I have written previously about my adventures in DIY babywearing. I am not a fan of DIY wraps. Compared to my commercially woven ones, the Mexican blanket material just didn’t cut it.
It quickly became cannibalised into a variety of other projects. Next up I made several ringslings with pleated shoulders and these I did like. I used a fabric called Mexican Poncho (this is thicker than Mexican Blanket) and they really were quite good. I even took one to Central Australia on holidays with us and it was fantastic to have one I didn’t have to worry about getting dirty.
After that I made another ringsling from a 2m off cut of a pavo wrap. This was by far the nicest ringsling i’d ever owned and I soon sold off all the others I made just to keep this one. It was just so comfy and so supportive!
Now finally I decided to take my hand to making a mei tai. I had owned a commercially made ByKay one which i liked for wearing in summer as it was cooler than a wrap and also was something i didn’t mind getting too dirty doing things like hiking etc. I decided to make a mei tai because if it turned out any good then i could see on my commercial one freeing up some cash. For this I used the free pattern at Barefoot and Pregnant Esquire and basically followed that. The only difference was that i straightened up the waist band and i didn’t include any internal adjustments as the biggest size was what i needed for my chunky baby anyway.
The fabric i used for this was all from Ikea. The straps are called Lenda fabric at Ikea which has great wrap qualities and the body panel was some kind of thick 100% cotton that was probably used to make curtains or couch covers. This pattern is amazing and i really like this carrier. So much so i sold on my commercial one. The only thing i don’t like about it is the heaviness of the body and i wished i’d used some kind of more lightweight fabric for that. But the straps are fantastic. And now i know i can make these, they are fun to do and work just as well as anything i can buy.
So in summary what is worthwhile to make versus buy when it comes to baby carriers. Well i personally would still stay far away from DIY wraps. I know some people like using osanaburg to make them which isn’t available in Australia so I can’t try that, but I can’t imagine that even that would be much chop compared to a commercial wrap when used with a heavy baby or toddler. Getting that much fabric also is quite expensive and can often end up costing as much as a commercial wrap anyway so that is why i’d personally always want to spend the extra $20 or so for a cheap commercial wrap over a DIY any day.
That being said if i had a newborn on the way i’d definitely be making my own stretchy wrap from cotton jersey. You just need 5m split lengthwise and no need to even hem and you have yourself 2 stretchy baby wraps. I’ll probably make some of those for friends with babies in the future.
Ring slings are also worth making, especially if you can get an off cut of proper wrap fabric. These are going to me much better than just using fabric from a craft store.
Mei tais are definitely worth it. My homemade one was actually MORE comfortable than the bought one. I think the reason mei tais start to be worth it even with just regular dress fabric is that they often have features like padding in the straps and this more than makes up for any lack of comfortable qualities of the material you are using. Following this same logic i also think that it would definitely be worth also making a soft structured carrier (SSC) similar to an Ergo or Tula. I know tonnes of people have had great success with a pattern available on ETSY callled SewToot. I think i’lll be trying it out in the future for my husband once my baby has grown out of his ergo and we want a toddler carrier.
So happy sewing and happy baby wearing!