Sewing Circle: Easy-to-move-in dress patterns, like for nursing mamas

A very specialized Sewing Circle question today! Got this one from Bobbi and I'm hoping you all can help her out with more first-hand experience than I have!

Q: You seem to know patterns and such so well! I'd love to make a dress; my challenge is I'm breastfeeding a 3 month old. Any fun, easy (I'm a beginner) patterns that would you would recommend for my situation? I'm a smaller frame, 5'1" tall.

A: Great question, Bobbi, but I have absolutely zero experience in this! I'll contribute what I can.

Some very pretty maternity and nursing patterns...


My first thought was that fellow sewing blogger Megan Nielsen has a seriously awesome pattern line including quite a few maternity patterns. I looked them up and sure enough, she has nursing top and dress patterns as well! I've made one of her patterns before as a tester and it was definitely beginner-friendly. Very clear instructions and a simple pattern (just one style in the envelope, easy to use).

Megan is also one of the sweetest people ever, so I'm glad I get to talk about her here on the blog! Her slogan: "where you make fashion and sewing is cool." Yay. So let's look at Megan's patterns first!

This simple lingerie pattern might be a great one to start with!
Source: Megan Nielsen Patterns

Then maybe try the Pina Dress and Top, also a deep v but more versatile for everyday.
Source: Megan Nielsen Patterns

You also could definitely use a non-maternity/nursing dress pattern like the popular Darling Ranges dress, because it buttons down the front. It is really cute! (But then you have to sew button holes. ;) Trade-off.) It's super versatile, too--you can change the neckline, change the sleeves, whatever.
Source: Megan Nielsen Patterns
She also has a nursing top, The Perfect Nursing Top pattern, so you could try out some techniques with that, too!

Typical dress styles for nursing?


But there are probably a million dress patterns you could make work for nursing. In general I think you'll want to look for styles of dresses that you tend to buy for your current nursing state; that probably means deeper or crossover necklines, or something with a placket. So look for those shapes in conventional sewing patterns you may already own as well. (I think you could also probably get very fancy with horizontal openings hidden somewhere, but I really don't feel qualified to recommend any of those.)

For some slightly dressier styles, try more tailored versions like Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 1872 or Simplicity Cynthia Rowley 2215.


Fabric types for nursing dresses - knit vs. woven


One thing to think about is that knits are probably easier to manipulate when nursing, but they can be a little harder to sew on than wovens. (See a previous Sewing Circle post of mine with tips for sewing on knits.) One of these crossover dresses from McCall's (M6752, M6760, or M6694) could work well.
McCall's M6752

Other ideas?


Readers, if you have experience in this department... what styles do you find are best for nursing, and have you ever sewn your own?? What advice do you have for Bobbi?

15 comments

  1. Pretty much all of Meg McElwee's Sew Liberated patterns are nursing-friendly, and her directions are meticulous and detailed. Plus, they're super-cute! http://sewliberated.com/t/categories/sewing-patterns/womens-clothing

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  2. Oh wow, those are awesome!! Perfect, thanks!

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  3. You're welcome! I love Meg's blog, too - a perfect mix of sewing, kids, crafts, and sweetly reflective writing :)

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  4. I haven't tried this pattern yet, but I plan to since I'm having a baby in two weeks.
    It's pretty stylish and with a little practice I'm sure could be quite versitile. I love that there is a hood option.
    http://www.jalie.com/review/product/list/id/126/category/12/

    Drea | http://dreahatch.blogspot.com/

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  5. I generally preferred knits, but one of my favorite nursing dresses was made of a light rayon. I added nursing openings to regular patterns using the techniques I posted here: http://motherwear.blogspot.com/ It helps to do a trial run using fabric you don't love!

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  6. I have had a difficulty purchasing Megan Nielsrn since my daughter was born four months ago; I checked various online retailers and they were sold out of her patterns. I found the Cynthia Rowley patterns to be more time consuming than what I had available, and I second Meg McElwee's were a bit quicker to work up. I find myself using a basic Simplicity A-line dress with a round neck and simply adding my own placket to the front. No fuss and I'm done within an hour or two.

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  7. That sounds great! Yes, I see they're available at a few retailers online and in person but I'm not sure what the best way to order them is, either!

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  8. Not sure which post you mean but your drawings are very cool!

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  9. Those are very cute! Congrats and good luck!

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  10. My go-to dress pattern for myself is New Look 6774. I've made several versions using the cross-over bodice in both woven and knit. The knit is easier to pull down to nurse in, but both fabrics work. I do choose to wear a tank under mine to reduce cleavage for modesty. ;-)

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  11. Thanks! I just meant that I posted them on the web for others to use. You just pick which style opening you want to make and follow those instructions. I used the same t-shirt pattern for all of my nursing shirts and dresses; I adjusted the neckline, added skirts or lengthened to make different styles.

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  12. That one is so cute! http://www.simplicity.com/p-2451-misses-dresses.aspx I have something very similar. My friend actually just bought that pattern last weekend for one of her bridesmaid's dresses!!

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