Pins & Needles Surprise Sewing Challenge: My Ta-Ta Top

One of the the most exciting parts about starting this blog has been getting invited in a crafty blogger challenge.  Specifically the Surprise Sewing Challenge sponsored by Pins and Needles.  I received a random box filled with three different fabrics, a few notions, and instructions to create a project of my own original design with at least two of the ingredients included in the box.

My goal was to create a stylin’ nursing top that had easy access to the ta-tas for the babe.  With some bust darts for a nice fit up top and slight gathers on the bottom part of the shirt to create a slightly roomier fit right where all new mamas need a little extra room.  Once I got the fit right (meaning after whipping up at least 4 muslins to get the fit right because apparently I’m delusional about how much bigger I am up top now that I’ve got a kid on the way), the top was super fun and easy to put together.  With some random little embellishments here and there, I think this shirt is a stylish solution for any nursing mama who wants a top that will allow for easy nursing without looking like you’re still sporting a maternity mu-mu.  Here’s the run down:

The Challenge:  Create a project of my own design with at least two of the ingredients included in my surprise box.

The Design:  Ta-Ta Top (aka: Nursing Top)

The Ingredients:  The main fabric is Wrenly by Valorie Wells (Free Spirit Collection) with the Michael Miller’s purple gingham for the lining.  And I used four of the buttons for the shoulder embellishment.  The only ingredients that I added were the little snaps for the actual closure at the shoulders.

A few highlights from this design:

  • I fully lined the top: this way when you undo one shoulder sleeve to nurse, you have a surprise fabric peeking out from the inside.  Hopefully I’ll be wearing a nursing cover so I’m not exactly exposing my nekkid goods, but as the shoulder part will hang down, I loved the idea of having a fun fabric to show on the other side.

  • I embellished the shoulders with buttons, but considering I still cannot imagine maneuvering a newborn onto the boob to nurse, let alone fiddling with buttons to get that babe to the boob, the buttons are for show only.  I sewed in little snaps on each shoulder to facilitate an easy on/easy off maneuverability.

  • I would love to say that nursing bras are super stylish, comfy, AND easy to fit underneath a tank top.  But they’re not.  At all.  So in creating this top, I made the shoulder sleeves wide enough to accommodate the ever-fashionably-wide nursing bra straps but without being so wide that it looks like you’re sporting a sports bra.
  • As the inside of the shirt is lined, I let some of the purple gingham peek out of the front – sort of like faux piping.  Without all the work of creating actual piping.

  • I added 3” of gathering to the front of the top – what better way to camoflauge the post baby belly bulge than with some small gathers?  I cannot imagine clothing myself in anything even remotely form fitting once I pop this kid out.  Comfort is key here.  Stylish comfort is even better.

  • I added a little pleat in the back – just for fun.  Because pleats are fun.  Except for pleats on the front of pants.  Those are most definitely not fun.

  • I threw some darts in around the ta-tas to create a more form fitted top.  Otherwise, there was some funky gappage around the boobage.  Gappage around the boobage… get it?!  hee hee

  • The only thing I didn’t use in the box was the lime green fabric, the ribbon, and one button.  Because while I wanted the top to be fun and colorful, I wanted the pattern to do more of the talking – and the lime green just wasn’t fitting into the picture for me.  Or the ribbon.  If I had designed a kid’s garment, I’m sure I could have used all the materials – because with kids, the more crazy colors on one garment, the better.  But not so much for a 35 year old nursing mama.  Functional, but stylish, simplicity of design was key for me.
  • The unintended coolness of this design –> you don’t actually have to use it as a nursing top.  You can either just keep those snaps snapped up (but having the snaps at the shoulders does allow for ease in putting the top on without having to insert a zipper in the back or anything – nice for us lazy innovative sewers out there) or if you are heading to mardi gras (or the jersey shore) and want a top that will easily let you show off your goods, then the easy ta-ta access on this baby is just the thing!

The Fun Part:  Making an item of clothing that will fit an immediate need once I have this babe – what new mama doesn’t want a super easy top that can be used for nursing?

The Challenges:  Designing a top that will fit my post pregnancy body… when I’m 9 months pregnant.  I tried to suck the tummy in for fittings but lets be real, you can’t really suck in a baby.  I ended up making the top a tad snug around the waist in anticipation of a slimmer waistline post baby.  And if this top is still tight post baby, then I’ve got bigger problems than an ill-fitted top.

The Verdict:  As my first foray into designing a garment for myself – well, for designing ANY garment – I’m pretty darn happy with the way this shirt turned out.  Admittedly, it took me quite a bit longer than I anticipated.  The most difficult part for me was getting the fit on the front crossover part of the top just right – too much fabric and I looked like I was wearing a modesty vest.  Too little fabric and the ta-tas were at risk of spilling out.  There was a delicate balance I was hoping to achieve – and I think I got it just about right.  But time (and a nursing babe-to-be) will soon tell.

What To Do:  If you’re a fan of my Ta-Ta Top, click here -> Pins and Needles blog <- and give me a shout out (preferably with your vote.)  The winner of the contest will be announced on Sept 28th.  I have no idea what the victor actually wins, but my inner competitive dork is rearing her ugly head and is itching to win this one.

The Follow Up: Stay tuned for instructions on how to make a Ta-Ta Top (aka: Nursing Top) for yourself.  In the next week, I’ll post a pattern with a complete tutorial walking you thru how I made this one.

p.s.  please ignore the dirty dress form.  I got it off craigslist for $50 from a sketchy guy out in Brooklyn.  For $50, I’ll take a little dirt on my dress form.  I steam cleaned the hell out of that thing once I brought it home, but some markings are destined to remain forever.

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8 Responses to Pins & Needles Surprise Sewing Challenge: My Ta-Ta Top

  1. Jess says:

    You did a good job! This is the first time I’ve been over to your blog…from Ruffles n Stuff and Pins n Needles to you. I enjoy your writing style – I totally would have thrown in the Mardi Gras comment. And on the dress form? Mine are craigslist, but worth every cent I saved. Show off your good deals! Happy to find you, will be following!

    • Spools&Skeins says:

      Thanks so much for the sweet comments! I’ve only been blogging for a few months now, but its been a lot of fun! Oh, and I’m a total craigslist junkie – I’ll definitely be posting more about my craigslist scores… Thanks for visiting!


  2. Cerrine says:

    Also found you through Ruffles n Stuff!
    Love this top! I didn’t realize this was a nursing top before casting my vote, other I probably would have voted differently. But it’s super cute. The tiny details really make it! The snaps on the shoulder and pleats to hide post baby flab. Love it all!
    Excited to have found this blog. Please keep up the awesome work (:

    • Spools&Skeins says:

      Thanks so much, Cerrine! So sweet of you… I had so much fun creating the nursing top – although, maybe I should have called it ‘The Nursing Top’ instead so it would have been more obvious, but I just couldn’t help myself… I just had to get ‘Ta-Tas’ in the title somehow 😉 – I’m so glad you liked it! And thanks for visiting!

  3. Kirbie says:

    OMG! Brilliant. I am breastfeeding and I like simple to get to the boobs, so I am constantly rocking cotton boyfriend tees. This is such a wonderful fitted option that is not made of knit! Thanks, can not wait for the tutorial.

    • Spools&Skeins says:

      Thanks so much, Kirbie! btw, I love your blog! I’m due in two weeks and am planning on breastfeeding – I will definitely be using your blog as a resource! Thanks so much for the comment – I’m psyched to have found your blog!

  4. Becky says:

    What a smart idea, not that I’m surprised! You are going to be one mama making a real fashion statement!

    • Spools&Skeins says:

      Thanks Becky!! I was tempted to design something for the baby, but how could I improve on all that Ralph Lauren cuteness you guys supplied me with? So, a top for me instead 😉

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