When the Lady Skater was released, it looked like such a comfy, straightforward pattern and I wanted one! But I knew that I would be nursing for an undetermined length of time after Baby J was born, and I wasn’t willing to wait indefinitely to make myself a comfy knit dress. There had to be some way to hack it for nursing. And there was!
Amanda also highlighted on her blog another nursing hack by Lauren Dahl, which can be found here. That nursing hack uses a nursing panel to maintain the Lady Skater neckline. Personally, I don’t like nursing panels. I have a bad habit of forgetting to move everything back into place after I’m done nursing (particularly if I’m sleep-deprived, and what new mom isn’t?), Plus my goal was to make a dress that I could wear while nursing and continue to wear after weaning. I intend to burn all my nursing panel clothes when I’m done breastfeeding!
If you’re a fan of the nursing panel, check out Lauren’s post. If you’re not (or even if you are), read on!
Hacking the Skater for a cross bodice was surprisingly easy to do. To alter the Lady Skater front bodice, I did the following:
1. Altered my front bodice piece as necessary (for me, a small FBA, but make whatever alterations you would make to the front bodice piece).
2. Trace a complete front bodice piece by tracing the existing front bodice, and then flipping it and tracing the mirror image so that you end up with a complete front bodice.
3. Determine where you want the lower end of the criss-cross to hit. For me, I decided that about 1 inch below the armpit was a good place for it.
4. Draw a curved line from the neckline down to the mark 1″ below the armpit. Follow the neckline until it starts to curve around at the bottom. Continue your line across the entire front bodice and end at the place you’ve marked on the opposite side seam.
5. Make sure you account for a seam allowance. Since I liked the seam allowance that the pattern includes at the neckline, I left my line as-is.
6. Cut your new pattern piece on the line you drew. This becomes your new front bodice pattern piece. Cut two opposite front bodice pieces when cutting your fabric.
That’s it! It’s really an easy hack. You will also need to extend your neckline binding. Rather than doing a lot of complicated measuring, I just cut two binding pieces and joined them. After that, the sewing is very straightforward!
1. Attach each front bodice piece to the back bodice at the shoulder seams, right sides together.
2. Instead of joining your neckline binding to make a loop, you’re going to sew the binding with the bodice pieces flat. Match the center of your binding piece with the center of the back neckline. Gently stretch the binding piece as you pin it to the neckline. The binding piece will probably be longer than your neckline, so just stretch it to make sure that it sits nice and snug against your chest and then trim off the excess. Sew the binding to the neckline per the pattern instructions.
3. Turn your bodice pieces right side out. Line up the bottoms of your two front bodice pieces so that they cross over each other and form a double-layer front bodice. It doesn’t really matter which piece is in front. Baste the two front pieces together at the side seams.
4. Continue to attach the sleeves and construct the dress according to the pattern instructions. You can treat your double-layered cross front bodice piece as a single piece for the remainder of the construction.
The cross bodice works great for nursing, and is also cute just as another variation for the Lady Skater. Now I have a dress that not only works while I’m breastfeeding Baby J, but that I’ll be able to wear indefinite after he’s weaned!