Baby-Related Crafts | Links

The URL for this page is: http://crafts.sleepingbaby.net/no_sew.html

No-Sew Ring Sling

I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner, though I'm sure someone else out there must have. It's so simple and obvious that I can't have been the first! [However, Google never found instructions for it before I put mine up, for what that's worth.] This came about (for me) because I had ordered some Indian "tapestries" -- those gorgeous tablecloth-sized printed hangings you often see on college students' walls. I was thinking about making them into slings, which would probably require cutting them in half lengthwise, since the ones I ordered were 70" by 106", and most ring slings are between 25-30" wide. Anyway, I got them in the mail and immediately wanted to use one as a sling. I have a lot of sling rings around, because I make slings, and I thought, well, threading the tail through the rings is secure... why not try it with the shoulder, too? So I did, and it was great.

Since I put this up in 2004, a lot of ladies have started using this method with short wraps (pieces of fabric meant for baby slings that are between 90-130" long) -- particularly what are known as "GSWs": German-style wraps. That includes Didymos, Girasol, BB-Slen, Bara Barn, and a whole host of others. It also works splendidly with other carries, like rebozos and selendangs. You may be here from a link on mothering.com concerning H.U.G.S. (Help Us Give Slings), an organization that donates slings to displaced persons in places like Indonesia. If you haven't come here from there, go there and buy a selendang! they are incredibly beautiful, tremendously inexpensive, and will make a great no-sew sling! (One is shown at right.)

Of course, the easiest way to make a no-sew sling is to buy 4-5 yards of a lightweight material (like gauze, for summer wearing), thread the rings on so they're both hanging from the middle of the length, and then treat the whole thing like a single layer (so that the whole sling is two layers, with the fabric looped around the rings at the shoulder). Be sure to check the fabric that loops around the rings on a fairly frequent basis, if it's a lightweight fabric that might be prone to tearing. And it can get a little confusing having two tails to tighten and loosen, but for a quick and dirty sling, you can't beat that! DO NOT use gauze for a single layer sling!

Update: Didymos now has a version of these directions in German, and with clearer pictures. (Well, what can I say -- they have a photography budget, and I don't :D) They appear to have added them on September 19th, 2007. So if you're a native German speaker, or just want to check out the pictures, click on over to http://www.didymos.de/html/ringtrick.htm Just remember, you saw it here first -- LOL!

Another update: Here's a terrific Video on YouTube uploaded in July, 2007, showing how to make a no-sew sling. My only addendum would be to make sure the fabric is spread out really well within the rings before using it, but the video may be very helpful if you find my directions difficult to understand :) Here's a clever set of variations, including one that keeps the rings from digging into your shoulder if you're on the petite side.

Yet another update: If you have bought a kit for a no-sew sling, please be sure you fully understand the threading directions. Some of those available from commercial sites include no pictures and shoddy text instructions at best. Let me be clear: a no-sew sling that is not properly threaded is at risk of harming your child. If your kit did not include adequate directions, please be sure to write to the seller and let him know!

Lookit! I made a video, too! My husband says I made too many side comments, so please let me know if it was confusing and I'll try again. I figured that the video, plus the written instructions, would be pretty clear if they're used together.

Materials:

Method:

What you're basically doing here is threading the fabric through the rings twice -- it's just like threading a ring sling, only you do it for the shoulder as well as the tail.

The two threadings should be opposite each other -- when you're threading a sewn ring sling, the tail fabric comes out on top when you're done threading (i.e. it's in front of the rings, not behind). You need to make sure that when threading the shoulder, the excess shoulder fabric ends up underneath (behind the rings). If both tail and shoulder fabric end up on the same side, it'll be more likely to slip when you're wearing it.

You might want to thread the tail part first, so that you have a tail of the desired length, and then thread the shoulder afterwards with whatever fabric is left over.

If your fabric is very wide (more than 35" wide), fold it to an appropriate size (between 25-35" wide). The thicker the fabric you're using, the larger the rings will need to be, so keep that in mind. Shown at right is a tapestry I picked up on eBay. Subsequent photos will show a HUGS selendang.

Fabric folded in half

At right is the selendang -- I cut the vertical stripes off the end on the right-hand side, so that the two ends were different. That was solely for the purposes of this tutorial, and would not need to be done in an actual no-sew sling. If you do cut down the length (because you are petite, etc.) be sure to finish the raw end somehow, or it will fray.

In these directions, I will be putting the rings on the stripey end, and the tail will be the end without stripes.

 

1. Thread one end of the fabric (I'll refer to that as the shoulder end) through the rings as you would the tail of a sling.

a. Hold both rings in one hand, and bring the fabric up through them both.

 

b. With the rings separated slightly, pull the fabric back through the lower ring only, so that it is looped around the upper ring securely. Shown at right is just the first part of the end being threaded back through, so that you can see both rings.

This should hold both rings together when the fabric is pulled.

c. The full width of the fabric is shown pulled through, but it's very lumpy in the rings right now. The next step will show you how to get the fabric nicely spread out.

 

d. Pull the fabric back through the rings a little bit, so that you can spread the fabric out and make it evenly gathered within the rings. I usually do this by pulling the fabric back a little bit -- maybe 2-3" -- and then putting my thumbs in the fabric loop from both sides. Then I use my fingers to spread the fabric over my thumbs. When I take my thumbs out, I pull the fabric back through the rings, making sure that the edges stay on the edges and don't get folded under the rest of the fabric. This spreads the fabric out quite nicely, and will give you a nice "gathered' shoulder. (Of course, you can also use some of the simpler folds shown on the shoulder styles page, like envelope and simple centerfold, when threading the shoulder of your no-sew sling.)

There's an excellent video about doing this on www.zolowear.com -- click on "Threading and spreading fabric around rings" under "videos".

e. Fabric shown evenly spread through rings. The striped part will be directly against your shoulder/back.

N.B. Gathering the fabric in the rings like this is an important step that is frequently left off. However, if the fabric is left lumpy and overlapping in the rings, it pushes the rings apart, and that makes it easier for the fabric to slide through, a potentially dangerous situation. Please take a moment to spread out the fabric in both threadings, for your comfort and your baby's safety.

3. Flip the rings over, so that the short fabric end is on the underside (that side will be against your shoulder/back). The fabric will provide padding on your shoulder, and the friction of a tightened sling will keep the fabric in place. I wore my 30-lb toddler in a similar sling, and it didn't slip. (If you think you may be using the no-sew sling on an extended basis, I'd recommend doing a few rows of hand-stitching or machine-basting where the shoulder fabric ends, probably 12-18" from the rings, to keep it in place and to reduce the possibility of slippage. If you're sewing anyway, though, might as well do a more permanent shoulder...)

Shown at right is the main body of the fabric pulled back from the stripey part, just so that you can see how it's placed. When you're wearing the sling, the shoulder end of the fabric should not be visible.

4. Thread the other end of the fabric as the tail of the sling. Pull the end of the fabric through both rings.

5. As with steps 1c-d, pull the fabric through the lower ring, then pull it back out a little bit and gather it evenly around the rings.

6. The sling, fully threaded and ready to be worn!

You can pull more or less of the shoulder end fabric through the rings to make the tail correspondingly longer or shorter. I wouldn't make the shoulder end of the fabric any shorter than 8-10", unless your fabric is very thick, to keep it from slipping back through the rings, but it can be as long as you need it to be. Generally, the fabric's own friction will keep the shoulder end in the right place underneath the body fabric.

That's it! Now you can wear your improvised sling as you normally would... Only now, if you are on a walk and want to sit down on the grass and have a picnic, you have an instant picnic blanket -- just unthread the whole thing and spread it out! then when you're done, you have your sling back again. the only important thing to remember is that when you look at the fully-threaded sling, one end of the fabric ( the shoulder) will be under the main body, and the other end ( the tail) will be over -- if you have a little "shoulder tail" sticking out next to your neck, you've done it wrong.

other no-sew sling directions:

Renata came up with this brilliant addition -- she passes the shoulder fabric through the rings one more time, to make it extra secure (particularly with a thinner fabric): http://nurturingnotes.blogspot.com/2007/07/make-your-own-ring-sling-very-easy.html

There are free directions for other no-sew baby carriers at Mamatoto.org

Leah P. uses this method:

I buy 2 1/2 yards of whatever fabric catches my fancy.
I turn it right sides together lengthwise.
I sew the long side and one of the short sides with a straight stitch.
I turn it right side out and hem the final short side closed.
I then use your instructions on threading a no-sew ring sling.

It takes about 5 minutes start to finish and is really cheap to make. Plus, since I'm not sewing the rings on permanently, I can use just one set of rings for all the different ones I make. And the fabric that is turned under on the shoulder is just the right amount of padding.

Hathor the Cow Goddess posted one with a knot instead of threading the rings twice. I don't think it looks as comfortable -- at least, the way she's wearing it -- but it's worth a shot if your fabric is thin enough to knot.

Link to me!

Did you use this pattern and like it? Please link back to me from your site or blog! (This is not an invitation to copy the file to your site, nor does it imply that the file is freeware. I invite links, but as I do make changes to the files on my site from time to time -- and often they are important ones -- I do not wish them copied to other sites.)

The URL for this page is: http://crafts.sleepingbaby.net/no_sew.html

Here is a little graphic you can use: Rev. Jan's Baby Crafts

To make a link, please copy the graphic to your own directory (linking to it here is theft of bandwidth! Shock/horror!) by (PC) right-clicking on it, or (Mac) clicking and holding, and selecting "Save picture as..." then copy this code and paste it onto your page wherever you want it:

<a href="http://crafts.sleepingbaby.net/no_sew.html" target="_blank">
<img src="link.gif" alt="Jan Andrea's Baby Crafts" height=50 width=135></a>

Remember to change the image source to wherever you've saved the image! And thanks for the link!

about me | baby crafts | education | grammar | guestbook | kids | links | livejournal | philosophy | read & play | stories | work | site map | home

All content, barring that which is otherwise attributed, is ©2007 to Jan Andrea. If you wish to use my content on another page, please email before doing so, even for content with the Creative Commons licenses. Text/images used elsewhere must be attributed to me. Be advised that I will pursue copyright violations.