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If you want to make these bags to sell with your mei tais, please let me know first, and include a link back to these directions so that people can make their own if they choose. I don't think that will be a frequent occurance, since they will not necessarily have access to matching fabrics, nor sewing abilities, but I'd like to make that an option. See the bottom of the page for linking instructions.

Mei tai strap bag

Finished bag from front and backYou can put a pocket on your mei tai... but what if you don't like the look of a pocket, or you've used one and haven't found it practical for anything but a couple of diapers? Now you can add a rectangular pouch/bag to the strap of your mei tai... and have the contents accessible whe ther you're using it on your front or your back, without rethreading the bag, thanks to a side-opening (as opposed to top or bottom) zipper. You could even add a smaller pocket to the bag, and if you put button, snap, or Velcro® closures on its top and bottom, it could also be used without flipping the bag on the strap.

Of course, you can also apply this idea to a bag that can be used on the waist straps of your mei tai... Or, if your waist straps are the same width as your top straps, you can use the same bag!

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

Materials needed:

Sewing directions:

Please note: the finished size of the bag will depend on the width of your mei tai's straps. The mei tai directions I have provided will make straps 5.5" wide. You may choose to make them narrower or wider, but the directions for the bag that follow will assume a 5.5" wide strap. Please take that into account when figuring out the dimensions of your own pieces.

8" x 7" 8" x 7"

7" x 6"

7" x 6"

1. First, cut a piece that is approximately 8" by 7" from your fashion fabric (if applicable) for the front of the bag.

If you want to make the bag lined (which can help it stand up a little better, and which I would recommend if your panel/fashion fabric is made of a quilting cotton like batik or calico), cut three 7x7" squares from your strap fabric. If not, just cut one.

For the portion that holds the bag in place, cut two 7" by 6" pieces.

Credit card holder piece on 7x6 pieceIf you want to add a hidden pocket, cut an even smaller piece (3x4", to hold things like a credit card and a little cash). Hem the edges -- 1/2" hems should suffice. Sew three sides of this piece to one of the 7x6" pieces. For purposes of illustration, the hidden pocket is shown in the fashion print. If you want it to be really hidden, use your strap fabric for this. (This pocket will be right-side-up in only one direction, so if you use this feature, be sure to turn the bag when going from a back carry to a front carry.)

2. Sew the two 7x6" pieces together with a 5/8" seam allowance, leaving a space for turning; turn. Toptstitch around the edges, closing the space used for turning.

Holding piece sewn to bag piece3. Sew the unit just completed (which should now be approximately 6.25" by 5") to one of the 8x7" pieces, with the wrong side of the finished unit against the right side of the 8x7" piece, along the left and right sides. Do not sew along the top and the bottom! the stitching lines will ideally be about 5.5" apart, the width of your strap. (This is one of those things you'll have to change if your strap is wider or narrower.)

4. For a lined bag, baste the fashion fabric to an 8x7" piece, and baste the unit from the step above to another 8x7" piece. If your fabrics have a right and wrong side, baste them wrong side to wrong side.

5. Now it's time to sew on the zipper. (I tend to choose the easiest method for zipper sewing, but if you have a preferred method, feel free to use that instead. An invisible zipper, for example, would be particularly pleasing in this application from an aes thetic standpoint, but I think a regular zipper is just fine, too, and is easier to sew.)

Sewing the first side of the zipperI recommend an actual zipper foot for this. You can do it with a regular foot and the needle all the way to the left, but it turns out nicer with a zipper foot. Line up the edge of the zipper (wrong side up) with the edge of the fashion fabric (right side up). I find it simplest to start at the closed end of the zipper. Sew as far down the zipper as you can before hitting the slider. Then, with the needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot, open the zipper, lower the presser foot, and sew the rest of the way. Leave the zipper open.

Second part of zipper sewingNow, flip the fabric and zipper so their right sides are lined up with the right side of the unit made in step 3 ( the fashion fabric will be wrong-side-up, or, if lined, the lining will be on top). The open part of the zipper should be at the top of the step 3 unit. Sew about 1.5" of the open zipper as above, then, with the needle in the fabric, lift the presser foot, close the zipper, lower the presser foot, and continue sewing to the bottom of the zipper.

Sewing the sides of the bag6. Now all you need to do is sew the remaining 3 sides of the bag closed. To make the zipper look its most tidy, I generally line up all the edges, and keep the seam allowances from the zipper sewing folded towards the rest of the bag, as shown blown-up at right. This makes the zipper stand out from the fabric when it's turned right-side-out, and has a finished appearance. Trim the ends of the zipper close to (but not at) the side seams, and clip the corners.

7. Turn the finished bag right-side-out. You may topstitch the bag itself if you desire, for stability, but it isn't strictly necessary. Now you can thread it onto your mei tai's strap, fill it up with whatever you need, and have the convenience of a bag without the hassle of carrying one!

Optional ideas:

To make a smaller pocket on the front of the bag (for your cell phone, small items, etc), you can do a simple patch pocket as described above. However, that will be secure only in one configuration, and the bag will have to be rethreaded when you switch from front to back mei tai use. In order for it to be secure without turning, you could make two flaps, one for each end, and have them close with snaps, buttons, or hook-and-loop tape. Or you could make a single flap and have it open from the side as well.

This bag also really lends itself to the addition of a toy loop, since in front carry use, it will sit at the top of the mei tai body. To add a toy loop, take a 4" by 2" strip of material, sew and turn, then sew the loop into one of the bag's seams (preferably the one that will lie closest to the baby when the bag is on the strap). When the mei tai is being used as a back carrier, the toy loop is now a key loop :)

Of course, the bag can be whatever size you like, as long as the piece that holds the bag to the mei tai strap is sewn to approximately the width of the strap. I don't think it would work well if it were more than 1" wider on either side of the strap, but it bears experimenting.

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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