Tutorial: Nursing Sweater with Zippers

I am mother to a beautiful 8.5 month old son named Cillian. To me, one of the greatest joys of motherhood is being able to breastfeed and watch him grow. One of the worst is not being able to find cute nursing friendly clothing.


Sure, black & baggy is a style in and of itself, but I love fun colours, patterns, and unique designs. And after endless searches to find the perfect sweater, I decided to make my own.

This is a step by step tutorial on how to convert any raglan sleeved sweatshirt to be Nursing Friendly using zippers. I like this style best as it is very discreet and the sweater does not scream nursing! You could wear this after you’re finished nursing and nobody would be any wiser as the inseam zippers appear to be a style feature versus a functional feature as we are using them.


  • Raglan Sweatshirt Pattern
  • Knit Fabric (I suggest 95% cotton/5% spandex Cotton Lycra or French Terry) (Amount required is based on your size, the pattern should indicate how much you need, but 2 metres would be enough for most patterns).
  • Two 7″ OR 9″ nylon coil zippers (7″ for sizes XS-M & 9″ for sizes L-XXL)
  • Double sided Wash Away Stay Tape


  1. Cut all required pattern pieces as indicated on your raglan sweater.

2. We will need to cut one additional front piece to be used as our modesty panel. Cut it out as follows: Measure 5″ down from the centre front and draw out a line like in the photo below. Cut this piece out from your fabric.

3. Now that you have all your pieces cut out, let’s do some prep! Using your serger (Or overlock stitch on your sewing machine) you will need to finish:

  • Front Piece – Both arm seams & Neck Curve
  • Front Modesty Piece – Both Arm Seams & Bottom Curve
  • Arm Pieces – The arm seam that will attach to the front piece (each arm will only have one side finished at this point).

4. Apply Wash away tape along the right side of your arm seam of the front piece (I place mine 1/4″ away from the edge but within the seam allowance)

5. Open your zipper and place it face down on each side of the front panel on top of the wash away tape. Zipper coils face toward the centre. Your zipper will not be the same length as your pattern piece and that is what we want, leave the bottom, underarm portion of your pattern pieces as is for now, we will stitch them together after.

6. Using your zipper foot, and a straight stitch with a longer length, Stitch your zipper in place. (As you reach the bottom of the zipper, I like to angle the zipper tape back towards the edge so it is easier to hide within the seam later).

7. Repeat steps 4-6 with second zipper.

7. Apply Wash away tape along the right side of each sleeve piece seam that joins to the front panel. (Again, I place mine 1/4″ away from the edge but within the seam allowance).

8. With your Sleeve Piece Right side up, place your Front piece right sides together on top of your sleeve piece. This makes it easier to stick the other side of your zipper to your pattern piece properly and without twisting.

9. Stitch your zipper to your sleeve piece.

10. Repeat steps 8-10 with your second zipper

11. Now it is time to finish the remaining section of your seam below the zipper. With right sides facing, match your seams below the zipper stop. Stitch a straight stitch from the side seam and stop when you reach the zipper stop. Remember to keep the bottom of your zipper tape hidden within your seam allowance so none shows on the outside (This is why in step 6 I recommended turning the bottom of your zipper towards the edge). Repeat for other side.

Pointing to the bottom section below your zipper which needs to be sewn together

12. Fold the top of your Front Piece over to the inside, wrapping the zipper tape, and with a long straight stitch, stitch it down. The edges will be bulky so go slow and use your hump jumper to help you navigate over

13. With your 3 pattern pieces laid out face down, with zippers zipped, place your modesty panel piece face down on top of your front piece. (The modesty panel will have the right side facing the front piece wrong side).

14. Apply wash away tape along the outside zipper edge of each sleeve piece.

15. Line up your Modesty panel & Sleeve Pieces and press each side of your modesty panel into the wash away tape you just applied. Your zippers will be completely hidden by your modesty panel.

16. Stitch your zipper to your modesty panel. You will be stitching over a seam you have already stitched down and it will be sandwiched as Sleeve Piece, Zipper, Modesty Panel. Repeat for other side.

17. Top stitch around your zipper. Be sure to UNZIP your zippers and be careful not to stitch your Modesty Panel to your Front Piece.

18. Attach the hood/collar. Open your zippers and attach it to your front modesty panel only.

19. Sew your side & sleeves. Attach your sleeve cuffs & hem band.

20. Now enjoy your new Nursing Sweater!

Double Zipper Nursing Sweater Completed!

About Chrystal McKay

I make handmade items for the tiny humans of your life at Chrystalclearrr. I am a Janome Artisan and work with a Janome Skyline S7 & Coverpro 2000CPX.
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