DIY & Hacks

Homemade Babywearing Part II: DIY Ring Sling

Yes!  It is Part II.  I did not just do Part I and then wander off.  I got busy, life happened, the end of the school year drained me, there are so many reasons I was away for a while.  Me breaking my ironing board and not being able to press seams and hems for sewing had absolutely nothing to do with it.  And taking weeks to get a new one is completely reasonable.  I mean, it’s not like I can just go to Wal-Mart and pick up one for $15 or anything. Shut it. Moving on.  Today I am going to teach you how to make a ring sling out of a tablecloth.  Remember how last time we were left with half of one?

This guy
This guy

And I told you that you could turn it into a ring sling?  Well, I gave away the other half of my tablecloth so I had to use something else.  So we’re just going to pretend that I am.  Instead, I am using a woven wrap so there are extra steps you would need to do that I don’t have a picture of.  Mainly, you need to finish the edges like we did for the table cloth.  But I am confident you remember how to do that so I think we can skip it.  If not, check out that post for the how to.

The first step is to decide how long you want your ring sling.  There are size charts all over the internet, but the general consensus is ~70″ for small, ~75″ for medium, and ~80″ for large.  What length you need is personal preference, but you definitely don’t want tails shorter than your waist or longer than your knees.  Generally I just say match your shirt size to above and size up or down as needed.  Once you decide on a sling length you need to add 10″ to it for where the slings go.  You can get away with less, but I find it makes it easier to sew the lines if you don’t have a lot of bunched up fabric around the rings.  I personally like 70″ slings so I measured 80″.  If you are working with a wrap that has a taper then you should measure down the middle of the wrap, not on the edge.

Speaking of rings, where do you get them?  One answer. Slingrings.com  Sure, there are debates over steel rings and welded rings and so on.  But for your money, peace of mind, and weight, I will always recommend Sling Rings.  They are beyond reasonably priced (especially if you buy in bulk), because they are aluminum they are lightweight, and they come in a variety of colors.  You will want the large size. Choose a color that compliments well or heck, even a bright contrasting color.  Whatever floats your boat.

I went with Slate
I went with Slate

Ready to begin?  Good, cause here we go. Cutting.  Remember that you can only cut once.  And if you cut it too small then you’re stuck with a doll sling.  And nobody wants that.  Except your child.  So, hey, who am I to deny your precious offspring.  Lay out your fabric/tablecloth/wrap on the floor so you can get an accurate measurement.

Measure 3852 times...
Measure 3852 times…

I particularly love this wrap because it has straight lines on it. I used the one closest to my measurement.

3853...
3853…

And then take a deep breath, double check, and cut.

...cut once
…cut once

And breathe.

Scrap for playing with!
Scrap for playing with!

Now the next couple steps are entirely optional, but I think they make for a much neater finish.  I start by doing a zig-zag stitch (or serging) the raw cut edge.

Sergers are for suckers *sob*I really want a serger*sob*
Sergers are for suckers *sob*I really want a serger*sob*

Then fold over the edge about 1/4″ and iron.  Just like we did when we hemmed the wrap.

One extra step means cleaner edges for the neat freaks
One extra step means cleaner edges for the neat freaks

Then (and I totally forgot to take a picture of this so pretend there is one here) you fold over the edge again about 1/2″ and iron again.  This completely hides any and all raw edges.  Again, this step isn’t necessary. You could just fold once or even just serge.  But I think it’s neater and you can be less worried about fraying in the wash. Next we need to mark where we are going to sew.  My wrap has those lovely horizontal lines so I was lazy.  But if you don’t have those I highly recommend buying a seamstress pen and drawing lines.  It really will help you stay neat and straight.  You want to measure in 20″ from the edge so that you have the extra 10″ of length (minus the negligible length you used to hem the edge) folded over.

Measuring tapes.  I own two, but still have to hunt one down when I need it.
Measuring tapes. I own two, but still have to hunt one down when I need it.

Fold up the wrap until it is small enough to easily slip through the rings and then slide them on.

Freakishly long arm complete with blur!
Freakishly long arm complete with blur!

Slide the rings down and open the wrap back up.  You can neaten it up, but it really doesn’t matter at this point.  Just make sure you don’t have anything twisted or bunched weird.

IMG_2528

Flip the end over and pin along the line that you marked.  I would recommend pinning about every 2″ or so.  You are going to have to lay out as you pin as there just won’t be enough slack to lay it out nicely and then pin.  Your best bet is to pin the edges so you know it’s even and then pin the middle.

Multicolored pins means I don't lose track of them and then step on them.  Remember this tip.
Multicolored pins means I don’t lose track of them and then step on them. Remember this tip.

When all the pins are in place take a moment to examine.  Are there bunches?  Is there excess fabric?  Did you twist anything?  Ripping stitches is a pain in the ass so you want to make sure it’s all good before you start sewing.  If you have what looks like a functional ring sling without stitching then you are ready to go.

It will end up looking nicer, I promise
It will end up looking nicer, I promise

You are going to be doing 3 rows of stitching approximately 1/2″ apart from each other.  There is a reason to this beyond some anal retentive ass saying it needs to be done this way.  3 rows are so that if one row fails you have 2 still good.  And if 2 rows fail you still have one left.  Any more than 3 and you are putting too much stress on the fabric and are actually weakening it.  The 1/2″ spacing is so that you are spreading out the area of stress but not too far.  The first row of stitching should be right up to the edge of the fabric.  The second row should be 1/2″ over and if you folded your edge right in the earlier step you should be sewing it down with this second pass. Then the third row is another 1/2″ over.  Make sure that you are backsewing at the start and end of each line.  Also, make sure that you are using 100% polyester thread.  The unofficial standard in the baby wearing world is Gutterman and that is what I prefer to use.

I think people who sew perfectly straight without guides are magic.
I think people who sew perfectly straight without guides are magic.

And that’s it.  Seriously.  Clip your loose threads and you are done.  Now, wasn’t that easy?  Put that sucker on.

No!
No!

Umm, let’s try that again.

No means No, Mom!
No means No, Mom!

Uhhh…

Let's just ignore that face
Let’s just ignore that face

A little better…

For once Rainbow Dash is the less sassy one.
For once Rainbow Dash is the less sassy one.

Boom, there it is.  You will notice that since I was using a two sided wrap a different side is showing on the tail than on the body.  If your wrap/table cloth is reversible make sure you sew it with the side you want up.  While the sling technically is reversible about 10″ of the other side will show on your shoulder when you flip it.

I feel like I need to add a lense flair here...  Too many Star Trek movies?
I feel like I need to add a lense flair here… Too many Star Trek movies?

Here it is laid out both ways.

IMG_2537

IMG_2538

Need help using the sling?  We would love to help you in person at our bimonthly meetings.  Check out our tabs up top for all the deets!  Now go babywear.  Or Ponywear.  Or just wear it.  I know it’ll be pretty.

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3 thoughts on “Homemade Babywearing Part II: DIY Ring Sling

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