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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

DIY Stretchy and Woven Baby Wrap

I had a baby in November and could not stop cuddling her! A friend made me a stretchy wrap, similar to a Moby, which was awesome for wearing my little monkey around the house and when we went out. She and I both loved it!
This wrap is made out of 5 yards of jersey interlock fabric which you can buy at just about any fabric store. With jersey fabrics you don't even have to hem the edges, they curl up and don't fray! How easy is that?! So you buy 5 yards (more if you are on the fluffier side) of jersey knit or similar stretchy fabric, cut it in half lengthwise, and BOOM two stretchy wraps, one for you and one for a friend! :) Such an easy and inexpensive way to own a baby wrap that you will love and it makes a great baby shower gift!

But... she got bigger and heavier and squirmier and the wrap became less and less supportive. That is when I discovered the world of woven wraps!! I went to my local baby wearing group and tried out all kinds of wonderful woven wraps, it was like my stretchy wrap in that it was a long piece of fabric but unlike my stretchy, I could wear her on my front, on my back, in many different kinds of positions and carries and the best part, she didn't sag, she felt light and comfortable and supported! This was a way that I could continue to carry her well into toddler-hood! Downside, woven wraps are very expensive because they are made of premium woven materials intended for the purpose of babywearing. So I thought, if I can make a stretchy why not a woven? After collecting tons of advice and tips from veteran DIY babywearers I went to the fabric store again in search of a 6 yards of sturdy 100% linen, which was pricey but still much cheaper than buying a "real wrap" especially after my coupons :) But the material was boring white, so I decided to spice it up with tie dye.

First cut your fabric in half lengthwise again creating 2 wraps. Wash your fabric, don't dry, lay it out damp on a garbage bag cut down the sides and opened up to make it as long as possible. I wanted to do star-bursts down the center so I started at one end, pulled the fabric from the middle up like what you do when you pull your pony tail through and wrap a rubber band around it.

Do this all the way to the other end. Then I did the same thing on both sides of the middle pulling the fabric up and wrapping a rubber band around each bunch. The bunches on the sides are lined up in between the middle bunches so that they are staggered. You can do all kinds of tie dye patterns, just have fun with whatever you choose to do.

Prepare your dye according to the directions. I used Dylon fabric dye with tie dye squirt bottles that I had from another tie dye project.

*TIP* Use a "safe" dye because baby will chew on your wrap at some point. The better the dye the better the final product and safer for baby!

I dyed all of the middle bunches with red and all of the outer bunches with blue. Then I wrapped the fabric up with the garbage bag, taping it closed and left it overnight. The longer you leave it, the more the dye should take. The next day I removed all of the rubber bands, and rinsed it in cold water, then washed it according to the dye packet instructions.

After your wrap has been been washed and dried, you will need to hem the edges so that they don't fray. You can make your wrap a regular rectangle or you can taper the ends to shape it like a parallelogram. I just fold and hand press the edges as I feed it through the sewing machine but if you have more patience you can fold and iron the edges to give a nice clean finish before sewing. I did a zig zag stitch all the way around and then added a small square piece of fabric, like a tag, as a middle marker to the top and bottom of the wrap. New wraps take a lot of breaking in to make them easy to use, so I braided an un-braided this wrap like crazy, here is a video on braiding your woven wrap.
Finished wrap braided to break in fabric
Finished wrap after being un-braided
After my wrap was broken in a bit, I used it for front carries for awhile until I felt comfortable using it for back carries, and each time I use it, the wrap becomes more and more fluffy and easy to use and baby loves it more every day!

The length of fabric that you will need depends on your size and what types of carries you want to use it for. I purchased 6 yards of fabric for this project which for me was more than enough for any type of carry. I recently made a wrap with 5 yards of fabric and that is perfect for me. 5 yards of fabric is about 4.6 meters which is a typical size 6 woven wrap. If you are petite, you could get away with a size 5 wrap which is 4.2 meters or a little over 4.5 yards. 

If you are making your own wrap be sure to buy good quality fabric, and use safe dyes. Then enjoy them while snuggling your little one from squishy new baby to big kid!

6 yard 100% linen hand dyed wrap
5 yard light & airy linen cotton blend