It may not have escaped your notice that I am passionate about babywearing. I love carrying Lucas in a sling and I cherish each trip we take as a slinging duo, knowing that we’re getting closer to the day when he’ll ask to walk instead of being carried.
I’ve been thinking about making a mei tai for quite a while and mulling it over, letting the idea take shape in my mind. I’ve found lots of tutorials on Pinterest and Facebook and I’ve joined a few DIY slings groups on Facebook, all of which have provided inspiration.
This weekend was Easter and as my hubs had four days off work, I knew I’d have time to dedicate to this project. Like many crafting projects, it didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but what was meant to be simply a trial run has ended up being a usable mei tai!
Since posting the above pic on Facebook and Ravelry earlier today, I’ve had lots of positive feedback (thanks, Internet!) and a few requests for the pattern. Well, I didn’t exactly follow a pattern (as usual!), so I’ll share what I did in the hope that you’ll find it useful!
Fabric – I used cotton on one side and corduroy on the other. You need to use a sturdy but breathable material – cotton drill has been recommended. I’m planning to get some upholstery-weight fabric from Ikea for my next attempt.
Thread – You need a strong thread, poly-cotton blend is recommended, such as Guterman. Make sure you’ve got enough thread for your whole project (ahem…).
Sewing machine – I guess you could hand-sew it, but there is a LOT of sewing involved so it’s much faster on a machine (I did all my sewing in a couple of hours).
Ironing board and iron for pressing seams.
Batting or fleece for padding straps (optional).
I used this tutorial as a guide but made some changes, so I’ve outlined my method below. The straps as written were not long enough for me so I sewed some pieces together – next time I’d try and cut the straps long enough!
1. Pre-wash and iron fabric before cutting.
2. Cut fabric pieces.
– Main panel (2): 22″ x 20″
– Top straps (2): at least 62″ x 5″ (cut in 4 pieces if your material is not long enough to cut the full strap length)
– Waist straps (2): at least 32″ x 5″
I wanted a curved top to the main panel, so I cut the rectangle first, then drew a rough guide with tailor’s chalk at the top of one fabric piece, then cut the curve.
3. Sew pieces together to make top straps, if you need to (pin right sides together) and press seams.
4. Pin and sew straps right sides together. Finish one end of each of the four straps. Trim seam allowances and clip corners. Press seams and turn straps, poking out the corners. Press straps.
5. If you are going to pad your shoulder straps, cut two pieces of batting/fleece approximately 18″ x 10″. Fold in half and stuff about 3″ inside each top strap. Make sure the padding is stuffed without creases/folds and right to the seams of the straps.
6. Topstitch each strap. Depending on the thickness of your padding, you may need a heavier weight of needle for this bit.
7. Pin straps to one piece of main panel, leaving 2-3″ of each strap outside the panel. I used the tutorial as a visual guide here but I am going to rip out the top straps and reattach them to the top ‘corners’ of the carrier so I can get a closer fit when wearing my baby. You’ll need to use your judgement.
8. Pin second piece of main panel. Carefully sew together, maintaining seam allowance. Be careful not to sew the rest of the strap to the panel! Leave a gap at the bottom for turning. Press seams.
9. Turn piece and make sure you’re happy with how it looks and feels!
10. Topstitch panel. You may need that heavier needle again here.
11. Reinforce straps by sewing a square with an ‘X’ over the main panel where each strap ends (see tutorial for better explanation of this step).
12. Try out with baby – make sure you’re confident that it’s sturdy before putting your baby in, and inspect for unravelling threads or tears before using it each time.
There we go! This took me 3-4 hours in total, over three days so it really was a quick project and very gratifying.
If you use this tutorial, I’d love to see pics of your slings! Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: please note that I am not a babywearing expert, just a sling enthusiast, and this tutorial is intended as a guide. Please do not use this tutorial for commercial use.