Hope you are all well. We are currently having a bit of a heat wave in the UK which hasn’t made me want to do too much sewing. But luckily my latest make (which happens to be my first breastfeeding hack) excited me enough to make me want to keep going!
One thing I hated during my last breastfeeding journey was feeling like the only thing to identify me was that I was a breastfeeding mum. And the clothes exaggerated that feeling. They were either all button ups, or all low necklines (which would end up sagging). As soon as I had this idea of doing a blog series I knew I wanted to hack a top that was high in the neckline, as that was something I really missed last time.
I had already made a fair few Kyoto tees and sweaters (pattern from Papercut Patterns), as I really love the ruffle on the sleeve. It just makes a simple tee so much more. So this was my start point. For breast accessibility on this kind of top you could either have entry points at the shoulders or the side seams. Both would work well, but I have opted for opening up at shoulders as it keeps the tummy covered when feeding while out and about. However, if you want to have the opening at the side seams then you would follow the tutorial, just applying all the steps to the side seam instead (and of course ignoring the neckband alteration).
I took inspiration for this make from a shop bought top, and love how it has been recreated in a much much much nicer fabric.
The absolutely stunning fabric I used for this tutorial was the Lily Abstract Florals French Terry from Guthrie and Ghani. I would really recommend the fabric to everyone – so vibrant, soft and has great recovery after pulling it around for “feeding” the doll.
So things you will need…
- The Kyoto sewing pattern from Papercut Patterns
- Jersey or woven fabric
- Usual sewing equipment
- 6 snaps or poppers
- Twill tape
The twill tape is used to stop the shoulders from stretching out and also to strengthen the seam, in a similar way to how rugby shirts have twill tape on their button band (as we learnt on the Sewing Bee). If you are using jersey, you will want to have this included otherwise your shoulders will stretch more and more with every feed.
The Kyoto top can be made using woven fabrics (you can find a LOT of inspiration on Instagram), and then you could use either a twill tape or just bias binding (it is then there to just strengthen the seam and avoid it ripping while you are pulling it open).
So let get to the hacking…
- Extend the bodice at the shoulders by 5/8” (or the width of your twill tape) on your pattern pieces. This is so that there can be an overlap at the shoulders for the poppers.
- Cut out all of the sewing pieces in your chosen fabric, but do not cut the neckline out on the fold. Instead cut out the neckline adding 1cm seam allowance to each of the short sides. Cut two neckband pieces.
- For the front bodice, fold over the shoulder seam by 1cm with wrong sides together. Machine tack in place.
- Pin the twill tape over the seam you have just tacked, and cut off any excess. This will hide the raw edges. Sew in place at both edges of the twill tape (long edges).
- Remove the tacking stitches
- For the back bodice you want the twill tape to be on the right side of the fabric. So, fold the shoulder seams over by 1cm with right sides together. Machine tack in place. Then repeat steps 4 and 5.
You will now have the twill tape looking like this…
- Take your neckband pieces. Fold each piece in half lengthwise. Sew the two ends using a 1cm seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance.
- Turn the neckband out so that wrong sides are together and press.
- Now to attach the neckband on to the top. With right sides together, line up the edge of the neckband (short sewn seam) with the edge of the shoulder (neat edge with the twill tape). Ease the neckband to the bodice, pin and sew.
- I like to then use a twin needle to stitch around the bodice edge, keeping the neckband seam allowance down. You could also use a zig zag stitch on a regular machine.
- Pin the front and back bodice pieces together at the shoulders with the twill tape sections overlapping. You want the bodice front to be above the back bodice.
- Attach the frill, or sleeve, as per the original instructions. I personally do this on the flat, and then sew the side seams from the frill all the way down the side to the bottom of the top.
Please note that the frill or sleeve helps to keep the top from falling back/off while feeding (and exposing your whole back). So you do need one or other (or both).
- You are now ready to attach the poppers/snaps to the shoulders. I did 3 on each shoulder. Add one as close to the neckband as you can. Then evenly space the others down the shoulder seam.
- Hem your sleeve/frill and the bottom of your top, as per the original instructions, and VOILA you are done!!
Hope you have all enjoyed my Kyoto breastfeeding top. Please do let me know if you make it using my tutorial… I would love to see your makes!
See you next time,
Love, Abigail x