I used to be one of those people who looked at parents with a stash of slings and wondered why they had so many? Why so many wraps?
I laugh at my folly now. I currently have 5, which is really a very small ‘stash’ compared to my friends who are wrapping pros. And I’m fairly certain that I’m nowhere near to being done either, which is fine because these kids of mine love to be carried.
I recently sold on my buckles (a gorgeous Wompat) which Ezra had grown out of, and I’ve been trying to rely on ring slings for all those quick to and fro journeys we do where I don’t necessarily want to wrap Ezra.
I converted my Girasol Romantique into a ring sling a few weeks ago in a last effort to get used to them, but alas, I just don’t like ring slings. I don’t. So it seemed like the logical next step would be to make a sling I can actually use out of it.
I’ve been doing a lot of chopping, hemming and wrap to RS conversions, not to mention doll mei tais, and a Mei Tai seemed like a good ‘quick’ option for dashes into the shop.
I borrowed my friend’s Monkey Mei Tai as a guide to what I liked and what I wanted to customise, and using this tutorial as a general guide, set about it.
I won’t do step by step instructions because the tutorial above is pretty awesome but my tips, if you’re thinking of making your own, are :
1. Measure everything about 5 times. Especially if you’re working with wrap fabric. I do this every time I chop or adjust a wrap because it has a lot of give in it.
2. Allow about an inch for seams and don’t trim them back once sewn. You’ll want to topstich through them. Sometimes twice or three times for any load bearing joints (straps etc).
3. Use extra strong thread. I swear by Gutermann. I used nearly 250 yards of thread for this project which worked out to be around £7. For thread! But worth it, obviously.
4. Make sure to boxstitch your straps. Some people don’t like the look of a boxstitch and opt for bar tacking instead, but I did both. Since I was using a middle layer, I boxstitched the straps on here, as well as bar tacked them on and then I box stitched again on the lining layer to make it extra secure. As in, this mei tai has some awesome passive redundancy going on.
5. Try, where possible to use good, high quality fabrics. Wraps are great, and I opted to use a wrap for both sides to give it a really soft but strong feel (really far better suited for carrying babies than any other type of fabric). Thick quilting cottons are good. Twill too, as is corduroy as long as it is not baby corduory. This is not good, won’t last and tears easily. Make sure the cord or fabric is so thick it lets in no light when you hold it up, and 100% cotton is always better.
6. And although it probably goes without saying, use an overlocker or an overlocking stitch on the layers, *after* bar tacking, to prevent fraying. Some more passive redundancy right there.
For the middle layer I used a thick, high quality cotton batting. I really hate polyester fabrics and I think cottons are just kinder and more breathable anyway, but there are lots of options for the middle layer depending on how soft or solid you want it.
I used two layers of cotton batting for the padding on the straps and waistband and then quilted it together (a quilting foot for your sewing maching is handy here) Quilting will make your waistband more solid so quilt as much or as little as you like.
I allowed about 4 inches of straps as seams to go into the body of the mei tai and about he same of the body to go into the waistband.
This was definitely a two day project, with kids around. It was pretty straightforward but there’s a lot of measuring and cutting and sewing, so time consuming.
I gave mine a pixie hood because I love them and pointy hats and hoods are kind of a thing around here (elf hats already on my needles), but a flat one would be easy to do too. I also added little cord loops to the straps so I can keep the hood up, if it rains or the kiddo is asleep.
The whole thing is reversible. And has added legs out padding for extra comfort.
And voila! I opted not to give it darts because this was on the big side for Ezzy anyway, but you can easily do so if you’d like to. There are so many options.
My first gown up, preschooler sized mei tai. Naturally, adopted by Ava. And I carried her for quite a while in it yesterday, with ease and comfort, which I guess is the real test.