I'm in love with a sling, and you soon will be, too. It's called a mei tai, I think, and sometimes an "Asian-style baby carrier" and, for my purposes here, the cafemama my tie.
I first fell in love with the mei tie in New York City. Larissa had made one, using these very detailed instructions, and loaned it to me for my trip to the big city to meet the big company that had just become my boss.
I'm a handy seamstress - I sewed my own wedding dress, for gosh sakes. These instructions were targeted at the very most basic user level. Like, I borrowed my aunt's sewing machine just for this and have no idea what I'm doing level. I appreciate the need to cater to this group - I'm sure there are many new mamas also picking up a sewing machine for the first time. But, that's not me. And as such, the instructions frustrated me endlessly, because I had trouble figuring out where to start.
Here is my lovely sling. It's sort of hard to see, as I'm wearing black and the mei tai is a deep navy blue. It's made from a 98% wool, 2% lycra suiting, a wonderful, pricey fabric. I lined the main part with a fun-but-subdued cotton print and created, at a great deal of difficulty, an interior pocket that I will likely use not at all.
What do I love about it? First, it's classy looking. I picked the fabric so I could avoid the major issue I have with most slings: they're either (a) as crunchy as all getout or (b) to cute for comfort. Second, it distributes the weight well across my shoulders and back. Third, it's endlessly "adjustable" without having to pull and prod at clasps and buckles. You tie it, you untie it. It fits. Fourth, Truman seems to like this version better than any other. It seems as if he's warmer, more comfortable, and happier in this - plus, I've gotten him to fall asleep any number of times while I walked along.
Last night, I spent over an hour wandering the aisle of Target, Truman in the mei tai. He giggled, he watched, he breastfed, he fell asleep. And my back didn't seem any the worse for wear when I got done. That's a huge win, if you ask me.
So I'll give you the brief instructions - the experienced seamstress version here.
1. Cut your fabric into six pieces:
- two 21" x 23" 'squares' (these will be the front and back of the body, so make one side a different fabric if you want it "reversible)
- two 7" x 40-45" rectangles (the bottom straps to tie around your waist)
- two 7" x 50-60" rectangles (the top straps that will go over your shoulders, cross on your back, and tie under the babe's bottom)
2. Fold all the strap pieces lengthwise (double up so they are tubes 3.5" wide) and sew along the long edge and one end. Turn all strap pieces inside out.
3. Check the illustration on the long form instructions (caption: un-curved body: sewing and topstitching, far left-hand picture). With the right sides of your body sections facing one another and your straps positioned in each corner (with the one open end hanging out of your fabric and everything else buried inside the body section), seam the right, left and bottom side together. Turn inside out, and topstitch all around the body, closing the opening. Reinforce the bottom straps by sewing X's over the bottom corners.