Don’t have a carrier budget? Not sure if you’ll like this baby wearing malarkey? Can sew in a straight line? Here you go.
First thing: buy suitable fabric and suitable rings. You need industry standard rings, which can be obtained straight from slingrings.com or your baby carrier vendor of choice. (Nurture Nest, Karrie Tree Lane, Tinoki, Pixiemama) I prefer large rings for ease of threading and adjusting, but you might want to purchase a trial pack or a couple pairs in a variety of sizes.
Fabric: Osnaberg, bottomweight linen, or a woven cotton (preferably 100% cotton) is great. Your fabric should have a diagonal “give” without actually stretching. Mahogany tablecloths are fantastic, as are the beachy tablecloths I found on the clearance table at my local spotlight.
Wash, dry, measure and chop. I prefer to wash before I sew just in case of shrinkage. For a ring sling, you want about 2 metres long by 65-80cms wide. Lucky for me, my tablecloth was 230cms by 150, so I just hacked down the middle (following a stripe for a nice straight edge) and DONE.
Because this is woven, it WILL fray, so I highly recommend running a quick zigzag stitch over the edge or buzzing it through an overlocker if you have access to one. It’s a few extra minutes for a really secure and safe edge.
Fold, press, fold, press, straight-stitch SEW! This is a nice flat rolled hem. You don’t need to be picky about width; again, I cheated by using my stripes to keep everything straight. If you like to live dangerously you can just fold and stick in the machine, if you want to take your time a bit, (especially on a non-stripy fabric!) then bust out the iron. Having grown up sewing my own ballet leotards, I’m all about the wild crazy stiff like sewing without pins (GASP!).
Hem hem hem….
So now you have a piece of fabric that’s hemmed on all four sides (if using a tablecloth like me. If not, keep hemming). I want to do a simple gathered shoulder, so I lay my fabric flat and eyeball about a 15cm fold so the fabric can move freely around the ring and it’s not hideously difficult to sew. (If you want a more complex pleated shoulder style, check THIS out.)
Fold, (lining up stripes carefully) iron if you want to, and mark where the edge is going to lie. Since you have to pull it through the ring and then sew in place, you can pin your fabric along this marked line or line it up as you sew. (I like to put my first line of straight stitching in about an inch back from the edge, so my subsequent lines are along fabric that’s already held in place, reinforcing the existing seam.)
Every few centimetres I readjust my edge and realign with my marked line so I know I’m sewing the shoulder in straight. Once this line is complete, I just start again. Three rows of stitching is standard; I like to do four for safety’s sake.
Once your rows of stitching are complete, you’re ready to go. If you need to skill up, watch a tutorial video first… Refresh your understanding of TICKS…
otherwise enjoy being hands free in a front or hip carry! Ring slings are amazingly useful carriers – appropriate for tummy-to-tummy use with newborns, easy to breastfeed in, handy for toddlers and even a great alternative to ‘hipping’ a child around. They’re relatively cool for summer use and don’t take up much space in a nappy bag or car boot. Enjoy!