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Why I don't offer a pattern for a nursing cover, and some suggestions if you feel you absolutely need one

I've gotten several requests for a nursing cover -- like the "Bebe au Lait" or "Hooter Hider" -- and usually I just send out this email, so here it is:

Weeeell, I'm opposed in principle to devices that make nursing seem like it needs to be hidden, but the concept looks simple enough.

Looks like you'd need a piece of toweling about 8" by 36" and a coordinating cotton piece (whatever fabric you like, including calico prints -- probably not important for this application) about 3" larger on all sides, so 30" by 42" for that. I'd buy a yard of whatever print you like, and the excess 6" will be used for the strap part that goes around your neck. You'll also need 2-1" D-rings and a piece of boning (usually in the "notions" dept.) that is probably about 18" long.

For sewing, I'd make the strap first -- just make a tube of the 6" strip left over from the print, sewing both ends closed (fold the strip in half lengthwise so it's 44" by 3", then sew it, closing the ends), then cut it so there's one strip that's 8" and another that's 30" (some is lost in sewing the ends closed). Both ends are thus already finished :) Turn the tubes right-side out, then sew the D-rings onto the finished end of the shorter strip. Leave the longer strip for now.

To sew the calico to the toweling at the bottom, I'd just topstitch it in. Fold the edges of the calico over twice around the toweling, so no raw edges are sewing, and just pin the toweling inside the folds and topstitch around those edges. then topstitch the free edge of the toweling into place on the calico. (I'm guessing from the picture that the towel part is only along the bottom edge of the fabric, ra ther than completely lining it, though you could certainly line the whole thing if you wanted.)

For the top edge, I'd again fold the fabric over twice, but first would position the two straps along the top, about 16" apart (so they are 10" from the edges), and fold their ends in when folding the fabric edges over (like the handles in the cloth bag I have on my site). Then I'd sew the folded edge down, but at this point, only between the two straps. Then feed the boning into that casing (so it's between the two straps) -- that will provide the ridgitity it needs. Most boning is designed to be sewn through, so find out which way it tends to flex (it will bow in one direction preferentially) and make sure the bowing is towards the outside, then sew the two ends down inside the casing. Then sew the rest of the top hem down. At this point, it should be ready to use -- the longer strap is threaded through the two D-rings (like a belt) and hopefully the boning will hold it open enough to look through.

However... I would strongly urge you to try practicing nursing in front of a mirror, so you can see how little actually shows when discreetly breastfeeding. In my experience, a good nursing shirt (which doesn't have to be ugly :) and a sling provide all the coverage you need, and draw a lot less attention than a tent-like blanket such as the Hooter Hider. Most of the time when I was nursing in public, I doubt anyone but a mother who had also breastfed knew what I was doing -- I often had people ask if they could see the baby, totally unaware that she was eating at the time. Unless there are severe underlying psychological issues (for example, a friend of mine's sister had abuse issues she was dealing with, and was mortified by the thought of breastfeeding in public), I don't think you're any better off with one of these than without. The more women breastfeed without shame in public, the faster it will gain acceptance, in my view :) Babies need to be fed, breastfeeding is their birthright, and the people who think it's "gross" are the ones who need to adjust their attitudes, not us.

If these directions aren't clear enough (and without pictures, I'm sure they're not!) you can try out this link or this one.

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