Back when I dyed my woven wrap I mentioned that I planned to make half of it into a ring sling! Well, that sling was a gift for my friend Kelley. Now that her shower has happened, I can share a tutorial on how to sew a ring sling.
If you are considering making a selling ring slings as an at-home business please do your research first! There have been recent updates in the laws surrounding home made baby carrier businesses, and it actually quite difficult and expensive to start up....as it should be since you would be making something that is literally carrying babies! A lot of information can be found here. Obviously making slings for yourself or as gifts for your friends is not included in any of that.
On that same note, if you do choose to start a carrier business, I am not giving you permission to re-create this exact sling and sell it as your own. At one point I was actually making and selling ring slings and I spent a lot of time creating this "shoulder style" so that I could have a unique product, and I encourage you to do the same thing. Obviously, I have no problem with people making these slings for personal use though, or else I wouldn't be sharing at all! If you would like to re-blog this tutorial, please don't forget to give credit where credit is due!!!
- Fabric - you will need however long you would like the sling plus 6 inches. It will need to be between 20 and 30 inches wide. Skinnier slings are easier to adjust and work great for little babies, but as your baby quickly turns into a toddler you'll appreciate the extra width. I could make an entire post dedicated to safe fabrics to use for babywearing...instead, I'll keep it simple. Either use a woven wrap, 100% linen fabric, or Osnaburg. Any fabric store should have a linen section and you can usually find osnaburg with the utility fabrics. Do not use "quilting cotton" or "unnatural" (such as polyester) blend fabrics! They are not suitable for baby carriers.
- Thread - you need to use a high quality, polyester (which is funny, since you shouldn't use polyester fabric for the body of the sling) thread. I am a huge fan of Gutermann Thread.
- Rings - I only use aluminum rings purchased from slingrings.com. They are made specifically for babywearing and have the highest standard of quality testing. For the slings that I make you'll need a size large set of rings (each sling uses two rings). Do not use craft rings that can be found at fabric stores - they are not meant to be used with baby carriers and are not safe.
No matter what, wash and dry your fabric before you start to pre-shrink it. If you are using store bought fabric you will have to hem the edges first; if you're using a woven wrap it will already be hemmed.
Next fold the fabric in half the long way. At the end where you will be sewing the rings, measure in 1.5 inches from the folded edge and mark a 6.5 inch long line going down the sling.
Sew down that line.
Next, measure three inches out from that seam on one side of the sling and mark it.
Fold the fabric at that mark and sew another line right next to the previous seam.
Do that on the other side as well.
Fold the remaining fabric under so just a tiny bit is revealed beyond the previous fold.
Pull back your previous fold and sew down the final fold. I try to make the seam as close to the middle of the sling as possible so you can't see it beneath the other fold.
Do the same on the other side.
Iron down your pleats...
There is a sewn box pleat in the center and two folded pleats on either side creating a perfectly symmetrical shoulder style.
Pull the fabric through the rings and pin the center of it down. Your center seam should be aligned on either side of the rings and you pin where that seam ends.
Neatly fold in either side of the fabric going through the rings. I do this by pushing it in with my thumb; it reminds me of doing origami, haha.
Pin down either edge making sure the edges of the fabric in front and back of the rings line up.
I start sewing with a straight stitch up as close as I can get to the rings. Make sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam.
Then I do a more decorative stitch right below that. Again, back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam.
Then I finish with a tight zig zag stitch. (You guessed it...don't forget to back stitch at the beginning and end of the seam.)
If you are doing only straight stitches I recommend doing at least four rows of stitching, not three, but since I used two more "decorative" stitches this shoulder is more than secure! But, always remember to double check the seams of your carriers on a regular basis (like I mentioned in Babywearing 102 - Babywearing Safety)!!
Et voila! A perfectly symmetrical ring sling with both box and folded pleats that can comfortably be worn on either shoulder!
As always, if you have any questions feel free to ask!