Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Mei Tai, Take Two...

But how do you put on a Mei Tai? I'm glad you asked...

After I made my first Mei Tai baby carrier, I used it everywhere: church, grocery stores, Christmas vacation to Virginia, and of course, home sweet home. I love how it fits into my diaper bag, that I can wear it on back or in front, and how quickly and easily I can put it on. The best part is that Jadon can fall asleep in it anywhere!

Jadon asleep in the Mei Tai at Christmas, this time stuffed with cozy blankets.
In fact, Jadon has become so accustomed to babywearing that he seems to associate carriers with sleeping these days. He often falls asleep within ten minutes of being in a wrap. Usually I can successfully transfer him from the Mei Tai to the couch without him waking up, but sometimes it doesn't work. He almost always sleeps longer when he's on me. I'm not surprised that the warmth of my body and the lull of my steps keeps him in dreamland longer. I've started leaving him in the carrier as long as he stays asleep. However, when I made my first Mei Tai, I didn't anticipate wearing him for an hour (or two!) at a time.

My nearly twenty-pound baby began taking a toll on my body from wearing him so long. I started wishing that the straps were just a little wider to distribute his weight across my shoulders better. I also wished that the fabric on my hips and shoulders was padded. Having the straps just a little longer would be nice, too, so that my husband would be able to wear Jadon sometimes. My first Mei Tai had been tailor made for my size.

Rather than make so many adjustments, I decided to make a brand-new Mei Tai, which has quickly replaced my old one.

Here's the steps you could take to construct a Mei Tai like my new-and-improved version:

First, gather your materials. I chose two different fabrics from my stash that looked good together, making sure that at least one fabric was pretty tough (like an upholtstery fabric). Carriers made from fabric with a lot of '"give" will sag with extended wearing time. I also pulled out the last of the fleece blanket that I originally bought for the inside of my applique bird quilt. The fleece serves as padding for the straps .

My pretty fabrics! The "nature" patterned fabric is my heavy-duty choice for this carrier.

I cut the fleece so that it was doubled. The waist strap padding is five inches wide and 26  inches long. The shoulder strap padding is four inches wide and 16 inches long.

For the two main body pieces, I decided to try a curved top edge instead of square. The height, at the tallest point, was cut 25 inches, and the width was cut 17 inches.

I lengthened my straps quite a bit from my first Mei Tai. The long waist strap was cut 130 inches long and six inches wide. The two matching shoulder straps were cut 80 inches long and 5 inches wide. Like my first Mei Tai, I sewed half inch seams down the entire length of my straps in order to create tubes, which I turned right-side out and ironed flat. The final widths for the waist and shoulder straps are five and four inches long, respectively (which correspond with the appropriate padding, of course!).

To speed up the sewing process, I ironed a 3/4 inch hem around each main body piece. The flat sides were quick and easy, but the curved top took a little more time.

To create a hem on a curved edge, you have to make small (about 1/2 inch) slits along the curve. I made my cuts every three to four inches.

When you fold the fabric over to create the hem, the little sections you cut will overlap slightly. If you didn't make slits, the fabric would form little bulky bunches instead of flat overlaps.

Next, you need to stuff the padding inside the waist strap. The tube was large enough for me fit my hand inside the waist strap. I centered the padding inside the strap and smoothed it out. Now make a "waist strap sandwich," layering one main body piece on either side of the waist strap. Pin all the layers in place. Then run a seam all along the outline of the waist strap, sewing all the layers together. I found this step the hardest for this new Mei Tai because there was so much fabric to get through! Definitely broke a sewing machine needle.

As a finishing touch, run a single seam down the center of the waist strap. This will keep the padding from shifting around inside the strap.

The padding is stuffed inside both of the straps.
The pen and scissors mark where the ends of the padding
are since you don't have x-ray vision.
In the same way, stuff the padding in the shoulder strap tubes. I decided to leave a small gap at the end with no padding because I don't need padding where my shoulder will never touch.

After the padding is where you want it, sandwich the ends of the shoulder straps inside the two main body pieces. I find that a 45 degree angle works well for comfort's sake. Sew a seam all around the edge of the straps, overlapping onto the main body pieces. Like the waist strap, sew one final seam down the middle of the strap to keep the padding from shifting around inside.

Almost done! To make the ends of the straps look nice, I like to make a tapered edge.

Simply cut the end of the strap at the desired angle. Pull out enough of the seams already in place to tuck the ends of the tapered edge inside itself. Finally, sew the tapered edge shut!

Enjoy your Mei Tai that can handle hours of sleeping babies. In fact, Jadon has been asleep on my back for the last half hour of writing this post.

 I had Jon take a picture to prove it!


  1. beautiful! I love the last picture! :-)

  2. Great job! If we ever have another, I might borrow this! I love babywearing. We have an ergo and a baby bjorn.