Monday, March 31, 2014

DIY Infinity, aka convertible, aka multi wrap dress

Fast, easy, and inexpensive convertible dress

I was fooling around online one evening and I don't remember how I stumbled across these dresses, but they're just so cool!  They are dresses that allow you to wear them a million different ways.  I'm a babywearer and I have used woven wraps for well over a year now so maybe that's why it appealed to me so much.  Or perhaps it's the fact that it is just a giant circle with a hole cut out for the waist and two crazy long straps attached.  Plus a waistband to keep it from falling down.  That's it.  If you buy the right fabric you don't even have to hem it because it won't unravel.  A cool dress I can make in three hours that looks fabulous?  Right up my alley!

The only down side with the ones I saw online, whether ready made or DIY, was that it's pretty bare.  I have a small bust so I never show cleavage.  I mean, I have cleavage, it's just 6" wide.  And side boob? Uh uh, ain't gonna happen.  I'm a 40-something mom who's breastfed kids, after all.  So I was concerned that if it was too revealing I'd never wear it.  In the photo below, the straps just barely covered my chest and honestly, while this would be great for dinner out with hubby on date night, I wouldn't wear it with clients even if it were 100 degrees out.

Enter this tutorial:

She made a detachable tube top to wear under it.  I tried it with my first attempt, the purple dress above,  and now it was TOO conservative for me.  I wanted to find that perfect line between skimpy and frumpy.

So as I was searching for an alternative I saw this photo on Amazon.

This was perfect!  It's like an empire waist strapless dress with the infinity straps.  So I made the waistband from Cate's blog post taller and voila, exactly what I wanted!

Now for the specifics:

When I made the purple dress I used polyester/spandex I found at Joann's Fabric for $15/yard (on sale for $10.)  I bought 4 yards and had lots left over so I probably could have gotten away with 3 or so.  It's stretchy and has a lovely drape and was somewhat thick.  You wouldn't necessarily need a bra under it but I use those self adhesive bras that hook together in the front.  They are unbelievably awesome and are right up there with the wheel and sliced bread in my book.  In the summer I wear them almost every day.

For this project I totally lucked out and found a stretch jersey knit for $1.50/yard at Walmart, so I bought 6 yards for $9.00!  It's like a t-shirt.  Very soft, quite thin but not transparent, and most importantly it doesn't need to be hemmed because it doesn't unravel when you cut it.

I decided to do a handkerchief hem this time just for kicks.  I did a circle skirt with the purple dress and had it hit just below my knees.  For me, that was 26" long but I'm 6'1".  For the handkerchief hem it's even easier than a circle skirt.  Start by folding your fabric in half lengthwise.  Match up the selvedges and cut off about 1" where all those little perforations are.  Then fold it in half again crosswise (imagine you're making a paper snowflake.)  Hold the edge that's folded twice in front of you at waist level.

Figure out where you want the dress to end and mark it with a pin.  Then lay it back down flat and measure what that length was.  For me it was 29".  Cut straight across WITH A ROTARY CUTTER AND MAT!   I can't stress this enough.  I made the first dress with scissors and the edges are wonky.  The rotary cutter is pure perfection.  They're about $15 but you'll thank me later.  Use a straight edge like a yardstick and roll your rotary cutter along it to make a nice big square.  Again, this will NOT be hemmed so a straight cut is mandatory.  This is your finished edge.

Now to make the waist hole.  Make it smaller than you think you need - this fabric is super stretchy!  You can always make it bigger but you can't make it smaller without a lot of work.  I pinned my tape measure to the corner where all the folding is and measured out a semi circle 4" from the corner.  Then I put a bowl on it to use as a guide while I cut it out.

I traced around the bowl with my rotary cutter and made a perfect circle.  It was almost too big and I have a 34" waist!  So I'm serious when I say make it tiny.

Now you're going to cut out the straps.  Cate's blog recommended 105" long if you're tall or plus sized, 95" if you're average sized, and 85" if you're petite.  I used 105" long for the purple dress and I was able to wrap those straps about four times!  So this time I made 95" and it's just fine.  Did I mention that I'm 6'1"?  So make yours however long you want.  But make them at least 85" long.  You can always cut more off.

Strap width:  This is highly variable.  I a) didn't want to show cleavage and b) wanted the sides covered too.  So with the purple dress I made 14" straps.  I overlapped them by 5" in the center and it's way too much.  Looks weird with certain variations.  So with the red dress I made the straps 12" wide and only overlapped 3" in the middle.

I used my rotary cutter to cut a nice long straight line through both layers of fabric so I cut both straps at once.  Then I cut the fold right off.  I put my straight edge about 1/8" from the fold and cut it off.

Now for the tube top/waistband.  Measure above your bust where the tube top's top edge will be.

Mine was 37".   Subtract 7", so now it's 30".  I cut two pieces for the tube and have seams on each side.  I could have done one long piece with a seam down the back but I thought they'd be less noticeable on the sides.  My two pieces were 15" wide and 8" tall.   Use your machine's stretch stitch if it has one.  It looks like a zigzag where the zigzag is on an angle instead of going side to side.  If you don't have that option, do a zigzag with a fairly short stitch length.  Sew the two pieces wrong sides together along the two outer edges with a 1/2" seam allowance.  Optional:  I also folded the top edge down about 1/2" and hemmed it.  I don't know why exactly, except that I thought it would help keep the top up better.  You could also make a casing and thread an elastic through.

IMPORTANT:  Try it on!  Mine was HUGE.  I had to take it in twice before it fit without falling down.  UPDATE:  It was still huge.  I ended up taking it in another inch on each side.  The weight of the fabric just kept pulling it down even with a strapless bra underneath.  The heavier poly/spandex fabric didn't do this so I'm guessing it's the fabric I chose.

Now for assembly!  : )

Lay the skirt out flat with the circular hole in the center, right side up.  Lay the straps coming down from the waist side by side, right side down.  (With a solid color there probably is no difference but if you have an obvious right and wrong side, make sure the straps are right side down.)  Overlap them in the middle as much as you want.  1" overlap = tons of cleavage.  5" overlap looked weird to me whenever I tried to cross the fabric in front before it gets to your neck.  So I chose 3".

Pin the two straps all the way along the front edge of the skirt, like this.

TRY IT ON!  Ok, this is tricky because there are a million pins sticking out but I'd rather get poked than have to use my seam ripper.

If you're happy with the look, start sewing!  (In the photos above I didn't pull the tube top up.  I left it down around my waist to see how bare the straps would be without it.  I was perfectly comfortable with the way the front looked and the back would be great in hot weather, but I like having the tube top option.)  Sew it with a 1/2" seam allowance using your stretch or zigzag stitch.  An overlocking stitch is even better.  It makes it look more professionally done and finished on the inside, plus I feel like it will hold up better to repeated washings since I'm not the world's greatest seamstress.  UPDATE:  I forgot to change the needle on my sewing machine before starting this project.  It was a heavy duty needle for sewing the camo baby carrier (also posted in this blog) and now the needle holes are so large that the fabric pulls and you see daylight through all the holes.  Arrgh!  So be sure to use a ball point needle specifically made for sewing stretchy fabrics.

If you don't like the coverage, move the straps further apart/closer together until you're happy with it.

Now for the tube top.  Turn it inside out and side the tube down over the skirt and straps (which are hanging down on the floor) so that the top edge of the tube is at the bottom.

The skirt is right side out, straps are wrong side out, tube is wrong side out and upside down.  Make sense?  Pin all layers together.  If the tube is smaller in circumference than the waist hole stretch it until it goes all the way around, using lots of pins.  It will kind of snap back together for a gathered look when you're done.  Sew with your stretch stitch all the way around the waist hole.  Use a slightly larger seam allowance so that the first line of stitching won't show.  I didn't, but you can always do an overlock stitch or something to finish the edges if you want.  I'm assuming you'd do that on the skirt and the waistband/tube top separately before assembling the dress.

That's it, you're done!  It seriously took me about 3 hours and would have taken less if the baby hadn't been trying to pull out all my pins every time I turned my head.  And put every spool of thread I have on the dress.  Pay no attention to the potty chair in the background.  He's interested in it so we carry it around the house for him to sit on whenever the urge strikes.

No idea how to tie it?  Youtube is your friend!  Remember, you can pull the tube top up for more coverage or you can leave it down around your waist for less coverage.  You can even turn the dress around backwards and have the straps come up over your shoulders to make a cap sleeve, sweetheart neckline.  Here are a few of my favorite videos.

Here are some of the variations I tried.  I am the world's worst selfie taker!  Sorry about the focus and lighting.

Good luck!  Hope you love it too.

Edited to add:  I made another one!  I bought some turquoise stretch knit off eBay, of all places, for $4/yd.  It's gorgeous!  Lightweight but not as thin as the red one above.  This time I got the idea to make some gathers in the straps right where they go over your bust.  I have a halter style bathing suit like this, which I love because it's so flattering, so why not?  May I just say it was one of my more brilliant ideas.  ; )

So I made the straps 14" wide but when I laid them down on the floor I made a few big pleats at the end where they will attach to the skirt.  I'm so sorry I didn't take any photos because it worked great!  But it kind of looked like this:

This strap was for a baby carrier and I pleated it all the way across.  For the dress I only did 4 small pleats in the middle but left about 2" on each side untouched.  I hope you can visualize what I mean.

I still overlapped by about 3" in the middle so I have enough coverage for my sense of modesty and the straps wrap around the sides enough that I don't have any side boob showing.  I still made the tube top style waist band but honestly, I haven't had to use it at all.

Have fun!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sewing a Soft Structured Carrier (SSC) from a free pattern found online

Hi all!  This time I decided to try my hand at an SSC.  I had an awesome Kinderpack but the straps were too long (I bought it hoping Hubby would wear it, but no dice) so I sold it.  But then I missed it.  So I made my own.  I don't know why, but the idea of webbing and buckles was really intimidating to me!  But I figured, how bad could it be?  I've already made three mei tais and three ring slings.

So here's the free pattern that I downloaded.

It's a great pattern and the authors of this deserve a huge round of thanks!  But for me, a visual learner, the directions were hard to follow.  Plus I'm still a newbie when it comes to sewing.  There are no illustrations or photos along the way to show you the steps so I am writing this to help you guys out if you decide to try one.  I messed up a few times and had to improvise here and there but all in all, it looks and feels great!

Ok, first some details:  It cost me about $40 to make this.  I bought 3 yards of sturdy cotton twill on sale at Joann's Fabrics and I used it for everything except the interior panel.  I could have used it for that too but I used a bright red cotton duck because otherwise I couldn't tell my panels apart.  They all looked the same!  I bought the webbing and buckles from and it came to about $10 including shipping.  I cut up an old yoga mat for the waist padding and an old fleece receiving blanket for the shoulder padding.  If you don't have that lying around the house you'll need to buy some padding too.

I also made it 2" taller and 2" wider for my toddler.  The first panel I cut out just looked way too small (thank god I bought 3 yards of fabric instead of 2!)   And the second panel I cut out was sideways, as DH pointed out to me.  He said, "Aren't trees supposed to grow up and down instead of sideways?"  Damned camo print!

As I said, I'm a newbie so I estimate it took me about 6 hours to make this, including cutting out the fabric.  Considering that a Tula or Kinderpack costs upwards of $159, $40 and 6 hours is not too shabby!

Ok, let's get started.  I'm going to copy and paste the directions from the pattern and clarify where needed and add a few photos.  

I made the straight shoulder straps.  I'm told curved straps are better for back carries.  They seem to stay on your shoulders better if your straps are always sliding off, but for this project I went with the tried and true strap style I'd used in the past.

6/12/15 UPDATE:  I am now making a preschool sized version of this carrier and I read somewhere that if you make the body of the carrier taller you have to reduce the length of the shoulder straps.  DUH!  This seems so obvious to me now in retrospect but when I made this toddler version it never occurred to me.  The only reason I think I got away with keeping them the same length is that a) I'm 6'1", and b) I almost always cross the straps so I don't need to use the chest clip, which I never got around to making.  I wore my 2 1/2 year old to Six Flags last week (and after a very lengthy wearing strike he FINALLY allowed me to wear him because he was pooped, so I was beyond thrilled!)  He's got to be 35 lbs now and good lord, that kid was heavy.  I crossed the straps in front but I have also done knots in the front like this:

After you tie it in a half knot you just clip it on the sides.  No need for a chest clip this way.  I've also done ring finishes with a large ring.

Ok, so be warned - if you make the carrier taller you should probably shorten the straps by an equal amount unless you need the extra length.

Assemble the Straight Shoulder straps:
1. Assemble shoulder strap pattern and place on fold as indicated. Cut two pieces.
2. Cut two 13” by 16” pieces of fleece and fold into four layers lengthwise, final size about 3.5” x
If you are adding a hood attach the D-ring to one layer of the shoulder strap using either a
short piece of webbing or a length of hemmed fabric (see pattern)
3. Fold over 1/2” and sew the tapered end (hem).
4. Cut two 2” pieces of 1.5” webbing and use them to attach the female half of the 1.5” buckles to
one layer of the tapered end with a single line of stitching.
5. Fold over the strap pieces lengthwise, right sides together and sew lengthwise stopping at the
tapered end.
6. Turn right side out.
7. Insert the fleece into the tube of the shoulder strap, leaving 5-6” unpadded at the top.
8. Make sure the fleece is laying flat and top stitch down the middle lengthwise start/stopping about
1” into the fleece
9. Top stitch the tapered ends closed and finish attaching the webbing, using re-enforced (x-box)
stitching to secure the webbing. 

When I got to step #3, I had no idea if she meant to fold under all three edges of the taper or just the one.  I guessed and did just the one.

When I got to step #4, I got stumped.  When you cut a piece of webbing only 2" long, once you thread it through the buckle and fold it in half it's now less than 1" long.  How the hell are you supposed to sew that to the fabric and put an Xbox through it?  She says to do a straight line of stitching and then later, in step 9, you'll finish securely attaching that same piece by doing an Xbox through all the layers of fabric.  But it's still only protruding into the straps by 1/2".

I'm holding the first piece I cut to show you how damned near impossible this is.  Unless you have magic fairies who are going to sew it for you during the night on their itty bitty fairy machines.  So I cut a piece 6" long instead.  I sank it about 3" into the fabric and you can sort of see my Xbox (I used brown thread so it's hard to see, but it's there.)  

A word about Xboxes - they're really no big deal.  I sew a line, leave the needle down, lift the presser foot, rotate the fabric, and sew the next side of the box.  Repeat until you've gone all the way around.  Then do it again two more times sewing just to one side of the thread you've already sewn.  You don't want to go EXACTLY over the same line as putting multiple holes in the same exact spot will weaken your fabric, not strengthen it.  After three boxes, stop at your original starting point and spin the fabric so you'll sew a diagonal line.  Go back and forth three times, then sew along one outer edge to get to the opposite corner and repeat going the other way.  It truly takes all of 5 minutes to make a decent looking Xbox.

I was worried I'd run out of webbing by using 12" total instead of 4" total but I was ok, just barely.  HOWEVER, next time I will definitely buy another foot of webbing.  It costs something like 39 cents per foot.  Definitely buy extra if you are fluffy, if this is for your big and tall husband, if your arms aren't flexible enough to reach behind you and grab the tiny bit of strap sticking out of the buckle unless there's a good bit hanging down for you to grab a hold of.

I always have the straps just about as long as they can go when I put the carrier on, then snug up after the baby is in.  There was not much sticking out of the buckle so you may want to err on the side of caution and just buy more webbing to be safe.  Also note, I did not lengthen the shoulder straps.  I made them the same size as the pattern since my Kinderpack straps were too long.  I'm still able to cross in back (ridiculously comfortable, by the way!) and I'm 6'1" and a size 12.

Melting the webbing - very important!!!  When I first cut that 2" long piece and tried pinning it in place, within 3 minutes the ends were frayed and shredded.  Grab a match or a lighter and run the flame along the edge back and forth a couple of times.  You can actually see it melting right before your eyes, which was fun!  Burning your fingers is not fun though, so please be careful.  Cut the webbing to length and immediately melt it before you start messing with it.

I also don't like that you cut the strap on a fold.  If you look closely at my strap, one taper is longer than the other.  That's because when you fold the strap in half and sew it lengthwise along that open edge, you've now made it 1/2" narrower but only on one side.  So the tapers at the end are now not the same length.  Does that make sense?  Next time I would sew along the folded edge too just to make the strap evenly taken in on both sides, not just the one.  I'm anal like that.

I didn't make a hood because I rarely use it.  My baby will not keep anything on his head for longer than .4 seconds - sun hats, winter hats, hoodie hoods, carrier hoods, doesn't matter.  Ain't gonna happen.  So I just modified the pattern for the body to add an arch along the top.  If, by some miracle, he actually allows himself to fall asleep in this the arch should help with head flop.  I cut four layers of fleece in the same arch shape and stuffed them in there before sewing the panels all together.

Assemble the Body:
1. Assemble body pattern and cut out 3 body pieces laying the pattern along the fold as indicated.
2. Sew the darts on each piece
3. Attach the shoulder straps and hood, as illustrated, on the center layer.
4. Cut the remaining 1.5” webbing in half, melt ends and attach as illustrated
5. Place the outside layer on top of the middle layer right side up
6. Place the inner lay on top of that right side down.
7. Pin the three layers together
8. Sew around the edge of the three layers, do not sew the bottom or over the four straps
9. Turn right side out and pull the straps through.
10. Topstitch around the edge, turning under the edges around the straps. 

This part was pretty straightforward.  For the darts, I did NOT cut out that little triangle of fabric.  I just traced the outline of the triangle with chalk onto the wrong side of each panel piece.  Then I pinched the fabric together and lined up the chalk lines.  Pin in place, especially at the very point, so they'll all be the same length.  Then sew it starting at the bottom edge of the body panel.  When you get close to the point reduce the length of your stitch so you don't have to backtack (reverse stitch) to keep it from coming undone.  I used a 2.5 length stitch for the whole project except for here, when I reduced it to 1.6 about half an inch before I came to the point.  Then just sew right off the edge of the fabric when you get to the point.

Attach the shoulder straps to the interior panel, which won't show.  Sink the straps down onto the body panel as far as it shows on the pattern, about 4" as I recall.  Sew a nice big, fat Xbox and go over it three times.  It doesn't matter if it's pretty because no one will see it.

So you're attaching the 1 1/2" webbing on the sides of the body panel.  These are the pieces that will be threaded through the male end of the buckles that will clip into the buckles on your shoulder straps.  Do Xboxes on these too.

If you want to add padding to the neck and leg areas, cut four layers of fleece in a rectangle for the legs (about 2" wide by 6-8" tall) and the same shape as the neck arch, just smaller by 1/2" all the way around.  Pin the four layers to the inner panel and sew around the perimeter, just to hold it in place.  The legs out padding I made goes from 1/2" from the bottom edge to 1/2" below the side pieces of webbing.

When you pin all three layers together, it's a good idea to put 2 pins in a big X on either side of your webbing and shoulder straps.  YOU DO NOT SEW ACROSS THESE or you can't turn it right side out.  I had to rip out some stitching because I was trying to hurry and do it during nap time and sewed right across my webbing.  Crap!  The pins in an X is a pretty big visual sign that says, "Hey stupid, stop sewing now."  ;)

If you decide to make an arch on top like I did, cut around the shape of the arch making little triangular notches every inch or so.  It should look like a stegosauras (did I spell that right?)  Then turn it all right side out.  I started with the shoulder strap buckles and pulled them through, then the webbing, and then the rest.  You can stick a ruler inside and push it against the seams to make sure it's all fully turned out or just use your hand.

Turning under around the straps always kicks my butt.  Why is this so hard for me?  I fold the fabric under one time, not twice, or it gets too thick to sew easily.  But the corners always look messy.  I usually do a 45 degree angle at the sides so that no raw fabric is sticking out, but if anyone has a better method please share it with me in the comments.  Seriously, please!!!

After all the raw edges are turned under and sewn, I go around the entire thing - up one side, over the straps, across the top, and down the other side.  Makes it not only finished and pretty looking but gives it one more layer of reinforcement.  You can also outline the padding.  Just make straight lines around the leg padding and a horizontal line below the neck padding.  I tried to do a fancy decorative stitch that looked like leaves.  On my scrap test piece it looked great!  But on my three layers of body panels with a camo print it didn't even show up.  :(

Assemble the waist belt:
1. Assemble the waist belt pattern and cut out the padding and fabric according to instructions.
2. Cut one 6” piece of 2” webbing, melt the ends and use it to attach the female end of the buckle on
one end of one waist piece where indicated on the “right” side
3. Attach the remaining 18” of 2” webbing to the other end of the same piece where indicated on the
“right” side.
4. Attach the body, inner lining to the wrong side of the other waist piece overlapping 2” as
indicated, with two lines of stitching, 1/4” from the bottom edge of the body and an x-box on
each end
5. sew the two waist pieces right sides together except where the body is
6. Turn right side out
7. Insert the padding, if using batting or fleece place on the inner side.
8. Tuck in the edges and topstitch along the waist strap where the body overlaps the body. 

I used two layers of a yoga mat.  I had to cut the pieces much smaller than the pattern.  First I couldn't stuff them in the waistband because they were too long, and then I couldn't fold under the top edge to sew it to the body panel because they were too tall.  So be prepared to do lots of trimming.  You don't want to sew through them and break 17 needles for this part.

Attaching the webbing - why would I want to attach it on the right side of the fabric?  I totally don't get this part.  I attached it to the wrong side of the fabric with big ol' Xboxes.  These WILL be visible so try to do them neatly.

In the photo above I have my two pieces of waistband fabric right sides together.  The top layer is folded back to show you how I attached the buckle and webbing the first time.  If you do it like this, when you turn it right side out the webbing will be on the outside of your waist band.  Not very aesthetically pleasing in my opinion.  I sewed it to the wrong side and then when I turned it right side out I folded under the raw edges (remember, don't sew across the webbing!) and topstitched a couple of times.

Step #4:  Don't forget to make a tiny Xbox right where the body panel meets the waist band BEFORE you sew the waistband pieces right side together. I forgot to take a picture of this but here's a photo of the Kinderpack I used to have.

See how tiny it is, right below the mustache fabric?   It will only show on the inside of the waistband so don't worry if it's not pretty.

Once you complete the waistband you're done!  Just thread the webbing through the male end of the buckles and give it a test run.  You can also make a chest clip but I still haven't gotten around to doing that yet.

Look at that knee-to-knee coverage, baby!!!

It wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  If you've made a mei tai or onbu, or if you even have basic sewing skills you can do this.  Good luck!

***UPDATE 09/01/2015***  I ended up making a preschool sized carrier to be 20" x 20" when it was finished.  Mr. Man is now 35 pounds and 41" tall and it worked great for him (when he'd allow himself to go up!) on our recent trip to Disneyworld.  Luckily we got the cast off his leg right before our trip!  Talk about good timing... phew.

I bought the appliqué off Etsy and I got the Olaf fabric from  The black and white polka dot fabric is duck and was used for the shoulder straps, waistband, inner panel, and the panel that touches his back.  Only the outer Olaf fabric is a lighter weight cotton. Everything else is super heavy duty.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

How to sew a Fauxbimama Mei Tai

I'm a total novice seamstress.

Yes, it's true.  I'm not being falsely modest.  I honestly haven't used my sewing machine more than a handful of times since I bought it in 1991.  But I made a ring sling about a month ago from a Mahogany tablecloth and it was so much easier than I thought it would be that I made another one.  Then I made a mei tai out of a tablecloth.  Then one for a friend who's pregnant.  And then I bought a wrap specifically to use for a WCMT.

I was astounded at the postive response I received when I posted my "in progress" and "after" photos on Facebook in the DIY group.  So I thought I'd go into a little more detail for anyone who's curious but nervous about trying a project like this.  If you have basic sewing skills and a sewing machine, you can do this, I promise!  But you might want to practice with some inexpensive fabric first so you don't have a heart attack when you start cutting out the pieces.  Even though it wasn't my first project I still had minor heart palpitations the day I was to begin cutting.

I had made my first MT with the tutorial on the Fine and Fair Blog.  It was an incredibly beginner-friendly tute and it turned out pretty well, in spite of the mistakes I made.  I used a Mahogany tablecloth and it's ridiculously comfortable.  If you buy fabric with a random pattern you don't have to worry about lining up the pattern on the fabric nearly as much.  All I had to do was line up the ugly chickens (I mean peacocks) in the center of each panel.  Hey, it's not called a faux pfau for nothing!

My second attempt was with the tute on BarefootandPregnantEsquire's site.  In my opinion it's a great looking finished carrier and looks very similar to an  Obimama ( but it had a lot of features that I omitted because a) I was scared to try them, or b) I didn't need them.  But it was a little more complicated for someone with my lack of sewing history.  Look how the waistband attaches to the body - see that curve?  Yeah, that's supposed to be a straight line.  Hmm…

So when I was ready to try my hand at chopping a wrap I decded to combine the best (easiest) features of both tutorials and I also added a ring waist using this tute.  The only piece I took from this was the part about making the ring waist.

Before you begin  - order your rings!  

First, decide whether you want your whole carrier made of the same material.  If so, you need a size 6 (probably with no hood) or a 7 with a hood.   Mine was a short 7 and I still got a hood out of it plus I have enough extra to make a pocket for the tail.  If you want the body of the carrier to be the wrap and you'll use twill or canvas or something else for the straps you can use a much shorter wrap.  The body panels are about 25" wide from shoulder to shoulder and you'll lay them side by side (one for the front and one for the back side) so a size 3 would probably be more than enough to make the body and hood.  Your shoulder straps will be somewhere in the 75"-90" range (depending on your size and how long you like them) so you'll need fabric that's at least 100" long before washing/drying to account for shrinkage.

So here's what I did, step by step.  Hopefully I won't forget anything.

1.  Print the patterns out on your home printer using the BarefootandPregnant (BNP) tutorial.  By the way, this is brilliant!  Lisa, the creator of it, said her husband spent a day drawing out the patterns in Photoshop or something.  However long it took, it was time well spent for the hundreds of people who I hope will download it in the future.  You save it to your computer as a pdf, open it in Adobe, and print it at home.  Then you tape all the pages together to make one big pattern.  See?!  Told you it was brilliant.

I decided to make the body and waistband one piece instead of two because sinking the body panel down into the waistband kicked my butt with the last project.  It was really hard and I didn't do a very good job with it so I decided to simplify it for myself.  I also omitted the seat darts because I practiced on a piece of scrap and I couldn't get it right.  But I vow to perfect them with my next project because they make a deeper seat and they are more true to a real Obimama.  I also made wrap straps instead of padded to wrap straps since the wrap straps on my orange MT are so comfortable.  If it ain't broke...

Since I left out the seat darts I trimmed the sides of the body panel pattern in about an inch on each side since that's how wide the darts are and that's how much the carrier would have compacted with darts.  Did that make sense?  I then taped the waistband pattern to the body pattern along the line that says "Sewing Line."  I omitted the whole business with the elastics and buttonholes because I only have one monster sized toddler but if you have two kids of two different ages, or if your baby is an infant and you intend to use this for a long time, it would be a great feature.

I also decided to trim the curve off the bottom of the waistband and make it just a rectangle.  I felt that the bottom curve makes it hard to roll the waistband when I wanted to and again, the flat bottom is more authentic to the Obi design.  Yes, I admit, I'm making a blatant ripoff.  It's not for sale, it's for my own personal use.  So I'm going to make it look exactly how I want it.  Jennifer of Obimama should be flattered that we all love her design so much, right?

2.  VERY IMPORTANT: - fold your pattern in half down the center and make sure the two halves are symmetrical.  If they're not even, trim where necessary.  Mine was so far off it was pretty ridiculous, so I printed it out and did the whole thing over.  It was much better the second time.

3.  Now, tape several extra pieces of paper together to make a giant square and trace your body pattern.  In fact, fold it in half and fold your paper in half, place the folds together when you trace, and cut out a second body pattern.  Now it'll be perfectly symmetrical and exactly the same as the original body panel pattern.  Don't skip this step!  You will thank me for this when you're laying it out on your wrap!  Print and cut out the pattern for the hood, and do the same thing as above.  Make sure it's symmetrical and then make a second one.  It's so much easier to visualize where to place the patterns if you're not trying to pin it, cut it out, then reuse the pattern again.

4.  Ok, now let's work on laying it out on the wrap.  I used a size 7 so all my pieces are from the wrap.  Here's how I laid it out:

5.  Cutting the shoulder straps - You want to use the hemmed rails and ends of the wrap as much as possible because it saves a ton of time hemming.  Plus if your sewing skills aren't so fabulous the factory done hems will make the straps look well done at least on one side, right?  When you cut your wrap straps you're going to make them half the width of the wrap.  Mine was 28" wide so each strap is 85" long and 14" wide.  If your wrap has tapers you want to measure 85" from EACH rail's end.  Take a look at my diagram above again.  See how I didn't just cut 85" straight across?  It kind of zigzags across the width of the wrap.  Otherwise one shoulder strap will be much shorter than the other because of the taper.

You can make the shoulder straps whatever length you want.  I made 90" straps with my first and they were crazy long.  85" is just right for me, but I'm 6'1".  You might need 75" if you're tiny.  If you're not sure, go longer.  You can always make them shorter after using it for a few days.  You might notice that the tapers will be identical instead of mirror images when you tie off and they're hanging down.  // and not / \.  That was perfectly fine with me.  No one is looking at the end of the tails when you're wearing your kiddo, right?

6.  Cutting the waist straps - Start from the opposite end.  I used the longer side of the taper.  It doesn't need to be terribly long since it's a ring waist.  Measure the circumference of your hips with a tape measure.  That's how long you'll cut it.  Mine was... none of your business.  Oh wait, it's in the diagram above.  Crap.  Oh well.  We'll cut a piece for the other side that holds the rings later from one of the scrap pieces.  Your waist strap will be 10" wide.  I suppose you could make it wider but I wouldn't go too much wider or it will bunch up around your waist.  I managed to get the Little Frog tag on this piece, which I really liked.  Makes it look like it wasn't DIY with a tag, know what I mean?

7.  Ok, now the hard part - cutting the body panels!  Figure out how you want your two sides to be different.  My wrap is a rainbow, red on the top and purple on the bottom.  So I laid one panel red side up and the other was purple side up.  Or you could make one horizontal stripes and one vertical.  Or one right side and one wrong side.  You get the idea.  Or make them exactly the same if this is making your brain hurt.  Lay your two body panel patterns down and fiddle with them till you get them where you want them.  Try to preserve as much wrap as possible by smooshing them close together.  But DON'T line the pattern up right on top of the rails.  You don't want to be sewing through three extra layers of fabric(the hems are rolled under twice) when the time comes to assemble it and start sewing.
Now do the same with the hood patterns.  Think about how you want the hood to look against the body.  Do you want the stripes to go the opposite way?  Be wrong side out against a right side out body?  Stripes to line up perfectly?  How much fabric you have will play a big part in this so spend the time to figure it out.

I wanted the stripes to line up just right for my front panel so I placed the hood on the fabric and lined up the top edge of the hood and the top edge of the body panel against the top edge of the red stripe.  Having a striped wrap sure helps with making straight cuts!  With the second hood I didn't have enough fabric to line it up the same way so I went with vertical stripes.  I pinned the pattern down so that one stripe was dead center.  I just felt that looked best.

Pin all the patterns down on the fabric.  Spend two hours fiddling with them to make sure they're straight.  Freak out a little and agonize over placement.  Grab your scissors or rotary cutter and have a minor panic attack.  Then get a cup of coffee or vino to settle your nerves. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything.  Try to get the patterns as close together as possible to preserve as much fabric as you can.

8.  Start cutting!  You will also need to cut a third body panel out of a piece of bottomweight fabric to use as the interior panel so just use one of the patterns you already have once you've cut it out.
Find some leftover fabric and cut a piece to use for the ring side of the waist according to the MrsBethJamesBlogspot tute.  I cut a piece so that my purple stripes would line up perfectly with waistband.  When I pinned it that sucker looked perfectly lined up!  But somehow when I sewed it the whole thing was off by half an inch.  Argh…  Speaking of the waistband, I had originally gotten medium rings from and because my wrap fabric is pretty thin, the rings wouldn't hold the fabric without slipping.  I threaded it through and pulled and the strap came right back out with almost no resistance.  So I had to order a set of small rings and wait three days for delivery.  Order yours before you start to save some time.

9.  Unpin the patterns and marvel at how perfect your placement was.  ;)  Or start swearing, whichever is more appropriate.

10.  Woo hoo, now it's time to start sewing!  For needles I used size 110/18.  I just bought the ones that said Universal Heavy Duty since I knew I'd be sewing through the yoga mat and many layers of fabric.

I followed FineandFairBlog (FNFB) for the strap attachment.  I made wrap straps.  You can attach with xboxes or bartacks, whichever you prefer.  I did three rows of bartacks at the shoulders and xboxes with one row of bartacks at the waist.  (Photo below shows my first attempt at attaching the waist strap with a bartack.  I didn't sink the fabric in deep enough to the interior layer so I had to rip it out and start over.  You want it to be about 4" deep.) There's a great discussion of the pros and cons of each on if you're interested.

11.  If you want to do legs out padding and neck padding, get some polar fleece (I used one of the 8 million fleece receiving blankets I had lying around.)  Cut four layers of the fleece according to the BNP pattern.  They're shaped like half circles.  Pin them to the interior layer and sew around the edges to keep them in place.  I just did a straight stitch but I'm sure a zigzag would be great too.

12.  Decide what padding to use for the waistband.  I used an old yoga mat that I cut to size.  I just used one layer so we'll see over time how that works out.  You can do polar fleece if you prefer something soft and squishy but that's what I'd used on my previous two MT's and I wanted to see if it made a difference. So far I really like it!  The waistband stays flat and doesn't smoosh down on itself from the weight of the baby after you've worn him for half an hour.  My fleece waistbands usually look like the pillows on my bed after I've been lying on them.  But I digress.  Sew it down to the inner layer material according to FNF's instructions.  Leave about half an inch of room across the bottom  between the yoga mat and the edge of the interior panel or it's a bitch to sew.  Trust me on this.

13.  Now make the hood according to the BNPE tute.  I had an adorable little applique that I wanted to use so I centered it on the right side of the front panel, ironed it on, and then zigzag stitched around the perimeter.  Use thread that matches the edge of the applique and it won't show.  Do the "zig" on the applique, "zag" off the edge and into the wrap fabric, then "zig" back onto the applique, etc.  Keep the zigzag pretty tight so that when you go off the applique the needle goes right up against the edge of it, not way out into the fabric.  Make sense?  Go all the way around it.  (I actually skipped over the owl's feet because they are brown and the blue thread would be too obvious.  But I did sew between his feet.)

Next, grab the leftover scrap fabric and cut out the hood straps and sew them, again using the BNPE tute.  For the straps I made four, two for each side, so that I'd be able to cinch up the hood and tie the two straps in a bow on each side to keep it in the scrunched position.  Alas, I didn't leave enough room when I topstitched so I could only fit one strap on each side.  Oops!  So if you want to use two on each side be sure you put them both inside the hood before you topstich so you know how much room to leave.  Mark the line with a pencil or chalk before you topstitch.  Don't eyeball it unless you're a pro.  Which you're probably not or you wouldn't be reading this.  See the topstitching line across the top of the waistband on my first MT?  This is what it looks like when you eyeball it.  Don't do it.  Promise me you'll mark lines with rulers and chalk!  Turn right side out and press the hood flat.

14.  Sew the hood to the front panel, just a line across the top to keep it in place as you're sewing the whole thing together.   Leave a pretty small seam allowance since you don't want the stitching to show when you turn the whole thing right side out later.

15.  Time to start assembly!  It goes:

Bottom:  Interior layer with the straps attached right side up
Middle:  Back side right side up
Top:  Front side wrong side up with the hood between the back and front panels.

16.  Sew according to FNF.  Leave bottom edge and straps open, but sew across top and down the two sides.  Turn it all right side out.  Don't sew over the straps or you won't be able to turn it right side out!

17.  Press the whole thing.  Turn the raw edges under once, press, pin, and topstich.  Note:  If your fabric is all bunched up at the curve where the body meets the waist on each side, turn it inside out again and clip the corners the way you did for the curve on the hood.  Makes all the difference in the world!  Same if this happens at the top between the shoulder and the top of the carrier where that curve is.  Be sure to line it all up exactly evenly so that when you topstitch it you go through all the layers.  This is a pain but it really pays to be painstakingly accurate with the pinning.  It'll look soooo much better when you're done, I promise.  When you're sewing across the shoulder and waist strap openings sew pretty close to the edge.  Then you can topstitch around the entire thing one more time for security if you're not secure in your sewing skills, which I am not so I did.  However, I also backtacked a lot at the corners (when you put it in reverse and go over the stitching to reinforce it) and I'm not sure it was necessary, plus it doesn't look good.  The stitching looks all gunked up in the corners.  Use your own judgement.

18.  Topstitch around the legs out padding.  Just make a half circle right around the curve of the padding. Topstitch whatever design you want on the waistband.  I just made four straight lines about 1/2" apart.  This was sooooo much harder than it looked!  Make sure you mark your lines with chalk or something.  Don't eyeball it - learn from my mistake.  Remember that orange MT photo you saw earlier?  If it weren't such a PITA to rip it out with a seam ripper I'd go do it right now.  But come on, that poor MT will still have that wonky stitching a year from now, I guarantee it.  You can also topstitch around the neck padding, although I forgot to.  Someday I'll get around to it.  Maybe.

19.  Make little loops to put on the shoulder straps for the hood straps to tie to when the hood is up.  Cut pieces 2x3" and fold, press, topstitch just like the hood straps.  Measure up about 7 or 8" from where the shoulder straps attach to the body and center on the shoulder straps.  Topstitch.

20.  Voila!  You are done!  With any luck your baby is awake and you can try it out.  Or you can grab the nearest stuffed animal and give it a test run till he wakes up.

Updated to add:

Today I decided to make a pocket for one of the shoulder straps.  When I wear my baby to the store I love to leave the diaper bag in the car.  This pocket is big enough for my phone, keys, wallet, and sunglasses.  I luckily had a scrap piece that matched the stripes on the wrap strap.  I also had a package of elastic in my sewing box that was probably circa 1991 but hey, it worked.  I used this tutorial from  Just scroll down to where it says Optional Pocket.