Do you like the idea of babywearing, but the cost of a carrier has you crying?
We understand carriers can get expensive even for the basic models. And the price can reach up to several hundred dollars for designer ones.
In this article, we are going to discuss how to make your own baby carrier. We will talk about slings, wraps, mei tais, and we will even share a couple of no-sew options so they can be easily made by a mama of any skill level.
If you’re eager to start wearing your baby, keep reading.
What is A Carrier?
A baby carrier is a device made out of fabric that allows you to carry your baby safely and hands-free. There are several different types of carriers, some less complicated than others, including the structured carrier, mei tai, ring sling, and baby wrap.
Each of these carriers fits a specific set of needs, and in this article, you will learn to make all but the soft-structured carrier so you can see what will work best for you.
Why Baby Carriers Are Useful
A baby carrier allows you to hold your baby, keeping them happy, while keeping your hands free to tend to your other duties. With a baby carrier, you can do the dishes, mop the floors, and make the beds all while holding your baby.
A baby carrier also allows you to have more room in your vehicle when out and about because it can take the place of a bulky stroller when you are running your errands.
Benefits of Making My Own Carrier
There are several reasons to make your own baby carrier. One reason is your budget. As I mentioned before, carriers can get expensive.
Making your own carrier is also a great idea for moms who want a carrier that is custom fit to their body.
You can adjust any of these tutorials to create a carrier that fits your needs. These carriers can also be made as a gift for a friend, or in a mini size for your children to use with their dolls.
Choosing a Carrier For You
With so many different types of carriers available, it can be hard to know which one to choose.
Here is a breakdown of four of the most popular models.
1. Soft-Structured Carrier
A soft-structured carrier is the baby carrier many typically think of when they think of babywearing. It is a soft body with padded straps that go around the parent’s shoulders and waist. The straps do not tie. Instead, they buckle closed to keep the baby safely in place.
A wrap is a single piece of long fabric that the parent wraps around their body to carry the baby. Wraps are versatile and can be folded and tied in a different way to hold your baby on your chest, back, and even your hip.
A sling is a baby carrier used to carry your baby on either your hip or side. It goes over one shoulder and wraps diagonally around your waist. It is often held together with a metal ring that helps to tighten the sling and keep it secure.
4. Mei Tai
A mei tai carrier is a cross between a soft-structured carrier and a wrap. The body of a structured carrier is held onto you with strings that tie like a wrap. With this carrier you can hold your baby facing your chest, facing outward to the world, or on your back.
How Do You Make Baby Carriers?
The idea of making a sling might seem complicated and even intimidating. Don’t be scared though — even a complete beginner can make their sling with a no-sew tutorial. Below you will find projects for every skill level.
- Gather your supplies. You will need two rings made specifically for babywearing, 2.25 yards of fabric, a sewing machine, pins, thread, measuring tape, and an iron.
- Your fabric is going to be wider than you need, so first cut the fabric so it is 28 inches wide and still 2.25 yards in length.
- Lay the fabric so that the design is facing down and fold the longer side ¼ of an inch inward. Iron the folds so that they crease, then fold another ½ inch and iron again. Pin these folds to prepare them for sewing.
- When the longer sides are pinned in place, you will repeat step 3 with the shorter sides. These side hems will fold slightly over the hem of the longer sides.
- Starting with one of the longer sides, sew a straight stitch up that side, across the shorter side, and back up the other long side. You will leave one short side open. It is a good idea to backstitch a bit at the beginning of your stitching and at the end — this will prevent the stitches from coming out.
- On the side that is not sewn, measure 15 inches down and mark that spot with a pin.
- Take the two rings and run the fabric through them, starting with the unsewn hem. Pull the hem down to the 15-inch mark that you previously marked and fan the fabric out on both sides so you can pin the fold together. Make sure the fabric is not twisted at all.
- Sew the unsewn hem straight to hold the rings in place. Sew another line a ½ inch up from the original 15-inch mark, then another 1 inch above the 15-inch mark. That will give you three hems reinforcing the sling so it can hold the weight of your baby.
2. No Sew Sling
- Collect a piece of woven fabric just over 2.5 yards long. This can be any sturdy piece of fabric, such as a tablecloth or sheet.
- Spread the fabric flat across your back diagonally, so one end is over one shoulder and the other is around the opposite waist.
- Pinch the fabric that is over your shoulder to gather it evenly, then do the same to the tail end that is around your waist.
- Check to make sure the fabric around your back is not twisted.
- Tie a slip knot with the two end pieces of the fabric. To do this, take the tail in up and behind through the top end. Let it drop straight down, then take it underneath and over the shoulder tail again. Pull the fabric through the loop that you made, and this will complete the knot.
- Check to make sure the knot easily moves up and down.
- You can now loosen the fabric to create the seat section of the sling to place your baby into.
- First, gather your supplies. You will need a piece of fabric measuring five yards, scissors, and a serger and thread.
- Cut the fabric so that it is 5 yards long, but only 20-23 inches wide.
- Fold the fabric in half short ways, so the two shorter ends meet evenly.
- Starting from about eight inches in, cut off the corner by cutting through both layers of fabric until you reach the side.
- Fold the fabric long ways, so that the cut sides are now on top of the uncut side, and cut the other corner of the fabric through both layers. This makes the ends smaller and easier to tie.
- If you want to, surge the sides of your fabric to keep them from fraying. If you have a chosen a stretchy fabric, such as a jersey knit, this is not necessary.
4. No Sew K’Tan
- First, gather your supplies. You will need two t-shirts that do not have side seams, a pair of scissors, and a third t-shirt or a scarf.
- First cut off the two t-shirts at the armpits. Do the same if you are using a third shirt.
- If you are using a third shirt, cut it in half so it is one long piece of fabric.
- Place one t-shirt over your shoulder, going across your chest diagonally.
- Do the same with the second t-shirt on the opposite shoulder.
- To wear your baby in this carrier, place them into the inner t-shirt piece, and then place the outer t-shirt piece on top.
- Make sure baby is high on your chest, the t-shirt pieces cross at the back of the neck, and that baby’s airway is not obstructed.
- Now take the third piece of fabric, either the third t-shirt or a scarf, and wrap it around your back and over your baby’s back. Tie the fabric piece tightly to create more stability for the carrier.
5. Mei Tai
Supplies you will need before you start:
- A large piece of paper or butcher paper.
- 3.5 yards of fabric for your straps.
- Fusible interfacing fabric pieces for the body.
- A marker.
- Two ⅔ yard pieces of fabric for the body pieces (use two different kinds to make your mei tai reversible).
- Measuring tape.
- An iron.
- A sewing machine.
- Create your pattern for the body piece of your wrap. You will want it to be 19 inches at the tallest point, 16.5 inches at the bottom width, 13.75 inches at the skinniest portion in the middle, and the top angled corners at 5 inches each. That will make the top 9.5 inches in width.
- Using your pattern, cut four pieces of fabric in the shape of the body piece. One from each pattern you picked for the body, and two from the interfacing fabric.
- Cut two pieces of fabric for the straps that are 22×80 inches long, and then cut two that are 11×32 inches from the remaining fabric.
- Take the textured side of the fusible interfacing and lay it face down on the wrong side of your body pieces. Iron to fuse them into place.
- Do the same with the other body piece.
- Create the straps by folding them long ways, the right sides facing in, and pin the fold into place.
- Using your sewing machine, sew one short side and the entire long side so the strap is one piece with one short side open.
- Turn the strap right side out, iron it flat, and top stitch around all four of the sides.
- Repeat steps 7-9 to create the other three straps.
- Take one of the shorter straps and pleat it on the end that is not all the way finished, lay it on the right side of one body piece, making sure to leave ½ inch for seam allowance.
- Repeat step 11 on the other side of the body with the second short strap.
- Do the same with the longer straps on the shoulder section. Again, make sure to leave a ½ inch seam allowance on the body piece.
- Fold the end of the straps to lay them in the center of the body piece.
- Lay the second body piece on top of the first, so the right sides are facing each other. You will notice the ends of the straps are sticking out. This is to make sure they are secure to hold the weight of your baby.
- Pin the two body pieces together, then sew around the edge. Make sure to leave a 5- to 6-inch space at the top to allow you to turn everything through to the right side.
- Snip the seam allowances on the two curved areas carefully.
- Reach in through the top and turn your carrier right side out.
- Iron the wrap flat, then top stitch around the entire body piece twice.
Babywearing can be beneficial, but it can also get expensive. Making your own baby carrier can be a fun craft, and an inexpensive way to wear your baby. They will get the benefits of being held, while you get to have your hands free and your budget intact.
Have you ever made a baby carrier? Do you have any tips for those looking to try? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.