Do you know what such a thing is? Probably not if you don’t have / are about to have / know someone who has a Baby.
I cannot promise that this blog is not going to become all ‘baby, baby, baby’, because apparently the little things are all consuming, so I might fail at thinking about anything else at all for a while, which means I’m unlikely to write about anything else. Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’ll just disappear from the blog too. Surprise!
Anyway, baby wraps are, in effect, just one long piece of fabric. There are lots and lots of tutorials about how to make one, entitled click-baity things like, ‘How to make a Baby wrap without sewing!’; ‘How to make a baby wrap for $5!’ etc. (I thought I’d give a click bait title a try. Not sure I won.)
Basically, the tutorials are this:
- You need a rectangular piece of knit/jersey fabric that is approximately 5 yard/metres long by about 50cm wide.
- You can hem or serge the edge if you want, but you don’t need to because knit doesn’t fray, so really that’s it. (Although there are a few tutorials telling you that you do have to hem it in case it frays, and I want to wade in, waving my arms around, but I won’t.)
None of the tutorials told me things what I, as someone who sews and who (sort of) understands fabric properties, needed/wanted to know:
- What kind of fabric?
- How much stretch?
- Which way does the grain/stretch run?
- Is it pieced? How did you manage to buy 5 yards/metres of fabric for that little money?!
The last is most significant if you are in Australia. There is simply no way you will find that much fabric – of any description – for small pickings. Wraps retail here for around $80 – $150 or thereabouts, depending on the fabric. This is a perfectly acceptable amount of money for the fabric content part of the wrap, without taking into account the labour involved (fairly minimal, admittedly) in the making of the wrap. A commercial wrap will be hemmed and have a tag/logo.
I did a bit of online shopping research, but nothing really told me which way the grain ran, or the amount of stretch. Plenty of wraps were made from bamboo knit, which makes sense if you’re selling to an Australian audience (cool and breatheable), as well as from cotton knits with varying degrees of Lycra/Spandex content. This meant that the stretch was probably pretty variable, but what was optimal?
I asked baby wearing friends what they liked about wraps, which didn’t actually help my research at all (I already intended to carry my baby in some sort of device; I should say I’d ruled out slings, because I did not like the idea of the metal rings. Slings tend to be made from wovens, and would have been great for summer but no, I just don’t like the idea of them.)
One of my awesome friends has moved quite a bit, and in that time had multiple children. She has used different wraps, and so was someone who could at least say which she liked more and why. Her favourite was the Moby Wrap, because it had the least stretch. I decided I would mimic the Moby Wrap.
The main complaint about Moby Wraps from the online community seemed to be how complicated they were to wear. I looked up instructions. It doesn’t look impossibly complicated. Also, I got origami skillz, yo. Also also, I used to be a rock climber; I can do complicated things with rope type other things (I just cannot call them by their proper names). I’ll be okay.
My next step of research was to get my hands on a Moby Wrap, because I still did not know how much stretch. We are trying, as much as possible, to not get sucked into the excessive consumerism surrounding all things baby (you can buy a pram for more than the cost of our touring bikes! Insane.) Gumtree had a bunch (yay! But also, plenty of people said that theirs was ‘rarely used’); I picked one that to get to me would be less than half price new.
When it arrived, it was in excellent condition. I didn’t know whether I *needed* more than one wrap (I think Partner and I can trade wraps when we trade carrying baby?) but thought maybe I would if I chucked one in the wash? Apparently babies are also gross.
From the foregoing, this is what I decided were the answers to my questions above:
- Fabric: can be any knit or stretch woven, I reckon. Any at all. Your main consideration should be breathability, because it’s probably a good idea to not suffocate your baby. I’ve been to antenatal classes and that’s what they said.
- Stretch: A little but not too much. I suggest less than 20%, and only 2-way.
- Grain/Stretch line: You want the stretch to run parallel to the long edge of your rectangle, and perpendicular to the short edge.
- Is it pieced? No. No it’s not. But can it be? I don’t see why not. The internet says not to, because you don’t want any weight bearing seams.
Well, tish tosh to that.
I had an approximately 3 metre-ish long piece of technical fabric, that was wicking, breathable and made from a bamboo/polyester mix (57.37% White Bamboo Charcoal (Tax bamboo), 42.63% Wicking Polyester) that I had obtained from Stretchtex. I had made a Megan Nielsen maternity tee from it for Japan, and though its properties were good, I did not like the colour on me (too see through!) I was going to have no other purpose for it, and could not see me offloading it to anyone. I thought it would be perfect for a wrap, with the right amount of ‘not too much’ stretch.
3 metres was too little for a wrap, even for someone my size. I wrapped it around me fine, but had no fabric left with which to tie it up. Your girth is relevant; your height is not.
I added a metre of extra fabric to each end of the 3 metres, by firstly overlocking with wrong sides together. I then turned that into a French seam, and then faux flat-felled the seam. If that’s not a seam that can hold the weight of a baby, I will simply have to develop awesome baby catching reflexes.
My baby holding faux flat felled French seam.
Then I overlocked all the edges, using (for the first time ever!) woolly nylon for my two looper threads. I increased the width of the overlock stitch to its widest, and decreased the length of the stitch to the second narrowest. Woolly nylon is a revelation!
Boringest photo in the universe.
Now I have two serviceable baby wraps. All I need is the baby. I’m making that, too.