Well, it’s been about a month since I last posted. I’m not able to blog as much as I had originally hoped, mostly due to The Small One who now runs my life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I also haven’t been able to create much, craft, food or otherwise, especially on those days that my son won’t sleep except if I’m holding him. So what’s a mama to do except make a baby sling!
We have a Baby Bjorn, but he doesn’t like it when he’s sleepy, so I wanted to make one that was adjustable that felt more like he was being held. I researched ring slings, and they seemed doable.
I did a fair amount of internet research before beginning, as making a sling poorly would be a safety issue. Misused and poorly designed slings have resulted in infant deaths in enough situations that the Consumer Product Safety Comission has gotten involved in recalling many slings. Still, baby wraps and slings have been used in many cultures for centuries and can be used safely and can be beneficial for mothers and babies.
I found Jan Andrea’s website to be very helpful, and although I made my own pattern instead of using hers, she has a lot of great information including a fabric-buying guide. I bought the rings from Sling Rings, and if you plan to make a baby sling I would advise you to do the same. They’re made and tested especially for baby slings, so they’re the safest ones out there. DO NOT go out and buy craft rings, assuming they’ll hold up. They won’t, and your baby could become injured.
In the end, I decided to use linen due to its strength and breatheability. I used two different fabrics to make it reversible. The patterned fabric is 100% linen, and the solid is a linen/rayon blend.
Sewing them together was pretty simple, and I finished it off with a topstitch to keep the layers together better and for a more finished look.
I made my sling 34″ wide and used large sling rings.
The tricky part was how to attatch the sling to the rings in a way that would be functional, comfortable on the shoulder, and attractive. After much deliberation and research, I opted to use overlapping pleats that went in opposite directions from either edge, with a 6″ section in the center left unpleated. This is comfortable on either shoulder, but if I were to do it again I may leave only 4″ in the middle as it is a bit wider than it needs to be.
I underestimated how difficult it would be to actually sew the rings into the pleated area. The fabrics are both fairly heavy, and once pleated are quite thick. They were nearly too thick to fit under the foot of my sewing machine. I ended up having to put in lots of basting stitches to hold things in place before making the real stitches, including basting down the pleats so they would feed through the machine properly.
Overall, I really like this sling. My son likes to be in it and it is fairly comfortable for me, although still tires out my back if I wear it for a long time! He’s comfortable enough in it to fall asleep at times, which can be nice when he won’t fall asleep except in my arms.
The fabric does not slide as easily through the rings as I would have hoped, I think because of using two layers of heavy fabric. It may have worked better if I had made the sling only 30″ wide, or if I had used only one fabric. I don’t think either of these fabrics would have been ideal for using alone in a sling, however. The solid print has too loose a weave, and the rayon in the solid blend makes it more susceptible to wear, which may have proved problematic where it is threaded through the rings.
If you are considering making your own baby sling, I would encourage you to try it! It’s not too hard. In fact, this is the first major sewing project I’ve ever completed. And, to be honest, I hate sewing machines.
A few more useful resources:
Maya Wrap website has great instructional videos on how to use their slings, which are applicable to the type of sling I made. Before you use any type of sling, be sure you know how to use it. Your baby’s safety depends on it.
The Baby Carrier Industry Alliance website has a lot of information on baby-wearing safety as well as information that is useful if you want to sell baby slings.
There is also information on the Jan Andrea website listed above about the difficulties in selling baby slings.