I plan to nurse the Bean for as close to a year as possible. I also like to leave the house on occasion, so I knew I'd need to have a nursing cover or two in order to feed him discreetly in public. I'm all for public breastfeeding in any form . . . but, for myself, I'd rather stay mostly covered.
I noticed a woman at Disneyland wearing what appeared to be the Bebe Au Lait and I thought "Totally cute!" but that she must have made it herself because I could tell where one bottom corner was turned up that it wasn't lined. Just a square of hemmed fabric with a strap. I figured I'd make a few for myself, but line them. So imagine my surprise when I saw the Bebe Au Lait at a store and realized that, for all its $35 (AND UP) price tag, it WASN'T EVEN LINED. That's right, folks, RAW FABRIC on the back. Which I suppose isn't that huge of a deal . . . I'm assuming Bean wouldn't judge. But for $35 and being factory made I REALLY think a liner would be warranted, and, since one isn't included, all the more reason to make my own.
I found this free tutorial online, which gave me the basic dimensions and taught me to use boning to stiffen the neckline, then went from there. For starters, since the whole raw fabric backing thing horrified me so much I planned to line my covers. HOWEVER, I realized that things would be much simpler if I just chose a fabric that looks the same on the front as it does on the back. Many plaid flannels and buffalo check flannels do . . . and there's nothing I love more than a good plaid, so that was convenient. Another option for a lighter cover would be seersucker, which also looks the same front and back.
I followed the basic instructions on the tutorial, making a few tweaks I've picked up from purse sewing to make things more durable. I did iron my hems; I sewed the whole panel with a 1/4 inch hem then made a second, 1 inch hem on three sides and at the top where I inserted the boning and attached the straps. I made the straps by sewing tubes then turning them right side out with safety pins, just like purse straps. I also "locked" the boning into place by sewing squares over the strap attachment points (which will also make the straps more secure).
I'm thrilled with how the final cover came out. I love the plaid, the soft flannel and the fact that it looks the same front to back. I also love that it didn't cost me $35. I used stash fabric for this cover and when I went back to Joann's to pick up more fabric and D rings I was able to get enough materials to make 3 more covers for under twenty dollars. This is a super quick, super cheap and super useful project. I'm going to make a slew of them so I'll have options to go with different outfits . . . I think they'd make a great shower gift too!