Friday, 20 September 2013

Refashion Friday: Refashion Your Own Nursing Bras


I'm not going to lie, today's Refashion Friday post features an idea that will interest a very limited demographic. However, it's one of those ideas that is so genius that even those that are not likely to deploy it in the immediate future might hang on to it for use in the future, or to pass on to someone else for whom it may become relevant.

This is not my idea. It is an idea I found on Pinterest that has been devised (or at least explained) by Valeri on her blog 'Keeping Up With Us Jones''. As soon as I saw it I clocked it as a genius way to avoid buying any more new stuff and spending any more money than is necessary on this whole 'being pregnant and having a baby' scenario.

Some time ago I received a comment from the lovely Jen on my Eight Month Maternity Wardrobe post that included the following tip:

"Just make sure you invest in some good nursing bras - they can really be the best thing for making you feel better about your body afterwards, when you feel as though your pre-pregnancy figure is gone forever, especially since now there are some lovely options out there for nursing bras."

I totally took that suggestion to heart. I thought that, seeing as I've saved quite a bit of money maternity clothing by making, repurposing and borrowing all I've needed, I would treat myself to one or two nice nursing bras. So I went into a couple of fancy maternity shops but two things became apparent: A) my boobs are currently too big for all the nice nursing bras I saw on my attempted shopping trip, only the less attractive ones seemed to come in my size, and B) DAMN, posh bras are EXPENSIVE!!!!! I'm way too skint right now to justify spending that kind of money on bras that should only realistically see six months use and will be covered in milk or be in the laundry most of the time anyway.

So as much as I'm sure that after the baby is born I'd like to set fire to the unsexy maternity bras I currently own, instead I'm going to apply this nifty little trick of Valeri's and keep my maternity bras in rotation until either my boobs change shape/size or I give up breast feeding (assuming I'll be able to breast feed ok in the first place). Actually, I'm not sure I'll do the step that Valeri suggests of making the loop of fabric so that they are still adjustable. I may just apply the hooks and eyes and tether the straps at the length that they fit well at.

Anyways, apologies for going on about nursing bras and my recent deliberations for longer than was probably necessary. I hope that Valeri's post saves you or someone you know some money at some point in the future!

31 comments:

Philippa said...

I'm not pregnant but this is genius! I wish I had known about it. I hate the couple of maternity bras I could afford! X

Tammy said...

I foresee a slight problem with Valerie's tutorial, when you open the bra clip to feed, the strap will "ping" up and go behind your shoulder, making it near impossible to do up the bra when finished feeding. You will need to attach a piece of elastic to prevent this like shop bought bras have.

I found my bra size dropped and settled once my milk came in (usually 3-5 days after birth) so maybe just have one or two bras ready. The first bras I bought ended up too big so I took the clips off them and converted some well fitted standard bras. It really is important that you have a good fitting bra when feeding. I have very ample bust, I think I went up to a J or H!!! Soft cup bras where not flattering so once I was out of the newborn stage I converted my own under wired bras. But they can cause serious issues if not fitted properly!

there is a UK seller of the little bra clip thingys with elastic to stop you loosing the strap, and I have some other tutorials. I will post the links once I have the time to find them.

katherine h said...

You can buy nursing bra clips from bra makers supply, though at $2 each, they sound expensive.

http://bramakerssupply.com/site2009/cart/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=55&cat=Specialty+Clips

Another option might be bikini hooks?

Tammy said...

http://www.sleepingbaby.net/jan/Baby/braconvert.html

you can buy the clips on eBay. I doubt a hook and eye would have coped with the weight of mine ha ha.

StarryA said...

I have no intention of having children any time soon but I still find all your maternity posts interesting! Like you say, hopefully I'll remember all these things when the time finally comes! I also have to say I love your sense of style!

frk.bustad said...

I can't wait to look back on your maternity posts when I get pregnant... this is a great tutorial, and I'm pinning it on my secret baby-board... I'm a problem solver, though, and read the comment from anonymous over at Valeri's blog, and thought of this as a solution to the undone strap:

What about securing the undone strap with elastics going on the inside of the bra down to the base? It means more "stuff" on the inside of the bra, but if the elastics are soft, it shouldn't be that annoying??

eline said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eline said...

great tutorial if you take Tammy's suggestion into consideration :-)
I however prefer the nursing bra's that open in the middle of the bra, much easier to use (imho)! Like here: http://en.mammae.be/
Wouldn't know how to convert a regular bra to this type of nursing bra though + they're expensive! Oh, and I guess that the first days after your little Miss is born, you'll be much happier with a soft sleeping bra than a normal one (you'll see what I mean).

Jo H. said...

Zoe these posts are genius. I wish I had been sewing and refashioning and know about all these great ideas when I was having my kids!

Louise - There She Sews said...

Interesting idea :) Not sure about the ease of undoing/redoing and you'll certainly benefit from ribbon or elastic to keep your bra "together". When it comes to changes in breast sizes - we're all different. Some will only go up a cup size others 2 or 3 (maybe more). A good breatfeeding bra will take this into account and will be suitably stretchy & supportive at the same time. The last thing you want is a bra that creates pressure points as they can result in blocked ducts & mastitis. Some mothers find it helpful to invest in a couple of quality nursing bras and then branch out into converting their own once things have settled down (around 6-8 weeks). Bravado is a make that is often recommended - but I'm afraid they're not overly sexy!! ;-)
Good luck. :-)

Erica Louise said...

Excellent idea, thankyou !

MummytoMog said...

I'm just not sure that would work without proper nursing clips and elastic, and I went through a LOT of nursing bras. My ultimate solution was firstly to buy CHEAP ones, a cup size up from my final size in pregnancy (I got M&S ones, in a three pack on ebay for a tenner), then nip to a bra shop after a couple of weeks, get measured and buy Bravissimo or Freya nursing bras. They are the best and actually only about £20. And once you know your size, you can buy more of the same brand online second hand or as seconds.

Ginny said...

Vena Cava Design has the nursing clips for £2.29 for 3 sets

http://www.venacavadesign.co.uk/Products/Maternity_Clasps.html

Not badly priced at all and they would be much better than relying on a hook and eye, especially if you're a larger size. There will be a lot of strain on those hooks! Definitely include a strap retainer if you do this, or they WILL ping off behind your shoulder. A piece of soft elastic that is attached to the end of the strap under the clip, goes down inside the cup, and is sewn to the bra band will do it.

For reference, my favourite brand was Hotmilk. They were the nicest maternity bras I found in very nice unfrumpy designs. They are a bit expensive full price but are about £15-20 in their sales usually.

Tilliestitch said...

Here's a link to an excellent tutorial for converting an ordinary bra into a nursing bra. I was never satisfied with shop bought nursing bras - this was a great help when I was at that stage with my 'Little Miss'. Joanne x

http://www.lazyseamstress.net/2012/07/adapting-regular-bra-into-nursing-bra.html.

CosmicCaro said...

I was about to say the same as Tammy, make sure your bra strap do not bounce behind your back by securing it with a ribbon of elastic to the front of your bra somehow!

lifeisjustduckie said...

I think you could just use a bigger hook and eye and be fine. I really enjoyed all your pregnancy posts, I'm sure they will be useful in the semi-distant future.

johanna@projects by me said...

Good idea if adapted! But I would like to give some advice about nursing bras:
1. Get something to wear for the first week and THEN go out and buy some good nursing bras, it's impossible to know what size you'll need until after the milk comes... :)And also know that you'll probably want to wear the nursing bras during the night too, so they have to be comfy.
2. Beware of the underwire nursing bras, they can cause blocked milk ducts, which is very painful!!

Now, good luck with you bras!!! :)

kathy said...

nthing the strap retainer. The nursing bra clasps have an extra slot for that at the bottom, but I guess you could just attach elastic or a ribbon to the bottom of the existing strap.

Beth Byrge said...

Nursing bras are worth the money! I bought mine thinking I'd only use them for a year. Here I am 19 months later still BF'ing. Don't underestimate the power a fancy, cute bra can have when you're post-baby and need a lift--in more ways than one ;)

Maria said...

That is such a great idea! I actually have one superffancy nursing bra (ellmcpherson, fits like a dream), but boy am I sick and tired of it- just one fancy bra is not much! I also thought I would need them six months at the outside, but it´s been nine months now and still going strong- plus, I hope this one´s not my last baby! So, I´m going bra-shopping tomorrow. Hooks and eyes I have, needle and thread- I´m so happy! Thanks a bunch!

Helen said...

Don't buy nursing bras until your baby is born! Your boobs will change so much, and then you'll change again. I haven't read all the comments above, but wholeheartedly agree with Tammy that you need a well fitting bra through that whole process, particularly if you want any semblance of half decent boobs at the end of it. And, yeah, no underwiring while you are feeding. It affects the milk ducts. And, BTW M&S bras did me fine. Yes they are not sexy, but there is nothing remotely sexy about breast feeding anyway! Just make pretty things for the outside to make yourself feel more attractive!

Anonymous said...

I actually found that I didn't need nursing bras once feeding was established OK. TMI but you can sort of scoop your boob out of your normal bra to feed and I found underwired bras were a necessity as I'm very booby and breastfed for a long time. Can't imagine being in nursing bras for that length of time. Admittedly it might take practice before doing it in public but worth knowing about..

Anonymous said...

Can I just agree with the previous Anonymous!I've never had a nursing bra, but managed to breastfeed two children - one for two years and one for three - with no difficulty at all. Maybe hold on with the bras you've got and see how things go after your milk comes in. Once you've got past the engorged phase and your milk has settled you may find you don't need a garment with a trap-door. Who came with such a weird idea?!You really can just tuck your bra under your breast to achieve the same result.

Jen said...

This is a great idea for anyone whose breasts are on the smaller side - say, A or B ,or possibly a C cup. But like Tammy and some others, I have a rather large cup size and there's no way on this earth that a single hook and eye would cut it. Also, Tammy is correct that the strap will slip back over your shoulder and make it difficult to do up the hook when you're done nursing. The weight alone of the breast would pull down the front and make the band ride up.

That's why nursing bras (for the most part) have an inner sling or 'frame' that surrounds the breast and is fixed directly onto the strap with the hook portion that allows the cup to be done up. Some nursing bras have a bit of elastic that attaches from the strap to the band, so that the strap doesn't fall behind your shoulder, rather than have the inner sling/frame. I would think that you could easily add the elastic, as well as use the nursing clips to convert your current bras if you plan on converting them.

The other thing is, you don't need to have more than 3 bras - 1 to wash, 1 to wear and 1 in the drawer. So if you find that the converting doesn't work well for you, you wouldn't have to spend so much on some nursing bras from a shop. If it makes you feel any better, even the most basic nursing bra for me (UK cup size GG) costs upwards for $50 each.

Kestrel said...

Really interesting to read all the comments here re bras since I am currently breastfeeding. Although I did make or restyle quite a few maternity items of clothing I didn't mind paying for new bras as I wanted to be sure that I was in the right size. As it turned out, I was measured at 20 wks pg and went up from a C to an F cup! I was professionally fitted for a nursing bra when I was 3 weeks before due date and was advised I needed to go up a further cup size to allow extra room once my milk had come in.

If you do go down the route of making your own, definitely make sure you get remeasured if possible as your size will likely have changed from pregnancy (you could go into a shop and get measured but not buy anything!).

Best of luck with the rest of your pregnancy and with breastfeeding

K x

Cherry said...

At 32j when my milk came in the few nursing bras I had bought weren't even the right cut for my bulging melons. I bought nursing clips on ebay and took some of my old uncomfortable underwire bras and sewed the clips on. I personally found underwire bras far more comfortable and supportive anyway(13 months later and I've not had a single infection or problem). I never added the elastic to hold the strap down while he fed and I didn't have enough incidents of trying to find a lost strap that I thought it worth the effort to add any elastic.
I can safely say making my own nursing bras saved a lot of hassel, heartache, backache and monoboob.

Another thing you may want to make while you still have the time is some cotton or bamboo nursing pads. So much more comfortable than those disposable paper ones.

Cherry said...

That was supposed to say 'old comfortable underwire bras' not UNcomfortable

Lovenicky said...

What a great idea! I actually didn't use nursing bras for my 2 kiddies. I bought 2, returned 1 and didn't really use it that much. I found the snaps too fiddly to hook off and on. I already had a couple of very comfy foam cups non-wire bras and I just 'scooped' my boob out when I had to nurse them, and 'stuffed' the boob back when I was done. LOL! I guess I was just too lazy to practice hooking and unhooking with the nursing bra.

CraftyClaire said...

I went to John Lewis to get mine and the bra assistant told me to put my fist into the bra to get a rough size of the extra room I would need (and I did need that )!! When your milk comes in it can be v painful so a good non wired bra is important. I don't think you should avoid getting a decent maternity bra - they don't cost much - try mothercare. Ok they might not be as gorgeous as your other undies but it's only for a shirt time. Your breasts may be v sensitive when you feed at first and a good bra will help reduce any uncomfortableness.

Ruth said...

I was completely and utterly skint when I had my son 28 years ago (and I sewed my huge-shouldered maternity dresses), but the one thing I did splash out on was good maternity bras from the National Childbirth Trust (and they now have an online store). Ideally they should be adjustable in the chest band with non-stretch straps. You will not regret buying them, I promise.

Michelle Bishop said...

"...assuming I'll be able to breast feed ok in the first place"
Unless you have some rare condition breastfeeding is a choice, rather than something that you may or may not "be able" to do. That's what your boobs are designed for. It can take a little bit of practice but you will be able to do it. It's better for junior, better for you and HEAPS better for the environment. Consider the damage that formula milk does all over the world. Why undo all the good work that you do in re-fashioning and re-using by buying a totally unnecessary and inferior product for your child and financing an ethically dubious industry.

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