Credits: Gabriel Brunegård for taking the nursing picture Christian Antonsson for taking the other photos Arvid Antonsson for being the culprit
This past year my body has gone through an insect like metamorphosis: not with the outgrowth of wings, but with the birth of a baby boy. Thus, my waist measure and cup size has been everchanging, as well as the requirements for my clothing. Because of this and the very small amount of time for leisurely activities, I had ruled out participating in this year’s competition. Then my mother’s birthday party came up. As she has always been my number one supporter, proudly showing my work to her friends and followers, I felt that it would be sad to show up in drab nursing clothes. In other words, this gave me the perfect excuse to sew something for myself at last.
Some years ago, I designed a nursing dress for a friend. I had kept the pattern, so I did not have to design a whole new dress, but I wanted something more cocktailish and to optimize the design. I had to use fabric from my stash, as I decided to make the dress only one week before the party. As the dress would most certainly be stained with milk, I had to use something washable and since I really wanted to make something insect inspired, I had but one option – the blue silk-like synthetic fabric that I had left from last year’s entry – this fabric reminds me of the blue mint beetles that I have adored since childhood.
In short, the dress needed to be pretty, practical, washable, and a bit insecty. I redesigned the bodice as I sculpted it on the dress form, with my sleeping baby in the slen. I had the opportunity to try the dress three times. The dress was ready in time for the party and was a great success. I both felt pretty and was able to nurse in the midst of the party without feeling exposed. My mother was proud, and most of the female guests gave my dress a compliment. No one mentioned anything about insects, though, so maybe I missed the mark?
My tight schedule left no time for trying out different techniques or ordering new materials. I had created the original pattern for my friend earlier, and now I improved the design and construction during the sewing process.
Before I set to the task, I asked my friend to be honest about how practical her dress really was, and learnt that the bust openings were a bit too narrow for nursing comfortably. Therefore I decided to let the openings go all the way from the mid-front to the side seams and in order not to expose myself too much, the openings needed a lower placement. For these changes, I had to make the bodice sturdier so that there would be no gaps between the buttons. I lined the piece over the bust and put piping all around the neckline and bust openings. I did not want the dress to be too warm, so the rest of the bodice remained unlined, but with strengthening tape along the inside of the bust openings. The openings close with six push buttons at each side.
I wanted a more festive look, preferably off-the-shoulder and with something reminding me of beetle wings. Because I only own nursing bras that cover much of the chest and are impossible to wear without straps, I decided to keep the neckline quite high, but make it as wide as possible and only keep so much fabric that it would cover the bra shoulder straps at the tip of the shoulders. The shoulder straps are secured with tiny strings and push buttons (a method that I had observed on my grandmother’s wedding gown). Except for the bust area, I also wanted the neckline to be inspired by beetle wings and envisioned a dramatic rolling collar. I have never made standing collars before, but decided to try. I widened the piece over the bust, so that it would itself transform into the collar. The piping and lining were enough to make it stand. I did not find out how to make it keep its shape, so I rolled it into the right form every now and then during the party.
The skirt is a circle skirt in two parts, with pockets in the side seams (for tissues and pacifiers). The dress closes with a hidden zipper in the front.
One of the greatest challenges was to find a fit that would look good enough both before and after nursing, as the cup size might change drastically, and the fabric does not stretch at all. The piping could have been prettier at the mid front points, but there was no time for perfection, alas. I did not read any specific FR or YWU articles for this dress, but I believe that some of the knowledge that you have passed on during the years might have stuck and was used in this task
Overall, I am very happy with the dress. It fulfilled the requirements and has even stood the test in the washing machine. Thank you, YWU, for making me challenge myself, so that I now have a pretty nursing dress, even if it might not be insecty enough for the competition!
Such gorgeous shoulder lines! I would wear this in a heartbeat -- and that's without a baby.... You have done beautiful work and created a lovely dress that is practical too! What a great read, mama!
I liked that you features required to make your dress partcical, and turned them into design elements. I love the style of your dress!
This is lovely! You’ve made nursing so fashionable! For me, this idea made the whole competition worth while :)
Desperately chic, and such clever patterning, you thought of everything in the most stylish way possible
Gorgeous and very innovative! I love the combination of stylish and practical.
I absolutely love this! Almost 17 months into breastfeeding my third one, I can totally relate to the "drab nursing clothes" thing. In my head I have designed so many fabulous nursing solutions, but I have never managed to put any any of my ideas into practice. Hats off to you for succeeding so spectacularly!
Absolutely love the neckline on this dress. Very elegant - and that colour suits you so well.
I love the sophisticated elegance of your dress, Susanna! Especially the neckline is really beautifully solved. Also I totally believe that a theme doesn't always have to be translated literally, so you definitely haven't missed the mark with your subtle reference to insects. :)
This is so clever and beautiful!
Thank you all, so very much for all sweet comments and encouragement! When posted my entry, even though I was proud of my design solutions, I was afraid that my simple dress would perhaps be perceived as a mockery towards the other spectacular creations. These comments have made me so happy and boosted my ego incredibly!
Thanks again, you lovely people!
You have nothing to be worried about Susanna, this was such a beautifully subtle interpretation, and the practicality of it is so brilliantly engineered! I love it!
Just so elegant. I wish I had had something like this when I was nursing, wonderful design