My previous babywearing DIY blog post was the rainbow dye job, using a white tablecloth I owned. It measured 67" x 80", was 100% cotton and was very easy to dye. The tutorial on how I dyed it can be found here.
I have been wanting to try my own mei tai carrier for some time, and this was the perfect opportunity. A mei tai (pronounced like MAY-tie) is a type of soft-structured carrier (SSC), almost like an Ergo or Tula, but without any buckles. To secure it, you tie it in a similar fashion to a wrap. There is a body panel with two straps that go over the wearer's shoulders, and one waist strap that ties at the waist. Some mei tais are designed with rings at the waist instead.
For mine, I used a great tutorial I found on Pinterest. It gives you instructions on how to draft your own body panel, which I found a little on the difficult side, but you can skip the curves and angles and just make a large rectangle with the same width and height. Here is the tutorial:
Handmade Mei Tai Baby Carrier
I accidentally made my shoulder straps too narrow, so they are half the size they are supposed to be. I also added a hood, which I freehanded by making a rectangle and adding drawstrings to the sides. For the inner panel, I had a separate piece of osnaburg that I dyed blue. I wanted this to be a Rainbow Dash themed carrier, and will be adding a cutie mark to the hood! When not in use, the rainbow side of the hood is visible. My girl happens to hate wearing hoods, so it is usually hanging down, but when she falls asleep it is nice to have the option to pull it up and keep the sun out of her eyes.
Overall, I love this thing. It is super convenient, and very close to being a wrap, which are my favorite carriers. I am not crazy about Ergo carriers, only because I am petite and some of their waistbands are extremely hard for me to get tight enough around my waist. They are also (sorry, buckled carrier fans) a lot uglier, and I like my baby carriers to be beautiful!
I have worn this carrier all over town and at several events, including an amusement park. No stroller to park or maneuver through crowds and lines, and when she fell asleep, my husband tied her up and she stayed asleep for much longer than she would have in a stroller. That day, I had two other moms walk up to me and ask me where in the world I got such an amazing carrier, and I was so proud and happy to give them this blog and some basic instructions. I am currently finishing up a carrier made with my last ice dyed creation, so stay tuned for that one! I'll also be making one with a cotton outer, and will be taking pictures of the process, so there will be a tutorial with step-by-step instructions.
I'll also be adding a new section to this website: embroidery! Thanks for reading, and as always, I welcome any comments or pictures of your own creations! Also, if you are a DIYer and would like to be a guest blogger for a project idea you have, feel free to email me!
In this tutorial, I am dyeing fabric that I finished to create a size 3 wrap. Along the way, I will be going over what types of fabrics you can choose from to safely make your own DIY wrap. Woven wraps are great for carrying babes and toddlers of all sizes and ages, but they can get pretty pricey. My size 7 Ellvill Zara tri-green costs over $200 retail (best baby shower present EVER!). You can, however find plenty of other woven wraps for around $100 or less, and you can check my Resources page for some tips on getting wraps and carriers. For my DIYers, there are lots of options; the possibilities are endless!
Linen and cotton are breathable fabrics that are lightweight but still strong enough to hold 45+ lbs of weight, easily. I can back carry my 4 (almost 5) year-old in this wrap. A size 3 wrap is a good length for me; if you are a plus sized mama, you might want to try a size up, maybe a size 4 or 5.
If you are browsing a fabric store, you will want to head to the utility fabrics section. You should be looking at a wall of plain and/or natural colored fabrics such as muslin, linen, etc.
When it comes to choosing your fabric for something you will be entrusting your child's safety with, you want to make sure you choose the right kind. Here are some tried and true options:
Fabrics that are safe for wrapping are between 5.3 - 7oz and are:
Fabrics that are not safe for wrapping:
Once you have picked out your fabric, you will need to know how much to buy. Here is the handy dandy wrap size chart:
size 2 - 2.7 meters = 8.86 feet = 102.36 inches (2.84 yards)
size 3 - 3.1 meters = 10.17 feet = 122.05 inches (3.39 yards)
size 4 - 3.6 meters = 11.81 feet = 141.73 inches (3.93 yards)
size 5 - 4.2 meters = 13.78 feet = 165 inches (4.58 yards)
size 6 - 4.6 meters = 15.09 feet = 181.10 inches (5.03 yards)
size 7 - 5.2 meters = 17.06 feet = 204.72 inches (5.68 yards)
size 8 – 5.60 meters = 18.37 feet = 220.47 inches (6.12 yards)
Your wrap can be anywhere between 28" - 32" wide, depending on preference. I cut mine at 30" and hem both side about 1/2" each, which gives me a 29" width.
Click on "Read More" for some scouring, hemming and ice dyeing instructions:
Grad dye, ombre - whatever you want to call it - it's all the rage nowadays. Search for "ombre" on Pinterest and you will find everything from hair to nails, home decor and fashion. In the world of dyeing, it's usually referred to as "dip-dyeing" or as a grad (graduated) dye. The idea is that you have a darker color that fades into white, or into another color.
Last weekend, I had the privilege of converting another innocent person to the dark side. By dark side, I mean Addictive World of Fabric Dyeing. I was visiting a friend and she was looking for a good carrier for a toddler. It was my first time doing a grad dye, and my first time seeing a glue resist that actually worked!
The finished product was great, and I would post a photo but the "after" pictures include my friend and her kids and I respect their right to privacy. So for this tutorial, I will show you the grad dye that I did this week, for a long piece of fabric that I was given. It is some type of linen/cotton blend and had a 60" width, which means that it was wide enough to cut into TWO wraps! I am saving that one for my friend.
For starters, here is a list of what you will need for your DIY grad dye wrap:
I had some black and dome pink dye leftover from my galaxy wrap, so I decided to try a grad dye using both. I did have to pick up an extra packet of each color, so I had two 1.75 oz Dylon Velvet Black, 1 Tulip fuchsia and 1 Dylon Flamingo Pink.
It's totally OK to mix brands, as long as they are fiber reactive dyes, which these are. You can find these dyes locally, at Joann Fabrics, Hobby Lobby or Walmart, but steer clear of Rit brand dyes for baby/kid items. Rit dye is not fiber reactive, which means that it does not bond with the fibers completely. Because of this, if your baby sucks on the fabric, the dyes could bleed and be ingested. This also means that your colors will fade a lot quicker over time. I've seen a friend dye osnaburg with Rit and I was shocked at how faded it looked after the inital dye bath. :(
Anyway, my wrap ended up 138 inches long, 28" wide after washing, scouring and hemming. This is a few inches longer than a standard size 3 wrap. I did not taper this wrap and so far, I love it. Tapers are pretty on certain carries, but most often I just find them more annoying than helpful.
To start, make sure to wash and dry your fabric at least once or twice to allow it to shrink. Shrinking is a good thing, as it will tighten the weave. Next, you will want to scour your fabric. To do this, select a large pot (I use a canning pot that I found at a thrift store) and fill it with enough water to submerge your fabric. For my 3.5 yards of fabric, I added a cup of washing soda (in the laundry detergent aisle of Walmart and most grocery stores; it looks like this) and about a tablespoon of blue Dawn dish detergent. I added the fabric and turned on the heat. I let it boil for about 30 minutes, checking on it often to poke at it and stir it a little. When it was finished, I drained the water, which was a nasty brown-yellow color, and rinsed.
After it has been thoroughly rinsed, fill your pot back up with water and another cup of washing soda. Soak your fabric in this for at least 30 minutes. This will give you brighter, more vibrant colors and is especially important when doing a grad dye where you are diluting the dye.
Wring it out when it is done but do not rinse. It is now ready to dye, but in my case, I hung it out to dry (it is generally advised not to put fabric soaked in soda ash in an electric dryer, as it could be combustible), and then hemmed it when it was dry. I did this because I knew that I was not going to be able to dye it that day. I didn't end up getting back to this project for almost a week. When I was ready to dye, I was planning to just re-dampen it with water, but decided to just make a smaller batch of washing soda and water solution and wrung it out so that it was wet but not dripping.
You could, instead, hem it last. It's entirely up to you what order you want to do it in. The only advice I can give is that if you do it as I did, avoid spritzing it with water to dampen it, as it could make some spots that show up afterward.
Now for the fun part! Mix your dye and prepare the dye bath. To do this, I had a separate container and added one packet of dye and 4 cups warm water, as directed on the package. I mixed it until it was dissolved. I had filled my gallon water jug with water and added it to the rubbermaid tote that I was using, and added 1/4 cup salt and 1 cup washing soda. I mixed those together before adding the dye. I then mixed the second packet of fuchsia in the same way, and added it to the dye bath.
I folded my fabric in half lengthwise, then did an accordion fold and attached the top of the fabric to the hanger clips. To do an accordion fold, grab the ends that are folded in half and gently fold the fabric back and forth, making pleats in the fabric that are the width of your hanger clips. It should look something like this illustration:
Place your rod high enough so that only the very bottom of your fabric will be resting in the dye at the level it is right now. I did not have anywhere to rest my rod where it would be high enough, so I just draped the hangers over a broomstick resting on top of the rubbermaid bucket itself, and made sure to watch it the entire time so that I could be sure that it didn't drop into the bucket.
I set the timer for 5 minutes and let it sit. Meanwhile, I filled up my water jug with another gallon of water. When the 5 minutes were up, I SLOWLY added the gallon to the dye bath. Don't let the water splash, or it could make droplets on your fabric.
Now I set the timer for 4 minutes, and it was 4 minutes for every level thereafter. Anything more than 3-4 minutes could cause distinct lines instead of the gradual fade that you want. Every time you add a gallon of water, you can add more soda ash and salt. I forgot this step (oops) and it turned out great, so this step is optional.
After the fourth time adding water, I decided not to dilute the dye anymore, but instead, lower the fabric into the dye. At this point, the bottom rail of my wrap has been soaking in the dye for 28 minutes and had a stronger concentration of dye for the first 5. Now I was at the middle and lowered the fabric on the rod. If you are using a tension rod in the shower, you could just lower the rod against the wall. Or, if you have a pulley system set up, you would loosen the rope.
I did this step twice, and then transferred the fabric to my bathtub. While it is still on the hangers, I like to hang it up in my shower for a few hours to allow it to batch. I don't worry about staining my tub; it all comes out with bleach and a sponge. When that is done, I rinsed in cold water until the water is clear. Be careful not to rinse the untouched side of the fabric, so as not to rinse out the soda ash soak. After doing this, I then folded the fabric again in the same accordion fold, only now the pink end was clipped to the hangers. Time to dye the other side!
I repeat the exact steps with the other rail, hang it up to batch, then rinse with cold water until the water is clear (either by hand or in the washing machine). Next, I rinse my wrap on hot. You should be able to do just a couple of hot water wash cycles in your washing machine, just to get rid of any more excess dye, but if you have blue Dawn dish soap or Synthropol, you will want to add a small amount to the first hot rinse to help remove excess dye. If you have not already hemmed it, that will be your final step before you can start wrapping!
I was very happy with how mine turned out, and it was surprisingly easy. The hardest and more laborious step is the rinsing if you don't choose to use your washing machine, but if you have a hose and maybe a drying rack, you could try rinsing it out that way!
As usual, I welcome any comments, questions or suggestions. If you find this tutorial useful and make your own creation, feel free to post it below as well!
I am not your average petite body shape. I am not short, but I am skinny and have a small frame. I am 5'7", 115 lbs. Because of my small size, large wraps are a hassle. I don't have a large chest, my hips are narrow and my daughter is a thin slip of a thing.
My size 7 is wonderful for wraps, and I can't wait to try some new carries, like this one:
But, for everyday use, that is a lot of fabric for me. The Ergo is a nice option for easy on and off, but the hip buckle does not get tight enough on me. A future project will be a mei tai, which I will share on my blog, but for now I enjoy my shorty size 3 wrap that I made, which is shown here in an earlier blog post.
So far, my favorite carry with a shorty wrap is a hip carry, which my daughter loves. It's super convenient, can be wrapped while sitting down (tighten when you stand) and is comfortable. The only times I have noticed digging in my shoulder or some type of shoulder or back pain is when I haven't spread the rails and tightened properly. All it takes is a little practice and it will literally be the most convenient baby item you own.
First of all, the size of the wrap. A shorty is a wrap that is sized 2 or 3, which is roughly about 3-4 yards. There are so many beautiful woven wraps out there, and if you are looking for a brand new one, you might try some of these sites:
Alternatively, you could check out the many swap boards on Facebook, Babycenter.com or TheBabywearer.com for gently used wraps and carriers.
Of course, you could also try your hand at a DIY wrap, which only requires hemming. You can do this yourself with a basic sewing machine, or you can take it to a tailor for hemming (average cost is usually $20-25). Try to remember that women all over the world babywear using blankets, scarves, shawls and even towels, so as long as you are using a non-stretchy, tightly woven cotton fabric, it can work. I will be posting more on DIY wraps later, but for now, if you are new to babywearing, you might feel more comfortable buying a finished wrap.
Here are one of my favorite YouTube videos of of a great hip carry with short woven wrap:
No No No Hip Carry (No rings no sew no tie)
This video is one of the best. At 1:35, you see her tugging on the fabric and pulling it back and forth. This is what you do to find your top and bottom rails. A rail is the long edge of the wrap, top and bottom. When you scrunch up fabric, you don't want the top and bottom edge to be lost inside. If it is, it will not be tight enough and your carry will be loose and unsafe.
Another good feature of this video is at 3:02, where she tucks the bottom rail deep down underneath baby's bum. This gives the baby a good "seat", which will be more comfortable. Make sure the seat extends from knee to knee. Baby's legs should be in an "M" shape.
Some other shorty wrap carries include back carries, front carries and some that require one or two rings. Rings need to be weight tested and baby safe. A good place to order some are slingrings.com. They sell weight tested rings at home improvement stores, but they are heavier, not baby safe and will get very hot if left in the sun. However, it's up to you which ones you choose to use.
Another great, fast and easy hip carry that you can prep quickly:
Coolest Hip Cross Carry (CHCC)
Back carries you can do with a size 2 or 3 wrap:
Knotless Double Rebozo Back Carry
A good tutorial on all kinds of carries with short wraps:
Short carry techniques for size 2 or 3 woven wraps
There are plenty more, and I encourage you to browse the videos on YouTube for more carries. Practice makes perfect, and you can practice with a baby doll or stuffed animal if your little one is still in the oven., like I did:
Once baby is here, practice your wrap carries over a bed. When they are newborns, babies are so small and a large wrap like my size 7 is a lot of fabric. You might find a short wrap easier and less bulky. You might also try a stretchy wrap, like a Moby. those are shorter and easy to wrap; just keep in mind, however, that they are intended only for front carries, and for babies under 15 lbs. After that, the baby's weight will stretch the wrap too much to make a tight carry and is not safe.
I hope this "short" (ha!) post has been helpful, and has inspired you to give woven wraps a try! Not only are they great for all ages and sizes, but they can be the most beautiful baby related items you own. They can double as blankets or nursing covers when out, and when your child has outgrown them, you can re-purpose them for soooo many things (that will need to be a separate blog post one day!).
Thanks for reading!
First, I will preface this tutorial by saying that I own THE most beautiful wrap ever made: the Ellvill Zara Tri-Green, which is a cotton/linen woven wrap. I love this wrap, it is gorgeous and is a size 7, which is long enough to do every single type of carry, and is long enough for even my 6'2", 275lb+ husband to babywear either one of our kids. However, this also means that it is monstrously long for me, at 5'7" 115 lbs. I have a slight frame and very petite build, and wrapping in public is no easy feat when you are dealing with almost 6 yards of fabric.
I wanted a faster, more convenient way to back carry my daughter, so I borrowed an Ergo from a friend. I love the ease and convenience of the Ergo, but was presented with two problems (aka: First World Problems):
The solution was clear: I needed a shorter wrap. I did some research and found that a lot of DIY babywearers were using a fabric called osnaburg to make their own wraps. I learned that osnaburg has a strong, tight weave after it shrinks, softens and breaks in easily, and is perfect for dyeing.
I wanted a size 3 wrap, and I followed this guide for selecting how many yards I would need to buy:
size 2 - 2.7 meters = 8.86 feet = 102.36 inches
size 3 - 3.1 meters = 10.17 feet = 122.05 inches
size 4 - 3.6 meters = 11.81 feet = 141.73 inches
size 5 - 4.2 meters = 13.78 feet = 165 inches
size 6 - 4.6 meters = 15.09 feet = 181.10 inches
size 7 - 5.2 meters = 17.06 feet = 204.72 inches
size 8 – 5.60 meters = 18.37 feet = 220.47 inches
Osnaburg will shrink quite a bit when washed. This is a good thing, because it tightens the weave of the threads, but it means that you will need to buy an extra 1-2 yards of fabric. Fortunately, osnaburg is very inexpensive. I got mine for $2.99/yard at Walmart, and it costs about the same at Hobby Lobby or Joann Fabrics if you use their usual 40% coupon.
I bought a little over 4 yards and immediately threw it in the wash when I got home. After prewashing and drying it, I scoured it, which is recommended by many dyeing pros. Many people will use a large stainless steel pot, but I only had my washing machine. I filled the machine with hot water and added a cup of washing soda. I left it to soak for about 15 minutes, though some recommend boiling in a pot for an hour. I drained the water and did it again, but then went ahead and dried it.
The most fun I have ever had cutting fabric was with this next step. My fabric was 54" wide, way too wide for a wrap. The average width of a woven wrap is anywhere between 28-32". With osnaburg, all you need to do is mark your 30" (or whatever width you desire), make a small cut with a pair of scissors and....RIP! Trust me! Don't be scared. RIP that baby. The secret is in how the fabric is woven; it will tear in a straighter line than you will ever be able to cut, even with a rotary cutter. So don't worry, let it go...just pull on it and rip it all the way off until you have two pieces. It feels very liberating, doesn't it?
I had decided to do a galaxy dye, dark with black and blue and bursts of violet and pink. I was hoping that it would look something like this:
I wanted some stars, so I used some white Elmer's glue to dot some small stars, and then made a star-shaped stencil and a foam brush to make larger stars at random spots throughout the fabric. I let it dry overnight, but it didn't need that long. It was dry long before then, but I was not able to get to it before then.
I hemmed it with my serger, serging all the way around the fabric. Then I tapered the edges. A good set of instructions for tapering can be found here.
Up next was the exciting part. I bought a $1 plastic basket and a foil roasting pan
at Dollar Tree, and scrunched up my fabric until it fit inside of the basket. It was a tight fit, and I worried that the dye wouldn't reach all the way through the folds, but it turned out just fine.
Next, I poured ice on top. Crushed ice is nice because you don't have to worry about bigger pieces falling off and taking some of the dye with them, plus the smaller pieces melt faster and it is much more satisfying to watch.
After applying the ice, I opened my bags of dye. I used:
I sprinkled the black on first, around the edges, then the rest of the colors in a totally random manner. Then, I waited.
20 lonnnnnnng hours. I added more ice about halfway through, but it was very difficult to wait that long!
Towards the end, I was getting impatient. I took out my hair dryer and let it run on high while the bathroom door was closed. The room got very warm and the ice was melting a lot better. I alternated that with blowing directly on it with a hair dryer.