Has anyone sewn Elizabeth Lee nursing clothes? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 07-04-2003, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm thinking I'd really like a nursing dress or two, but everytime I look at her patterns, I get really turned off because they're so frumpy. Has anyone sewn themselves a HIP dress from these patterns or am I just crazy? I know that so much of how a pattern looks has to do with fabric choice and I also know that her patterns have a lot of options on them, but I'm still just really turned off by the fact that they all seem so frumpy.

HELP! Should I take the plunge and buy a pattern or just try to save up for a Motherwear dress?

Charlotte, midwife to some awesome women, wife to Jason, and no longer a mama to all boys S reading.gif('01), A nut.gif ('03) S lol.gif ('08) and L love.gif ('10).
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#2 of 13 Old 07-04-2003, 06:04 PM
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My friend learned to sew using the Elizabeth Lee patterns. I know she made several of them. She thought they were a bit frumpy too, but living in a small town in Kansas it wasn't a biggie...they just weren't her style. She also used the cheapest material she could find, so that probably contributed to her not being thrilled.

If you make them, you can probably alter the pattern a bit if you are experienced enough (I couldn't do it, but I am not much of a seamstress). I would guess the choice of fabric and notions would make a big difference too.

If you do want to buy one, you might check out the trading post or ebay, there are usually several nursing dresses there for more reasonable prices.

Mom to 10yo Autistic Wonder Boy and 6yo Inquisitive Fireball Girl . December birthdays.

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#3 of 13 Old 07-04-2003, 09:31 PM
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I want to sew a nursing dress too and am SO disappointed at the options available. I, too, think the EL ones are frumpy. I would never ever be able to carry it off with flair.

I'll tell you what I've been throwing around in my head, but first of all, I should tell you that I don't have a huge bust. Post-partum, I was 38DD or something and now I'm 34D (my son is 2 y.o.).

I made a dress for myself once that was an empire waist (just below the bust) with spaghetti-like straps, and then somewhat tailored with an a-line skirt. I made it from a heavy linen and then lined the top bust part with a fine pima cotton and wore no bra with it (I was a size 34B). Now, I've been considering taking that pattern and altering the straps to allow for nursing.

Just an idea that might be a tad more fashionable.

Incidentally, I saw a couple of Burda patterns that looked like they could be used for a nursing mom -- in the young fashion section, I think. One had grommets for the straps and the other was laced at the cleavage.

Good luck!
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#4 of 13 Old 10-30-2003, 04:14 PM
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Any other opinions on EL patterns? I'm really wanting a comfy nursing dress
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#5 of 13 Old 11-01-2003, 07:14 AM
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Well, the EL patterns _are_ a bit frumpy; I made one and um, well, it's frumpy. But. I made it out of bulky fabric, and I didn't actually pick the most flattering pattern for myself. Also, the styles seem designed for someone with my body type, i.e., kind of big, large bust, etc. I can see that someone willowy prob. would look like she was wearing a sack. The EL patterns also look less frumpy if you use a nice drapy fabric, not a woven, so velour, or rayon, or a nice heavy knit..

My LLL leader likes to sew, and she's quite slender/small bust. What she did was take dress patterns that she liked, say, a cute sundress, and make an extra overlay that she lined with very light fabric, and put in openings in the underlayer for a nursing dress. Her dresses are very cute that she has "invented." If I were to adapt a pattern for my body shape, I'd probably get one of those empire-style dresses with pleated skirt, so it's not bunchy across my abdomen (big-ish ), with a vest overlay or something, and make openings in the underdress bodice. I've also seen one style of very cute dress (my sister has one) that is similar, but there is a COMPLETE overlay that goes down to the skirt. One could cut appropriate openings into that, or make a dress like that into a nursing dress.
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#6 of 13 Old 05-13-2006, 06:52 PM
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I was on the Elizabeth Lee designs site today and I noticed that there hasn't been very many new patterns added since I first started purchasing patterns from them in 1994. I never thought of them as frumpy, but they also weren't my favorite to wear. In addition to wearing a nursing dress, I also found that I still needed a receiving blanket to cover the baby. I no longer need the patterns, but I'm on the lookout for my daughters who are either pregnant or nursing.
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#7 of 13 Old 05-14-2006, 01:24 PM
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well I'll be the dissenting vote to say I love Elizabeth Lee patterns. I've made one top and one dress. Made the top out of a striped organic knit from near sea naturals.com. The dress was made out of very thin, but opaque pale yellow silk twill that I got from Italy (years ago, fabric stash), with an overlay in the same pattern of a Gucci silk flower print chiffon from emma one sock (my favorite online fabric store). Wore the dress to a wedding in San Francisco, held in an art gallery, where most of the guests were skinny, beautiful, and beautifully dressed.

OTOH, I have 4 Motherwear tops. I am/was diappointed in both the craftsmanship and material quality. Gave one away, plan to sell two on ebay, and one wear around the house/grocery store (til it falls apart, etc).

Elizabeth Lee patterns , IME, are very easy to sew and modifiable. Only drawback- cost, but I found the two patterns I wanted on ebay for $.99.
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#8 of 13 Old 05-15-2006, 02:58 PM
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I enjoy Elizabeth Lee patterns. Frumpy doesn't bother me though. I like loose fitting dresses, but I do choose fabrics that are more my style. If you want a closer fitting dress, you could try #210, which has a lot of potential for non-frumpy dresses. #307 can also be made more stylish. If you have good sewing reference books, you could experiment with making the dresses more fitted.
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#9 of 13 Old 05-18-2006, 05:34 AM
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I'm not a dress person, but I loved EL's top pattern 307 view 5. Definitely not frumpy!
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#10 of 13 Old 05-22-2006, 03:15 AM - Thread Starter
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OMG, I was totally shocked to find this post here, from 10 days before Atley was born. I never did take the plunge and buy a pattern, or a dress, for that matter.

And yes, my motherwear tops that I was so excited about got pretty drab pretty quickly. I just prefer to wear a t-shirt and jeans (as always).

Charlotte, midwife to some awesome women, wife to Jason, and no longer a mama to all boys S reading.gif('01), A nut.gif ('03) S lol.gif ('08) and L love.gif ('10).
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#11 of 13 Old 09-15-2006, 04:31 PM
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If you look at the Motherwear catalog they show diagrams of the nursing openings for each style.I have found it very easy to replicate these on practically any pattern.Just choose a similar style and add a lining.I used to sew EL patterns all the time-they made beautiful hippie patchwork dresses.But now I prefer not to look pregnant when I am not! good luck!
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#12 of 13 Old 09-16-2006, 03:37 PM
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Wow, what an old original post!

I haven't sewn with any EL patterns (yet) but I do hope to someday get 'round to buying and making her fleece jacket pattern with the panel that can be added for pregnancy/babywearing. That would be NICE to have where we live .... !!

Yes, some of the patterns look dated, but I think that fabric choice and some alterations could save some of them, and there were a couple which were more "modern" looking I thought. I do think it's awesome that a pattern company even exists for nursing wear.

That said - I am currently altering a jumper pattern to make it nursing-friendly, on my own. I got the idea from conursingwear.com (whose clothes I have liked). They put invisible zippers in princess seams for nursing accessibility .... so you can still bf in a dress without dropping it to one's ankles. etc. Which caused me to realize - OH, yeah, it would be sooo easy to just make a simple unlined (dartless) jumper and put zippers on the sideseams --- unzip the side you'll be nursing from, lift the tshirt or turtleneck you're wearing underneath, and voila, easy access for nursing! At least, that's how I expect it to work. It's a long wool plaid jumper in Christmas colors which I plan to wear for Christmas Eve mass -- and I've enough fabric leftover that Ina will have her Christmas dress out of the same fabric (very different pattern though, not a jumper).

I mostly wear either nursing tops or regular tops, I don't dress up much so many of the EL patterns etc. aren't for me regardless .... But on the occasions when I *am* dressed up it's nice to have something nursing-accessible. I'm really excited about this jumper, I hope it turns out well and works well because I anticipate several more Christmases of nursing.

Not all who wander are lost.
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#13 of 13 Old 04-30-2014, 04:00 PM
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This was posted some time ago, but in case someone now is wondering the same thing, I thought I would weigh in.  I used EL patterns extensively.  I loved them!  In fact, I still do.  If you are looking for trendy, you won't find it with EL patterns.  But I would describe them as classic, not frumpy.  If you use cheap fabric, you may very well end up looking a bit frumpy.  But I found that even with bargain fabric, as I learned to adjust and alter for myself to create better fitting clothing, I did NOT look frumpy.  I did, however, have timeless clothing that I wore for YEARS after my children stopped nursing.  My youngest is 13 now.  :-)  You can buy an EL pattern and create different looks just by changing up the fabric type and adding a few embellishments, trims, etc. 


The new patterns include non-nursing variations, but if you have a little experience you can make the older patterns to be non-nursing as well.  In fact, a couple of years ago I used the NC 109 pattern to make a gorgeous, classic (non-nursing) blouse to wear to my square dance graduation.  :-)  I put lace on the single ruffle collar and sleeves, tacked a satin bow at the center of the V-neckline, and it looked beautiful.  This is a blouse I can wear anywhere, and for any occasion.  I did have to re-trace the pattern, as I am not the same size I was when I bought the pattern over 15 years ago.  :-)  But it was worth the time and effort. 


If someone is looking to dress in the latest styles and follow the trends, then perhaps they might want to look elsewhere.  But if you don't mind looking classic and classy, and you want clothing that never goes out of style because it is always in good taste, then EL patterns are definitely worth checking out. Admittedly, some patterns are a little more "everyday" than others, but they are all modest and in good taste.  NC 109 is a lovely, dressy pattern, but makes a wonderful, casual flannel blouse to snuggle in during the cold months.  The top pattern (the one with the t-shirt, the cap-sleeve, and the thank) will last you for the rest of your life!  You can make great tops from it and use them for just hanging around the house, or use nicer fabric and pair them with nice slacks or a skirt and a pretty necklace and you will fit in just about anywhere.  For a dressy holiday top you can make a top out of the "liquid gold" fabric that comes in various bright and shiny colors.  There is no end to how you can adapt these patterns to suit you and your lifestyle. 


Word to the wise - DON'T cut your patterns!   TRACE THEM!  At the time of this writing, the Elizabeth Lee website is no longer selling patterns.  So if you are fortunate enough to have an Elizabeth Lee pattern, leave it intact!  You can use it to make clothing for yourself for the rest of your life, clothing for friends and family who are nursing (or not nursing), gifts for baby showers . . .


If you ever have any questions, you can check out NMSL (Nursing Moms' Sewing List) at the website   nmsl.org   At the top of the page (and also the bottom) you will find a link for the list. 


I hope this is helpful to anyone looking for information on EL patterns, and that you enjoy nursing your baby no matter where you find yourself! 

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