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A Simple, Un-Padded Sling

Making an unpadded sling is very easy!

Please note: if you want to make slings using this method to sell, please read this and especially this and then send me an email. I am often happy to allow small-scale sewers (such as local-only sales or those in an area where I don't tend to see very many orders, like overseas) to use the pattern, but since it is intended for personal use only (please click on the "some rights reserved" button above for fur ther copyright information), I ask that you write and get permission from me. Internet sales in the US basically set me up for direct competition on my own design, and right now, my sling sales are helping to pay our mortgage :) So it's fine to use this for your own personal projects (for yourself or for gifts to people you know), but not to sell, and please don't replicate these directions on your blog or site, because I have a lot of important safety information on this page that needs to get updated from time to time.

Obligatory statement of the obvious: I assume no responsibility or any form of liability for the quality of a sling made from this pattern. It is the reader's responsibility to sew a safe sling.

This pattern is copyright to me (Jan Andrea) and is NOT for resale under ANY circumstances!

Materials needed:

For 56-60" wide fabric:

Instead of making just one sling, you can buy 2 to 2.5 yards of fabric, cut in half down the foldline, and voila, you have two pieces of 30" wide fabric, enough for two slings. You can then keep one to give as a gift to a new mom, or have one for yourself and one for a spouse, or one to wear and the other to wash (especially helpful in the early, poop-blowout-prone days).

I recommend buying the full length you'll need and cutting it in half lengthwise to make two slings as above (or one sling with a 30" by 2 yard piece for other projects). If you *absolutely* can't buy the full two yards, then you can piece together a shorter length to make a sling. Just be aware that any seam is a potential place for ripping, and make sure you sew it safely if you have no other options but using a shorter piece.

For 45" wide fabric:

If you are using a bottomweight (see the Fabric FAQ for details), just cut 15" off one edge and hem the sides (as in the directions below). You can use the extra 15" strip to make a doll sling or some accessories to go with your sling.

If you must use a lightweight or quilting fabric, try these directions! They make a safer sling of a more useful width than the just folding it in half. 22" is really not wide enough for most secure carries, and this is not a method I would recommend.

For either width of fabric...

Hemming:

Hem the two long edges. If you have cut your fabric to length before sewing, hem one of the short edges, too. If you're going by the sling sizing guidelines, you can leave that short edge unhemmed because you'll be cutting the finished sling to length after you've tried it on anyway. I use a 1/2" hemming foot that was custom-made for my machine, but that's because I sew slings all day long :) You can often find narrower hemming feet for home machines, but they do make quite a narrow hem and are often a challenge to use. I prefer the 1/2" hems, so this is how I do it without a hemmer:

Pleats:

* There are almost as many ways to fold a sling to put it through the rings as there are people who sew them! Please don't feel that you need to use pleats in your sling. Here's a page I just made with some folding variations -- many of which are in use by other WAHMs who make slings. *

Here are some newly-revised step-by-step illustrated pleating directions. Caveats: The wider the distance between pleats, the wider the finished shoulder will be. I generally have mine about 1/2 - 5/8" apart. If you put them 1" apart, which many first-time sling makers do, it will be *very* wide on the shoulder and may not work well for you. I prefer the shorter distance because it allows the fabric to spread out just enough on your shoulder, without going over your arm and restricting movement. And it's not just an issue of arm restriction: if the sling goes too far down your arm, it's hard to get the lower rail snug enough to be safe without cutting off circulation in your arm. So please, err on the side of smaller pleat spacing for comfort and safety.

Using this method, it's simplest to pin as you go, at least on the raw edge. Or, from a suggestion by Deanna M., you can use tape to hold the pleats in place. Masking tape, which comes off easily, would also be a sewing aid if you have trouble sewing straight lines. I usually put pins at the very top of the pleated section, and again at 5-6" down, then sew perpendicuarly across the pleats at 1/2" and 5-6" from the top, with a basting stitch that I can take out later, so it looks neater. Questions? Check here.

Lookit! I made a video! Hopefully this will help the more visual folk among you.

Sewing in the rings: (click any image for a larger version)

With pleats, I do not recommend sewing any further from the rings than about 3", and preferably closer to 2.5". With a pleated shoulder, the further away from the rings you sew, the less the fabric will be able to spread out over your shoulder and back, so sewing more than 3" from the rings can lead to a difficult-to-use and uncomfortable sling.

You can see the pleats basted in (stitching on the left and right is about 6" apart, because this sling will have the thicker nylon SlingRings), and the position of the needle and fabric in the machine as I prepare to zigzag over the raw edge. Showing the zigzag I use to finish the raw edge of the sling. I use a very wide, close stitch (on my machine, the width is set to 7 and the length to 1.2, although the numbers on your machine will probably be different), so that the edge is completely enclosed with thread. This is far easier to sew through than an edge that's been turned under, and it keeps the raw edge from fraying just as well.
Showing the "right" side of the pleats, basted in and with the raw edge zigzag finished -- all the folds appear to be the same width, although the back shows otherwise :)

Showing the "wrong" side of the pleats, basted in and with the raw edge zigzag finished -- you can see the first, large fold at the top, and the subsequent pleats towards the bottom.

First stitching line for sewing the two rings in -- note that I am sewing just to the right of my basting stitches, and on top of the zigzag stitch that keeps the raw edge from fraying. This is much easier to sew through than folding the raw edge under (which works only with extremely thin fabrics) and is just as tidy when in use. Finished -- back side. Between this picture and the last, I have flipped the sling over and sewn another stitching line about 1/2" from the first (from the "right" side of the sling), then a line of decorative stitching between the two. I have also removed the inner line of basting stitches ( the ones that were approx. 6" from the edge).
 
Finished -- "nice" side. You can see the two lines of stitching with the decorative stitch in the middle, and if I had a better macro shot, you would also be able to see the holes left from the basting stitches. (Those disappear when the sling is washed.) Optional: add a zippered patch pocket to the tail of the sling.

Threading your sling and babywearing:

I finally got around to adding illustrated directions on threading and wearing your sling. Please check them out! If you have any questions, please email me! To thread your sling, place the ring-end on your shoulder so that the rings hang a little higher than your armpit. Reach around, take the other end, making sure that the fabric doesn't twist, and bring it through both rings from underneath. Now thread the fabric through the bottom ring. Adjust to fit.

Also keep in mind that if you don't want to, or can't, make your own sling with a pleated shoulder, you can buy one from me.

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.)

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