Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mei Tai Baby Carrier Tutorial


Babywearing. It's exactly what it sounds like. You wear your baby. To some, it may sound a little stifling, carrying your baby with you everywhere, but I think it's incredibly freeing. Not only has babywearing given me my hands back, but Jadon is a much happier baby doing chores and activities with me, not just watching me.

I currently have three carriers, the Moby Wrap, the Baby K'Tan, and the Snugli. I like all of them for different reasons, and for different purposes.


Shortly after I fell in love with babywearing, I started searching for all kinds of baby carriers. The Mei Tai seemed to be a pretty popular choice for babywearers. It's made entirely of fabric, so naturally, I decided to make one.

I checked out several different tutorials, mostly found through Pinterest. Turns out, there are several variations of this carrier and many approaches to construction. For my Mei Tai, I combined elements and techniques from a few tutorials.


Pinterest inspiration

This carrier has to be made out of durable fabric with little to no stretch in it. I had several leftover scraps of red and black striped fabric that fit the bill. However, there wasn't quite enough for all the required pieces, so I found a complimentary fabric for the inside face of the straps. Even still, I had to sew some pieces of striped fabric in order to make the straps long enough. You'll see what I mean in the pictures.

Here's the tutorial of how I made my Mei Tai carrier:


First, I made my straps. The two shoulder straps are each 60 inches long, and the one waist strap is 90 inches long. They are all cut 4 inches wide. With the colored side facing in, I sewed seams up the long edges of the straps to create a tube. Then, I turned these tubes right-side out.


Setting the straps aside, I pulled out my pieces for the main body panel. These will go back-to-back, each cut 20 inches by 30 inches. I ironed the sides and bottoms so that there was a two inch fold. I didn't iron the top edge yet because I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it. As it turns out, I could have ironed it like the rest of the edges right away because I ended up ironing a two inch fold later on in construction.


Next, I took my long waist strap and centered it on the bottom of the body panel. I sandwiched it inside the two body panel pieces. After pinning all the layers in place, it was back to the sewing machine.


After tapering the ends, I made one continuous seam from one end of the waist strap to the other. Then, I turned the strap around and followed the opposite edge with another long, continuous seam. The waist strap was finished off with a reinforcing "x" in the corners of the body panel.


The arm straps were attached to the body panel on an angle, about 45 degrees. The arm straps each intersected with the edge of the body panel 4.5 and 12 inches from the top of the body panel. I sandwiched the straps in between the body pieces and pinned the layers in place.


Before heading back to the sewing machine, I ironed a two-inch hem along the top edge of the body panel. If I were to make another Mei Tai, I would have made this hem earlier in the process. Then, I followed the edge of the body panel with a seam which sewed the arm straps in place. I crossed over onto the body panel about a half inch to reinforce the straps' attachment.


Some Mei Tai carriers have a flap at the top that can be used to support a sleeping baby's head. I decided to include one on my carrier because Jadon falls asleep in the wraps I own all the time. In order to hold the head flap in place, you have to tie the corners of the flap to the shoulder straps when they are in use. I made my tie chords by folding in the edges of a long strip of fabric and zig-zagging it in place. I decided not to attach the chords because Jadon isn't tall enough to need them yet.


There are three ways to carry a child using a Mei Tai. As Jadon is only about three months old, he's not quite big enough for the "hip" or "backpack" carry yet. Here's me and my cutie doing the "face in" carry:

I love my Mei Tai!

*Update! I made another Mei Tai (with some improvements) a few months later. Check it out! Mei Tai, Take Two...

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