Monday, January 9, 2012

Nursing Shawl Tutorial

 I guest posted this on I♥Naptime a few months ago!

{my lovely sister}

Today I am tutorial-ing (I love made up words!) how to sew a nursing shawl. As in...
the best, most practical, most comfy, most non-revealing nursing shawl you will ever wear!!!
Whoa! um... assuming that you have something to nurse, that is. Or know someone who will be nursing/breast feeding/"wiggle-ing." 
(You read that right... they are called wiggles at our house, can you believe it? Our 3 year old daughter came up with that word, and I about died laughing. It's actually kind of awesome, because up to that point, I had no idea what I was going to have my children call them). 

Any.ways. T.M.I. Let's get on with it before I scare you away. :)

*a sewing machine. yup, shocker.
*thread, scissors, measuring tape, iron, safety pin
*elastic- about 24 inches
*ribbon- one spool, appx 4 yards is more than enough
*fabric- 2 matching fabrics, 1 yard of each (45" width)
(You'll have enough of the second fabric to make 2 shawls, plus leftover scraps to make headbands! 
Buy another yard of the first fabric if you want to make 2 shawls. I buy mine at Hobby Lobby at 30% off).

Let's begin:

 1. Optional: Wash and dry your fabric, then iron.

2. Prepare your fabric. 
Main fabric: Cut it in half on the fold parallel to the selvage. You will have 2 pieces appx 36 x 22 inches.
Accent fabric: Line up edges at selvage and cut 7 inches in width. You'll have 2 pieces 36 x 7 inches.

 3. Edge finish the sides that are 22 inches and 7 inches. (I don't have a surger, so I zig-sag my raw edges). Now put the right sides together, and sew a side seam up both pieces. Press seam open. Your pieces now measure 72 x 22 (main) and 72 x 7 (accent) inches.

 4. Edge finish the long 72 inch side of each fabric. Save yourself some work, and only do this on one edge, not both.

 5. Here we are with one edge finished. On the opposite edge, we will clean finish by folding up 1/4 of an inch, and press. Fold up again 1/4 inch. Press again.

 6.Sew this down, with the needle following the very edge.

7. Here's where we get ready to sew the ribbon to the accent piece.
Tip: If your ribbon has wire or plastic cording, it is really easy to pull out.

8. Measure how far away you want the ribbon from the edge. Instead of pinning my ribbon to the fabric, I use a tape measure to guide me as I go.
*I avoid using pins at all cost. I'm lazy!*

 9. Now sew the other side of the ribbon down.

 10. To finish off the ribbon, there are a number of options. Here, I wrapped it around the back, and folded the raw edge under twice.

 11. Now find the main fabric, and the edge that you previously finished.

12. Place it right sides together with your accent fabric and sew along the edge of the presser foot.

Here's how it looks so far!

13. Now go iron the seam open.

 14. We're ready to sew up the side seam to make this shawl connect into a circle. Make sure your edges are finished. Press open.

 Here's where we're at. Doin' great!

 15. Time for the casing! Fold you unfinished top edge over 1/4 inch and press.

 16. Fold over again, this time 1 1/4 inches. Press.

 17. Sew at the edge, which creates a casing.
IMPORTANT: Leave about two inches unsewn. See where my finger is. 
You'll need to put the elastic through this later on.

 18. Now top-stitch along the top edge, all the way around. You don't need to leave an opening.

 Here's how it looks from the right side.
(You could use matching thread, but I love to use contrasting thread).

 19. Pin the safety pin to your elastic, you'll be threading it through the casing you just made.
 *You might want to measure and make sure that 24 inches of elastic is a good fit for you.

 Here we go, all the way around.
Make sure you hang on the the other end of your elastic. You don't want it to get pulled through.

Keep pulling and pulling your safety pin through. Finally they meet! Yay!

 20. To secure, pull ends out and overlap one on top of the other. 
Sew back and forth a lot til its not going anywhere.

 21. Now put the elastic back into place. Sew up the 2 inch hole you left.

 22. Voila!

Do you like the matching headband I made for my sis?

 Isn't this a great shawl? I patterned this shawl after something my mother wore when I was a baby. 
Throughout my wiggle-ing career (yes, career!) I have loved using this shawl- its like a sheild. I could nurse inconspicuously almost anywhere I was. I didn't have to worry about pulling the fabric to cover up my back.
To see your baby, just pull the elastic away from you.

Now that I've given all my secrets away, I wanted to tell you that I'll be selling these in my Etsy Shop soon. 


  1. What a nice nursing cover! Much better than the store bought ones that might leave you with a wardrobe malfunction at any time :) Thanks for sharing.

  2. I was reading this, and thinking, "If I paid you, could you make me two of them???" And then I saw the thing about the Etsy shop. Perfect! I need two because my older sister is having a baby in February. I'll get back to you on that though. :)

  3. Oh, if I could have one of this with any of my kids... if we'll have a 4h kid, I will buy one for sure! You rock Rach! :)

  4. Rachel thanks so much for this! Turns out i WILL need one by fall ;) How much are they? I'd like to buy one!

  5. This is really great.

  6. Thank you so much for posting this! I am pregnant with my second child, and the nursing covers I had with my first were totally inadequate, as soon as she get big enough to realize she had something over her head I was in a constant struggle to keep her from pulling on the side and exposing me, I will definitely be making one of these and hopefully it will work better!! :)

  7. Every new mom needs one of these. Turned out so cute! We would love to have you come share this at our weekly link party every Saturday! -The Sisters

  8. This nursing cover is soooo much more modest than the ones I've seen online. Thank you for the great tute! I just bought fabric to make 3 nursing covers for my friend's daughter and will be using your pattern instead of the one I planned to use. There's just one thing I'll tweak,though. I love the idea of having elastic around the top but will also leave a space to insert about 13" of boning on the front (as the other tutes suggest) so Mommy can see baby the whole time she's nursing without having to pull on the elastic neckline each time. Thank you for such a special nursing cover . I'm thrilled to have found your tute before I starting cutting my fabric to make the others that are not nearly as modest and cute as yours are. We make nursing covers to donate to NICU's as part of Project Angel Kisses Ministry for preemies and will start using your pattern from now on if that's ok with you.
    These will be a big seller in your etsy shop!Congrats and thanks for sharing your creations with all of us!

  9. Funny, I just made one with boning! Stay tuned for that tutorial, coming the last week of May! :)

  10. Are these available in your etsy shop? When I clicked the link I couldn't seem to find them. Was wondering how much they are. Very interested... due mid October!

  11. Awesome! I make a similar cover, inspired by "the boob toob" but customized to fit my needs. For example, to accommodate my loooong torso, which that one could not. But for the bottom, I usually like it flowy like your cover here, unlike the elastic bottom of the "toob." But for those those other times I do want the bottom snug, I've kept the elastic top and added a drawstring instead for the bottom. Win-win! (My newest has about 15 inches elastic sewn into the middle of the drawstring for a little more give/flexibility. So I just leave it open at the bottom, but can draw it tighter if need be. I've done stretchy knit fabrics, but just made a linen one and am so in love. Anyway, I love your post here! All this a long way to say that and to mention the drawstring option! :)Happy covered nursing! :) ~Nicole


Thanks for your comment. Have a great day!
♥Rach H