ICBW

Homemade Babywearing Part I: DIY Tablecloth Shorty

To my horror I have heard more than one person say to me that they would love to babywear but they cannot afford it.  I think my heart breaks a little every time.  Of course you can afford to babywear!  Everyone can.  Fancy wraps and buckle carriers and $1000 price tags are part of the collecting world of wearing.  They are an option not a requirement.  So in this series I am going to show you how with a basic knowledge of sewing you can have a beautiful and diverse “stash” just like those who have spent thousands.  (And I should know because I am one of them.  It’s a hobby, okay?!)

And please forgive the photos.  I work exclusively with my iPhone and these were all taken at night with artificial lighting.

Our first carrier is also one of the simplest.  A tablecloth shorty.  These have gained quite a following in the past couple of years and I can see why.  In fact the brand I purchased, Mahogany, has such a reputation for amazingness that they often were sold out on Amazon.  Thankfully this is no longer the case and you can have your choice.

Your first order of business is to choose a tablecloth.  If the brand I linked above is a bit too pricey, hit up Target, Goodwill, your local thrift store, the list goes on.  You are looking for an all cotton or cotton/linen blend tablecloth somewhere in the 110″+ range.  Any shorter and you’ll only have enough for a rinsing (which is a tutorial for another day).  Holding it in hand you want it to have a little drape and be stretchy on the bias (diagonal) only.  It needs to be free of holes and any other safety concerns.  While I personally recommend a tablecloth I have seen people get satisfactory results with decorative shower curtains and window draperies.

I went the Amazon route
I went the Amazon route

Once you have your tablecloth in hand you need to prep it just like you would a brand new wrap.

You'll see that other tablecloth later...
You’ll see that other tablecloth later…

I intend to get into more detail on wrap care later but for the moment just the basics.  Wash on warm with a liquid detergent without optical brighteners.

Cold is okay, but we actually want the material to shrink now, not later.
Cold is okay, but we actually want the material to shrink now, not later.
My detergent of choice.  Can be found at Walmart for under $9.
My detergent of choice. Can be found at Walmart for under $9.

After a wash a quick trip in the dryer.  Try not to “bake” the fabric. It needs to be dry, not desert dry.  Then comes the fun part.

The only action my iron ever sees.
The only action my iron ever sees.

Please do not skip this part.  You may be tempted too, but it actually performs an integral function.  Actually two.  The first is it gives you back inches you lost in the washer and dryer.  Ironing relaxes the fibers.  I have actually had a size 6 wrap “grow” by 5 inches after ironing.  The second function is quality control.

You will find these.  Do not freak out.
You will find these. Do not freak out.

Anything that is woven is going to have flaws.  Weavers knots, loose threads, skipped threads, bobbin changes, broken threads, the list goes on.  Almost all of those are fine and do not affect function or safety.  Broken threads or pulls can be fixed. But you need to know they’re there.  Hence the ironing.

Freshly ironed and ready for some cutting.
Freshly ironed and ready for some cutting. Note this is folded in half the long way.

This is where you’re going to need some clean floor space.  I am blessed to have a sewing room with adequate space, but try a hallway or whatever room is big enough and empty enough.  I did a quick measure here just to see what I was working with.  Keep in mind I started with a tablecloth labeled as 60″ wide by 120″ long.  Half the wrap measured 29″ which is perfect.  Commercially available wraps vary anywhere from 25″ to 30″.  So right where I need it.   I didn’t get a picture of the length, but ended up with 111 of those original 120″.

Hey look!  A phone shadow.
Hey look! A phone shadow.

Now you get to cut.

Lazy cutting
Lazy cutting

You can be precise and chalk the line and be all professional about it.  Or you can be me and fold it neatly in half and cut in the fold.  Whatever floats your boat.  Now for more ironing!

You know you missed me
You know you missed me

You need to take one of the halves you just cut and hem the raw edge.  I recommend buying one of these.

Do they have a proper name?  I'm sure they do.  I like calling it my little metal ruler.  I'm not creative.
Do they have a proper name? I’m sure they do. I like calling it my little metal ruler. I’m not creative.

First you want to fold down approximately 1/4″ of the raw edge and iron flat.

Make sure to use lots of steam!
Make sure to use lots of steam!

Then once you have done that along the entire edge of the wrap go back to an existing hem and measure it’s width.  Mark the width with the blue slide on the ruler and begin folding over the edge you just ironed.

Measuring the hem
Measuring the hem
More ironing!
More ironing!

Once you have done this along the whole edge it’s time to sew.  I try to match my thread not necessarily to the fabric, but to the thread that was used in the original hem.  Makes it seem more finished.  You want to sew fairly close to the edge of the hem.  I personally like to line up the edge of the hem with the edge of the foot on the machine.

So close to done!
So close to done!

There is an extra step you can take here.  Most wraps have a middle marker.  With a wrap this short one isn’t completely necessary but it is helpful.  For a middle marker find something that won’t fray.  Ribbon is good but here I used a piece of bias tape in an almost matching color.  Find the middle of your wrap and tuck it into the unsewn hem.

IMG_1823

And you’re done!  Other than wash and dry this is something you could easily accomplish in an hour or so. And remember that other half of the tablecloth?  Boom, second wrap.  So now you have two!  You can pass the second one along to help defray the cost.  And just look at this:

Never mind, don't look.  It was late.
Never mind, don’t look. It was late.

I hope this helps you!  And if you are lost as to what to do with a short wrap I suggest you check out this awesome series of tutorials from Wrap You In Love.  Good Luck!

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4 thoughts on “Homemade Babywearing Part I: DIY Tablecloth Shorty

    1. yes! You would need to make sure you are using a polyester thread (the community preferred brand is Gutterman) for safety reason (polyester can’t snap like cotton thread can). You would over lap by at least 6 inches and sew vertical lines across the overlap. It will make that area of the wrap bulky so you’ll want to make sure you do it with a thin, soft tablecloth. But also, there are a large variety of carries a plus size person could feasibly do with the length as is.

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