Thursday, January 17, 2013

Woven Wraps Revisited

Its been well over a year since I first wrote my Woven wrap baby carrier post and even more importantly I am a second time mom and maybe a bit more seasoned at this point. It's also my most viewed blog post so I thought it was time to revisit the DIY woven wrap subject. I have in fact learned a great deal in my babywearing and DIY baby carrier "career". So first off lets just come out and call a spade a spade. Name brand woven wraps are expensive! Even used these simple strips of fabric can cost you $300... or google "pamir" and let the jaw dropping begin... these limited editions are procured by auction and sell for over $1,000. Let me be clear here, this is a sheet of fabric that your little baby is going to puke, snot, and possibly poop on! This is a sheet of fabric that is going to drag on the ground while you wrap your squirming toddler in the walmart parking lot. If you are adventurous like me, this is a piece of fabric which will go hiking with you and get snagged on trees and dropped in mud. It will be dragged from your living room to your kitchen by your sick toddler who needs snuggle time while you need to cook spaghetti. I don't judge anyone for spending however much they chose on a wrap or carrier of any kind at all. But for me, I don't think I could live with myself if I knew I ruined a $1,000 piece of fabric.

How DIY is Different From Specially Designed Woven Wraps

Not all wovens are really that expensive though. Sometimes you can find a good price on a used wrap. Don't be put off by the "used" condition... a used wrap is usually outrageously blankety soft and broken in. There are some brands or even different weaves and blends of the same brand that will fetch a different price. What makes a name brand woven wrap any different from your DIY wrap? Well that list could go on forever but suffice it to say that a name brand wrap is made specifically for babywearing. These are companies/designers/people who have studied the art of weaving and have used their knowledge to create something specifically meant to carry babies. Different weaves accomplish different things. For example, a diamond weave will be a bit more supportive than a simple twill weave. And then there are the countless fiber combination options. Cotton is soft and blankety but can lack some support for heavier babies or very extended periods. Silk is strong and soft but delicate and requires special washing. Wool is also strong and soft and warm but again, special washing. Hemp is outrageously strong and supportive for heavy babies and extended wear. Linen is also outrageously strong and often referred to as "beastly" in the babywearing world. Bamboo is usually described as "marshmallows" and for good reason! It is so very very soft but it can be less supportive. Also as a viscous material bamboo can be susceptible to damage when saturated, so extra care should be taken when removing from the washer! Even within the different fibers themselves content differs and offers even more countless options and differences! You can easily lose yourself completely in the world of woven baby carriers!

I now own three name brand wraps. A very well used (got it in a trade) dolcino bali 100% cotton which has been chopped to a size three (we will talk sizes and acronyms later). Also used, Linuschka Kalejdoskop Lila 100% linen in size 6. And also used again, a Natibaby Pearl Pancy 20% linen 80% bamboo in a size 6. I have made countless DIY woven wraps and while you can make a great DIY wrap you can't really compare a DIY to a wrap woven specifically for babywearing.

Chosing the Right Fabric for Your DIY Woven Wrap

My go to fabric for a DIY wrap is linen. It is strong and supportive and a good safe material. You really can't go wrong with a linen if you are DIYing a wrap. We live where the summers can be outrageously hot though and so in the summer I love a gauze wrap! But gauze can be "diggy" on your shoulders and baby's legs if you do a sloppy wrap job or wear for a long period. If you want to mimic the name brand woven material you will be best suited to check out the upholstery fabric section. Be careful there though... avoid all polyester and poly blends. They are just too "slippery". A 100% cotton is nice as is linen but linen upholstery is very rare. Look for a simple or diamond twill weave or some jacquard weaves. Also avoid all quilters cotton. It's not supportive or safe.

DIY Wrap Sizing

Since most wrap weavers are in Europe they are sized in meters which can be a little confusing when you want to DIY a wrap. Here's the conversion to help you along.

size 2 - 2.7 meters = 2.95 yards = 8.86 feet = 102.36 inches
size 3 - 3.1 meters = 3.4 yards = 10.17 feet = 122.05 inches
size 4 - 3.6 meters = 3.94 yards = 11.81 feet = 141.73 inches
size 5 - 4.2 meters = 4.6 yards = 13.78 feet = 165 inches
size 6 - 4.6 meters = 5 yards = 15.09 feet = 181.10 inches
size 7 - 5.2 meters = 5.7 yards = 17.06 feet = 204.72 inches
size 8 – 5.60 meters = 6.1 yards = 18.37 feet = 220.47 inches

Most brands widths are also measured in the metric system and vary between 64cm (25.2in) and 77cm (30.3in). Some of the thicker wraps are not as wide because they'd be too overwhelming. A thinner wrap can be quite wide or not. I prefer a wide wrap especially when wrapping my toddler! Most material on the bolt is 45-60in wide. So you can potentially get 2 wraps from one piece. When I get 60in wide material I split right down the middle and have two wraps 30in wide each. If the material I want is only 45in wide I still cut to the 30in wide and I use the remaning 15in width to make a wrap for my daughter or I find something else to do with it. You could even get really exciting and buy 5 yards to make yourself a size 6 wrap and with the other half of your material you can make two ring slings! Three baby carriers for way less than the price of one!

A wrap is the most versatile baby carrier you can get because the possibilities are nearly endless. There is a bit of a learning curve though and some people just get frustrated and find something less time consuming. The best thing about a woven wrap is the safety and structure is in how you wrap it! It's a simple piece of cloth and it is safe to use because you are going to tie it on there properly. Even a beginner seamstress can make a perfectly safe and wonderful wrap. A beginner may not want to make a ring sling or a mei tai but a wrap is just a rectangle with hemmed edges and anyone can do that! Here are a few pictures of some of my favorite carries in some of my wraps!

poppins hip carry in a size 3 dolcino

rear rebozo ruck with a knottless chest belt in dolchino (video below!)

ruck in a DIY gauze size 3

front wrap cross in a DIY linen size 4

rebozo slip knot in a DIY gauze size 2

When I find the time I will add some videos of my favorite carries. But right now my babywearing model is asleep in my lap!