Babywearing – A DIY Mei Tai Pattern with Padded to Wrap Straps

Posted by on Jan 7, 2014 in Blog, Kid Stuff | 0 comments

I have referred to babywearing in an older post. There are lots of ways to wear a baby, and if I didn’t babywear I would never be able to finish all the things I need to do. So, I really want a “Wrap Conversion Mei Tai” (AKA WCMT) but the cost of these things….holy cow, I am way too cheap to spend $500-$1000 on one of these things. I use these carriers as part of my work and casual wardrobe – that means I like them to match my clothes and look great, and so I have had somewhere between 10 and 35 of these at any given time. There is a huge subculture of moms who basically buy, sell, and trade these carriers around with each other. I feel like there is a place for expensive carriers, if that’s what people want, but I was raised without much money and this doesn’t fit with my lifestyle. I also feel like beautiful babywearing should be financially accessible to all families. So, I’ll provide a tutorial for how to convert any fabric, or a woven wrap, into a mei tai.

This is not the tutorial. This is a mei tai that I made using stretch denim and basic cotton decorative fabric. I wanted to do a basic version before chopping up my expensive wrap.  (((UPDATE: If you want the tutorial for the Wrap Conversion Mei Tai I made after this, and the free printable pattern, go here: http://barefootandpregnantesquire.com/babywearing/diy-mei-tai-pattern/)))

I have never actually used a mei tai, but I’m curious and figured I’d do a wrap conversion on a size 7 Gira I have. I used a variety of sources to cobble together a pattern, and this is the mei tai I came up with (using a heavy stretch denim and a decorative fabric).

I am experienced with sewing and making my own patterns, so that is what I did here, but I have never made a baby carrier before. I have excellent equipment, and I felt like I pushed it to the limit with the layers on this denim-based mei tai.

The finished size is body 18″ by 18.5″ wide, not including the waist. The skinniest part of the carrier body is 16″. I have a long, skinny 22 month old, and a three year old. I thought about making the seat a little wider for my 3yo, but then it might be a bit too big for my skinny littlest one.

I made padded to wrap straps that unfurl. I think I am pretty happy with the way they turned out.

1. The layers of the rear waist, 3 layers of polarfleece and two layers of denim (3 layers of polarfleece may be one too many):

Half inch seams on everything except hood:


The front waist ties (will make these half the width of the wrap next time, probably, but these feel comfortable:


The layers of the waist with the straps tucked in:


All sewn except for most of the top (I will cut the padding a bit shorter next time, I do not want as much padding where the waist attaches to the body):

Turned right side out after sewing:

The seat darts, put these on all three layers. I only made them one inch seat darts, but perhaps should have made them two inches and widened the pattern. I’m generally happier without seat darts in an SSC, so I’m not sure.

I didn’t feel like making straps for my prototype and I had this giant rickrack lying around, so I used it. I covered the ends with ribbon that I also had lying around.
Step 1:


Step 2:

Finished the hood tube ends, I think they turned out a bit narrow overall and I will widen them just a tad:

Sewing the hood (right sides together, then sewed all around except for the part that attaches to the body, then turning, topstitching and topstitching the hood strap tubes. Stitched with strings inside safety pinned to the hood straps, then pulled straps through once stitched to avoid stitching through the hood straps:

The padding for the padded to wrap straps – I will have to make the covers a bit bigger next time if I want to have three layers of fleece. I could only fit 2 layers. It’s comfy like that. I’m not sure if I need 3 layers of fleece here.

The sewing layout for the padded to wrap straps and the quilting (this shows the mirror image left to right):

The knee and neck padding stitched to the inner panel. This is also the first layer of the “sandwich” to make the body.

The second layer of the sandwich body, back of the carrier laid right side up:

Third layer of the sandwich, hood laid right side up, straps laid with padding down:

Last layer of sandwich for body, part that touches wearer laid wrong side up:

Pin and sew everything but the bottom:

Turn and check body:

Sew X-boxes to reinforce the top straps, and quilting for neck roll, and topstitched the top of carrier:

Topstitched the rest of the sides and the leg padding (I would stitch the leg padding a little differently next time just for aesthetics):

Attaching the body to the waist (should have quilted before this point). The first stitch line doesn’t catch the padding. The second stitch line does. All layers overlap by 1.5+ inches. It was a lot of padding and I think I will make the padding shorter, although it is comfortable…the padding in the second joining seam was just very difficult to sew through, even for my sewing machine, which is a really awesome sewing machine. I think that the 1.5 inch overlap is good. There are two lines of heavy stitching through all layers here. I looked through other SSC construction pics all over the web and that was supposed to be enough. If not, I’ll change it for the next one.

Added the x-boxes to reinforce the front waist ties (and somehow got one pointing up and one sideways!), but further quilting into the padding was impossible at this point, so I didn’t use the quilting lines. I don’t think it affects safety, but I want to do the quilting lines on the next one for sure. I just need to do it before sewing the waist onto the body.

Just kind of hanging there on the mannequin:


With my 22 month old, my first time trying on a mei tai:

Side shot, arms in:

Side shot, arms out:

The back (I did not unfurl the straps)

Side with an arm sticking out (I think the length of the carrier is good for her):

I pulled up the straps to take a pic of how the seat fits her. What do you think? A good fit? Could I make it bigger? I bet I could make the sides smaller than 16″, but she’ll grow…I’m not sure.

The side with the straps pulled up:

The other side. What do you think, could I make it an inch wider? It looks pretty much knee to knee.

That it, finally! So please, tell me what you’d change before I cut up my wrap. This carrier is actually very comfy. I have never used a mei tai and I had to watch some videos to figure out how to even tie it. I usually wrap.

Family Photo Drama

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