A trio of nursing dresses

I’d like to catch up on some of my unblogged projects from last year, but I don’t want to dwell on them too much or I may fall behind on this year’s projects. So in the interest of being efficient, today I bring you three dresses with a common theme. I chose each of these sewing patterns because I thought they looked nursing-friendly: Vogue 8810, McCalls 7319, and the Burdastyle Dolman Dress 06/2012 #134.

left to right: Vogue 8810, McCalls 7319, and Burdastyle 06/2012 #134


Vogue 8810

For my first project post-baby I chose plaid matching with a tricky fabric and fiddly pattern! Naturally!

(I’m learning to use my tripod, but I have a long ways to go, so bear with me.)

Plaid-matching aside, this seemed a good pick for a post-baby body. Buttons allow nursing access. It has a self fabric belt that feeds through a casing at the waist, so it can be tightened or loosened as needed. It has minimal shaping otherwise, to allow for any other changes.

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Vogue 8810 line art

Really, the line art makes it look quite cute. It also has pockets – always nice.


But I don’t love this dress. The shape is a little sack-like and blah. There’s some gathering at the shoulders, but it’s also gathered at the shoulders on the back bodice, which I found weird. The armholes are low and loose, so bra flashing is inevitable. The front plackets were fiddly to deal with because of my shifty rayon challis . McCalls 7242 is a similar style with facings instead of plackets, and I found it an easier sew.

Nursing in this dress is also not my cup of tea. When Jo is hungry and demanding, I don’t want to fumble with a row of little buttons. I also learned with this dress that clothes that work for nursing aren’t necessarily good for pumping – especially not if you need to put one of those hands-free pumping bras (one of these sexy numbers.) You almost have to completely take the dress off to change bras.

On the plus side, this dress is breezy and cool in a hot Indiana summer, so I will probably get some wear out of it now that my pumping days are over (woohoo!) Maybe I’ll even go back and fix that uneven hem. Maybe.

Let’s just admire that plaid matching before we move on.


McCalls 7319

Next up is a dress that I thought was nursing friendly based on the line art, but I was deceived.


Although it may look like you could easily pull aside those overlay wraps for nursing access, they are attached to a full bodice front that keeps your milk makers thoroughly hidden.



So I devised a solution by hiding a zipper underneath the overlays. I thought I was pretty clever…


Ha! Trying to feed your baby through a overlapping web of fabric and zipper tape is not fun. And fumbling with a zipper while holding a hungry baby is no easier than fumbling with a row of buttons. I wish I had just made a faux wrap dress pattern. There are lots out there, and in a sufficiently stretchy fabric with some elastic sewn into the neckline, you could just pull the neckline down to gain nursing access. And the idea of wiggling into a pumping bra while keeping this dress on is laughable.

Other comments/thoughts – I remember adding extra width to the gathered area in the center front and back of the skirt, because the pattern pieces aren’t as flared as the line art would have you believe. Check out the model photo for a more accurate depiction. I made this dress is a rayon jersey with a lot of stretch, and I recall it stretching too much in the overlays. I had to chop some length off of those, and because of the way the overlays are sandwiched in the side seams it wasn’t an easy adjustment. The hem on the overlays want to flip up sometimes like in the photo below which is mildly annoying. And finally, I’m not a big fan of the v-neck in back for a work dress, which this was meant to be.


Oh and I remember adding length at the hem, which I later regretted because I think it looks somewhat dowdy on me. On the plus side, shortly after reviewing these photos I decided the dress doesn’t look so bad. I finally chopped a couple inches off the hem and I think the proportions are much improved. So this dress will get worn some more, but I won’t be using that zipper!

Burdstyle 06/2012 #134

Now this is a dress outside my usual comfort zone! Burdastyle 06/2012 #134 (also called their dolman dress) has a modern shape that I would not have considered a few years ago.

But pregnant Claire saw the potential for nursing access with those huge droopy armholes – intentional this time. This dress is also a pattern featured in Burdastyle Dresses for Every Occassion, which my local library happens to have, so free pattern!


I checked out the book, traced it off, and was happy to avoid taping together a pdf. I vaguely remember there being something weird about the labeling on the pattern pieces though. I think the book says one pattern piece is on the wrong sheet, and I ended up tracing and cutting a piece (of paper, not fabric) for a totally different dress on accident. So watch out for that.

I made this up in rayon jersey even though the pattern is intended for wovens. I sized down, omitted the back zip and pockets, ignored the darts, and it worked out great.


This dress is a lot of fun to wear and is definitely nursing friendly. With the huge arm holes and voluminous draping on top, it’s easy to nurse while staying covered and being comfortable at the same time. Yes, it’s also a bra flasher. I had plans to make a matching camisole or tube top out of the same fabric to wear underneath, but that hasn’t happened yet. But for non-work situations, I wouldn’t bother.

I don’t know if this dress is super flattering on me, but I think if I pegged the hem and sewed it up in a more stable knit it could be.

This dress relies on a belt to give it the intended shape.


Clearly my belt doesn’t match, but no one will see besides you so shhh. You can pull as much or little fabric up over the belt as you like. I considered just sewing elastic in at the appropriate spot and save the trouble fiddling with with the belt each time, but then I couldn’t do this:


This is definitely NOT flattering, but it’s super comfortable. There is a good chance this dress could end up repurposed as a nightgown before the year is out, especially because the fabric is already looking worn and faded. Rayon jerseys seem to do that, don’t they? I’d love to try this dress again in a nicer fabric – maybe a ponte or a drapey woven. If I were doing a woven, however, I would definitely make a muslin first.

Well that’s it! I have other nursing garments to share, but they will have to wait. Have you discovered any patterns that were your favorite post-baby? Please share!


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