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Photo Tutorial: How to make a Fitted, Pouch Sling


Forum: 2009 Playroom

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  #1  
April 22nd, 2010, 10:45 AM
MaineBean's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Maine
Posts: 4,789
As requested, I put together a tutorial for making a fitted pouch sling. It's long- sorry- but hopefully it makes sense!

How to make a reversible, fitted pouch sling

Making a fitted sling for you or for a gift is a breeze with just a couple of yards of fabric and some basic sewing machine skills. While you could certainly hand-sew a pouch sling, it is not advised as you need all the seams to be very sturdy. You’ll be carrying around very precious cargo after all!

Here is a picture tutorial for a reversible sling I recently made. You could easily modify these instructions to make a single sided sling or a “self-lined” (same fabric on both the inside and outside) sling. I’ve tried to include some instructions in the text of the steps to explain how to make those modifications. Please note that I am NO expert in either sewing or baby wearing. This sling pattern has worked for me, but I’m just putting it out there that if your sling falls apart, know that I don’t necessary have any expertise and just followed some other instructions found on the web.

THE STEPS
1. The FUN part- Pick Your Fabric! The best part of making a reversible sling is that you get to choose 2 fun fabrics that fit your personality and style. I spent over an hour this weekend at JoAnn Fabrics lovingly choosing coordinating fabrics to make slings for myself and 2 girlfriends!

When choosing fabrics, you want to look for sturdy, not too stretchy material so that your sling will be good and secure. A light cotton material might not be enough for a single sided sling; however you can use 2 cottons to make a reversible sling. I have also used decorator/ interior design fabrics which are very sturdy and have great patterns. I believe you can also use fleece/ flannel, but I’m not sure how those affect the measurements or stitching style- you’ll have to research those separately!

You will need 2 yards of length for each fabric. The width should be at least 40” with 42-46” being ideal. *If you are making a self-lined pouch you will need just one 2 yard piece as you will be folding the length in half to make the inside & outside. Again, the width should be at least 40-42”.) Single sided slings obviously only need one 2 yards length as well.



2. Measure: To get your personalized, custom sling length, use a sewing tape measure (or even a piece of string that you then measure) to get the length from the top of your shoulder to your opposite hip bone. This number is usually between about 23” to 30”, depending on your height, weight, and bust. You will then add 3" to allow for space for the pouch/ baby. (I’m a 25”-26” and wear size Small shirts; my shoulder to hip bone is right around 23".) If sewing for a friend, there are estimate charts available online and you should err on the larger size; it is a lot easier to make a sling shorter, but adding length is harder.

Getting your measurement right ensures the proper fit for you and baby. A sling that is too tight is hard to use and squishes the kiddo. A sling that is too loose/ hangs too low is dangerous for carrying baby and puts unnecessary strain on your shoulders & torso. From what I’ve read online, some parents prefer a slightly tighter sling for when baby is a newborn vs when they are a little older and stay in the hip carry.



3. Cut Length in Half: Fold your fabric in half the long way and cut the entire 2 yards in half. You will end up with 2 long strips of fabric, measuring 2 yards by 20-27” depending on the original width. This will give you the fabric you need to make 2 (yes 2!) slings. There is information available online about the ideal width for a sling (20-22”) and the different benefits of different widths at different ages. I’m not going to repeat it all here since, as I said, I’m no expert. *If you are making a self-lined pouch, fold the fabric in half lengthwise with the pretty patterned “right” sides facing each other, but do not cut.



4. Cut for Your Custom Measurement: Using your two coordinating fabrics, put the pretty patterned “right” sides together, making sure at least one length side is even (for easier sewing) and the bottoms are even. On a hard surface, fold the length of the 2 fabrics up, making the length from the fold to the cut bottom end equal your custom measurement. You will then cut the extra length off. So when I completed this step, my folded fabric was 26” long from the fold to my cut edges. *For single sided pouches, just fold the single fabric length up to the measurement and cut.



5. Fold lengthwise: Here’s where it gets tough to explain in words something that is very simple in execution. At the end of step 4, you had two pieces of fabric lined up together with the right sides touching, folded to shorten the length by half. This means at the top corners opposite the fold, there were 4 layers of fabric together. You now need to fold it in half again, cutting the width in half and leaving one single corner with 8 layers stacked up. You’ll have a long, narrow shape, with a shorter fold at the bottom and a very long fold along one side. *For single sided pouches, you’ll only have 4 corners stacked. For self-lined pouches it’s even more confusing! You started with one long fold down the side before any cutting, then added a fold in the middle, then folded the long side AGAIN in this step, leaving you with 4 open corners and 2 folded corners in the stack. Make sense? No? Sorry- that’s the best I can do.



6. Cut Pouch Arch: You’ll now need to cut an arch out of these 8 stacked layers. The top of the arch (which will become the pocket where baby sits) will be along the fold. The bottom of the arch will be along all the open corners, about 3” down from the top corner. You’ll want to try your best to cut all the layers of fabric together so that when you sew it, it will be even. Step 5’s picture shows the tape measure roughly outlining where my cut will be. This step’s picture shows the final result with all of the layers stacked neatly together. You’ll see I left about 1/2" of a straight piece at the end of the arch. This is for the side hem, and it’s up to you if you want to cut it “fancy” like that.



7. Sew Two Fabrics Together: Open up the folds, leaving the two pieces of fabric together with the right sides still touching. You will now see your arches looks like smiles of either end of the long strip of fabrics. Using a straight stitch on your sewing machine, sew together both long sides of the fabrics, leaving about 1/4" to 1/2”. Do NOT sew the arches yet! When you are done with this step, you will end up with a very long tube of fabric resembling a straw. *Single sided slings will skip this step, although I’d recommend adding a simple hem to both sides both for neatness and to prevent fraying. Self-lined slings only have one long side to sew- the other is already closed with the original fold.



8. Reverse the Tube & Prepare to Sew the Arch: Turn your fabric tube inside out, putting the pretty right sides on the outside. If you aren’t lazy like me, now would be a good time to iron the seams flat for a nice, crisp looking sling. I, however, just leave it because I hate ironing.

Fold the sling so that the arches line up. It does not matter which side is facing out in terms of function. Our last step is going to require sewing our “French seam” to lay flat, so if you want one side in particular to have that extra detail, put that side inside. This is also true for single sided slings- it’s personal preference. I wanted my blue fabric (the primary outside pattern) to not have the extra seam showing, so I put the orange side on the inside for this step. *For self-lined slings, the two sides are interchangeable, so it doesn’t matter.



9. The French Seam – step 1 (aka Sewing the Arch Pouch): A French Seam is a fancy way of saying a seam sewn up inside another seam. It’s a good strong way to connect edges of material- prefect for a baby bottom holder! Fire up the sewing machine again and sew along the edge of your arch, ensuring that you do a good job. I stress again that this is the seam that will carry baby’s weight, so you want to do your best with a nice tight stitch so the sling will be sturdy. When you have sewn the two sides of the tube’s arches together, cut away any excess fabric so you are left with 1/4" to 1/2" of fabric outside your hem. This will help ensure your French seam isn’t too wide and doesn’t have any extra rough edges sticking out after step 10. (I didn’t do this for my first sling, and I have rough edges sticking out- it’s not so attractive.)



10. The French Seam - step 2: Reverse your tube, putting your first arch seam on the inside. Again, sew along the edge of the arch/ pouch, encasing the first seam as you go. For both arches, your best bet is to go slower than if you were blazing along a straight seam. Getting the curve right can be tricky and the difference between a good sling and a fantastic sling can be clean stitching. (I’m somewhere in between good and fantastic- maybe great. My stitching would be defined as ok. I’m ok with being just ok, though I’m going to try harder for the gift slings!)



11. Iron Down Your French Seam: Ick, ironing. As I said, I’m not a big fan of it, and generally avoid it, but I do encourage a quick once over for this step. After step 10, we’re technically left with a completed sling. If you were to use the sling now, the pouch would be functional, but your seam would stick out straight, either looking goofy on the outside or potentially irritating baby on the inside. To put on the nice finishing touch, we’re going to sew down the French seam, making it a flat surface. Because we’re working with an arch here, using an iron to flatten the seam will make the sewing part easier. Even if it DOES mean having to break out the iron.



12. Sew Down the French Seam: Get the sewing machine ready for one last pass. Ever so carefully, lay the French seam down flush against one side of the sling (where you ironed it to stay) and slowly follow the arch, stitching it down. It isn’t a bad idea to break out some straight pins to help hold the seam down as you go. Be aware that you are going through 6 layers of fabric and potentially your first arch seam, so go easy. I bent a needle at the very end of my last sling because I got a little overambitious. Ooops!



13. Enjoy Your New Pouch Sling! Ta-da! You’ve done it! Your sling is complete. Since my iron was out and hot, I gave the whole thing a quick press (which was undone as soon as I shoved it crumpled up in a bag.) You will then fold the whole tube in half lengthwise, leaving your primary fabric on the outside. This creates the “pouch” where baby will sit/ lay. I have only used the hip carry, and I’ll explain how to use the sling for that here. There are lots of resources on the web to help with other carry styles.

To use the sling for a hip carry, take the folded sling and put it over one shoulder with the open pocket closest to your neck and the fold along the bottom. The pouch seam will be on your hip or just to the front of your hip, depending on how you carry your kiddo. Puff open the sling rails/ sides so you can see your very pretty inside material. Pick up your little one high on the shoulder above the carrying hip. Using your other hand, grab baby’s feet & legs and pull them under the entire sling, putting them up against your side. Slide baby’s body down, placing their bottom down into the open pouch of your sling. Adjust the rails/ sides so that the outside edge is high on baby’s back and the inside rail is up under baby’s knees/ legs. You want the bum to be lower than the knees to prevent pressure on the legs.



If it seems a little loose, or you’ve got a squirmer, you can do the “shoulder flip” to tighten up the fabric. Take the outside edge of the folded fabric on your shoulder and fold it down, doubling back over your shoulder. This shortens the length of fabric and pulls baby in closer.


I must give credit to a few places. I originally followed sling making instructions at Handmade Adelaide Baby (http://www.handmade-adelaide-baby.com/baby-sling-patterns.html) which has both photo and illustration drawings to help. I got confused in a few places, which I why I supplemented her tutorial with my own pictures and instructions for this lesson. You may find her explanations clearer! I also plan to direct my girlfriends to the Slinglings website (http://www.slinglings.com/baby_slings.php?main_page=wearing_instructions) which has great photo instructions for all of the carry positions as well as other resources.

I promise that once you make one sling (and maybe the second with the extra fabric), you’ll see how easy it is- between 1-2 hours- and you’ll want to make a ton more to match all the seasons and your moods! I even got a manly fabric to make a custom fit sling for my husband- camouflage dinosaurs are super fun- which he loves. Happy Sewing!!!
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Last edited by MaineBean; April 26th, 2010 at 01:09 PM.
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  #2  
April 22nd, 2010, 01:10 PM
Mega Super Mommy
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Colorado
Posts: 3,702
You pics and explanation was better then the site I used to make mine! I still need to make one that is better for summer(ie not fleece) but I need a new sewing machine
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  #3  
April 22nd, 2010, 02:32 PM
AndreaRenee's Avatar raising boys...
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Manhattan Beach, CA
Posts: 6,053
very cool Mama! when I get time, I'm makin one!!!
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