This is the first installment of Jill of All Trades. A look into the other things I do in my life that aren't doula work.
Today, I'm very excited to share with you a project I have made several of, including one for myself when I was carrying around a wee one: a sling style baby carrier.
*NOTE - I am just a mom who knows how to sew and wanted to make something I couldn't afford to buy when I had a baby. If you are not confident in your ability to produce something that your child will be carried in, then by all means, don't try this at (your) home.
So! A sling style carrier. I was first introduced to these by following some baby wearing mommas on Instagram. I was curious about woven wraps and would have loved to try some more intricate ways to have my baby on my body, but in reality, I needed something fast and easy. A ring style carrier provides simple operation, and quality snuggles.
Step 1 - Get some fabric. Get some rings. Get some thread.
You will need between 2.5-3 yards of fabric, depending on your size. I got 3 plus, because LOOK HOW ADORABLE THIS FABRIC IS. So yeah. I'll be adding a chunk to my swollen fabric stash.
There is no reason to spend millions of dollars on the fabric you want, if only because JoAnn's gives out 40% coupons like they're dirty napkins. So, if you don't have a specific pattern in mind head on over there after grabbing a coupon online and visit their cotton section. (If you care about coordinating thread, while you're there, pick that up too. I recommend Gutermann Brand)
Materials that work with ring slings:
- jersey knit - it is too stretchy and you don't want that babe sagging and not snug to your chest. Jersey is great for a wrap around your body style (such as a Moby), but it is not great for cinching tight and not slipping, which is what we want.
- Thick fabric - this includes outdoor decorative fabrics, tweeds, heavy wool (although there is some light weight wool that may work), etc. You'll see when we attach the fabric to the ring why having any extra thickness will be a headache.
Note on the RINGS -
The rings you use should have no gaps, breaks, or cracks. I can not find rings in stores, so I buy mine from SlingRings.com. Pick the size and color that will be best for your project. This site also has helpful links, a sewing pattern, and all around great ring sling stuff.
When I quilt, I sometimes purposefully do not wash my fabric so after it's completed it has a wavy, rumpled effect that can be pleasing and homey. However, I believe washing the fabric before using it will lower your stress of seems splitting, tugging, or pulling on stitches.
Step 3 - Cut length and width
Determine your desired length. You can do this by wrapping the fabric around yourself to see what is comfortable, and allow for about 18inches of tail. For me, I'm cutting it to 74 inches. I'm 5'6", and 140 pounds.
For Width, you will want the fabric to be make a nice size pocket, as that is where your baby's bum will be sitting. I am cutting it to 31 inches.
This takes some time, but get out your pins (or free hand if you are comfortable) and make a 1/2 hem. If you ironed your fabric, you can press this hem down to make it easier.
Step 5 -Make some pleats.
This may be tricky. The basic concept is to create folds that overlap.
Next, sew across the pleats with three rows of zig zag stitches about 3 inches apart. See below. when I do this, before sewing, I make the top pleats a bit closer together, then lt it gradually widen with each row.
Fold over the end of the fabric back on itself, with the rings inside the fold. Then sew with zig zag stitch. THIS is where it's beneficial to not have super think fabric. I use a heavy duty needle for denim and leather to avoid breaking needles at this point (been there done that, btw.)
Step 10 - WEAR THAT BABY!
Or you can watch some videos on YouTube like this one.
If you have trouble threading and adjusting, this video is great too.
This lovely sling is being sent to a dear family member who is expecting #2!
I didn't wear Harper all the time, but I used it often and we both loved it. Here are some photos below of our time slingin' it.
Authored by A Swift Doula