover that a year ago I used the EXACT SAME green fabric you have posted!!!!!! Must be fate :) PS..I loved my fabric but not the end result and I'm making one for a friend who is due soon! Hopefully, I will like this one better. Thanks for posting.

  8. I was wondering if you had any pictures of what this looks like in use? :)

  9. Could I get Pams tutorial site? Please i have not found it.

  10. Oh and I love your tutorial. I am going to make it for my daughter. I likethe fact that you have experience and have revised the pattern. Thank Yoi.

  11. Why didn't you post a picture of a finished one? I am not thrilled at the idea of using boning especially if I cannot see what it is going to look like in the end?


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