Did you know you can make a port pillow for exercising? This tiny pillow can be attached to any bra, really, but it is intended to support women who want to exercise with a port.
The duo responsible for this lovely “bra bumper” (as they fondly call it) are Sarahh and her mother-in-law Marilyn.
And I am so excited to share their new and original pattern with you, because I think it will help a lot of people.
This bra bumper joins the ranks of the other important cancer support tutorials for pillows like Create To Donate’s chemo port pillow for seat belts, heart-shaped mastectomy pillow, and simple double mastectomy pillow.
How A Port Protecting Bra Bumper Was Born
I must admit, there are days where self-doubt creeps in and takes hold.
I start to wonder if any of the Create To Donate tutorials are truly making a difference? Is the time and energy it takes to create free patterns and detailed tutorials is worth it or would volunteering locally would be better?
I was having one of those days when I learned that the website’s contact form had been on the fritz. I had a backlog of many months of unseen and unanswered messages.
Yep, good times. Go ahead and say a big “ARGH!” out loud. I certainly vocalized my frustrations with this and other choice words.
Sarahh’s email was in that group of messages. In it, she offered to share the bra bumper design.
So I responded to her message and explained the technology hiccup. Even though my reply was many months later, she kindly wrote back still willing to share her design collaboration with her mother-in-law.
Needless to say, my day improved immediately!
Plus, Sarahh’s offer reminded me how important it is to share our stories and our solutions in the hopes that even one person might benefit.
So I am doing just that – sharing Sarahh’s story and her wonderful solution. I hope it inspires you as well.
In Her Own Words: Sarahh’s Breast Cancer Story
“While I will never be mistaken for an athlete, exercise has been an important part of my life for the past 25 years or so.
I hiked, biked, and used cardio equipment. I lifted weights.
Being diagnosed and having to go through surgery, chemo, and radiation meant that for a long time I was not able to do more than walk to the bathroom.
So when I started to feel better after finishing chemo, I wanted to move again.
I was still receiving herceptin infusions and would be doing so for a full year, so my port was going to be in while this happened.
I started small, going for walks around the neighborhood with my husband, but as I began to feel stronger I was ready to get back on the elliptical machine we had at home.
The elliptical meant I had to wear a sports bra, and that things would be moving around in ways they didn’t when walking. I soon realized that the thick strap of my sports bra was rubbing against my port with each motion.
Not only was it uncomfortable, I had a difficult psychological relationship with the port — I didn’t like being reminded it was there, and sometimes got lightheaded if I thought about it too much.
So what I needed was something to keep the bra strap from rubbing it.
An extensive Google search turned up nothing, until I came across the Port Pillows.
I realized that something like that could attach to my bra and keep it away from the port.
After some experimenting and a lot of patience on the part of my mother-in-law, we had the “bra bumpers”, and they worked perfectly.
They lifted the bra strap off of my port, but were still squishy enough to be comfortable, and the sports bra could still do its work.
Being able to get some cardiovascular health back was a huge part of feeling like I was recovering, and certainly helped me feel more ready when I finally went back to the gym to lift weights (tiny ones at first!).
I wasn’t setting any speed or distance records on the elliptical, but being able to feel “normal” again, and to be back in that routine, was huge for me.”
Take 10 Minutes To Make A Port Pillow For A Bra
Along with her story, Sarahh also shared Marilyn’s basic written instructions to make the bra bumper. So I created a detailed tutorial with written instructions and pictures below.
This port pillow for exercising is a great fabric scrap busting project just like the standard port protector for seat belts.
The project takes 10 minutes (at most) if you have the materials in your stash.
Materials and Tools
– Two 7′ x 2 1/4″ pieces of 100% cotton fabric.
100% cotton fabric is breathable and thin enough that it won’t create extra bulk against the bra or shirt when moving.
This pattern calls for two pieces but if you happen to have a long strip of 2″ (ish) fabric, you can use that too.
You can just take the 14″ x 2 1/4″ fabric strip and fold it over then fold it again to place the hook-and-loop tape.
– 3″ piece of 1 inch hook-and-loop tape.
A reader recently commented that she had a brain hiccup about the fact that she had forgotten that she needs BOTH parts of the hook-and-loop tape. So I photographed each part separately as a reminder.
I am an affiliate of Strapworks and purchased hook-and-loop tape in bulk from them several years ago that is still serving me well.
They have a great selection of sizes and colors that you can purchase here. (As an affiliate, I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using this link.)
For this project, any size hook-and-loop tape would work, but the 1″ width is ideal and what I use in the tutorial below.
– Tiny handful of pillow stuffing.
I photographed a big puff of pillow stuffing because that’s the initial handful I grabbed. I needed a fraction of that stuffing, however.
– Cutting and fabric clipping tools
You’ll need scissors or a rotary cutter (affiliate link) to cut the fabric pieces and the hook-and-loop tape to size.
– Sewing machine.
The need for a sewing machine speaks for itself, yes?
5 Simple Steps To Making A Port Protector For A Bra Strap
The instructions below assume that you have already cut the materials to size.
Step 1: Sew pieces of hook-and-loop tape onto one fabric piece.
The hook-and-loop tape are on the ‘inside’ of the port pillow for a bra and each half is on one side of a piece of fabric.
Fold the fabric piece in half, then place the hook-and-loop tape and clip to hold it in place.
Use a zigzag stitch (if you have one, otherwise use a straight stitch) to secure the piece of hook-and-loop tape.
Take the other half of the hook-and-loop tape and follow the same process to secure it to the fabric.
Step 2: Put fabric pieces right sides together, clip, then sew using 1/4″ seam allowance.
Take both pieces of fabric and clip them right sides together.
Sew the pieces together using a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Remember to leave a turning hole so that you can turn the port protector pillow right sides out.
I like to leave the turning hole in the middle of the long edge instead of the end whenever a pillow is long like this one. It makes it easier to place the pillow stuffing where you want it.
Step 3: Turn the port pillow right sides out.
Turn the pillow right sides out.
If you used a centered turning hole like I did, the easiest way to do this is to use the stiffness of the hook-and-loop and roll each piece to the outside.
Push the corners out completely then finger press the seams to help solidify the pillow’s shape.
Step 4: Stuff the bra bumper port pillow.
Stuff the port pillow for a bra strap with the pillow stuffing.
The pillow shouldn’t be overly stuffed because then it doesn’t have any give and puts too much pressure on the area near the port.
Please note: How you choose to stuff the pillow depends on the the recipient. Since one side of the pillow will be you can stuff both sides, or mostly stuff just one side of the bra bumper port protector.
Step 5: Put finishing touches on the bra bumper port pillow.
Close the turning hole by hand stitching or machine sewing.
I almost always machine stitch the holes for port pillows. Since these pillows are a functional item, as opposed to something where aesthetic is a priority, I prefer the use the fastest option.
Sew a line down the middle to help form the fold, and you’re done!
How To Use A Bra Bumper Port Pillow
To use a bra bumper port pillow, tuck one half under the part of the sports bra strap that is near the port and then fold the other half to close it over the strap.
Pro Tip: Yarn Scraps Are An Alternative To Polyester Pillow Stuffing
Early last year, I made some mini yarn hats to donate to special project.
They were super fun and easy to make, but I was left with a lot of tiny yarn scraps.
At first, I threw them all out, but that seemed like such a waste because there was nothing wrong with the yarn. The pieces were just really, really small.
So I started putting them all in an envelope convinced I would find a use for them.
Then, I had an “aha!” moment while making an aromatherapy port pillow. The pillow stuffing was polyester and so was the yarn I used for the hats.
So I thought to myself, “Could I substitute polyester yarn scraps for the pillow stuffing?”
To determine the answer, I started thinking through possible roadblocks but found none.
Could the yarn be washed and dried like the polyester stuffing? Yep.
Was the yarn was soft and flexible like the stuffing? Totally.
Would I be able to control how full I stuffed a pillow using the yarn? Affirmative and without issue.
All of a sudden, I had a new option for stuffing port pillows! It was a small victory in my world of crafting.
Don’t Let A Port Stop Women From Exercising
Little things truly do make a difference.
And in the case of Sarahh and Marilyn’s bra bumper, their simple solution will allow women with a port to be much more comfortable when they start exercising again.
So next time you are making port pillows to donate, please consider including some bra bumpers as well. I know they will soon be a favorite of women everywhere.