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Summer sewing – baby carriers September 23, 2012

Posted by Judy in babywearing, Sewing projects.

Like many of my babywearing friends, I have many baby carriers. I have 3 that I have purchased, and the rest I have made. It’s a big stash by some standards, but keep in mind that DH and I have been wearing our babes for 5 years, so we’ve accumulated a few carriers in that time.

I go in spurts when making them. I’ll go for 6 or 7 months and not feel the need for something new. Then, someone outgrows a carrier, or I give a carrier away and need to replace, or I need something to use at my babywearing meetings, and so I have to make a bunch of carriers. This summer, I made eight carriers: 1 wrap conversion mei tai, 2 padded to wrap strap mei tais, a Ball Baby Overall mei tai, a wrap conversion podaegi and 3 ring slings and a russian apron.

Let’s start with the least traditional carrier: the Russian apron.
You can read more deets about it on my other blog here. You’ll find more info in the second half of that post. So far, I haven’t had cause to use it, but I’m hoping to get to try it out in the next week or two.

My big thing this summer was experimenting with different features on a meitai. We have tons of them because that is DH’s carrier of choice. But, I learned about wrap conversion mei tais (mei tais made out of woven wraps), and wanted to see what all of the hullabaloo was about. So, I made a few. The first one I made was made out of my favorite DIY woven wrap, which I made out of a tablecloth. As a wrap, it wasn’t function well anymore, and it had shrunk, so it was a weird size. I decided to chop it up and make a meitai. It hasn’t gotten much use at all since I don’t find it particularly comfortable. Maybe I didn’t make the shoulder straps wide enough, or maybe the angle is off. I don’t know, I just don’t love it. I’m keeping it around to try out once #4 is around 12-15, I think that might be the perfect age. It just wasn’t all that great with my then 20 month old.

The next two mei tais were made specifically for the summer. I made the bodies out of mesh to help keep the babes cool. The straps were made from this DIY woven wrap and from a repurposed couch cover. I also made one much bigger so that out 5 year old could ride more comfortably in the carrier. They both have padded shoulder straps that then fan out to wider wrap-style straps. I think the toddler sized one works better, but that’s because the toddler doesn’t weigh as much. DH says that the kindergarten sized carrier sags a bit, and I’m pretty sure that’s due to the mesh. I actually redid the straps for that one and got rid of the wrap-style straps, replacing them with traditional straps. I realize none of this means a hill of beans to most of you, especially without pics. Alas, I’m feeling woefully lazy at the moment, so, no pics! =)

The Ball Baby Overall mei tai is ostensibly a very easy mei tai to make. But, I made it with the help of the babes (I did the cutting and we used their sewing machines), it took considerably longer. It’s actually not too bad comfort-wise given that it has no padding anywhere, it’s just a basic mei tai. If you want to make one for yourself, Jan of Sleeping Baby Productions is hosting the tutorial here on her website.

Since I was in a wrap conversion mode, I thought I’d try a wrap conversion podaegi using a DIY wrap that wasn’t getting much love anymore. I think I used this tutorial mixed with some of my own thoughts. The results: meh . . . . DS2 and I don’t really like it. I think it will likely be great for the new squish, but not so much with the toddler. Every time I go to use it he says, “Mommy, I’m falling! I’m falling!” I don’t think he likes the lack of a waist belt, and it’s just not as supportive as a woven wrap. In any case, I’m keeping it around in hopes that I’ll love it with baby #4.

My very first baby carrier was a Maya Wrap ring sling. I had such a hard time getting it to work, and eventually I redid the shoulder into a gathered shoulder. Once I started having more babywearing meetings, I decided it would be good to redo the shoulder again into an SBP-style shoulder. This pic on Jan’s facebook page is a great example of her pleated shoulder style. So the Maya Wrap got redone for the second time, and it’s a better example sling than before.

The final two slings I made are for myself and DH. For myself, I made a double-layered silk brocade and cotton sling.
I made it with the intention of having something pretty to wear the baby in at church. I think this will definitely fit the bill. And it’s supportive enough that I can wear my 25lb toddler in it now, even at 9 months preggo! DH’s ring sling is made out of fleece with a patchwork accent panel at the bottom. He’s not generally a ring slinger, but I think the babe will be too small to comfortably and quickly use a mei tai. With baby #3, I made him a pouch, but he just never got the hang of it and it was more trouble than it was worth. I’m hoping that the ring sling will be easier for him to use if he needs to quickly get the squish in a carrier so that he can deal with the other babes. You can see pics and more deets on the slings over on my other blog here.

I have a few more carriers I want to make: two hybrid waist meitais for the new squish, a wide blanket podaegi and a chunei carrier. On my 3yo is convinced that she NEEDS an onbu to use with her dolls, so I’m guessing I’ll be making carriers for another month or two, at least!


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