This week's message:
The store is open, and I may not have to close in the near future! Huzzah!
Sewing details in brief:
- Overlapping knife pleat "cups" your shoulder easily, without lots of complicated adjustments.
- Cut edges are hemmed (folded under and sewn), not serged (finished with thread only).
- The hem is on the outside of the sling when it's worn, so it doesn't cut into your baby's legs.
- I use only rings manufactured specifically for baby slings by SlingRings.com, as I find them superior in safety, weight, and appearance.
- All fabrics are chosen for their softness, durability, and strength. I do not use calico fabrics, as they are simply not suitable for slings (for more information, see the fabric FAQ on my Do It Yourself pages).
- Every sling is customized -- I don't sew it until you've ordered it. Length, color, fabric, and additions are all chosen by you, for you.
While all ring slings are made with the same basic design -- a length of fabric with two rings on one end -- the design of the shoulder can make a big difference for the individual wearer. There are many ways to fold fabric in a ring sling -- for more, check these out -- and each one has its pros and cons for different-sized wearers, although there is no hard-and-fast rule about what fits who better. Two people with nearly identical builds often prefer completely different shoulder styles, so if there's a babywearing group near you, I'd recommend a visit to try a few slings out and see what you like.
My own design is an overlapping knife pleat (at left). It means you can spread the fabric out as much as you need, as seen in the photos in the gallery, to distribute the baby's weight over your shoulder and back. The shoulder area is between 6-8 inches wide (4-6" where it leaves the rings), and ideally caps your shoulder from collarbone to just below your shoulder bone. In my personal experience, this keeps the fabric from spreading out too much (i.e. over my whole upper arm) while allowing it to spread out more than a narrower design. This is standard on all in-stock slings, although you can request Eesti (below) if you have tried both and prefer Eesti.
(Minutiae: the number of pleats will vary depending on the thickness and width of the materials used. Most slings will have seven or eight pleats. However, for the wearer's comfort, I use a larger number of smaller pleats on thinner fabrics, so the French twill will have 10-11 pleats; while thicker or narrower fabrics -- like Natibaby wraps, which are quite thick; and some older Didymos wraps, which are rather narrow -- will have five or six pleats instead. If you feel strongly about the number of pleats on your sling, please let me know ahead of time so that I can accommodate your wishes.)
Even though the pleats go in only one direction, the design still works on both shoulders; I have users who wear their slings on both shoulders, on just their right, or just their left, and I've never heard from anyone that it's less comfortable on one shoulder than the other.
I am now also able to offer Karen Hoppis' "Eesti" shoulder style (at right), licensed with her kind permission, on the slingified wraps and sling redos. The Eesti shoulder is a modified gathered shoulder, in that some of the sling's width is taken up in two small pleats on either side of the shoulder. This allows the shoulder to spread out more than my standard pleats, while keeping it somewhat more contained than a fully gathered shoulder (in which the fabric is simply brought through the rings and stitched in with no folds or pleats). Those who have tried my overlapping pleats and found them uncomfortable may wish to give the Eesti shoulder a try if they are having a sling shoulder redone, or a wrap turned into a sling. I do not recommend it for users who haven't tried my standard pleats: it can be a slightly more difficult style to use, as it spreads out a great deal more and can cause issues if you don't know what you're doing.
Please be advised that other vendors are selling this shoulder style (usually calling it simply "hybrid") without credit to Karen and without paying her for her design. This is not done with her permission.
What's old is new again: When I first started selling slings, I used a much wider shoulder style. It had 5-6 pleats which overlapped less than the current SBP style, and eventually, I switched over to the newer, more narrow style because of comments by petite wearers, who felt the original design spread out too much on their shoulders. It had always worked well for me and other plus-sized wearers, though, so after a long hiatus, I'm bringing it back as the Retro SBP style. I would recommend it for wearers who have broad or very rounded shoulders, or prefer to wear the rings high on their shoulders. It spreads out more than the newer pleats, more like the Eesti shoulder does if you scrunch it up a little, but with more structure than the Eesti design.
Below left: Retro SBP; below right: Retro SBP (bottom) compared to standard SBP pleats (top)
Other styles: I am often asked to do gathered shoulders on slings, but it's not something I do. For one, there are a lot of manufacturers who already do gathered shoulders, including many of the wrap manufacturers themselves, and for another, I don't enjoy sewing gathered shoulders :)
All ring slings are made to go over one shoulder, not both. If you are looking for a two-shoulder carrier, which will distribute your child's weight over both shoulders, please see my links page for some suggested types.
Wondering how a sleeping baby sling compares to more expensive brands? Here are a few photographs of basic construction details -- how the rings are sewn in, and the hemmed edges -- so you can see how they differ.
|Rolled hem finish (what I use)|
Is my sling sewn inside-out? The hemmed edge of the sling is sewn so that it is on the outside in the body of the sling. This is not a mistake, but a comfort factor: I have found fewer red marks on my children's legs when the hems are on the outside than when they are inside. This also means that the hem does not show in the tail of the sling. Since the bottom edge of the sling rarely shows, and the top edge is generally folded by wearing anyway, I feel this is a good tradeoff. I do fully finish the hems with a 1/2" fully-enclosed hem, so I don't think it's a bad look (see sample at right -- thread is shown in black to highlight its placement, but will actually match the fabric color). If you would prefer to have the hems inside in the body of the sling (so that they show on the tail), please make a note of it when you order.
Why not a serged edge? I don't use serging on woven fabrics (like twill, tencel, silk, etc.) since I don't personally like the way it look, and I am not 100% confident that a serged edge will hold up to years of use; some I have seen appear to be prone to fraying, and with time, that can in turn lead to tearing.
I use only rings made by SlingRings.com -- after testing a number of different kinds, including the heavier steel rings, I came to the conclusion that these are the safest and most attractive available, and that they are well worth the small extra cost. SlingRings are made especially for baby slings, and are weight-tested to 250 pounds. Both the nylon and aluminum rings are very safe, will not break with even abnormally rough usage, and are quite attractive!
Aluminum ring colors: Ring colors may vary slightly from those pictured; each batch is a little different. Also, because of the anodizing process by which the color is applied, the darker rings may have two tiny plain dots where the ring was held while being anodyzed. This is not a flaw, but an artifact of the manufacturing process.
Ring sizes: Each type of ring also comes in three sizes:
I will choose the size that is most appropriate for the material the sling is made of -- thinner materials will slip in larger rings. (There are three sizes in Nylon; the larger two just overlap a lot.)
Just as you'd wash any new garment for yourself or a baby before using it, I would recommend washing your sling when it arrives, unless it's noted in the description that the fabric has already been washed. (It's not germs that are an issue so much as the sizing and dyeing residues that can remain in the fabric; these will wash out, but until they are washed, the chemicals remain on the fabric.) Each fabric type has washing directions on its product page, and these are included on the back of the packing slip with your sling. I am unable to provide washing directions for customer-sent WCRS; please consult the wrap manufacturer's website for this information.