A narrow blanket podaegi (also known as a nyia) is so versatile. Let me count the ways...
Yaro Quantum is a Doctor Who wrap and it was fun to turn into a skirt. I had a big scrap around 150cm and used virtually all of it. The pattern isn't directional. If you had a wrap that was you would need quite a bit of extra length for the same size. This skirt was made from the same pattern as the Girasol one (Collette Ginger skirt). I omitted the front seam this time and didn't cut on the bias. It was so much easier to sew (I think bias cuts are not well suited to wrap fabric). I was very happy with how this skirt turned out. I did noticed it creased a bit at the top by the end of the day (from sitting down) probably because this skirt is fairly fitted at the top and the wrap has some body/less drape than some other fabrics. It didn't bother me though. This skirt has a very flattering cut and I think it would look good on anyone.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of different waist styles? All the waist styles are comfortable to wear but there there are subtle differences between them. Below is some information to help you choose.
All of my carriers have a padded waist. When worn non apron style. a padded waist helps to transfer your child's weight to your hips rather than your shoulders. Padding can also prevent the waist band from digging in when worn to carry heavy kids. The waist is not too thickly padded though so you can also wear it apron style if you prefer. Wearing apron style (and sometimes rolling the waist too) is handy for shortening the body of the carrier when wearing with a smaller baby.
This is an option for meh dai's/mei tai's , half buckles and reverse half buckles (buckle shoulder straps). Pictured below is a reverse half buckle. I usually sew this waist as a continuous length double layer (11cm wide). Sometimes there is not enough continuous length in a wrap for this so I can usually get around that by sewing the waist in three parts and the ties can be double layer (11cm wide) or single layer wrap style ties. I will also sometimes sew this waist in two parts (joined in the middle of the wasitband) with double layer ties. It just depends on how much continuous length available in your wrap. If you have a preference just let me know.
Advantages: Can reduce the muffin top look (especially if you have single layer ties) as you can spread the straps out across your stomach. If your waist ties are long enough you can thread them through the shoulder straps for a waist free carry. A tie waist is very easy to share between different sized wearers.
Disadvantages: Can take a little practice to get the waist tightened effectively. Takes slightly longer to put on. You need to check you are untiying the right knot when taking baby down (shoulder straps should be untied first).
No Webbing Waist
Similar construction as a tie waist but this style has a buckle threaded through the strap and the ties are slightly narrower so it's easier to thread them through the buckle. The total length is shorter than a tie waist (approximately 70") so the length will not be too annoying when the buckle is threaded on (a buckle takes up less length than a knot).
Advantages: Can be used both as a buckle or a tie waist. Quick to put on and off when used with the buckle threaded. A buckle waist is easier to get a firm, tight fit and is handy if you want the waistband in a specific spot every time you wear it. You can't accidentally untie the wrong knot when using the buckle. Minimizes the muffin top look as straps can be spread out more across your stomach.
Disadvantages: The length may be short for plus sized wearers when used as a tie (but a longer length is available in custom orders). When the buckle is threaded on this style is not as easy to share between wearers as the fabric ties are not as easy to pull through the buckle (especially the single layer ties version). This waist is best adjusted before putting the carrier on. Once adjusted though you can just leave it set so it's quick to put on, as long as the carrier is not often shared with another wearer.
This waist adjusts with a buckle and webbing.
Advantages: Quick to put on and off when used with the buckle threaded. A buckle waist is easier to get a firm, tight fit and is handy if you want the waistband in a specific spot every time you wear it. You can't accidentally untie the wrong knot if you have a buckle waist and tie staps. There are elastic ties on the end of the webbing so excess webbing can be rolled up out of the way for a neat and tidy look. Easy to share between different wearers.
Disadvantages: If you are very petite you may prefer a custom length for the padded section of the waistbelt.
This waist has a ring closure. You thread the tail through the ring in the same way you would thread a ring sling. The total length of the waist is 155cm (length can be customized)
Advantages: In a back carry you can spread the fabric out across your stomach very comfortably and it is easy to tighten. Easy to do a high back carry without the waistband slipping or loosening. Very easy to share between different sized wearers.
Disadvantages: The long tail may be annoying for petite wearers (can by customized easily though). Can take longer to put on than a buckle or tie waist.
This waist has a closed cell foam in the centre and padded with fleece across your hips. It can offer extra support for heavy children by helping to transfer more weight to your hips. The hybrid waist can't be rolled like the padded waist can.
There are lots of reasons why you may want to remove the colour from a woven wrap. I don't strip wraps often now that I'm not really babywearing anymore but in the past I occasionally would purchase a wrap that I preordered or bought online that when it arrived the colour was not as expected. Sometimes the colour was downright hideous or sometimes the colour just didn't go with my skin tone, but I liked the pattern or the wrapping qualities otherwise. Stripping is also useful if you have a dark coloured wrap and want to dye a lighter or completely different colour. Some stripped wraps are actually rather pretty and can just be used in their new form rather than be dyed over.
Below is an easy method you can use to strip colour in your washing machine. I have have used it successfully many times. Be aware though that not all colours will strip. The wraps I personally tried have been fine except for one yellow wrap but I have heard that blue can be hard to shift sometimes.
Only strip plant based fibres. Don't strip silk or wool. It may be best to avoid bamboo too unless you can test a scrap first.
Firstly you need Dharma Color Remover (also known as Thiourea Dioxide or Spectralite). You can use this method in a washing machine (front or top loader). I use my front loader. If you prefer to use the stove top method follow the instruction on the Dharma site instead -
You need an equal amount of Color Remover to Soda Ash. To strip one size 6 wrap you'll need 100g or Dharma colour remover and 100g of Soda Ash (also known as washing soda and easy to find in the supermarket). For a ring sling just halve the amounts (and unpick the rings first).
Put both powders in the washing machine drum (not the detergent compartment). I put the colour remover in first and the soda ash on top. Then put the wrap on top of the powders and set the machine to wash on the 90 degree cycle with at least one or two extra rinse cycles.
Make sure your laundry is well ventilated as here will be a smell towards the end of the cycle. After the cycle wash again in 60 degress with your usual detergent. Your wrap will be a bit stiff and crunchy at first but will quickly break in again.
I came across this method in the natural mamas forum and there's lots of great tips in the original thread. Here's the link https://www.naturalmamas.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?133995-Stripping-is-easy-a-little-advice-to-mamas-wanting-to-do-so-)&highlight=dye+front+loader.
Here is a example of a wrap I stripped and dyed. This is Natibaby Linden. I preorderd this and it looks pretty in photos but the cream is really yellow and I didn't like it much when it arrived. I loved the pattern though!
Wrap stripped - the tan area is very slightly lighter and the lighter part of the pattern is now grey.
How to add embelisments, accents and pockets to your ring sling . This article was originally published by me as a pdf. You can find the pdf and other DIY patterns on my DIY page. Don't have time to sew? Custom orders are available. Please contact me for details.
Your ring sling doesn't need to be boring. Adding bling to your ring sling is easy! Some of these ideas can be sewn straight on top of the tail or a plain ready made sling and others require you to sew the accent on before you sew in the rings.
Adding ribbon, beaded trim, or braid is the simplest way to decorate your sling. You can create some great effects with ribbon or beaded trim. You can also sew a ribbon to the bottom or top of a fabric accent.
Fabric Accent With Optional Hidden Pocket
I generally don’t do accents longer than 42cm from the bottom edge of the tail so the accent won’t get caught in the rings if being shared by more than one wearer and the pocket (if you have one) is useable. The pocket will gape open if it is too close to the rings so take this into account when deciding what length of sling to make or the length of the accent. 30cm is a good accent height. You can leave a gap between the bottom of the accent and the bottom edge of the sling for a nice contrast or sew the accent right to the bottom edge.
Fabric Needed: width of finished sling + 2.5cm x (length of accent + 4cm (for pressing and hemming).
1/ Hem the top edge of your accent then turn and press bottom edge under 12mm. The edge of the accent can be right on the bottom edge of the sling or you can place it 5-10cm from the edge. If you don’t want a pocket in your accent you don’t need to hem the top edge, simply press the top edge under by 12mm.
2/ Press the two short edges under by 12mm.
3/ Pin the accent on the wrong side of the sling (the side with the seam at the rings showing and the side of the tail with the neat side of the hem), so when the sling is threaded the accent will end up on the right side. Sew the sides and bottom edge of the accent to the sling.
4/ Sew the top closed to complete your accent or follow the directions below to make a hidden pocket.
Adding a hidden pocket
5/ Divide the tail accent in three and mark with tailor’s chalk to the width of the accent. Sew three lines of stitching over your marks.
6/ With the right side of the tail (fashion fabric side) facing up, sew the top edges of two sections closed, leaving the middle section open to form a pocket.
7/ Cut one or two small pieces of Velcro about 3.5cm long. Sew one hook and one loop piece to the top of the pocket and the sling body to help keep it closed.
Tip: When adding an accent to a reversible sling, when threading your machine, put your top colour of your sling through the needle and the bottom colour in the bobbin. The sewing lines will be hardly noticeable on the other side. Alternatively use the sewn in accent method.
See the pocket section for some more examples of accent slings.
Length of material needed 74cm x 84cm (or double the width of accent you want plus 2.5cm seam allowance added).
1/ Put your sling on and decide where you would like the top of the accent to fall. No higher than around 18cm from the rings is a good guide, to prevent the accent being caught in the rings when making adjustments.
2/ Fold one long edge of the accent under 12mm. Pin on the edge of the sling or further up covering some of the tail (it depends on the finished length you would like, how you want the accent to sit and if you want to cut off any of the tail before sewing). Sew this edge to the sling.
3/ Fold the accent in half wrong sides together and pin the short edge on the tail, following your previous stitching line. Carefully pin the short sides together, then sew the two short edges from top to bottom. You can also topstitch along the bottom of the accent for a neater finish.
Overhanging Lace Accent
I think a very long lace overlay looks great on the tail of a sling but you can use a shorter length for a less dramatic effect. See information about accents above to decide on the length, just add some extra length if you want a tail overhang.
For the sling below which has a very long accent you will need about a metre of fabric which will overlap the end by about 25 – 35cm. After you have made up your sling, cut your lace to size and hem the end and sides, then iron the top edge over by 12mm or if it has a neat selvedge you can just leave it. Pin the lace in place and sew to the sling along the top and sides..
Sewn in Accent
This method gives a neat finish on a double layer sling. Decide how long you would like the accent to be then subtract the same amount of length from the side you want the accent to show on. Don’t forget to add 12mm seam allowance to your solid colour and accent fabric.
Begin with two the long pieces of your sling fabric. Sew the accent to your short solid colour piece, right sides together, turn right side out and iron. Sew the two sides of the sling using the reversible sling directions found in the Hipababy Ring Sling Pattern (see my DIY page). Find the turning hole and iron the seam allowance inwards. Topstitch. You are now ready to sew in the rings.
Patch pocket with optional flap and velcro clousre
The flap of this pocket is handy to ensure nothing can fall out of your pocket and if you place the pocket on the sling edge you can fold the whole sling up and tuck it up into the pocket for handy storage. You can use these directions to make a simple patch pocket and it is easy to alter the size of the pocket to suit you. The dimensions given below are for a small pocket, with the finished size of 23cm x 23cm. I use a 6mm seam allowance for the pocket flap and 12mm for the rest of the pocket
Cut your material to these dimensions – 25.5cm x 25.5cm
Cut the pocket flap 25.5cm x 18cm
1/ Hem the top edge of the pocket and press the sides under. Sew a strip of Velcro to the top edge of the pocket (right side). You can sew Velcro along the whole top edge or put a small strip in the middle or two small strips on either side. For a pocket with no flap sew the Velcro to the wrong side of the pocket. Sew to pocket to the sling. Move the top of the pocket out of the way a little to sew the opposite strip of Velcro to the sling.
2/ Right sides together fold the flap in half and sew around all edges (6mm seam allowance), leaving a hole for turning.
3/ Turn the pocket flap right side out, press and then pin and sew three edges to the top of your patch pocket. The flap will overlap the top edge of the pocket - by how much is your choice.
Patch pocket and border from a fat quarter
Using a fat quarter you can make a pocket and a border. You will need to piece the border together so choose a design which will lend itself to this.
For the pocket you will need:
32.5cm x30cm (finished size 30cm (wide) by 27cm tall)
For the border on the opposite side you will need: 7cm x width of sling, plus 2.5cm seam allowance.
To make the pocket:
1/ Hem the top edge with a 12mm rolled hem.
2/ Press under 12mm on the remaining sides.
3/ Sew two pieces of Velcro to the pocket top (on the wrong side).
4/ Lay the pocket on the sling where you would like to place it. Note where the opposite pieces of Velcro should go. Sew these to the sling.
5/ Sew the pocket to the sling making sure the Velcro pieces match up.
6/ Sew two strips of fabric (right sides together) with a 12mm seam to form a long strip, matching the design. Press the strip and then press all edges under by 6mm. Sew to the bottom of the sling.
Winter jacket upcycled from a pure wool blanket and lined with wrap scrap (Didymos Colourgrown). I only used about 1.5m of scrap - as I used another fabric to line the parts of the jacket you can't see. The wool fabric is from an upcyled blanket. It's so warm! Thanks to Twig and Tale for the pattern. I still need to add buttons so I'll update when I have done that. This was so much fun to make .
How did you discover babywearing? What was your first carrier? Did you learn from a babywearing group or a friend or did you learn on your own? I would love to hear your story! You are welcome to share in the comments section below. Here's my story.
I only had a front pack with my first which I didn’t love so I only used it for a few months and I don't even have any photos (but it still counts right?). In 1999 there was no TheBabywearer.com and no Facebook so I didn’t have access to a lot of options. I wish I had have thought of making my own back then since my son would have loved being carried more! Unfortunately I didn't start making my own carriers until baby number three - I stopped sewing for a while as I found it frustrating to working in little pieces of time and being constantly interrupted (used to it now though!).
Before my second son was born I saw an ad in the back of a parenting magazine for a Hug a Bub stretchy wrap and a corduroy padded closed tail ring sling. So I bought both - through mail order! I loved both, the rings sling especially for it's very handy pocket, though in hindsight the ring sling was probably unsafe (a single layer of corduroy is not a sufficient weight bearing fabric).
I later added a Maya wrap (loved the fabric but it was the old unpadded style sized only for for the left shoulder so it was a bit tricky to switch shoulders when I wanted too). Also had a mesh ring sling which was almost impossible to get comfortable!
Thebabywearer.com started up around then and it was so great to know I wasn't the only babywearer around - (the local babywearing group didn’t start up till years later when my fifth child was a toddler and I wasn't babywearing much anymore). I learned a lot from The Babywearer forums and found the photo tutorials really useful especially when I became interested in other styles of carriers . And for a long time my internet was too slow to load any videos!
(Apologies for the quality of some of the photos which are from my photo album, some are before I got a digital camera and some I couldn't find the originals).
I wore him (mostly in the ring slings) until he was three or so.
When I had my third child (11 years ago) a few small baby wearing businesses had started up (mostly overseas ) so I bought a few slings to try and soon after also started sewing again taking advantage of some of the free patterns available on the internet. So with my daughter I had a combination of bought and handmade carriers, mostly ring slings, but also some mei tai's (meh dai's) and an ellaroo podaegi. Although she preferred the ring sling out of all of them so that's what I mostly used!
Once I discovered how comfortable unpadded ring slings were I never went back to my bulky commercially made padded ones. I experimented with a lot of different fabrics for ring slings. I made many but could not find one photo! A lot of them can be found in my ring sling patterns however. Check out my DIY page and the 'Bling for your Sling' pattern for pics.
I wore babies four and five in all kinds of carriers and thoroughly enjoyed exploring babywearing with them. With my fourth child I also discovered woven wraps. My second daughter was quite happy being carried in a mei tai/meh dai so she is the one who helped me develop my meh dai and half buckle designs. I made my first wrap conversion for her (from a striped BB Slen wrap scrap and a Didymos colourgrown waves I had dyed a lovely woodland brown).
My youngest is five now and is most likely finished being worn. I haven't worn him in a few months. Below is a full buckle I made for him - he's four in the photo. At five he still fits, he just prefers other forms of comforting now. I will miss babywearing!
This pattern includes adjustable pouch with curved seam, non-adjustable pouch, ring sling with optional pocket in the tail and ideas for embellishments, and a mei tai/meh dai). Don't have time to make your own?Buckle doll carriers are available to purchase in my shop.
Need any help or want to show off your creations? Join my Facebook chatter group here https://www.facebook.com/groups/1374361185941904/
Child Sized Pouch With Curved Seam
Material needed –toddler 43cm x 89cm
- preschooler 43cm x 101.5cm
- primary schooler 43cm x 112cm
For a narrower width pouch suitable for small dolls only - cut to a 35.5cm width
For a pouch that will fit your child exactly, measure your child from the edge of their shoulder to the outside edge of their hip. Double this measurement and add 10cm. Add a few inches to this to allow for growth if desired.
1/ Fold material in half widthwise and lengthwise. Measure 5cm from the top end, then measure 4cm along the short open end – draw a gentle cure between these points.
2/ Open out the material. There should be a gentle curve or ‘smile’, on both ends. Right sides together sew the ‘smiles’ together. You can finish your sling now or sew a French seam (an enclosed seam) for a neater finish but it is not necessary unless you are making a reversible pouch.
3/ To make a French seam. After sewing the ‘smiles’ together, fold the seam over so the raw edge is enclosed and sew. This will leave an enclosed flap of material sticking out, sew this down to the sling carefully.
4/ Fold pouch in half lengthwise, creating a loop of fabric with one open side, this is where the doll will sit. You’re done!
This pouch will fit a child across all the size ranges given so you don’t need to make a new pouch as your child grows. If you wish to make it longer (i.e. to fit an older primary schooler) add more to the length and add more strips of Velcro spacing them as per the instructions below. You will need 45cm of 15mm wide Velcro for the basic pouch.
Cut material to 43cm x 122cm, then follow steps 1-4 above.
1/ Cut across the top of the pouch where it is folded, opposite the curved seam.
2/ Turn the sling inside out and right sides together sew across each open end. Turn right side out. Your sling will look like this:
3/ You are now ready to add Velcro. Cut 3 strips, 15cm each. Sew the Velcro to the end of the sling 12mm from the top and 1.5 cm from the folded end. Sew the Velcro to one layer of the pouch only, open out the pouch as you sew. This will give you a neater finish.
Sew the velcro strips to the sling 4cm apart. Repeat on the other edge of the sling making sure you sew on the correct side so the velcro will overlap when the sling is worn.
Cutting down and unused adult sized pouch to fit a child
1/ Turn the edges of the pouch under 4 cm and sew
2/ Use the above measurements from the doll pouch pattern, or adjustable pouch pattern or measure your child as described.
3/ Open out the sling so there is two layers only with the wrong side facing out. Measure out the size needed and pin or tack the sling along the top flat folded edge.
4/ Try the sling on your child. If it is correct sew across the top edge. You can cut off the excess fabric or when you turn the sling right side out, tuck the flap or extra material created underneath (or sew it down). You can let out this seam as your child grows.
The wider width sling is on the left. Both have pockets (the one on the right going across the whole width) and were made using child sized plastic bracelets for the rings. (note: the bracelets broke after a few years of light use so for a longer lasting sling you may want to use aluminum sling rings)
Fabric needed: 35.5cm width for small dolls and 51cm for larger dolls.
- 130cm for toddler
- 141.5cm for preschooler
- 152.5cm for older child
or alternatively drape a tape measure completely around your child’s body (shoulder to hip and let the edge of the tape hand down to where you want the tail to end, and use this measurement). You can also make the sling a longer length than you think you will need, then try the sling on your child, then cut and hem to the correct length. (note: a tail longer than your child’s knees may be a tripping hazard).
Sling Rings – Use child sized plastic bracelets (the ones I used were 5.5cm in diameter). You can also buy thin metal rings around this size from craft shops or alternatively you can purchase small size sling rings from slingrings.com which come in a great range of colours.
1/ Hem the long edges or your fabric.
2/ Fold and press one short edge down 12mm (not necessary for a reversible sling)
3/ Fold the sling in half lengthwise. This will create a pouch like pocket for the doll to lie in. The sling can be used on both shoulders but to switch shoulders you will need to rethread it so the open sides of the ‘pocket’ are towards your child’s neck.
4/ Measure and mark (15cm) across the top short edge.
5/ Gather the top edge in your hands and thread through the center of both rings. Pull the material through until you reach the measurement you marked earlier, then pin and sew along this line.
6/. You will now have a long piece of fabric with rings on the end. Thread the sling by gathering the short straight end, then threading it over one ring and under the other like a belt buckle.
7/ Try the sling on your child. Cut and hem to the desired length. Tip: One sling I made was too short so I sewed a contrasting fabric to the end of the sling (hemmed), using twice as much length as I needed. Then I folded it up and sewed the edges together, leaving the top open, to make a pocket.
Decorating your Sling/Adding Pockets
My podaegi like most western designed podaegi is a hybrid of different styles. It has a straight strap design (like a hmong, bei bei, or wide blanket podaegi) a body shape that is wider at the bottom than the top (a bit like a Hmong but without the stacked squares), a fairly long and wide blanket (like a bei bei) but can be worn in a torso carry (torso was only traditionally used in the wide blanket podaegi).
The narrow blanket podaegi was most likely a natural development from introducing the wide blanket podaegi to users with a different wearing style but it was also quite possibly influenced by traditional carriers as well. I think it can be reasonably argued that the angled strap podaegi is very similar to a nyia/hmong/bei bei style since it can only be worn with the straps over the shoulders. However Hmong/Nyia and other similar styles of narrow blanket traditional carriers are not used for a torso carry. The narrow blanket straight strap podaegi seen in the west can be. My podaegi can be used comfortably as a torso carrier, (and some of my customers certainly use it this way) - so while my carrier is a mixture of different styles I consider it more of a podaegi style (albeit one with a much narrowed blanket and one with other carrying positions and strap tying possible).
Some of my past customs.
https://interactchina.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/chinese-mei-tai-baby-carrier/ (blog from China. Top strap only carriers are also described as 'mei tai'.)
https://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/115678 - Hmong baby carriers in Minnesota: a material culture study. Chaney, Mary Alice (2011)
Beloved Burden: Baby-Wearing Around the World, 2015 by I. C. van Hout (Editor)
Bonding Via Baby Carriers: The Art and Soul of the Miao and Dong People 2001 by Yu-Chiao Lin, Christi Lan Lin, and Brenda Liu Lan
I love to sew. I have five curious and active kids who keep me busy!