Monday, March 31, 2014

Do It Yourself Babywearing, by guest blogger Katy Stroupe Elwood

Babywearing does not have to be expensive. My first carrier was it do it yourself Asian style carrier called a Mei Tai. It was not pretty, but it was safe and it got the job done and I loved it! 

•Important things to consider when you're making a do it yourself carrier: Quality materials and safe stitching.

•DIY stretchy wraps can be made of knit cotton or interlock. For safety reasons they must be at least 25 inches wide and edges should be serged or hemmed, you want at least 6 yards because it may shrink some.  

•DIY woven wraps can be made of any cotton or linen Jacquard weave, think hefty table cloth. Polyester, rayon and any knit cotton is advised against. Osnaburg is an excellent cheap option. Linen is still affordable especially with a coupon. The wrap should be 28 to30 inches wide before hemming. Cotton Jacquard tablecloths from Target and Amazon amazon make excellent short wraps (as well as ring slings). Keep in mind that Osnaburg shrinks (as well as linen), so by an extra half of a yard. If you want to dye your osnanurg be sure to use Dharma Trading Company dyes. RIT is not fiber reactive and is unsafe to use for babywearing. Dylon or Tulip brands are OK but still not as safe or as good as Dharma. See here for DIY wrap instructions.

• DIY Asian style carriers are a little more advanced and require a pattern or tutorial found here. Bottom weight materials are best for Asian style carriers. Polyester or cotton covered polyester thread is the best choice of thread. Be sure to make X BOX stitching at all weight bearing points, like where the straps meet the body.

 •DIY Soft Structured Carriers also fall under the Asian style carrier category.  Here is a link to a popular tutorial. I personally buy my buckles and webbing from Strapworks. The same safety principles apply to soft structured carriers. 

• DIY ring slings are easy with the right instructions and some patience. Shoulder style makes a difference too. Gathered and pleated are both popular options. There's a funky hotdog shoulder tutorial floating around out there used by a lot of WAHMS that I highly advise against using. Pretty much any fabric you would use to make a do-it-yourself woven would make an excellent ring sling. You can also use some athletic meshes to make a water ring sling. Be sure that the mesh isn't too stretchy (preferably only has a one way stretch.) You want to make sure to use polyester thread, cotton covered is fine. You also want to make sure you use safe sling rings. I personally only buy them from I will never personally tell anyone to buy them elsewhere or harvest them off of an old ring sling (that doesn't have sling ring brand rings) because they could have welding points that may have sharp edges that could cut baby or you or damage your fabric. I'm going to link Jan Andrea's do-it-yourself page from sleeping baby productions for further references. 

If you have further questions on DIY carriers please feel free to catch me (Katy Stroupe Elwood) on our Facebook group, or email us at Happy (and safe DIY) Babywearing to all!

Other resources include the Babywearing DIY Advice and Support Group on Facebook as well as the forums on The Baby Wearer.