You will need to dig out the sewing machine for this project but it could be a great beginner project or something to ease you back in if you haven’t done much sewing for a while. This is basically a case of sewing rectangles to rectangles.
You will need 2-2.5 metres (2-2.5 yards) of 115cm (45”) fabric depending on how big you are and partly on how you plan to tie your sling. I would recommend a medium weight cotton fabric.
Making the sling:
First cut out three straps. They should be 25cm wide by 2-2.5 metres long. Next cut out two body panels 37cmx50cm.
Setting the body panels aside for now, fold each of the straps in half lengthwise and press. Turn the long raw edges under and press. At one end of two of the straps and both ends of the other, fold the raw edges under and press. The two straps with only one finished short edge are the shoulder straps, these can now be sewn down the long edge and along the folded and pressed short edge.
Attach the two shoulder straps to the top (short edge) of one of the body sections at 45° angles with the straps lying flat against the body and the raw edges pointing upwards. It is important to leave a gap for the seam allowance and avoid sewing right up to the edge, see picture above. You need only sew this seam once as you are going to sew it again later.
Pin the second body section to the first along the top and down both sides, with right sides together enclosing the straps between the two and allowing them to come out of the open bottom edge. Stitch the body pieces together along these three sides following the angled strap stitching at the corners.
Ensure that stitching is in a straight line across the straps, this will make it easier to turn the sling the right way out. Press the seams and turn the body the right way out.
Add some decorative stitching to the corners to add extra strength to the shoulder straps. Find the centre of the bottom edge of the body and waist strap and match them up inserting the body between the fold of the strap right up to the fold.
Pin along the entire length of the waist strap including the body in the middle part and stitch. You may wish to reinforce this row of stitching a few times for safety.
I have not included a hood or strap padding in my instructions but feel free to add these.
The hood can be made by by sewing a rectangle of the desired size (the distance between your shoulder straps x about 20-25cm) to the top of your sling and adding either some heavy duty snap fasteners, buttons or cords to the hood and loops to the shoulder straps to tie them to. If using padding it just needs to be bought and cut to the width of the finished straps and the length required. This can be inserted before the straps are sewn up and secured with a row of stitching down the middle.
Sourcing fabric and other info
The cheapest option for fabric is usually ebay. If you have a little more cash and would like to be a bit more ethical or eco in you buying there are lots of good organic and fair trade fabric sites available such as www.organiccotton.biz they also do organic cotton padding too!
Sling rings can be found at www.bigmamaslings.co.uk
Wearing instructions for a wide variety of slings and carrying methods can be found on youtube.com There is a massive selection of instructional videos available on here so it should be possible to find one that works for you.
Of course your new sling hasn’t been tested in the same way as bought ones might be so caution is always required but this is a basic rule of any babywearing. Once you’ve mastered the basic design you can adapt it to suit your own needs and embellish to your heart’s content giving you a truly original set of slings! Happy making!
Sarah Beverton is mama to two lovely little people and the founder of www.continuum-mama.com where you can find more info on sling making and other babywearing bits.