So….there’s a slight issue with writing about something one made about 5 hazy months ago…. details can be sketchy. But I’ll do my best.
Fairly early in my pregnancy my dear friend Blogless Anna loaned me the now out of print Maternity Lingerie Set by Megan Nielsen, discreetly mentioning I may wish to wear a comfy nursing bra at night, particularly in the early days. In my ignorance I thought, whatever for? And then my bust exploded in size beyond anything I thought possible and I realised those girls would need some sort of fabric containment even at night.
I’ve never been that jazzed at the idea of lingerie making in the past. I love my Barrie undies, and certainly like the idea of using up fabric scraps, but in particular I’ve felt reluctant to experiment with sewing lingerie elastic using my fairly old machine as attempts in my early sewing days were mediocre to say the least. But after seeing the price of even the most basic maternity sleeping bras and the hideousness of RTW nursing nighties I decided that it was financially worthwhile to at least have a try at the cropped bra.
Version one was truly scraptastic, made of some mismatching viscose lycra leftovers. I experimented with the elastic application as the pattern directs you to finish the edges with plain elastic, stitched twice with zigzag. I decided I didn’t really care for this finish and so adapted the pattern to use picot elastic instead (just a matter of playing with seam allowances to attach the elastic). I also added a self fabric bottom band instead of finishing with elastic as I felt this would be less likely to ride up over the bust. It was great playing around with a quick little muslin as I was able to perfect my picot application as well as make some fit adjustments. I had some gaping in the front armscye and didn’t like how high the back was, so scooped out the back a little and took a dart out of the armscye to remedy the gaping. As it was so long ago I can’t remember the specifics of the picot application but did find I had a little stretching out with the second round of triple zigzag stitching. I found this post at Cloth Habit
My muslin wasn’t really wearable, although it looked great, as the viscose was just too stretchy and not supportive, but I was very encouraged to persist and made up another version out of some striped cotton scraps. No lycra though…..
So pretty! But with no vertical stretch she’s a bit snug and I had to add normal elastic into that hem band to keep it below the bust. I have worn it when desperate, but its not the greatest to wear. I am however vastly proud of how cute it is and love the minty elastic paired with the stripes.
I felt confident enough to attempt a nightie now, and knew cotton with lycra would be the way to go, plus some extra length in the skirt. First attempt was with a plain blue cotton lycra from Maai Design
. I trimmed it in black elastic, picot on the bodice (from Darn Cheap Fabric) and just stretch lace on the hem to jazz it up a little. The bodice elastic was top stitched with a triple zig zag, and despite my best efforts did stretch out a little, however I’ve found on wearing it, it’s really not noticeable. The fabric, like all of Maaike’s products, has worn terrifically, considering it was washed basically every 2nd day for close to 4 months. These pics were taken probably after 3 months of wear.
For my second version I used a beautiful Art Gallery knit, printed with Magnolias that I sourced through another little Australian online fabric store called Ministry of Fabric. Like all Art Gallery knits I’ve sewn with in recent years it does fade a little, but again it’s been washed every second day for several months and I think has held up quite well. It’s still beautifully soft, just a little faded.
The red picot elastic came from the fabulously named Australian lingerie supply shop Booby Traps. They have a truly amazing supply of lingerie elastics, in amazing colours and varying widths. My only slight whinge is that postage is set at flat rate of $10, which for fabric is very reasonable, but for a small amount of elastic is pretty hefty. I did buy a few different lengths and colours for the stash to make it worthwhile.
I’m totally kicking myself for using navy thread in the bobbin. Idiot. Anyway for the elastic top stitching on this version I just used a simple zigzag as I had read that the triple zigzag is what can cause the elastic to stretch out. It made no difference really. I think it’s just my machine.
I managed to grab a couple of modelled shots where I wasn’t looking too haggard – worn with a cami underneath for modesty! It’s a shame the pattern is out of print because it really is lovely. I saved my nighties til post partum, but they did fit a pregnant belly very well. This pattern does look quite similar, and includes a maternity mod with it. Interestingly they have an option to finish the bodice edges with knit bands, which I did consider attempting with my first version. I know women with a large bust often find a sleep bra more comfortable at night – these sorts of patterns would be great for non-maternity use too. I’d definitely consider making these nighties again – maybe play around with lace for the bodice pieces, or use a slinky viscose or even silk knit.
As a quick add on, I also made a batch of breastfeeding pads, using this pattern and tutorial. They have been fantastic – the size is perfect, the contoured shape awesome. I used bamboo flannel, sourced from here. Unfortunately the flannel isn’t the most robust fabric, and frayed away from the trimmed dart within a week of starting to use them. The bamboo flannel is extremely absorbant, but obviously a fairly loose weave. I still use them but they have massive holes in them! My MIL made me a second batch without trimming the darts and they’re fine – the dart doesn’t add bulk provided you stagger them when you attach the layers together.
I had no concept about the reality of breastfeeding. I knew I wanted to do it, that it could be tricky but I had no idea it would be one of the hardest things I’ve had to conquer in my life. I’m not going to go into excessive detail but challenging doesn’t even begin to cover it, and I have been so thankful that I took Anna’s advice and made these nighties. There’s no doubt that having something well fitting, pretty and comfortable to wear during those difficult months did help to make me feel a little less miserable, just a wee bit.