Current turnaround time: 1 business day
How do I know what fabric to choose?
Let me start by saying this is the least variety in fabric choices I've had since I first started selling slings, so if you feel overwhelmed now, it could be worse ;)
Here are the factors to consider:
- If you have a limited budget, my least expensive (non-clearance) fabric is French twill. I'm able to get it at a good price, and I like to pass that along to my customers. It's the thinnest fabric I have (but still safe!), so it's cool for hotter climates, although it is fairly tightly-woven, so it won't be as comfortable for long periods with heavier babies. However, for a starter sling, especially if you're not sure you'll want to babywear past a year, I think it's an excellent choice.
- Right now, I also have stretch twill (cotton with about 3% Lycra for a touch of across-the-width stretch) for $35. This is a great fabric for bigger babies and toddlers; it's a little on the stiffer side, so it's not my top choice for newborns, but it's rugged and long-lasting, and certainly strong enough to carry a toddler. The stretch helps make that "pick me up! no, put me down!" phase easier, too, because you don't have to adjust every time.
- Also on clearance is a pair of color-grown organic cotton slings -- Plume and Harlequin. Both are woven just like wrap carriers, with a jacquard loom, and are the closest thing to woven wraps I've ever found on the bolt. Right now they're $45, which is a steal for organic cotton, and the weave and weight makes them ideal from newborn through toddlerhood and beyond.
- If these prices are still outside your financial means, I completely understand -- I started making my own slings because I couldn't afford to buy more than one inexpensive one! I have extensive DIY information if you'd like to make your own, and it's easier than you might think.
- If you can spend a little more, my pricing is competitive enough that it probably doesn't make much of a difference, and you can make your choice based on the other criteria below.
Climate. Aside from budget, this is the other major consideration.
- French twill is relatively lightweight, but the darker colors can be warmer in the sun, as all dark colors will be. It's a fine all-around fabric for any season, if you're staying out of the sun.
- Linen is my favorite for hot and humid conditions; it's been used for centuries as the go-to fiber for hot places. It breathes well and wicks away moisture, helping to keep you and your baby a little cooler, although babywearing at all will tend to warm you up just from the close contact.
- The stretch twills are on the thicker side, and I wouldn't recommend them for heat or humidity. They are best in fall through spring or at higher latitudes.
- The organic fabrics are a similar weight to the linen. Being cotton, they don't wick as well as linen does, but are suited for general use and tend to be fine in heat or cold.
- Although it's thicker than any of my other fabrics, the exclusive-to-SBP Tekhni Bios WCRS is surprisingly cool. It's made with Repreve, recycled plastic bottles, and you might think that would make the sling warmer, but it really isn't -- like wool, Repreve breathes very nicely, so the slings are incredibly supportive, but also soft and breathable, and can be used in any climate.
Your baby's size/weight.
- Some fabrics are inherently more supportive than others because of the way they're woven. Generally speaking, a fabric is most comfortable for babywearing if it has a relatively low thread count (high thread counts are great for sheets, but bad for slings!), and if the threads are on the thicker side. Purpose-woven wraps, like Tekhni, tend to have thick threads that are more widely-spaced, which gives them an elasticity (though not stretch) that makes them comfortable and supportive.
- The French twill is wonderful for newborns and smaller babies; it does have a higher thread count than the other fabrics I have on hand, but that's not really a consideration until you get to about 18-20lbs.
- Linen is more supportive, partially because of the fiber, and works well to at least 28lbs, although you may need to limit carry times if you are just buying a sling at that weight and not using it from birth.
- The stretch twill is surprisingly supportive (the stretch is really quite minimal), and along with the organic cottons, is my favorite for bigger babies and toddlers.
- WCRS like Tekhni are fantastic from birth through toddlerhood and even beyond.
I don't sell anything I wouldn't personally wear or recommend, so in that respect, I don't think you can go wrong. I research the properties of the fabrics I choose carefully, and am confident in their safety and longevity. (Of course, slings are just fabric, and there's no magic in them -- they will eventually wear out, and the more they're used and washed, the faster they'll wear out. They are also not colorfast against sun damage -- that takes chemical treatments that I would not want next to my baby's skin -- or bleach, so if you're out in the sun, expect some fading.)