I know you’re terribly disappointed over no Wetlands post this week, but I had to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to share a tutorial with you. After much tweaking, I’ve created what I’ve found to be the most comfortable shoulder design. And yeah, it looks cool too. I’m calling it the frogleg shoulder.
As I outlined in this post, these are the materials I used:
-2 m x 75 cm C & C organic cotton twill in purple
-Organic cotton thread, extra strong (Mine is old, I can’t remember where I got it, but they usually run around $5.00 a spool, I’m looking into SimplifiFabric.com!)
-Medium Sling Rings from SlingRings.com.
Side note, make sure your needle is right for your fabric! I’m a tool and during my first pleated sling I forgot that I had a universal needle on my machine and it bent while I was sewing multiple layers of twill. This is dangerous to you and your machine, so make sure you’re using the proper needle. For this thick twill, especially when layering, a denim needle will work best because it is sharp and will go straight down into the fabric. Universal and ball point needles are for knits where the stitches are bigger and the needle can slip between stitches.
Disclaimer: I am not responsible for the durability of your finished sling that you make, this tutorial is a guideline on how to make a safe sling, but I have no control over your methods or what you use to craft one. Please read the safety instructions at the bottom of this post for use.
Wash your fabric! Most fabrics will shrink or fray or do funky things once they’re washed, so to avoid any weird abnormalities with your finished product, the first rule of thumb with sewing is to prewash. I used Zum Clean organic laundry soap in Sea Salt, with cold water and then did a tumble dry on low heat.
Lay out the fabric and decide which of the long ends you want as the ‘seat’. This will be the hemmed edge, and you’ll want it to be on the bottom of the sling where your baby’s rump will sit. Because I got 150cm wide fabric and cut it in half, I used the cut edge because I knew it would fray. I am awful at cutting in a straight line, but the first fold of my hem was an attempt at just over 1 cm.
Iron your hem and remove the pins. If you don’t want to iron, feel free to skip down to the sewing. I used to do that for the simple reason I never owned an iron, but when hubby and I first moved in together, he had one, and it makes it so much easier! I also took this opportunity to iron the rest of the fabric too, since it was all wrinkly from the wash.
Fold the double hem. I don’t normally do one on personal projects, but because the ‘back’ of the sling will still show, I want it to look neat and tidy from both sides. So you want to fold it over again, pin, and iron.
Sew the hem. I used a zigzag stitch, not only because it looks cool but because it gives strength to the seat. Make sure to pull the pins as you go! I know it’s a bad habit of a lot of people to just sew over pins, but if your sewing needle hits that pin in just the right way, it’ll snap, and could end up somewhere very inconvenient. Like in your eyeball. #SafetyFirst
Depending on your fabric, you might need to repeat this process for the other side and the bottom of your material. For me, the edges were finished with a nice decorative fuzz on them, but I still wanted some consistency, so I did a zigzag stitch along the bottom and opposite long edge of the fabric. whichever end is going to be the shoulder you don’t have to worry about, because it will be folded over and sewn.
So this is the frogleg shoulder. Ironing is really helpful here, for evenness and flatness, but again, if that’s not your thing go ahead and pin it as best you can. I ironed a center crease for measuring, and then each crease to keep everything uniform. I didn’t worry about super accurate measurements, I just eyed it out and adjusted as necessary. My rule of thumb in sewing and in life is that if you can get away with not having to do math, then YAY! Also then each sling has it’s own unique character!
Pin the folds at the end and 10-15 cm down the length, and iron flat.
Do a basting stitch along the end to hold in the folds.
Feel free to use a straight stitch here, and don’t worry about backstitching, because it’s just to hold the folds in place so you don’t have to worry about the pins when you fold over the rings.
If you’re wondering why there’s a zigzag stitch on the edge, it’s because I was all gung ho about zigzagging my edges and got lost in the sewing and totally forgot that I didn’t have to do the shoulder edge. I could have ripped it out, but I didn’t. So yeah.
Thread the shoulder end through your rings and fold down to just above the next pin line. Sew across, as close to the edge as possible, and make sure to go slow, keeping everything flat. Backstitch and double stitch and go crazy here, because these rows are what is going to essentially hold the baby. I did three rows of stitches, two straight with a zigzag in between, feel free to experiment but remember that more is safer!
Step 10 – Sling Safety
If you’ve never made or used a ring sling before, make sure to read about how to properly use them and the safety precautions associated!
Ring Sling Wearing Tutorial and Safety – This page from SleepingBaby.net has all of the resources you need to research proper sling use. Note that these instructions are specifically for the SleepingBaby slings, and they can’t be held liable for slings made by others.
Tips & Tricks for Using Your Sling – This is a great page of do’s and don’t’s when it comes to sling wearing.
T.I.C.K.S. Rule for Safe Babywearing – Easy to remember rules for safe babywearing.
Enjoy your slings!