Project Nest! Nursing necklace

By Published On: September 14th, 2012

Project Nest is P&N’s sweet, little handmade haven. So lock […]

Project Nest is P&N’s sweet, little handmade haven.
So lock and load those glue guns and pull out your popsicle sticks, mamas, it’s about to get crafty in here!

Fidgety babies everywhere agree: nursing necklaces keep those wandering hands occupied (and out of mommy’s hair) during feedings. Here’s how to make your own at a fraction of their normal cost.
Total cost: As low as $10 (although the price depends greatly on your fabric choice and how many beads and bead sizes you choose to use)
Total time: 1 hour for experienced sewers; a little longer for those learning or sewing by hand

  • Fabric
  • Wooden beads
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Needle & thread or sewing machine (not shown)

Most of these supplies can be picked up at any fabric store (I ordered the navy dot fabric here); look to The Beaded Bead on Etsy for baby-safe natural wooden beads and affordable prices (shipping is reasonable too).
1. Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you’ll need to measure and cut a fabric strip that will be about 5 inches wide and 60 inches long. If you don’t have 60 inches in one continuous strip, just cut two (or more) strips and sew them together. (For example, the fabric I was using was only 44 inches long, so I cut one strip the entire length and then cut another 16 inches long, for a total of 60 inches.)

If you don’t sew often (or at all), here are a few helpful hints.
Tip: When measuring your fabric, just use whatever you have on hand to make a mark every few inches or so indicating where you’ll want to cut. I used a Sharpie because it was within reach; you won’t see the marks on the finished product, so anything (chalk, pencil, marker) will work!

Once you’ve marked off your 5-inch mark down the entire length, you can start cutting. This is a forgiving project, so don’t worry if your lines aren’t totally straight.
If you have strips that need to be combined to reach your 60 inch total length, simply pin them together at one edge with the print side facing in.

Then sew the pieces together near the edge, either by using a machine or hand sewing. I used my machine, but sewing by hand—especially on a project this simple—is not hard at all. Here’s a link that will help you learn how to create a sturdy seam for this project, if you don’t already know how.

2. Now that you have your 5 x 60 strip, fold it together width-wise with the print side facing in, pinning the edges together like so:

And once you’ve pinned all the way down, you’ll have a tube that looks a little something like this.

3. Next, sew a seam straight down by your pins together. Sew about 1/4 inch away from the edge. Again, I used my machine, but hand sewing would works just as easily. Once you’ve finished, you should have one long tube of fabric sewed all the way down one side—since we folded it in half, it will now be around 2.5 inches wide, but still 60 inches long.

Note: If you have more than a 1/4 inch of fabric on the outside of your stitching, trim it up a little—otherwise, it will leave you with a bulky seam.

4. This next step is exciting—it’s time to turn your fabric inside out, so we can start looking at the pretty print side instead of the back! To do this, just start at one end and fold the fabric down; then push and pull the fabric through until you’ve reached the bottom. If you hand-stitched, be gentle so you don’t pull out your stitches. (A bone folder or even just a pen or pencil can be helpful in pushing fabric up and through the opening.)

Now you have a right-side-out tube of fabric, ready for some wooden beads!
5. I decided to make my necklace with a few different sized beads, with the largest in the center and the beads gradually getting smaller as it went up. (I used three sizes total: 32mm, 25mm, and 20mm.) You could easily do all the same size beads, though, and it would look just as nice. (Personally, the 25mm is my favorite size for this project, if you wanted to do just one.)
Since I knew I wanted three large beads right in the middle, I started by dropping one of the large beads in one end of the tube and working it down to the middle.

Once I had it in the middle(ish), I tied a knot on either side. (I didn’t measure my way to the middle—I just eye-balled it.)

The way I tied the knots while keeping the bead in the middle was most unbecoming: It involved holding the bead and fabric in my mouth so they would stay in the right place, and loosely tying the initial knots from that position. Then I tightened prettied up the knots. (Not a glamorous process, but it worked.)

6. From here, you’re going to do a lot of bead dropping and knot tying. I tied two more large beads in (one on each side of the first) …

Two medium beads on each side …

And one small bead on each side to top it off …
7. We are officially in the home stretch! (Of this project, anyway.) Take one end of your tube and fold the fabric in a little, so you have a nice clean edge.

Now take the straight (raggedy) edge and slide it into the folded (neat) side.

Fold that area (where your fabrics connect) in half—this will keep the necklace from having a big, thick piece across the back of your neck. You don’t have to fold it in half all the way around, just right there at the intersection.

And now, sew a simple strip to connect all the pieces.

That’s it! Put that pretty thing on and make your man take you out for dinner.
I’ll confess: I don’t have a nursing baby, and I wear this necklace anyway. In fact, I like it so much that I made another one as soon as I finished the first, this time using some fabulous fabric c/o Moda (it’s from their new Simply Color collection, available next month). I reconfigured the bead placement a bit for the second one, using more small beads and only one large in the middle, and I love both necklaces equally.

Aren’t they gorgeous? A cute, easy way to dress up your nursing duds. Enjoy!
Disclaimer:Although these necklaces should hold up fine to the tugging and twirling of a nursing babe, they aren’t toys and shouldn’t be treated as such. Exercise caution while using any kind of nursing necklace!