About 10 years ago I bought a refurbished Singer – nothing fancy but a solid little machine. I’d always wanted to learn to sew in large part because I always remember my mother sewing. I had a killer collection of doll clothes, the most adorable little kid outfits. And jams…remember the mid-80s jam craze? No one had a better stash of jams than my brother and me!
My initial efforts at sewing led to one set of curtains and a sad little skirt. But inspired by all my crafty friends, I’ve decided to dust off my machine and really get to know it. Of course, the internet is awash with tons of sewing tutorials, ideas, and patterns. I’m especially fond of all the fantastic ideas for repurposing things like old t-shirts that constantly pop up on Pintrest.
Being a babywearing nut, what I really want to make is my perfect mei tai, one that takes everything I love about those I’ve tried and combines them in one super fabulous, perfect for me carrier. And some of my crafty friends have been whipping up their own, giving me the courage …if they can do it, I can do it…right?!?
I have two things working against my budding sewing career – I like things to be perfect, but I am impatient! Not such a sewing friendly combo. I’m working on it.
In my Pintrest browsing, I stumbled across this great little messenger bag tute. Cute bag, right? But the best part is that she admits to cutting crooked and not always sewing straight. She’s even gutsy enough to sew off those slightly imperfect stitches with contrasting thread. But you know what? That little bag looks great! So off I went to make a bag – contrasting imperfect stitches and all 🙂
Here’s my end result…I made some changes to her basic design as I wanted a bag that tied at the shoulder as that’s easier when babywearing. I also learned quite a bit about sewing in the course of making this one little bag; pretty sure the next one would turn out much better. For example, my iron…yeah, we had to become friends for this one. And I probably should work on my cutting skills. But it’s a sturdy little bag and even kinda cute in a shabby chic sort of way (or at least I think so!). Oh, and in case you are interested…I used cheap Osnaburg from Joann’s for the outside and a half off remnant for the lining.
Feeling confident, I decided to tackle another project this morning. Callum picked out some cute puppy fabric the other day “to make something with.” Sounds like a good excuse to try out some mei tai construction techniques before I attempt a full scale version. Plus making a doll carrier is slightly more forgiving on the safety end of things 🙂
The DIY forums on thebabywearer.com are a wealth of information on making your own carriers (you will need to create a login to view these links). I wanted to try the pattern I plan to use for my full scale version (minus the padding), so I used this tutorial on attaching the straps via x-boxes to the center layer. For a “pattern” I took a sheet of printer paper, folded it in half, and rounded the top off a bit (so when unfolded the top was a shallow dome). I cut two layers of osnaburg using this and one layer of the puppy print. For the straps, I cut 2 shoulder straps of 4 inches by 40 inches and 2 waist straps of 4 inches by 20 inches. I probably could have made things easier by cutting those a bit wider and the body a bit bigger to give myself more of a seam allowance (still learning here!) – and it would have made the straps easier to turn. You’ll want to adjust the body size and strap length to fit your child too of course (this size seems just perfect for a 3 year old).
For the straps, I pinned them wrong side together (so my 4 inch piece was folded in half), then sewed up one short edge and the long edge (leaving one short edge open to turn them). Then I turned them right side out, pressed them and top-stitched all around (which you could skip but it makes them lay flatter). Once those were all finished, I x-boxed them to the internal layer as in the tutorial, sewed up the layers, flipped it, top-stitched the whole thing and…viola! The link above explains all this beautifully in pictures so check it out if you are so inclined.
I have to say, this turned out really well! So well that I may just go cut out a full size version later this evening!