Sunday, 29 September 2013

COTW #35- Wendy's Double Hammock

by Aline Kelly

Wendy's Double Hammock is a great hybrid back carry - in terms of passes it is similar to Christina's Ruckless Back Carry, but it has a spread chest pass like a Double Hammock, has ruck straps, and finishes at shoulder. This carry can be tied with a size 4 or 5 woven wrap, generally a size down from what you would use to tie a normal Double Hammock. 

General instructions:
- This carry starts off-center. Drape your wrap over your shoulder so that it hangs to around your waist or your hip. Where the wrap crosses your back is where you will center baby. 
- Get baby on your back using your preferred method and create a deep seat from knee to knee. The first tail will stay over your shoulder and the second tail will come under the opposite arm. 
- Taking the tail coming under your arm, spread it wide across your chest, bring it under the opposite arm, spread it across baby's back and bum, and tuck it under baby's opposite knee. 
- Continuing with this same tail - flip it up and over your same shoulder, spread it across baby's back and bum, and bring it under baby's opposite knee. 
- Tie at shoulder, tie a candy cane chest belt, or do a knotless finish (video instructions below). 

Origin of the carry and photo instructions (login required):

Video Instructions: (BabywearingFaith) - Alternate finishes

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Babywearing Full Circle: Its Role In Human Evolution & Its Future Role In The Zombie Apocalypse

by Tami Grosset

What was the first human made tool? The arrow head? The spear? Possibly. But far more likely is the tool that has not survived in the archeological record..... the baby carriers made from animal skins and fibrous nets.

How did the early humans come to walk on two legs, rather than four? Darwin, amongst others, believed it was to enable them to use weapons and tools for defense and/or hunting but this theory is problematic since humans were bipedal a very long time before the earliest first found tools. Of course the very first tools and weapons could have been made from materials which, like the supposed first baby carriers, have not stood the test of time.

'Perhaps…the need to support an altricial (completely helpless) newborn may even have contributed to the evolution of bipedalism (walking on two legs), and some people have suggested that the first ‘tool’ made by early humans was some sort of sling or net carrying device.' 
Katherine Dettwyler, PhD, a professor of anthropology at the University of Delaware

Other anthropologists have suggested that early humans developed to bipedal to allow them to carry things like, maybe a baby!

It is my own personal theory that humans started to carry their newborn babies in their arms before they started to use tools and weapons. Of course, once they had spears to throw they needed a way to secure a baby to their body.

Have you tried to throw a spear whilst holding a baby in arms? No? Well, to be honest, neither have I but I can imagine its not easy!

I have attempted to throw a ball for my dog using our Chuck It, whilst holding a baby. Not easy, I can tell you! But with a baby in a carrier almost anything is possible, right!?!

So my theory is the following;
1) Humans walked on all fours
2) Humans walked upright, carrying babies in their arms
3) Humans walked upright wearing their baby
4) Humans walked upright wearing their baby and used spears and other tools for protection and hunting.

A bit like this awesome pic from Onya, in their fabulous piece on 'Evolutionary Parenting', except I would put the last two early humans the other way round, with the spear touting guy wearing a bub on his or her back!

Of course I'm no expert but it makes sense to me and as it happens both myself and a few experts in the field believe that babywearing was integral to the evolution of human kind.

Over the past couple of hundred years we've kind of forgotten about babywearing (thanks Queen Victoria!) and its timely that we're beginning to refind this fabulous parenting tool because, amongst other things, we all know that the zombie apocalypse is fast approaching! And you know what will allow the human race to survive this era of human evolution right?

Yup- you've got it!! Babywearing!! Just wait and see.

In the next season of 'Walking Dead' I am sure we will see baby Judith either worn in a grotty old Ergo that they've stumbled upon in a deserted baby shop or she'll be wrapped on a wearer in an old towel, sheet or tablecloth. In time she'll be worn in a high back carry and will act as a zombie spotter,  using baby sign language to point out the zombies on the horizon.  You mark my words.... it'll happen. And if it doesn't I may just have to stop watching because it just won't be believable any more!!

Clearly when our species is under attack from whatever source, be it a zombie virus, aliens or evolved apes, if we can wear our babies we can keep them safe and thus protect the further advancement of the human race. There will come a time when the world will be populated by humans who all babywear, because it will be the only way to ensure the survival of our kind.

Babywearers will rule the world!


Darwin, it seems, almost had it right when he coined the phrase 'Survival of the fittest' except it should have been...
'Survival of the babywearers'!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

COTW #34 - Front Wrap Cross Carry

by Aline Kelly

Front Wrap Cross Carry (FWCC) is a often the very first front carry that new wrappers learn. It is a multi-pass carry that is tied using a stretchy wrap or a long woven wrap, usually around a size 6.  It consists of one horizontal pass and two cross passes, making it secure and comfortable for feisty toddlers and snuggly newborns alike. 

General Instructions (this is one variation): 
- Place the middle marker of your wrap on the middle of your chest. 
- Take one side of your wrap under your arm, up diagonally across your back, and over your opposite shoulder. 
- Repeat on the other side. 
- Make sure the fabric stays smooth, flat, and doesn't twist anywhere. Both tails should now be hanging over the front of your shoulders. 
- Place baby into the horizontal pass on your front. Create a nice seat by tucking as much fabric as possible between your bodies. Make sure baby is supported from knee to knee.  
- Take one tail, spread it diagonally across baby's back and bum, and tuck it under his opposite knee to create a cross pass. Repeat on the other side. 
- Tighten your rails to get any remaining loose bits out. 
- Tie behind your back in a double knot. If slack remains you can bring your tails around and tie in front under baby's bum. 
- Spread your back passes evenly across your back. 

Photo instructions:

Video Instructions: (WrapYourBaby) Newborn, wrapped while holding baby, nursing, froggy. (BecomingMamas) - Older baby (10 months) (Wrapping Rachel) - Toddler/Preschooler, finishing variations

Variations and Tips:
- Newborns may have their legs froggied (drawn up beside their torso in a bent position). If you do frog legs make sure baby's weight is on their bum, not on their feet. Also make sure that baby is being wrapped in a natural position for them and their joints are not being strained in any way. 
- Cross passes may be bunched around the sides of baby's body instead of spread. This can be useful in warmer weather and is a bit quicker to tie. 
- You can pre-tie the entire carry and pop the baby in, making sure their legs are properly situated in the cross passes. Tighten up and tie off. 
- To tighten your horizontal pass it is helpful to pull your tails diagonally and up like a cheerleader pull. 
- The typical stretchy wrap carry is a variation of the FWCC called the Pocket Wrap Cross Carry (PWCC). Instructions are similar, except when your tails come over your shoulders you would tuck them under the horizontal pass before proceeding. This makes it so that the horizontal pass will end up over the cross passes when the carry is finished (instead of under them as with the FWCC). Photo instructions and tips for PWCC:

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Wordless Wednesday: A Week In The Life Of Laurel

I just came back from two weeks in NS with my family. I think everyone wore my little one at some point!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Wear? Who? Where? When?

by Tami Grosset

The babywearing community of Ottawa is exceptionally lucky! There are a couple of expert stores to help babywearers pick out and learn to use the perfect carrier for them and there are some great volunteer mamas who work as admins and hosts for OBG meets and on the Facebook page. This post should help you recognise our local babywearing rock stars and figure out where you can go for assistance.

Ottawa Babywearing Group 

The Ottawa Babywearing Group holds several meet ups each week. There are small local meets on Monday mornings in Vanier, on Tuesday mornings in the Meadowlands area and on Wednesday mornings in Kanata. Each Friday morning there is a meet whose location rotates from Kanata to the central area to Orleans. Details of all upcoming OBG events can be found on our Facebook page

Andria is our Meadowlands host
I have been hosting meet ups since June, and love it.  I love helping other people learn to wrap, or get to try a new carrier or carry.  When I learned it was a struggle, I had YouTube and a mirror, there was months of tears and frustration.  If I can help some one get through that part of wrapping and carrying quick that totally makes my day.   When I read a thank you later that day it bring me joy!
I started babywearing (and use the term loosely) with my first child  5 years ago.  When had a Snugli, a bag sling (now recalled) and a frame pack from MEC.  While I used them for the convenience they gave and enjoyment of keeping baby close, they where uncomfortable.  I then read about woven wraps, which were not as easy to find back then!  So it wasn't until I had my second 3 years ago that I learned more about ergonomic carrying.  I got to try woven wraps just before my third was born and I continue to use all sorts of carriers with all my kids.  5 minutes in a carrier/wrap can change a child's attitude for hours!  They are magical :). That is why I enjoy sharing with other moms (and dads). My kids and I looks forward to meet ups every week now.

Shelley is our Vanier host
I’m Shelley, a stay at home Mum to a 2 year old girl and 6 month old boy. My partner works in the fitness industry and so has non-traditional work hours, leaving me alone with both children for most of the day. I started babywearing in my first days of motherhood – I loved being able to hold my daughter close and meet her needs while I went about my day. With my son, he has been worn since he was just hours old, truly a necessity with them being only 19 months apart. By wearing one (or both!) I’m able to meet their needs – whether that be being able to make lunch, help with play at the park, nursing, making silly faces at my little or covering them with kisses. I’ve been part of the OBG since it started, we love going to the meetups where I’ve been able to explore new carriers/carries and develop friendships with like minded mums. I’ve been happy to help out with the Vanier meetups recently, and pass on my knowledge and experience.

Aline is our Kanata host, group admin and COTW mistress!!
I'm Aline Kelly and have been a member of the OBG since summer 2012, becoming at admin in early 2013. As the mother a deeply curious and sensitive toddler, babywearing has helped us bond, share experiences, and stay alive - many, many meals have been made with a tiny human strapped to me! We also bus and walk absolutely everywhere, and babywearing makes this much more practical. Several times we've had people stop us and say, "I see you all over town with your baby!" My husband is a happy babywearer as well. I truly can't imagine our parenting journey without it.

There are 5 general admins who are involved in the running of the group and will be seen frequently at official OBG meet ups. Aline is one with the other admins being...

Photo by Jenna Sparks Bradbury
My name is VĂ©ronique and I am the mother of 8 children ranging in age from 17 all the way down to 2 year-old twins. Babywearing since 1996, my husband and I have used all sorts of carriers, from a $25 Fisher-Price carrier, to a vintage 70's framed back-pack and everything in between. I discovered woven wraps after my twins were born and it was love at first sight! I became involved in the Ottawa Babywearing Group early in its existence and I host meet-ups at my house once or twice a month. Helping mothers find joy in nurturing their children and discovering the freedom that babywearing offers is one of my greatest motivations. People often ask me "how I do it with 8?" and the answer is simple: babywearing! If I had to choose one carrier to take on a deserted island, it would be a wrap conversion ring sling. When I am not cooking and cleaning for a crowd, I write on my personal blog  or on my babywearing blog.

Julie is a group admin and arranges the Friday meets.
I’m Julie Duncan and have been a member of the OBG since it’s inception in March of 2012. In June of 2012 I started organizing the (rotating) Friday meet ups which gave me a more hands on position within the OBG. Some of my closest Mommy friends have come about through friendships forged helping new babywearers wrap or adjust a carrier whilst chasing our own children on play structures, wading in pools or building sandcastles. 
I have two children (born 16 months apart) who have been worn since they were hours old. My mom was a babywearer and I remember loving the photos of her wearing my sister and I in an old school Snugli as well as in a framed carrier. As a nanny in my early 20s I bought a stretchy wrap and used it often with the young (under 1 year) babies that I was looking after. When our daughter was born we started right away with a Sleepy Wrap (now Boba) and never looked back. Babywearing has been foundational in our parenting from the day our daughter was born. Having two children so close together meant that it also became a survival tool. I believe in babywearing in the very depths of my soul. Wearing my “babies” (now 3 years and 19 months) has been one of the best parts of my day for the last 3 years. We have shared so many special moments wrapped closely together. I am lucky enough to get to share this passion with the customers of Milkface during my two shifts there every week.

Photo by Jenna Sparks Bradbury
Hi, I'm Nancy! I've been a member of OBG since 2012, shortly after our son was born. He was a snugly and needy newborn, and my husband and I quickly learned the benefits of Babywearing. We were able to carry on with daily activities such as walking our dog, cooking dinners together, even going out to restaurants and family parties, all while wearing our new babe! Now, at 15 months old we still enjoy babywearing for several hours a day; in the mornings before school/daycare/work, and after we're all home together in the evenings. I can't imagine not having babywearing and OBG in our lives now, it's made us better parents and has been a great way to connect with like minded families.

I'm Tami Grosset. I have been an admin of the OBG since it's birth back in March 2012. I have two children both of whom have been worn since newborn days. Rose, my youngest, is still worn when she's tired, sick or if we're off on a long adventure. As a very independent 28 month old she usually prefers to walk! Babywearing has been a huge part of my mothering. It has helped me keep my sanity at times, as well as enabled me to care for my children, pets, house, husband and my own needs!

We have two stores in Ottawa who have been instrumental in creating the Ottawa babywearing community. Milkface and Extraordinary Baby Shoppe are our local experts and retailers. Both stores are staffed by mamas who have worn their babies and can speak from experience. They also know their stock super well and are trained to help parents work their way through the sometimes overwhelming amount of choices to find the carrier that will work for you and your needs.


Milkface has two locations (Churchill Ave North in Westboro and Bank Street in Old Ottawa South) and can be found online at Britt Pegan is the owner of the wonderful Milkface company and was instrumental in creating a babywearing community here in Ottawa.

It's hard to believe it's been 12 years since I started Milkface. Milkface was born 6 months after my oldest daughter, Maryn. I was living in Toronto and couldn't find nursing clothing or baby slings in local stores. Ordering from the States was a pain so I came up with the idea for Milkface. We started as an online only store and moved to a brick and mortar location a few years later. We're thrilled to now have 2 locations in Ottawa as well as our online store.
From the beginning, Milkface has been focused on providing parents with education and experience as well as products. We now have 15 local moms on staff - all of whom have breastfed and worn their babies. I've taken a very active role in the babywearing industry. I was a founding Board Member of the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA) and currently serve as it's Chairperson. That role has offered me the opportunity to attend conferences and meetings on babywearing internationally, to influence babywearing advocacy (did you see our fantastic joint project with Health Canada featuring the OBG's own Tami Grosset?) and to meet some of the babywearing greats!

When you come into Milkface, you can expect a wide variety of a babywearing options and staff who are able to break down your needs and get you in the right carrier! Babywearing is riding a high in Ottawa right now and Milkface is grateful to be a part of that.

Extraordinary Baby Shoppe

The Extraordinary Baby Shoppe has one location in Ottawa, and another in Waterloo and can also be found online. Susie Pearson is the owner of EBS and has also been an Ottawan babywearing pioneer.

I started Extraordinary Baby Shoppe in 2003 when I was a mother of one; now a mother of four children, I have seen the business grow from a weekly Flea Market stall to two locations in Ontario, currently employing 13 mothers who often bring their young children to work with them. Extraordinary Baby Shoppe can be found at both 1131 Wellington Street W, Ottawa, ON and 24-26 Regina Street N, Waterloo, ON. When I started out in 2003, the Internet was still blossoming, and it was hard to source natural parenting products such as cloth diapers and baby carriers locally. I felt strongly that more parents would use cloth diapers, etc. if they could see them in person, or in the case of carriers, try them on. Our first carrier was a Snugli! We were the first of our friends to have a baby, and it was the only brand I had heard of. I saw my first ring sling at an Early Years Center playgroup, and from there, I dove into the world of babywearing. I loved wearing my newborns in a stretchy wrap and a ring sling, a soft-structured carrier for 4+ months. My all-time favourite was our Manduca carrier which I used daily with our youngest until she was 4 years old. My advice for any parents to be is to wait until your baby is born so you can try out different carriers with your baby before committing to a purchase – you may use your baby carrier for hours a day so waiting to purchase the carrier after your baby is born ensures you’ll find something you both like.

We hope to see you at an OBG meet up soon, or at either Milkface or Extraordinary Baby Shoppe and we look forward to helping you find the perfect carrier for you and your babe!

Sunday, 15 September 2013

COTW #33 - Christina's Ruckless Back Carry

by Aline Kelly

Christina's Ruckless Back Carry is a multi-layer carry tied with a longer woven wrap, usually around a size 5 or 6. As the name suggests, it doesn't have classic ruck straps - it ties with a nice chest belt that looks attractive and helps redistribute weight off the shoulders. This carry also has passes under both of baby's knees which makes it good for kickers and leg-straighteners. 

Origin of this carry and photo instructions by Christina (login required): 

General Instructions:
- Get baby on your back using your preferred method and create a good deep seat from knee to knee.
- One tail of the wrap comes over your shoulder, the other tail comes under your arm.
- While pinning the vertical tail between your knees to keep tension, pass the other tail across your chest, keeping it bunched, making sure it passes OVER the hanging tail. 
- Bring the working tail under your arm, spread it across baby's back and bum, and tuck it under baby's opposite leg.
- Secure this tail between your knees.
- Taking the hanging tail, flip it over the opposite shoulder from where it started (the "wrong" side of the wrap will now be facing out), spread it across baby's back and bum, and tuck it under his opposite leg. 
- Tie in front with a double knot.
- Spread passes over shoulders and chest as desired.

Video instructions:

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Taming The Beast... Breaking In A Beauty

by Tami Grosset, Aline Kelly, Hannah Radvanyi and Andria Bell

Every month Wrap Your Baby runs a competition in which a babywearing group somewhere in the world will win a wrap for their lending library. A few months ago the Ottawa Babywearing Group participated one such competition and whilst we didn't actually win we did incredibly well and Diana at WYB very kindly and generously decided to honour us with a wrap all the same!

The wonderful wrap arrived last week and with much excitement I pulled it out of the package. It is a Natibaby Pois Garnet  (size 6) cotton/linen blend and is very beautiful; purple with star bursts or firework explosions all over.

In braiding the wrap ready for bringing to its debut Friday Big Meet, I became exhausted! It was so hard to work with, I couldn't imagine how anyone would be able to wrap with it. This beauty was more like a cardboard beast!

At that meet in Kanata everybody was excited to see it and fondle it but no one wanted to wrap with it! Aline bravely took it away with her, ready to work on it and show it off to the Kanata meet mums.


(by Aline Kelly)
The first time I laid my hands on The Beast, the first thought that came to mind was camping tarp. I swear that if my ears were a little sharper I could have heard an audible crunch crunch crunch. The Beast took up space, too - people were surprised that it was a size 6, because it was huge! I was very excited to find out that I'd be getting first dibs, and I was not going to waste it. Pride swelled up in me. I was going to prove that I could break in this monster. I was in charge. I would win! And win I did.

First step was a bath. I machine washed The Beast twice in a row in lukewarm water and hung him up to dry overnight. This already did wonders in terms of breaking up the crunch factor. The next day I busted out the iron, turned it up to its hottest and steamiest setting, and gave both sides of the wrap a good thorough ironing. The beast purred and softened up a little more.

Now I got to play. We have a heavyweight chin-up bar in our basement which is ground zero for breaking in my wraps. My kid doesn't go for hammocks just yet so I make mama swings. I strung up our linen friend and climbed in, making sure to distribute weight evenly so all the strands of the wrap would be taking my weight. When I had to leave, I weighted down the swing with 80lbs of my husband's weights and left it there overnight.

In the following days The Beast was braided and unbraided, twisted, walked and sat on, snuggled, napped with, run over bars and through banister slats, and ironed several more times. Our wrap was a camping tarp no more! 

The linen was soft and malleable - still substantial, but wrappable! I felt proud as I wrapped my little man in it for the first time and took beast out for his inaugural walk. 

The Beast appeared at the following (Central) Friday Big meet, the next week. It was much softer and was actually wrapable but still had a way to go. We had some fun using it for a tug of war, which really helped to stretch the fibres.

Winner takes all!!
The meet ended with Hannah wearing it away. She had it for the next week where she would be schlepping about with at least one toddler and the Vanier mums would get a chance to meet our beast!

This was the first time I'd seen it used!!

(by Hannah Radvanyi)
I was excited to take the Beast home with me, as I have two chunky toddlers living in my house and knew that we'd have some fun with it. I put one of my tots on my back at the meetup and could tell that it needed some serious 'beauty treatments', but could also tell that it was going to be an amazing wrap once it was fully broken in!

For the first part of the week I had one of the girls up at least once a day; around the house, to the park, etc. Then we entered a heat wave and I could barely HUG the girls, let alone WEAR them!! Even so, I did a couple times and was pleasantly surprised to find that, though it was a thick wrap, it really wasn't the heat-trapping blanket that I was afraid it would be. We snuggled with it, made some hammocks, and definitely enjoyed having it visit our home.

At the end of our time with the Beast, we went to visit family for the weekend, and we got to show it off while playing Bocce!


On her return to Ottawa Hannah passed the beautiful beast on to Andria, the host of our weekly central meets.


(by Andria Bell) 
This lovely Natibaby linen came to me at a Tuesday meetup, I was soo happy to see try it out.  Yet I would be a week before I got a chance to.  That afternoon my middle child fell and broke his arm :(. Just before his 3rd birthday, which was the second reason for the delay.  
Once I got to try it out it was love.  I wore it a few times for quick ups at home, but then had a good day long wear, first it went I the chiropractors with us, then to a stop at the post office, went for a nice walk after lunch, then to the park for a little play time.  
I love Nati linen, they are thick and beastly but cosy and mouldable, even before being broken in.  I miss having this wrap around for sure; great colour, so comfy, easy to wrap with.
The Beast then returned to me and I could tell it was much softer and wrappable after this third visit. We took it with us for a week at our cottage where we hammocked it and used it on a few adventures. 
Now we're back in Ottawa and the school year has begun. The Beast is transformed into The Beauty and has a pic to prove it. These photos, taken by Kim Brooks at Breathe In Photography, are used in the Sling Library and they truly show off this wrap as a true Ottawan Beauty.
Thank you Wrap Your Baby for this most awesome of gifts! We love it and look forward to having more members show off their babies in it.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

COTW #32 - All about Mei Tais

by Aline Kelly

A Mei Tai (MT) is a traditional Asian carrier that consists of a rectangular piece of cloth with four straps that are tied around the wearer. These carriers are appreciated for being highly customizable to different sizes of users and can be used for front, back, or hip carries. 

Detailed information on Mei Tais and their different features: 

General instructions: 
When using a Mei Tai, in most cases you tie the waist on first, situate baby, then fasten the shoulder straps. 

Waist straps
The waist straps of the carrier are tied in a secure double knot around the wearer's midsection. For smaller babies, the carrier can be rolled at the waist in order to reduce the height (link below). Taller babies may need the waist straps tied lower on your hips, or for a high back carry, the waist straps can be tied right underneath the bust for maximum height. 


Shoulder straps
Options for tying your shoulder straps are numerous. Here are some common ties. I encourage everyone to add their own in the comments!:
For front carries, shoulder straps should be crossed over the back in an X. Further options include:
- Tie behind baby's back
- Tie under baby's bum
- Do full leg passes (over first knee, under the second) and tie behind your back
- Do a lexi twist behind baby's back and tie behind your back.
- Do reinforced passes over baby's back and bum and tie where comfortable

*Note that in infants under 3 months or so, straps should cross or be tied at mid-back to add extra support. This helps prevent chin-to-chest positioning.

With back carries, straps will come over both shoulders. From there you can: 
- Tie under bum
- Do full leg passes (over the first knee, under the second) and tie in front
- Cross diagonally over your chest and tie in front or back
- Do reinforced passes (spread across back/bum) and tie where comfortable
- Tie a half knot at chest and tie behind your back
- Possibilities are endless. More alternate finishes are linked below. 

Keep in mind that baby cannot pop their seat in a Mei Tai. Passes going under the knees aren't necessarily required unless you would like to include them. 

Photo Instructions for various carries:

Video instructions: 
Front carry: (BecomingMamas) - Newborn

Back carry: (BecomingMamas) Newborn and Toddler demos (Obimama) Toddler with spread wrap straps

Hip carry:

Nursing in a Mei Tai:

Alternate finishes (PaxBaby) - Sling ring at chest

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Making A Wrap Conversion Ring Sling

by Rebecca Hickman

This is part 2 of chopping a wrap. The first part walked through selecting a wrap, and cutting it into a shorter length. This tutorial assumes you’re using a wrap piece with an unhemmed edge, however, the same instructions apply if you’re starting from a whole wrap.

If you’re interested in making a ring sling from a completely unhemmed piece of fabric you bought from the fabric store, there are some additional steps you need to do (namely hemming the other three sides of the fabric) that I’m not discussing here. Jan Andrea of Sleeping Baby Productions has exceptionally good information on making baby carriers, safety, copyright and the like. In particular, she has good information on selecting fabrics and rings that you should probably read regardless.  If you’re interested in hemming your own fabric, she also has a good tutorial on how to use a hemming foot.

Selecting a Shoulder Style
Shoulder style for a ring sling is a uniquely individual preference. Many people adore Sleeping Baby Production’s pleated shoulder (she has instructions for personal use only on how to do this on her website). A simple gathered shoulder is very easy to do with some simple sewing skills and proper measuring and marking. Jan Andrea has good descriptors of the various kinds of shoulders.  In this tutorial, I'm making a gathered ring sling with some pleats thrown in. This is similar to the shoulder on some commercially available ring slings – I love a gathered shoulder, took a look at one and decided to try something similar. If you don’t think your sewing skills are up to making your own ring sling, SewFunky and Metamorphosis are some Canadian converters to consider.

  • Sling rings
  • Soft tape measure
  • Pins
  • Stitch ripper
  • Removable marker or chalk
  • Rotary cutter, mat & rulers (preferred) or scissors & large flat surface
  • Iron
  • Hem measuring tool (optional)
  • Sewing machine with new needle
  • Thread that matches thread used in existing hems (I used Mettler silk finish here, but Gutterman is also good and readily available)

*A very important note on sling rings – DO NOT use craft rings purchased at WalMart, Michaels or somewhere similar. or sell aluminum and nylon rings specifically designed and tested to be used in baby slings and to hold weight up to 250 lbs. They also don’t have a welded seam – a rough welded seam can rub against the fabric and over time, weaken it.  Yes, this means you may have to wait for them to arrive and you can’t make your ring sling today, but you don’t want your baby to fall on the floor, do you? It’s just not worth the risk. 

* A note on sling ring sizing – sells rings in aluminum and nylon, and in small, medium, and large. Aluminum is good for most fabric, but nylon can be a good choice for mesh or water slings. Small is best for doll or child-sized slings, medium for lighter weight fabrics, such as linen or twill. For a wrap conversion, your life will be much easier if you use large rings.

Sizing a ring sling is not a science, but more of a personal preference. Again, Sleeping Baby Productions has good info on sizing. In short, your t-shirt size is a good place to start, and ring sling lengths are (from rings to tail, not including fabric needed to fold over the rings):
X-small – 65”
Small – 70”
Medium – 75”
Large – 80”
XL – 85”

For most people, medium is a good size. Some people prefer a longer tail, some people like it shorter. Some people want it to fit both them and their partner, who are significantly different sizes. I wear a small or medium top, so I'm making my ring sling to be somewhere between a small and a medium.

Measuring & Squaring up one end
Since I'm working with half of a wrap, and I needed the other half  on an angle to rehem as a shorter wrap, the raw edge of the ring sling half is also on an angle. I want a straight edge to work with, perpendicular to the rails and along the grain of the fabric. My piece is also longer than I want.

Since one end of my ring sling piece is nicely hemmed on an angle, I'm going to leave that be. My length is being measured from the short edge of the taper. I want my finished ring sling piece to be 71” at it’s shortest point, so I want to cut 76” from that end to leave enough extra fabric to fold around the rings. Measure and place a pin at both points (71” and 76”), indicating where to cut and where you want your rings to end up. Since I'm using a quilting ruler & cutting mat, I don’t need to measure from the other rail.

Lay out your piece on your cutting mat so it’s nice and flat near where you want to cut and the entire width of the wrap is on the mat. You may need more than one ruler to be able to cut in a nice single cut along the entire wrap width. Line up your first ruler so that one mark along the entire width of the ruler is even with the top rail of the wrap, with the edge next to your pin. Without shifting the first ruler, line up the second ruler right against the first with the edges  and inch markings aligned. Remove the pin and cut along whole length of the wrap, making sure to hold the rulers in place with one hand while cutting with the other. Now you have a nice straight edge to sew your rings into, as well as a wrap scrap to use for other crafts.


Marking your pleats
In this tutorial, I'm making a gathered ring sling with a centre box pleat and an overlapping pleat on either side. This still leaves a fairly wide shoulder that you can gather or spread where you like, but with less total width than a simple gathered shoulder.

To make the box pleat, find the centre of the unfinished edge. I found it helpful to lay the wrap out along the cutting mat with the raw edge at the top. Mark the centre with a pin. Place a pin 2” on either side of the centre. Bring one outer pin into the centre pin to meet. Place a pin to hold the overlapping pleat in place. Repeat on the other side.

To make the side pleats, place a pin to mark 3” and 5” in from either edge. Bring the pin closest to the rail over to meet the second pin. Pin pleat in place. This is what it should look like now:

Continue the pleat folds further along the length of the fabric. Pin the pleats down about 5 and 10” away from the unfinished edge (the picture does not show this, do as I say, not as I do, it will make sewing in the rings easier, I promise). Press all the pleats using the appropriate heat setting on your iron.  

Finishing the raw edges
In order to keep things from unravelling, I like to finish my raw edge with a Serger or zigzag stitch. You may note I didn't do this when rehemming the chopped part of my wrap, however, in that part, all raw edges are hidden because there’s a hem running around all 4 sides of the wrap. In a ring sling, the very edges may peek out at either edge of where the rings are sewn in and I’d like to make it as neat as possible. I have a Serger, so I'm going to use that, but a zigzag stitch on a regular sewing machine works just as well. Note that you can just as easily do this step before you make your pleats, however, I chose to do it after because it helps keep the pleats in place and reduces some bulk. Please remember that a Serger cuts the fabric as it sews, so if you have pins keeping the pleats in place, be sure to remove them before they reach the Serger blade. Otherwise you will instantaneously dull that blade and it could end badly.

This part is simple – just sew or Serge over the unfinished edge of your wrap piece. I'm using white, because that’s what I have and it’s a reasonable match for one side of my wrap – Serger thread comes in more limited colours, and mine’s on loan from my mother in Winnipeg, so I don’t have access to her much larger thread selection.

Because my Serger thread is a mismatch, and because it looks nicer, I'm going to turn under the serged edge so it won’t be seen on the final product. If you used a zigzag stitch, I strong encourage you to fold over the edge. A zigzagged edge not turned doesn't look terribly nice after a year of wear.

Using your iron set at the appropriate temperature, press your serged edge over to the wrong side. A serged hem is generally ¼”, but a zigzag stitch may be wider, just fold over enough to the wrong side so that it all ends up hidden. If you used a zigzag stitch, clip the threads close to the ends of the wrap. If you have serged edges, leave the tails an inch or two long and tuck them under when you press the edge over – if you clip them close they have a tendency to unravel.

A note on what the wrong side is – some wraps, such as jacquard weave, have two very different looking sides. One is usually the “right” side and one the “wrong”. For this wrap, the dark blue side is the right side and the white-silver side is the wrong, so I'm pressing my hem over towards the white-silver side. Some wraps, such as Girasols, look the same on both sides, and the wrong side is usually the one that the hem on the rails is pressed toward. However, you may prefer to make this your right side when making a ring sling to avoid the hem pressing into your babies knees and neck. This is truly a personal decision and there is no right or wrong decision.

Where to put the rings
When you have your wrap laid out, it can look really simple as to where your rings should go and where you want  your stitching to end up. However, the second you shove that fabric through your rings, it will be much more confusing. I allowed 5” of extra fabric when I cut, so I want my rings to end up 5” from my unfinished edge, which means that I'm going to sew my seams 5” from there, or 10” from that edge. Place a pin on either rail 5” from your unfinished edge, and I strongly recommend drawing a line with a water or heat soluble marker or chalk 10” from your unfinished edge on the wrong side of your wrap. A couple of pins on either rail will not be enough. Learn from my mistakes and baste your pleats in about 9” from your edge. This will keep them in place until you've securely sewn in your rings.

Sewing in the rings
Now that your basting and line drawing are done, you can put your rings on. Line up the folded edge of your hem with the line you drew and pin in many places along the hem. Make sure your pleats are lining up on top and bottom, and that your pins catch the bit of hem you have pressed under and are holding them in place. Also make sure the edges of your hem along each rail line up nice and even on both front and back.

Pinned & ready to sew

In order for your ring sling to be secure, you’ll need at least three rows of stitching. I like to do the first row of stitching with the wrong side up, and stitch close to the edge of the hem. This will secure down the folded over edge. Starting my sewing on a piece of scrap fabric, my first row of stitching is about 1/8” away from the folded edge. This is why it’s important to use lots of pins to keep it in a straight line – it’ll look funny from the right side if the stitching isn't straight. I also like to pull my pins out as I approach them – this avoids my needle going over them, and my pins either bending or my machine needle becoming dull or breaking. After I finish my first row of stitching is done, I like to flip the ring sling over and look at. For me, because I didn't baste my pleats down, my middle box pleat opened up a bit. I ended up picking out my stitches and redoing. It was better the second time, but not perfect, so this is why I strongly recommend basting your pleats in place.

To do three rows of stitching, you can decide on how you’d like it to look. Three rows of straight stitches 1/4” or so apart is easiest and if you’re not very experienced, most likely to look well done. However, you can also do a second row of straight stitch about 1/2” away from the first, closer to the rings, with a third row of decorative stitch between the two rows of straight stitch. This looks pretty, but I find it difficult to get it straight and even between the two rows of straight stitch. Always make sure you backstitch at either end to secure the rows of stitches. At the beginning of a row of stitching, it can be hard to get going, so it may be easier to start just past the rail hem and then go back after, turn the sling around and sew from the middle out.

Once your three rows of stitching is finished, thread your tail through the rings and you’re done! You probably want to inspect it to make sure it’s secure before loading your baby in it, and be sure to inspect it after every couple of uses and after each washing to make sure your stitches are still secure and your fabric isn't fraying or coming apart. Once that's done, thread and enjoy your ring sling!