Guidelines from mom Meredith
While there are various types of baby carriers available on the market, you might be interested in creating your own DIY babywearing solution.
Here’s a quick rundown of considerations collected from various sources.
If you want to DIY a carrier, there are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure safety and comfort:
- Always select appropriate materials. While you can find good deals on the right type of materials, you may need to spend a bit extra to make sure you are making a carrier that can safely and comfortably support your precious cargo.
- Be mindful of construction. While carriers don’t require particularly advanced sewing skills (if you can sew a reasonably straight line you can probably make a serviceable carrier), you do need to use the right sort of seams and such. It’s always a good idea to check out a number of proven tutorials, even if you are a seamstress, to understand how a carrier is put together before attempting to make your own.
- If you enjoy making carriers and are tempted to sell to others, do your research first. The WAHM (work at home mom) carrier market is not what it was even a few years ago. Things are increasingly regulated – which is good as it ensures safe carriers on the market (it’s worth noting that many carrier sellers on Etsy are in violation of current industry standards). If you do wish to sell carriers, you should purchase liability insurance and join the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance.
- Always use SlingRing rings; never use craft rings as they are not designed to support a child’s weight. Utility rings will be too heavy and difficult to adjust (although technically they are safe if they have a high weight rating). Always use a high quality thread (like Gutermann).
- Slings should be made from a thinner, bottomweight fabric. Medium weight linen is a great easy to find choice. More information on selecting sling fabric here from the talented Jan at SBP.
- Slings should be around 30 inches wide (although a bit narrower is fine for a newborn and you can certainly go wider). Length is largely a matter of personal preference and your size. Jan at SBP has great sizing info here.
- Wraps are generally about 27-30 inches wide (don’t forget seam allowances when cutting); a size 6 wrap is 4.6 meters long (that’s the size an average sized mama would likely start with). Length is dependent on your size and the carries you’d like to do. Most wraps are tapered on the ends but it’s fine to leave them blunt as well.
- It’s best to use one long length for a wrap as opposed to piecing together shorter pieces. Wraps should be made from a single layer of material.
- For a small baby, cotton jersey knit makes a nice stretchy wrap; usually you don’t need to hem jersey knit unless you want to.
- For hot weather, cotton gauze is a nice choice; you can simply zig-zag or serge the raw edges.
- If you want to DIY a woven wrap, osnaburg is an easy to find option. Many people have luck with 100% cotton tablecloths as shorties. In general woven wrap fabric should not have a wrong side, should have a bit of give on the bias (diagonal), and shouldn’t be slippery or stretchy. Most wraps are 100% cotton but you might also find a suitable linen or hemp blend. A 6-8oz fabric is generally a good place to start. It is also helpful to check out a commercial woven wraps so you have some sense of what wrap fabric should feel like.
Meh Dais & Structured Carriers
- Common fabric choices for meh dais and structured (buckle) carriers include cotton duck and canvas or similar materials (around a 9 oz weight); woven wraps are also an option. Quilter’s cotton and similar fabrics are fine as accent fabrics but should never be the weight bearing or strap material. Most meh dais and buckle carriers are made from at least two layers of material in the body (depending on what material you use and the construction method).
- Always use a high quality thread like Gutermann.
- If you want padded, fleece or cotton batting are good choices.
- Strapworks is a good source for buckles and webbing for a structured carrier.
- Always xbox or bartack straps to the body. Shoulder straps should be made from a continuous piece of material.
Recommended Tips & Tutorials:
- DIY info for different carrier types from Jan at Sleeping Baby Productions; lots of great tips on fabric and materials selection as well.
- DIY Linen Ring Sling Baby Carrier Tutorial
- DIY Carriers Facebook Group
- Adjustable Meh Dai Pattern from SewToot PDF Pattern
- Patterns from TheFabricNinja
- Onbuhimo Toddler Carrier Sewing Pattern from BabyBondaProductions
The great thing about experimenting with DIY-ing carriers is that you can tweak existing designs to get something that’s just right for you – and that’s just what I’ve done. I’ve used elements of mei tais and soft structured carriers that I love and have patterned my creations after them with some minor adjustments. I’m not selling off my professionally made carriers anytime soon but I’m definitely pleased with my DIY efforts.
Really all you need to to make a great carrier is the ability to sew an (almost) straight line and knowledge of the right materials and construction techniques.