Nursing Bra and Beyond
The new Versatility Tank and Pants pattern is now available for both women and kids. The women’s pattern includes a sports bra, a nursing sports bra, a tank, a nursing tank, and a maternity tank (all with the option to have a built in bra) PLUS super comfy knit pants (capri, regular, or long lengths) with options for a yoga waistband or a drawstring.
When I started thinking about creating a pattern for a nursing tank, my first instinct was to create a thin strapped camisole. However, while I was researching this idea, it became clear that thin straps aren’t always the most comfortable for well-endowed breastfeeding mothers. One of the testers on my previous pattern (the Knot shirt and dress) asked if anyone knew of a wide-strapped breastfeeding tank top pattern, and I immediately started researching it for ideas. There are very few wide-strapped nursing tank tops on the market.
I saw a few that used snaps instead of nursing clips for the straps. Personally, I find snaps difficult to reattach one-handed, so I prefer nursing clips. The Versatility Tank is designed to use 5/8″ nursing clips, which can be found at both Wawak and SewSassy as well as in various shops on Etsy. Please be aware and compare prices! Wawak is the cheapest, but they don’t offer the color white. Sew Sassy is a little bit more expensive, but they offer the color white. I’ve seen a few stores on Etsy that are priced MUCH higher for a set of 12 than either Wawak or SewSassy.
Two of our testers preferred to use snaps instead of nursing clips. I’m happy to report that both turned out perfectly. One tester even used a little bit of stretch lace as a trim on her nursing overlay. It is so cute. The lace trim would only work if you used a snap.
Choosing Supportive Fabric
I think fabric choices tend to confuse people. I find that I can usually get a better quality fabric online…BUT you have to know what you’re looking for and that can be a hit or miss situation. I suggest taking the time and spending a small amount of money ordering fabric samples. A few people, like Purple Seamstress will happily mail a color sheet of her cotton-lycra options. However, some stores charge a nominal fee for small samples. I still find it worthwhile if I have the time because I’m able to touch the fabrics and really get a feel for their strength, softness, and opacity.
If you have a large bust and feel like you need extra support, I would choose a fabric that is thicker than your typical cotton-lycra blend. If you really want a LOT of support, you can even sandwich in a third layer of fabric. There are lots of options available, but I highly suggest contacting stores and talking to them about your needs. On stretch fabrics, there is either a stretch in one direction, called a 2-way stretch, or a stretch in two directions, called a 4-way stretch.Here are some suggestions that would be great for adding more support:
Powermesh/Powernet/Powerknit: This comes in different weights and is a two-way stretch nylon/lycra blend that is often used as the foundation in bras. I find it a little irritating on my sensitive skin, so I would sandwich it between two other fabrics if using it on the front bra piece. Store bought sports bras often use powernet between the breasts or on the back to provide optimal air circulation.
Other nylon/lycra fabrics that will provide more support include:
Super Stretch Compression Tricot (it also comes in black and nude)
I’m thrilled with the way the Versatility Tank and Pants turned out. I’m past my nursing days, but I’ve made versions for the gym, hiking, and for lounging around my house. We were about to leave to go hiking last week and the kids saw me in my robot Versatility. Three of them ran upstairs to change into their matching tanks that I made from the Kids’ Versatility Tank and Pants pattern. (I know you can barely see the shirts in this picture, but I couldn’t resist sharing our view!) My next post will be all about fabrics for sportswear.
Have you tried any of the fabrics listed or had luck with something else? Please leave a comment with your experiences and/or questions.