How to make a nursing cover

I love nursing, but find it very hard to nurse in public or around anyone other than my husband unless I am completely, and I mean completely covered up. But of course, as is characteristic for me, I really hate the standard nursing covers you can buy. For one thing they’re boring, and for another they just too darn small, and to add insult to injury they sell for a ridiculous price considering most are just a rectangle of hemmed fabric.

So I made my own! I’ve gotten so many compliments on it that I figure it’s time to share how I made it!

Now as much I would like to claim that the design of this nursing cover is 100% mine, it honestly isn’t. It’s really an amalgamation of lots of other nursing covers I’ve seen, but changed significantly to fit my preferences.

I made mine from a thrifted sheet, a piece of flexible plastic (like corset boning), and a piece off elastic… so in total I estimate it cost me under $5. Awesome right?

So lets make one!

You’ll need:

– 1.5 yards of 45″ wide fabric , or 1 yard of 60″ wide fabric. (I recommend using cotton, linen or bamboo as they are natural fibers that are breathable and also won’t make baby hot.
– 1/2″ wide elastic
– boning or the lid from a Quaker Oats container or formula tin (i know you think that sounds crazy right now, but bear with me!)

What to do:

1) Cut your fabric to be 27″ by 42″.

Fold under the side and bottom edges by 1/2″, then by 1/2″ again (so that the raw edges are now encased in fabric) and then topstitch.

2) We’re going to use a 12″ piece of curved plastic (or boning if you have it), to place at the neckline between the neck straps. This will give the nursing cover a bit of stability and allow you to peek in at your baby really easily. If you don’t have boning, here’s a neat trick i figured out. Take the lid from a Quaker oats container, or from a formula tin, and careful cut off the edge.

Measure it to be 12″ and it makes a great substitute for boning (for this project, not for a corset hehe).

Don’t worry about washing it, I’ve washed and tumble dried mine heaps and it’s never melted or changed shape (amazing hey?)

3) Now for the top edge. Once again fold over 1/2″ and then 1/2″ again. Topstitch along the top, leaving a 13″ section unsewn.

Now sew straight from  your stitching up to the edge of the fabric.

Place the boning in the little opening you made, then sew closed along the edge.

4) Cut another strip of fabric to be 23″ long by 2.5″ wide.

Fold it in half, and then sew 1/2″ from the edge.

Do not sew the ends closed yet. Turn it the right way round

5) Cut a strip of elastic to be 13″ long. Thread it through the fabric tube using a safety pin, and secure it on both ends by sewing.

Then pin it to the nursing cover 13″ from each edges (just outside the boning section), and then stitch to secure it.

At this point, if you just want a plain nursing cover, then you’re done!!! if you want to add pockets and ruffles like mine, then lets carry on!

6) Now for the pocket. The reason I add a pocket is that it’s a handy place for me to store all the extra stuff I need while I’m nursing, and not worry about dropping things. (plus it’s cute, and i like cute!). I like to keep a burp cloth and a bib in there at all times – but other things that might be useful are some Lansinoh Lanolin, maybe a pacifier (or dummy as us Aussies call it!), perhaps even some nipple shields if you need them.

Cut a piece of fabric using the below dimensions.

Fold all the edges in by 1/2″ and then 1/2″ again, and either press or pin. Top stitch along the angled edges (these will be the pocket openings).

Then pin your pocket to the middle of your nursing cover. Sew (topstitch) along the top edge, side edges and bottom edge (but do not sew the pocket openings closed!)

7) For the ruffles cut 2 strips of fabric 24 by5″.

Once again hem all the edges (this time by turning in 1/4″ then 1/4″ again, and then stitching). Now you can either gather the ruffle or pleat it to fit your nursing cover, but I prefer the look of pleats. Make enough pleats so that the top of the ruffle is 14″ wide.

Now place the first ruffle in the middle of your nursing cover 5″ down from the top edge, so that it just covers the top of the pocket. Sew along the top edge to secure it. Place the second ruffle 2.5″ from the top edge, so that it overlaps the other ruffle. Then sew along the top to secure it.

Thats it!! I love this nursing cover soooo much! Not only is it cute, but it’s huge, and I never feel exposed!!

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  1. ~Val says

    I love your idea for the boning! I am going to be making this tonight with time to do some nursing pads too.

  2. says

    I used a handle off of a children’s sand bucket that I got at the dollar store for a project much like this. I will be using your tutorial for this cover, because I know I’m going to want it to be huge! :)

  3. Sarah says

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! It was easy and just what I was looking for, plus the use of the quarker oats top is just superb!

  4. Angelina says

    I just made this! Thanks SO much for this tutorial! It was so easy to follow! I chose not to include the ruffles, but I LOVE the pocket! And I totally put my oatmeal into a Ziploc bag so I could cut the top off of the oatmeal canister! Saved myself $6 on boning! You are pretty much AWESOME!

  5. Julie says

    So I’m sort of a pre-novice when it comes to sewing, but this tutorial made it so easy!! I was successful on my first try! Thank you so much, I love my nursing cover!

  6. ckwest says

    Since I will be making this for my daughter-in-law, I will be altering it a bit. Instead of the boning, I think I will use two straps and D-rings so she can adjust it to fit her comfortably. I also think I’ll make it reversible with a contrasting pocket on each side. The tutorial was awesome! I now have a direction in which to start. Thank you.

  7. LJBerry says

    I love the idea for the substitute boning. I was looking all over my kitchen for something to use but had not thought of the can lid. I was taking a flexable cutting board and cutting it into strips. I like the idea of the can lid because it already has a curve in it and the cutting board will only have the curve because of the strap around the neck. Thank you for showing how you made yours. I love it. I am fixing to make some for my daughter who just had her baby last week. Again thank you for sharing!!

  8. says

    I made this tonight out of an old cotton housecoat. Wonderful fabric, ugly coat. I used the zip tie idea from one of your posters. Turned out beautiful!! Thank you so much for the tutorial!!

  9. Mrs G says

    I just made it, adapting the dimension to the piece of fabric I already have. I’m a beginner, so I’m not very good at sewing, but your instructions are so clear that even I managed to make it.
    Thank you!