Thursday, January 24, 2013

How to Make a Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Sorry for the inexcusable neglect of my blog to all you non-existent readers! As many of you know, pregnancy in itself is an interesting adventure, some of which I hope to document in the near future -- ironically as my li'l adventure is about to end! Anyone who has had to prepare for the arrival of a baby knows how incredibly expensive it can get. Yes, yes, you will hear people say, "But all a baby REALLY needs are clothes, food, and diapers." The truly sappy will end that sentence with "and LOVE." Yes, that's true if you plan on going about childrearing in a truly barebones fashion, but who are we kidding? Kids are expensive for most folks!

In the spirit of saving money -- well, technically spending less than I ought to -- I've turned to many DIY projects. Sure, some of them probably were more expensive to produce on my own, but given the time value of my labor (market value = $0), I'm sure most of my little DIY projects came out ahead on the benefit:cost ratio.

So, without further ado, I present, "How to Make a Hands-Free Pumping Bra"
Actually, before we begin: This is not the totally lazy/poor man's version of how to make a pumping bra. For that, consult other blogs where the instructions basically are to cut a vertical slit into the bra. My DIY tutorial is a little more involved and hopefully will produce a more durable bra.

- cheap sports bras
comment: I found mine at Wal-Mart for a pack of 2 for about $9 and some change. They are VERY stretchy, so though I do not know what size I WILL be once my milk comes in (fingers crossed!), I went with my best estimate given my current chest/band size, factored in some post-partum weight loss (wishful thinking?), and ensured that these babies would stretch.
- sewing machine and thread
comment: I have a Brother CS-6000i.
 - miscellaneous: a sheet of paper, some cardboard, scissors, and a ruler/protractor


1) Try on the sports bra and mark off where your milk-producing "spouts" will be in said bra. I used a Sharpie pen (for a lighter colored bra) and some Ivory bar soap (for a darker colored bra). To give myself more room, I also tried the sports bra on over a t-shirt and bra since I don't have an accurate measure of my future bust size. Here's mine (before):

2) Make a stencil. If you know what the diameter of your pump's flange will be, then use that. I went with the default on my pump (Medela In Style), which is 24mm. This is approximately 1 inch in diameter if you don't have any numbers of your own to use. When debating between two numbers, I would probably choose the smaller number provided your sports bra is super stretchy. (Mine were 95% nylon and 5% spandex.) Trace the outer edge of your flange (only the stem of the part that actually suctions to your breast) onto a piece of cardboard.

3) Trace the stencil over bra (or fill it in), centered on the nipple marks. This is pretty self-explanatory.
4) Pin some paper under the areas that you will sew. This will help the garment to not get "eaten" into the machine by the feed dogs, which I leave on, as well as to give you something firmer to grip to move around while you sew.

 5) Use a an overcast stitch* for stretchy fabrics. I also changed my needle to a ballpoint needle for this task. I used a 3-point zig-zag stitch (stitch #8 on my machine with 1.0 stitch length and 2.0 stitch width and tension at 4) and went around the marked circle two times with a few reinforcement stitches at the end. I know it's hard to sew in a round, so when in doubt, make the circle tighter/smaller than you think you should or if you can't see your stencil marks clearly. The material is incredibly forgiving and will stretch once you wear it, so ensure a better fit by not making the holes too large. And don't worry if it's not perfectly circular either. Carefully rip off the paper backing. (If your stitches seem too loose without the paper, increase your tension and try again. If this step makes you nervous, I suppose you can just wash the bra with the paper and allow the washing machine to dissolve it off.)

6) Use a small, sharp pair of scissors to cut out the fabric inside the circular seam. Be careful not to cut into any of the stitches you just made!

 7) You're done! Now you have a very handy (not terribly shabby looking in my opinion) hands-free pumping bra for only about $5 -- many of which I've seen retail for about $25 or more -- OR you have yourself a very...uh..interesting...and non-functional bra...for...uh....recreational purposes. Here's mine (after) with the pump part shown on the right:

* Disclaimer: I do not profess to be a master crafter, sewer, etc., so give me some leeway in my recommendations, please. :)


  1. Oh my goodness, thank you for posting this! I would MUCH rather do this than go buy a bra specifically for pumping as to the fact that I have a million spare sports bras and very little money to play with.

    1. You're very welcome! Glad you found it helpful and useful. :)

  2. I was searching online about the causes of sagging breasts and how can one prevent it. There are several studies that indicates that using a sports bra or a boob band may help to prevent it.Has anyone ever used this booband. I just bought this and really wanted to know about its reviews.I bought it from the company website itslef i.e.,boobuddy.

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