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Summer sewing – baby carriers September 23, 2012

Posted by Judy in babywearing, Sewing projects.
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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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Ring sling down! Ring sling down! September 19, 2011

Posted by Judy in babywearing.
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I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge fan of ring slings. They are great for the newborn stage, they are pretty convenient for nursing, but once you have a wiggly infant or toddler, they just aren’t practical for me. Evenso, I was pretty sad to discover a hole in my linen ring sling. This particular sling was nice because it was perfect for the summer heat, and I really liked the color. Plus, I’d had some fun with the sewing machine and used a nice decorative stitch.

Alas, the hole was in a bad place. Had it been at the very end of the tail (i.e. a part that never supported any weight), it would have been fine. But it was right where it would pass through the rings while tightening. Not so good.

(This is probably a good place to remind you to always check your carriers before using them. You never know when you are going to find a tear, or some other issue that would render the carrier unsafe.)

I guess it turned out okay, though. I used the linen fabric to make a pair of shorts for DD. I made another ring sling, and I actually find that one to be much more supportive, and so, I like it better. All’s well that ends well.

Surviving Disney August 7, 2011

Posted by Judy in babywearing, Diaper bag, Musings.
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It’s quite possible that we are the only people crazy enough to take 3 children, all under the age of 4, to Disney World on vacation. In fact, I’m quite sure of it, given that we saw very few people with small, small children. There were a fair number of infants (under 12 months of age), and quite a few 5-12 year old, just not much inbetween. Given that information, you’d think the number of strollers would be limited. Well, you’d be wrong. I couldn’t believe how many strollers there were! There was a combination of strollers that people owned as well as a plethora of the rental strollers offerend by Disney. The really surprising thing was the number of big kids that were riding around in the strollers. When I say big, I don’t mean 4 to 6 year olds. In a place like Disney, little legs can get quite tired. I’m talking kids that were 8, 9, 10, sometimes older. It was pretty silly seeing these kids smooshed into the strollers, and even sillier to see their parents struggling to push the heavy load! Ha!

Anyway, we were not among the masses that had a stroller. I suppose there were times when it might have come in handy, as in, it might have been nice to have a place to set out stuff. But most of the time, it was so much easier to not have to keep track of a stroller, especially having to park it and retrieve it before and after every attraction. I just don’t have the patience for that.

So, I bet you are wondering how we managed to transport all three children (yes, all three got transported as the 4 year old suddenly decided that it was “too faaaaarr!” to walk even 10 feet) plus a diaper bag and water, etc. I bet some of you have already guess it . . . . . . .. baby carriers. We took a little stash. DH took his favorite preschool-sized mei tai (MT) for the older two and the infant-sized MT for the 12 month old. I had more, I don’t like to be limited to just one or two, what can I say. I took along a soft structured carrier (SSC), two wraps and then two water wraps. Let me tell you, all of the carriers got a workout. At any given time, I had at least one babe on me, and DH was almost always wearing one babe on his back and carrying the other babe in arms in the front. We got a good workout that week, especially DH!

“But wait!” you say. “What about your stuff? Where did that go?”

Well, the first day, since we weren’t sure how it was going to go, we had wayy too much stuff. We had the two toddler backpacks, which seemed like a great idea, until the 2 and 4 year olds decided that walking was overrated. So then DH was stuck carrying their backpacks, PLUS his own backpack which was filled with books, water and other entertainment for the babes in case they got bored. So yeah, the first day wasn’t so good. Thereafter, we just stuffed what we needed for the older two into one of the toddler backpacks, and DH would carry that. I carried the stuff for myself and for the infant in my tricked out babywearing diaper bag. I stayed up until 4am the night before leaving on vacation making it. My mom, being the rockstar that she is, stayed up with me. (Thanks, mom!) It was totally worth it, though. It was really nice to be able to have a diaper bag that didn’t get in the way of wearing the babes.

Sooo, there you have it, that’s how we survived Disney: a small stash of baby carriers, a toddler backpack, and a tricked out diaper bag. Would I do it again? Hmmmmm . . . the jury is still out on that one!

VBE! September 10, 2010

Posted by Judy in babywearing.
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So it’s almost official . . . I’m a VBE!  “What is THAT?!”, you ask?  Volunteer Babywearing Educator.  You have to answer some questions about your background and babywearing, and then you have to do a skills test.  Paperwork has been done for a while, and  did the skills test today.  Basically, I had to show that I knew how to do a front, back and hip carry in all of the carrier types:  pouches, ring slings, mei tais, soft-structured carriers, and wraps.  So now the tester just has to turn in the “she passed!” paperwork to BWI (babywearing international), and then it’ll be fully official!

What does this mean for me?  It means I can hold babywearing meetings, teach others to use carriers, and I’m covered under the BWI insurance, just in case something went awry.  Next step?  Get with the other local VBE and get some meetings started in our area!  Yahoo!

R & D sucks! November 10, 2009

Posted by Judy in babywearing, Sewing projects.
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Yeah, that’s right, research and development is the pits!  Sure would be nice if my design would work the first time.  Alas, I’m just not that good=(  In the past two weeks I’ve gotten version one and version two of my baby carrier design made.  Of course, both version have their own set of problems.  Version number two is currently with a tester to see what she thinks of it.  My goal is to get something good and usable by the end of this month, but that means there’s lots of doing  and redoing.  Yuck!!  I got so tired of thinking about the baby carrier that I changed gears this afternoon and whipped up a pair of trainers for DS.  How nice to be able to do something quickly and mostly right.  I say mostly, because I put the leg band on the wrong way.  (I alwasy seem to do this foolishness, someday I’ll get it right!)  Anyway, tonight it will be back to the designing and revising.  The nice thing about this project – as opposed to my diaper bag project – is that I have DH’s help . . . two brains are definitely better than one.

Should I or shouldn’t I? October 31, 2009

Posted by Judy in babywearing, Sewing projects.
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I’ve been making baby carriers for almost as long as I’ve been using them, 2+ years.  I started out with simple stretchy wraps (these were great because they required zero sewing!).  Then I made a ring sling (which has since been taken apart and the rings repurposed for a much better version.)  I then tried my hand at woven wraps, but failed miserably due to poor fabric choice.  It would be another 12-15 months before I got this figured out.  My next carrier was a mei tai, and I’ve pretty stuck with mei tais since then.  I have made an onbu, but I can’t say that I’m all that excited about how that turned out, so I most likely won’t be making any more of those.  But back to the mei tais . . . . .I’ve made five different kinds of mei tais.  Now that I’m typing that number, it doesn’t seem like that many, but I have gotten MUCH better at making mei tais!

Anyway, so the question running around in my mind is “Should I make mei tais to sell?”  At the moment, I have two in the works, one for my SIL and the other for a friend.  I’ll be using my own pattern, which includes what DH and I think is an innovation.  At this point, I’m not thinking that this would be a very big business at all, maybe 2-3 mei tais a month.  (Hey, I have two small ones, time is super scarce!)  DH and I haven’t completely worked out the details, but we do have a name for the business and have contemplated a business model.  But I’m still not totally sure whether or not I want to do it.  I’m thinking maybe I’ll set things up so that I could do the business if I wanted to.  Who knows, just an idea I’m kicking around in my head.  Of course, my SIL thinks the mei tais are great and thinks I should sell them to all of her friends back in Germany!  For now, I’m just working on perfecting my design and looking around for good fabric suppliers and trying to decide how much I should sell them for in order to make it worth my while.  So many things to think about!  So should I or shouldn’t I?

The hybridish mei tai October 14, 2009

Posted by Judy in babywearing, Sewing projects.
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Several months ago, I decided to try and make a mei tai for DH to use with DS.  Having seen like only one or two MT’s in real life, I took to the internet to get some inspiration.  I found several MT’s and SSC’s (soft-structured carriers) that had features I liked.  A mama from Australia makes an SSC called the Kanga XT which intrigued me because of the high, padded headrest and the fact that kiddos could easily put their arms out without putting strain on the shoulders.  Another carrier I liked was the OB-Alta, mostly I liked the giant hood that would block out light and such.

Armed with information, I set out to design a DIY MT that would have the features I liked from the above two carriers as well as some of my own thoughts.  I made a practice carrier, first, and tested that out for several weeks.  DH gave the thumbs up so I started working on “the real thing”.  The main difference here was in the fabric, I used twill for the straps and structural parts, and some left over fabric from DH’s kilt.  Of course, there were all sorts of dramas and snaffu’s along the way.  (It wouldn’t be one of my sewing projects if it was free of problems, now would it!!)  But, I managed to get the finishing touches done just in time for a big trip to Illinois.

Red MT - back

I discovered, with chagrin, that the padded leg extensions that I added were too big for DS at that time, but they are just perfect now that he has grown a ton!  And now that we’ve used it for several months, we are liking it pretty well.

Robertson MT hood up

If I were to make another one, I would probably scrap the padded headrest idea.  Not only was it a pain to do, it made the hood too high, so it doesn’t actually work as well as I’d hoped.  I also would figure out a different way to attach the waistband to the carrier.  Again, the way I did it was a seriuos PITB!!

But overall, this carrier was a succes as it’s DH’s go-to carrier these days.  I guess that’s good, right?

Some people just don’t think before speaking! July 20, 2009

Posted by Judy in babywearing.
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I was at Wal-mart today (which is my LEAST favorite place to shop! ICK!) getting some prescriptions for the babes. DS was in the shopping cart, and DD was on my back in a Chunei Back Carry with one of the passes pulled over her head as she was attempting to nap. I get up to the pharmacy counter and the woman says in a snippy tone

“You have the baby’s head covered?”
“Yeah”, I replied, nonchalantly. She keeps giving me the evil eye whilst getting the prescription info ready.
And then, it happened. I’m not sure why she thought this was a good question/comment . . I’m sure she didn’t think before blurting it out.

Wait for it

. . .

…..

wait for it

….

…..

“Can she breath in there?” Now, I’ve had people as this odd question before, but I usually smiled and said yes. Today, I apparently wasn’t wearing my polite hat, because I said . .
“Do you REALLY think I would do it if she couldn’t breath? Seriously, come on! It’s like when you are sleeping and you have the covers pulled over her head, you can still breath, right? She’s prefectly safe, really.” I realized that response was probably less-than-polite, and certainly not Christ-like, I just couldn’t help myself today.

Not more than 5 minutes later, another nice lady in line behind leaned up and said, “Did you know that the baby’s head is covered up?” And she had a concerned look on her face. I said that I knew, and that she was perfectly safe, but thanks for the concern. This was a slightly better interaction.

As we were finished up our disastrous trip (disastrous for soo many reason, not limited to the babywearing commentary) an older lady in the parking lots says, “oh, you look so comfortable with the baby all wrapped up like that! Do you have two boys? Oh, a boy and a girl, how lovely for you!” What a nice change that was to hear something positive=)

I suppose that people just aren’t used to seeing babywearers, so they tend to ask what us experienced BW’ers consider to be silly questions. I really should learn to be more gentle and try to educate people. Somehow, though, I don’t really think they would be interested in the education, just wanting to put in their 2 cents about my bad parenting and then run. So, I guess I don’t feel too bad for letting that educational opportunity pass me by!!

The babywearing meeting May 12, 2009

Posted by Judy in babywearing, Musings.
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For several months, I’ve been wanting to go to a babywearing meeting, but deemed it too far away.  Well, since the weather is nicer, I decided to take the plunge and make the drive.  It turned out to only be about an hour away, so not as bad as I thought.   The main reason I wanted to go was to see some baby-carriers IRL, since all of mine are DIY carriers, I had no idea whether or not I was on the right track.  Several of the moms brought their carrier stash so that we could try them out.  Sadly, my toddler was uncooperative (i.e. didn’t want to be carried), so I only tried a SSC (soft-structured carrier) and a half-buckle with him.  My infant was happy to be wrapped, so I tried out a Didy Pfau 2.7.

Here’s what I discovered:  the SSC wasn’t really all that comfy, I defintely prefer my hybrid version.  The half- buckle wasn’t bad, but something I could definitely make myself. I was REALLY pleased to discover that my tablecloth wraps could hold their own with the Didy wrap. I have yet to try a Neobulle and maybe  another thin wrap, maybe next time.  Also, I really should try the wraps with my toddler, since that will really give me a better comparison point.So there is pretty much no need for me to be spending lots of money on carriers that other people make when  I can make them just as well, if not and they are more comfy since they are custom-made for me and DH.

One of the moms said that she too had started out with a DIY stash, but after buying her first carrier, she realized that the finishing details were much better than what she could do.  Maybe I’m just arrogant, but I’m pretty sure my seamstress skills are good enough to do some really nice finishing details.  And if they aren’t, I should definitely learn, and how else will I learn if I don’t give it a try, right?

All in all, I met some nice mamas there, and DS got to run around and play with some other boys his age, so that was good.  I’ll probably go back, but I’m thinking it will not be a monthly thing, especially since I got stuck on the beltway for like 45 minutes!!  Ick!

The very wet Friday April 13, 2009

Posted by Judy in babywearing, Musings.
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Fridays are my grocery shopping days.  I pack up the bambinos and off we go.  Last Friday, it was rainy, not just drizzly, pouring down rain.  I waited till things slowed down and decided to head out.  We arrived at TJ Maxx (a brief detour prior to getting groceries) and it started to drizzle.  I quickly came up with a plan . . . put DD in a rebozo carry on my hip and use the extra wrap to cover her head to keep her dry . . grab the umbrella, and make a run for it with DS.  Well, while I was still getting everything set up, it started to rain cats and dogs and thought, “well, shoot, how the heck and I gonna get us into the store?”  I  finished wrapping DD and got out to get the umbrella from the front.  She didn’t appreciate the rain, so she straightened her legs and popped herself out of the wrap (rebozo hip carries are apparently NOT my forte!).  I ran around and opened the door to get DS.  (Keep in mind that it is POURING! And the wrap is no longer actually supporting DD, so I’m holding her and the umbrella in my left hand.)  I manage to heave DS out of his car seat (yeah, it was a heave since we have a big, tall truck), and get him on my right hip.  Then I just made a mad dash for the store.  The umbrella was only marginally helpful, since it barely covered the three of us!  By the time I got the the store, my pants were soaked from the knees down, my backside was drenched, and my diaper bag was pretty wet.  Thankfully, both babes were fairly dry.

But, the drama didn’t end there.  Oh no, that would have been too simple!!  So now I had to figure out how to get DS in the shopping cart with one hand since I was still having to support DD in the now useless wrap.  While I’m getting the cart and setting the diaper bags down, DS is playing with another shopping cart.  Since he’s not the most obedient child in the world, he pretty much ignored me when I called him to come get in the cart.  When I go over and lead him to the cart, he manages to somehow propel his cart out into the parking lot.  So here’s the shopping cart, flying down the center of the lot!  I was so sure it was going to crash into someone’s car!  Of course, I wasn’t about to go back out in the rain to retrieve it.  Oh well!  Another lady was there with her daughter and she just laughed, I think a laugh of empathy.  Once in the store, I had to retie DD, and I opted for a ruck, which worked MUCH better!  While there, I bought a enormouse umbrella, one that will easily cover the three of us and then some.  Of course, by the time we left TJMaxx, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a raincloud in sight!  Sheesh!