Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mastectomy Pocket Pattern for Athletic Top

About five years ago I went through breast cancer treatment including a single mastectomy and reconstruction.

Perhaps the reconstruction was always a little uneven, but time and transformations due to pregnancy and breastfeeding have given me an unmatched set. It was when I was halfway through my post breast cancer pregnancy in 2010 that I really noticed a difference. I took a trip to Thelma's and the lovely ladies there found me an enhancement and a mastectomy bra which has pockets for such enhancements.

As I neared my due date, I realized that bra shopping might never be the same for me. And what exactly is the demand for a nursing, mastectomy bra? Probably just me and maybe a handful others.

I had a few old nursing bras that I was able to sew pockets in for my enhancement. Another trip to Thelma's yielded a stretchy bra that would work for both purposes too.

Hidden Mastectomy pocket inside
Now that I am teaching hooping exercise classes, I find myself wearing an athletic tank top. I started out just wearing my regular bra underneath. That worked pretty well, but I didn't always like my old, worn bra strap peeking out.

There were many times when I would think about what options might work. I considered a new bra, a mastectomy tank top, and adding a pocket myself. On the one hand I didn't want to ruin my tank top. Also, stretchy material is notoriously less friendly for sewing. But I did remember a hot pink four way stretch material I had from long ago that would work quite well.

Finally during a trip to Target, I noticed the athletic tanks were on sale and there were new colors. I decided on purple. I think the fact that I had two now made the decision to mess with one of them easier.

I found that hot pink stretchy material surprisingly easily. And my crude pattern from when I adapted the nursing bras was located as well.

I marked the center of the tank top and used rolled scotch tape to hold the pocket in place. My first attempt was with a wiggly toddler in my lap, but it worked and the stitching is not visible from the outside.

Attempt number two was slightly more aesthetically pleasing, but not too much. I'm delighted with my altered tank tops. They look great from the outside and allow me to leave my old bra home.

Adding a mastectomy pocket is much easier than my brain leads me to believe. Probably the best tips are to use a stretchy material, allow the "pocket" to be pretty generous following the contours of the bra or top, to leave two openings to allow easy access to the pocket for insertion and adjustments, and to remember that the stitching won't show and doesn't have to be perfect.  :)

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