Guest Article on making your own DIY carrier by Bec from Flaming Ruby.
There is nothing more annoying than wanting something, wanting it now…. and being told to wait. And the royal pain in the plump behind of this happens to be in the babywearing community. You have never known frustration until you have joined an Oscha stalk or need a conversion slot! I can only relate it to being trapped under a sleeping baby, feeling hormonal and needing chocolate, and we’ve all been there, right?!
So it was, the frustration of needing a ring sling… I had no pennies on the PP tree, no slings I wanted to part with and a couple of sling rings sitting taunting me. So, I decided to make my own! It was no light decision, anyone that has ever loved anything and had to take scissors to it will know that knot of angst in their stomach as they prepare to cut…. There may have been a tear… Or two…. We don’t talk about it.
However, as impatient and impetuous as I am well know for being, there were a few steps between that light bulb and the moment of snip that even I followed….
How to make your own sling 101
1. A great excuse for more NM time:
The first thing on this journey is to read read and read, it saves wasting lots of glorious slings to the great loom in the sky and most importantly, keeps your greatest creation to date safe and sound.
Googling ‘make your own sling’ brings up nearly 4m hits, and not all are savoury. If, like me, you live life in the fast lane with the ‘explicit filter’ off…. So, making sure your source is creditable and trustworthy is of high importance if you don’t want to accidentally make a banana-hammock.
I stick to well known and long established carrier makers with a good reputation. Anyone with a bundle of good feedback in the natural mamas retailer feedback area would be a good place to start.
There is a dedicated area on NM called DIY which is a great place to hit up for links to websites that advise on how to make posted by people you know and trust and can feedback to you which they like and why. Starting a thread is great as it always raises things that you might not have considered otherwise and having a group cheer you on (demanding pictures) is an awesome motivator.
The Babywearer an American based but international site for Babywearing resources has an apocalyptic proportion of information on all types of home made carrier making, from meitai’s right down to using a bed sheet in an emergency (please don’t ask for photos or re-enactment) there was a lot and it was very overwhelming understanding all the options to consider but a great learning process.
It’s definitely worth taking a look at what BS EN say regarding requirements for safe carriers , however, it is unlikely any carrier you make will meet requirements since they are specific about things like leg holes, so don’t get too hung up about it.
2. YouTube is your friend:
So after you’ve read the whole Internet and am feeling confident you know what you’re doing, I recommend watching someone else do it first. There is a delectable buffet of links on NM to choose from, this will help visualise what might go wrong, how to put your plan in to action and get a more rounded picture…. Like the sheer enormity of space required for wrap straps. Here’s the favourite I found when I started by Jan of SBP. Try not to get distracted by the sneezing panda.
3. It’s pretty, but is it practical?
So you know how to do it, but do you know what you need? As everyone knows, babywearing can often be about trying many different wraps, slings, carries and positions before finding that perfect one for you and your mini-me. And unlike buying on FSOT, this is a labour of love, so better to aim for practically perfect in every way….
Consider positioning of baby; hip, back, front, high, low…. And also how it will fit the wearer since it has to fit two people at once! and ensure stress points aren’t going to leave anyone feeling uncomfortable.
4. A tool for every job & a job for every tool:
There is lots to consider here and, in my opinion, this is where having a forum full of people passionate about this shizzle comes in to its own. I was lucky enough to befriend Claire of Kitten Creations fame (after hours of dedicated stalking…there’s no where to hide at Big Camp) who has helped me (possibly begrudgingly but certainly lovingly) along the way with lots of my weary little questions but more, offering gems I might never have considered myself…. Here’s my favourites and a few crackers of my own:
Is your sewing machine up to the job? Sewing parts of carriers and ringslings can be thick and not every machine is up to the job. Remember to iron and smooth out all areas and keep it as flat as possible. Spend a long time preparing the item for sewing for best results when stitching it together.
Ensure your needle is right for the job, no point in them snapping every 10 minutes and potentially losing one in the fabric. That just won’t do.
The thread is no place to be cutting corners, take Andrex’s advice and ensure its long, strong and thick! Personally, I only use Gutterman for sling making.
Sharp snippers will make life so much easier, good clean cuts. To help get a straight line, some of the plain weave wraps will let you pull a thread out through the whole wrap leaving a perfect straight line to follow, that’s the right kind of pull!
Ensure you’re using the right materials, don’t buy cheap alternatives, they may not be good enough and again will risk your squidges safety. Make sure any fabric, rings, webbing and buckles are strong enough.
Rings should be specially made aluminium and weld free, slingrings.com is a great place to read about this. For UK purchase I go here http://www.ringsforbabyslings.co.uk/
Try and test everything as you go, if using padding, too much will make it hard and lumpy rather than soft and squishy, check where the straps will be sitting on you, if using Velcro check its not going to be close to skin, is the fabric taking well? Does it need reinforcing? There’s lots to think about, but your head is reciting it 10 commandments stylee after all the reading you did to start.
6. The final countdown..
Obviously you’ve been squeeing about your progress all over Facebook along the way, so you want to make sure you can hold your head up high with the finished product, putting your squish in and having it fall apart not only would be scarier than damaging your uppy but you’d also be forced to revisit the memory with the monthly ‘babywearing fails’ threads that will always appear like clockwork. Don’t take short cuts, if you’ve never made a carrier before you won’t know the effect that short cut might have well enough to chance it. Rectify mistakes immediately, don’t risk forgetting, if like me you’re more guppy than elephant in the memory department, then it might be better to avoid using pins, a screaming bleeding child is not the way you want to discover that you forgot to remove one pin, use pegs instead and avoid the bloodbath entirely.
7. And if it doesn’t work out: go buy one! NM FSOT has everything from bargainous used carriers to brand new custom made dripping in gorgeousness. It is widely thought that most carriers require some ‘breaking in’ to make them soft and at their most comfortable, and so actually buying used is often a lot more sought after than new.
You can buy mei tai’s & ring slings brand new from Didymos , Hoppendiz, Connecta, Rose and Rebellion, Maya wrap,Lenny Lamb and many others.
There are loads of awesome WAHMs with slot spaces that are worth stalking too, here are some of my current favourites…. Kitten Creations, Up & Away, Spaghetti Slings, Monkey Mei tai and Cwtch Carriers. For advice on how to select who you want to work on your carrier, check out this article.
And if it does go well, why not help a poor frustrated soul sitting on a waiting list and start making slings professionally… Here’s a great place to start.