Tuesday, May 29, 2012

{Tutorial} Full Coverage Nursing Shawl with Sewn-in Boning

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When I gave birth to my first baby girl, I was also a middle school sewing teacher at the time. I knew I wanted a nursing shawl, so in between class periods, I fashioned one for myself. (See my original tutorial here). A full coverage nursing shawl is my #1 must-have baby item. It makes me feel so in control and confident while nursing, because I dont' have to constantly check my back to make sure nothing is "hanging out." With a shawl like this, you can even nurse inconspicuously in public. The only thing missing from my original tutorial is the boning! I love the shawls that have boning, but the only ones I've seen would never work for me (they only cover the front of you, and the baby pulls at the edges of the shawl). I've scoured the internet for a tutorial like this, and I haven't found one! So I hope this comes in handy for a lot of you. And if you don't know how to sew, or don't have time, or are looking for a great baby shower gift, I am currently selling these in my Etsy Shop!

Today, I am going to show you how I make a full coverage nursing shawl, (one that wraps all the way around you), with elastic and sewn-in boning. With the boning, you are able to see your sweet little bundle of joy while nursing.

1 yard main fabric
1/2 yard accent fabric
2 yards coordinating ribbon
heat and bond (width of ribbon)
17 inches boning
24 inches elastic (1/4" wide)
thread, measuring tape, safety pin, iron, etc.

1. Wash and dry, then iron your fabric. 
(You should probably do this, but I usually don't)!

2. Cut your fabric.
Main fabric: Cut it in half on the fold parallel to the selvage. You will have 2 pieces appx 36 x 22.
Accent fabric: Line up edges at selvage and cut on the fold. You'll have 2 pieces 36 x 7.
  3. Time to connect the 2 pieces of the main fabric and the 2 pieces of the accent fabric. Do these steps separately. With right sides together, sew a seam up the sides that are 22 inches and 7 inches, respectively, at the edge of the presser foot. Then finish off the raw edge. (Here's where you can pull out your serger if you have one. If you don't have one, then you can zig zag the raw edges. I just got one! But this tutorial is shown with the edges zigzagged). Your pieces now
measure 72 x 22 (main) and 72 x 7 (accent) inches. Press to the side. Here's a picture of the 7 inch piece.

4. Now we're going to focus on the accent piece. We need to hem the bottom edge. Fold and iron 1/4", then fold and iron 1/4" again. Stitch.

5. Still working with the accent piece, we're going to sew the ribbon on. (Sometimes I skip the following step, but if you want, you can iron on fusible heat and bond to reinforce the ribbon; same idea as interfacing on fabric). Now you're going to sew the ribbon to the accent piece. I am very non-technical with this part. I use the edge of my throat plate as a guide at the hem of the fabric, and line up the presser foot to the left side of the ribbon, with the needle moved to the left, to sew the first edge of the ribbon down. (Of course there are more technical ways to do this, aka: measure the distance of the ribbon and pin it, but I am too lazy)!
Here's the final result of the ribbon sewn on.

6. Now its time to sew the accent piece to the main piece.
(This is a preview of how it will look).
You'll put the two pieces that are 36" right sides together and sew a seam at 1/4". If you are lucky, both of these edges will be the selvage edge, and you won't need to edge finish them. In that case, press open the seams. Or you can edge finish them.

7. Now sew up the side seam, to connect the shawl into a circle. Sew with right sides together, edge of presser foot, then edge finish and press. Make sure the seams from the accent piece and pointing down when you sew this seam. Also, make sure the 4 corners match up (where the accent pieces meet the main piece).

8. Time for the casing! On the top edge of the shawl, you'll iron the raw edge down 1/4". Then you'll fold it over again appx 1/2" or 3/4" and iron.

9. Time to sew in the 17 inches of boning. First, see how the plastic pokes out? We don't want it to penetrate through the shawl later on down the road, so scoot the fabric back and snip a little plastic off (NOT with your sewing scissors)! Now that it's just a tad shorter than the fabric part, there is enough space to sew and close it up.
Here it is sewn closed. Do this on both ends.

 10. Now we're going to add the boning into the casing. So unfold the casing once, and place the boning centered between your two side seams. Make sure the curve is facing you. Pin the edges, and sew lines where the straight pins are in this picture.
Here's how it looks sewn in.

11. Now you fold the casing back down, and sew it all the way around the shawl. You are going to leave two 1 inch openings, so you can later thread the elastic into the casing. The 1 inch openings should be next to each end of the casing.  Hopefully the following two pictures will help that make sense to you.

12. Top-stitch the entire length of the nursing shawl, backstitching at a side seam. (Take caution sewing near the boning. Sewing through the plastic could break your needle. Use a zipper foot if you'd like).

13. Now it's time the thread the elastic through the casing. Attach a safety pin to one end of your elastic, and insert through one of the openings you made. Thread all the way around until you reach the other opening next to the other side of the boning. Pull the elastic through.

Here's how it will look with both ends of the elastic hanging out.

15. Sew a straight line where the elastic meets up with the boning. This will secure the elastic in its place.

16. Cut off the extra elastic, and sew the opening of the casing closed.

Can you believe it? You are done! Bravo, great job!
In case you're wondering, I got this fabric at Hobby Lobby. I generally like to make my shawls gender neutral, so moms can use them for future babies.

Remember, you can stop by my Etsy Shop if you'd like to purchase one of these shawls. I only have this fabric for sale at the moment, but I will be adding more fabric styles and colors soon.

Have a wonderful day!
Linked up to some of these great parties! See my huge list of link parties HERE!


  1. I never used one of these with my first kid, but I do think a lot of people would appreciate it if I use one with my next baby. Thanks for the tutorial!

  2. Thanks for making me one for my shower! I have it packed and ready to go with us to the hospital!


  3. I'm so glad you included boning-they are the only ones I've ever used consistently! I'm about two months from weaning my youngest (and last!) little one but this is a great tutorial and I'm pinning it to make for baby showers!

    Thanks for sharing,


  4. What a genius idea! The full coverage in the back is so nice.

  5. Love this nursing cover! You are brilliant with the sewing machine!

  6. This is great! I hate my back being exposed as well and this is perfect. I would love for you to link the up at "I Made This", going on now at Grits & Giggles! http://www.gritsandgiggles.blogspot.com/2012/05/i-made-this-7.html

  7. This looks so great! I m so excited to come on over. I'm a new follower and would love if you followed back at www.iheartpears.Blogspot.com

  8. Next time I get pregnant I'm so making one of these! Thanks for sharing the tutorial! I've made the normal nursing covers for myself and friends in the past. But it is really annoying when you have to worry about your back showing in public.

  9. Greatjob. i didn't nurse for very long but this is something my sister could use. I would love if you came and linked up some of your great posts to my link party @ Show Off Monday on Kampen Lane. http://www.kampenlane.com/2012/06/show-off-monday-9.html


  10. Thanks for the great tutorial! Exactly what I was looking foR!

  11. Nursing shawls are so great!! The fabric colors you used are so cute! We are so glad you joined our "Strut Your Stuff Saturday". We love to see all of the great recipes and ideas!! Thanks and we hope to see you again next week! -The Sisters

  12. This is really cool! My first baby is due in July, and I am planning to make one of these soon. I like that it covers all the way around. Thanks for the tutorial!

  13. My little sister due in July wants me to make this for her. Thanks for the tutorial!! I'm going to make one for myself also, my baby is due in October. I've only made the ones that just cover the front of you, so I'm excited not to have to worry about my back being exposed while we are out.

  14. I made one!! I'm so proud of myself since I don't do much sewing. The boning was a pain, but I got through it (a zipper foot is a huge help). Thanks so much for the tutorial, and all the pictures, it was so easy to follow. I can't wait to use this next month when I have my baby!!

  15. A friend of mine is looking for something like this to use for her twin boys who will be arriving in a few weeks. How would the measurements change if you were making one for a mom of twins?




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