Friday, February 13, 2009

Slings and things

Logan takes a ride in a linen sling
As many of you know, I have been making ring sling baby carriers for about a year now. I think I may be a running gag in my ward, since every baby shower that we have had (and there have been quite a few!!) has featured a sling that I have made. I love to carry my babies in slings, and both of them have loved to be worn that way. I have really enjoyed sharing that with the other mommies in my life, and I hope that all of them have gotten some use out of their slings. That is not, however, the topic of this post. Since I have made total of 19 slings to date, I thought I'd share what I have learned for those who might be interested.

This is a double layer sling. The polka dot fabric is gauze, and the solid pink is linen.

First of all, there are as many ways to make a sling as there are mommies who wear them. My favorite, for comfort, ease of wear and attractiveness, is a pleated shoulder sling. I learned to make them at Jan Andrea's exceptional website She has an amazing tutorial that is so easy to follow, (here) as well as several articles that she has written about fabrics, rings and other things. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel, so if Jan talks about it, I'm just going to add on. She also sells slings there, so if you aren't up to making your own sling (Don't worry, it's really easy!) please buy one from her!

This is one of my favorites! It is a single layer french twill bound with pink bias tape.

Fabrics - This is the first thing you will probably choose when you are making a sling. First of all, remember that this is holding a baby, so strength is your first priority. I have several favorites. For a single layer sling, I love french twill, wool suiting and linen. Be sure that they are bottom-weight fabrics. Natural fabrics breathe well and are generally easy to clean. I will say that a touch of polyester makes your sling more wrinkle resistant, though. Twill is a nice sturdy fabric that wears well, washes easily and doesn't wrinkle (much). My vary favorite, go-to sling is twill. Wool has many of the same properties, although it is a bit more wrinkle prone, but I think it looks a little fancier. Linen wrinkles like the devil (again, a little poly is your friend here), but is otherwise easy to care for, sturdy, and breathes beautifully in the hot Texas sun. As an aside, I have a sling made of fleece that I absolutely love! It isn't a good option if it is your only sling, since it does get hot as the mercury rises, but is is so comfy and cozy. Myra and I have really loved it this winter. For a double layer sling, I generally use a layer of shirt-weight cotton broadcloth and a cute cotton print. I have also used gauze and linen. Both have worked fairly well. The critical thing to consider in selecting your fabric for a double layer sling is that when you sew in the rings, you will have several double layers of fabric, so a really thick fabric will need to be balanced with something thinner (like with the linen and gauze). I once tried denim lined with satin. Seemed like a good idea at the time, and it was so cute! Unfortunately, it was nearly impossible to adjust, hard to sew (thick + slippery = lots of swearing) and hot. It ended up getting torn apart and made into clothes for the kids. I have read (and believe to be true) that silk also makes a wonderful sling. I haven't tried it, mostly because of the cost, but someday...

This is a linen single layer, edged with satin ribbon.

Edges - This isn't relevant for a double layer sling, obviously, since the edge has a nice clean seam. Topstitch it to prevent twisting and go. For a single layer sling there are plenty of options. The easiest is just to hem or overcast the edges. This works fine. I like to bind the edges of a single layer sling with bias tape. I think it makes the sling easier to use, since it is easy to find the rails when you need to adjust it. I also think it makes for a more attractive sling. I also hate hemming, so you may feel differently about this.

This is a double layer, brown broadcloth and blue/brown batik. And a small version for a child.

Rings - I don't have a ton to say here except remember that the rings have the very important job of holding your baby! Make sure that they are sturdy!! Please don't use craft rings from Hobby Lobby. They are fine for a toy sling that is not intended to hold anything live, but your baby is worth the extra couple of bucks. I use rings that were designed and tested for use in baby slings. You can get your own at I have also heard that you can purchase steel rings at a hardware store that are also good and sturdy. Just make sure that they will bear the weight (and wiggles) of your little tot.

Myra, snug as a bug in the denim/satin double layer sling. It sure was pretty!

Wearing - Get someone who has some experience to help! If I'm around, I'd love to help any of the mommies out there wear their baby comfortably. Barring an experienced babywearer, I found videos very helpful in learning to wear Logan. There are some great ones out there. Just search "babywearing" on YouTube and you'll find a ton! My favorite come from the Zolowear sling company. They are available here.


santino and polly said...

Holy Cow! I know you have made many of them but 19?! You are amazing! Thank you so much for making a sling for me. I can't wait to use it like you do.

DNAgallows said...

I every time I use my awesome sling, I send blessing your way. You are a life saver...really. Since our little guy was born in time for ending medical school, beginning residency and all the hoopla between, we haven't stayed in much. I felt so much better having him wrapped in close as he was so young. He also stays calm longer if he is in it...great for public nursing too! This has truly been the best gift ever. I never bought one, because I never thought I would use it so much. Thanks for proving me wrong! I love, love, love it! I too might have to sew another one. We are washing quite a bit.