Friday, July 31, 2015

It is finished

 This is a wrap conversion half buckle with wrap straps. I'm not sure if this is considered a Mei Tai or a hybrid. The straps and waist band are padded with a soft high density foam, while the head rest and legs out sides padding is a little less dense.

The reason I went with wrap straps instead of a full buckle design is because I find buckles under my arms to be somewhat annoying. Now, if one were to have fixed straps without the buckle (such as with a Boba or Tula) than there is only webbing to contend with. Though I can still get a nice carry with an adjustable buckle carrier like Kinderpack and Beco's Gemini that allows you to wear the straps straight or crossed because of the buckle. Truth be told I miss my Gemini, which I sold to acquire a infant sized Kinderpack. I feel that right now the Kinderpack is too wide on the top and my little one doesn't seem as comfortable in it. While the standard size was a fabulous fit for her older siblings, I'm struggling to find the love with the infant version. I save it for times when I truly just need quick "ups" or errands.

 Meanwhile at home I'm more drawn to using a wrap to achieve a carry that's imitates what an arms embrace would feel like. Which brings me to the second reason I wanted wrap straps and this narrow contoured body panel was so I could adjust the carrier for a more custom fit every time. To narrow the seat I place the waist belt higher (where you'd want a new baby anyhow), and can spread the wrap passes in such a way as to hug the baby more snuggly than I could in my full buckle carrier.

I wish I could make more of these! I wish I could sell them... or donate them without fear of regulations and lawsuits should someone has an accident or something. I think that this design has some potential, but I don't have the time nor capital to test it in order to make it compliant... but if all I had to do was sew, I'd make one of these a week with whatever wrap someone wanted just for the thrill of accomplishing something.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Curtain Mei Tai: take two

Having two curtain panels, and a desire for improvement I had to try this again. Ultimately the goal is to make the dream carrier, but I need to be sure before I cut into a hand woven wrap. These curtains were free, I loose nothing but time, thread, and padding in making them. I hope to make someone very happy with this sometime in the future.

This child prefers
his arms in, but he
could put them out.
So the panel on this one is much larger than the first, both in length and to some degree the width as well. However, the slimmer contour design of my first one is still apparent. I want baby to be able to stick out his/her arms and for ventilation to flow from the sides of the carrier. The wrap straps provide the customizable support so additional fabric along the torso isn't necessary. To be sure the wrap straps can make this carrier very snug, almost too snug at times (and I loosen it some for a little more breathing room). I suspect that perhaps a woven wrap fabric will have a little more give than the canvas curtains.

I really like wearing these mei tais, but I'm not fond of fumbling with the straps, especially the waist straps. However, I do think the wrap straps are much better than the discomfort of hard plastic buckles and hardware which can sometimes dig into your underarms and sides. The dream carrier might end up being a half buckle, wrap strap hybrid. I can't decide.

Another thing I am not sold on yet is the tie hood straps. I think the adjustability of the hood is second to none! However, I haven't figure out how to adjust them while in a back carry without assistance. These straps can be tied up to four different levels, but I can't reach the bottom two. In the picture above the hood is tied off at the first level adjustment.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

No buckels, snaps, nor webbing

Back to the basics with a few updates; my latest project was the repurposing of some old drapes into a Mei Tai baby carrier. Having heard raves about wrap straps I gave them a go, however didn't quite get the right angle when I pinned them in, so they pucker out from the top somewhat, which isn't all bad in that it causes the straps to stick up like a side head wing for the baby. Padding was added to the waist band, shoulder straps, head rest, and legs out area, helping to eliminate digging and wrap lines. The body of this carrier is extra small to better conform to my new "squish."

I'm glad I worked with this old curtain before cutting into the wrap I have sitting in the project box, as I'd need to change a few things if I made another Mei Tai. The straps are great! The hood and body panel have potential, and the waist is very comfortable. Still, some lines would need to be drawn a little differently.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Sewing necesities

Being exceptionally prone to clogged ducts and mastitis all constrictive garments are off limits. Even "nursing" bras, despite the lactation friendly design have caused plugged ducts and rounds of "boob flu," the feeling I experience when milk is backing up, makes me feel achy and tired. Pushing myself a little too hard, or wearing the wrong under garment can be all it takes to kick off an episode... or a stressful conversation...whatever...

But a gal still needs some undergarments, and so I've been working on the perfect solution for my body over the last several years. In the past I've made my nursing shirts more like tank tops, which was fine sometimes, but would stick out under certain tops. Since those first shirts are wearing out, I needed to make more, and began to tweak my original design.

Last week I made two light peach cami tops using some stretch lace and adjustable bra straps.

This week I figured out how to incorporate clips into the straps so I can cross the straps or even open the front entirely for nursing. While it's not necessary to unlatch the clip to nurse, my thought was that if there's any compression occurring from simply pulling the wrap bodice aside, then I could unclip the panel to eliminate any possible duct compression. This afternoon, while my big kids went to see the scary dinosaur movie with their father, and the youngest took naps, I completed two more nursing cami tops. These are made a light jersey knit soy rayon blend fabric I had stashed in my closet.  Wish I had more of this.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Rainbow Ring Sling

Big squish
(little squish was asleep)
Since the new squish arrived, I've been reminded why it is that ring slings make the best carriers for newborns. They're so little, you just want something that hugs them up close and snug. They don't weigh much so a one shoulder support is amply sufficient. Yet, my other slings were inching in towards my neck instead of resting on my shoulder. The solution for this is a different shoulder style; Eesti Shoulder.

The hardest part was building up the courage to cut my wrap. Since I like to use the sling tail to create a second seat pass or to serve as a nursing cover, so this is a long sling.

I selected to convert my Girasol light rainbow size 2 "shortie."

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

All done... experiemental adjustable carrier

Inside, on largest setting
I'll have to try it out with babies of various ages and sizes before I'll know if this is a success.
It's late and I'm just glad to be finished with this one.
Inside cinched to smallest

Outside, cinched to smallest

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Now what...

This belt is lower profile from
previous carriers.
This is as far as it's gotten. Before proceeding black thread will need to be wound onto a bobbin and I need to decide how to do the adjustable height sleeve for the waist belt. Currently, the bottom most sleeve is sewn on (French seam) and is good and snug, yet still allows for removal of the padded belt.
If I make a hood, it will be a snap in and not sewn in as previously. Neither of the fabrics on this carrier would make suitable hoods, so I would need to find something else. However, the top head rest still opens to allow for an interior pocket so I can insert a camel back or cooling towel.

I could add another sleeve to the interior side panels with a couple belt loops perhaps on the comfort mesh part...

Or I could insert the belt upside down and flip the current waist belt sleeve up... but then there needs to be a way to secure it in that position or the sleeve might slide down.

For cinching most likely I'll put the double cinch belts on the side panels like I did on the ACU carrier.

But all that will have to wait for another day. This is as far as I'm going to progress today.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

knitting right along

I wasn't sure if this would be a sweater or more of a poncho... from the top down you can go either way. Now though, the decision has been made and it will be more of a sweater with traditional sleeves. Sleeves are now on holders (stitches are just looped onto a piece of yarn and tied in a circle). The circulars are proceeding with working down the length of the body.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Que

I'm trying to cross a Kinderpack with a Girasol Mysol Mia Tai...that's what this boils down to. I want the deep seated triple panel of the Kinderpack, with the height and leg adjustability of the Mysol. Combine the ease of buckles with the squishy softness of a hand-woven wrap, and an element of adjustability and perhaps I will have it all.... or will go crazy thinking of new combinations to try.

So I've redrawn a body panel of my own by connecting lines between sizes. Instead of experimenting with my Girasol Donau size 4 wrap (that I procured explicitly
 for conversion, I'm going to start with my water carrier first. Yes, even though I have a water sling, I think I "need" a water soft structured carrier too. Last summer I watched a mom wear her baby in a beater Ergo in the pool almost everyday. It was a marvelous idea as Ergos can be found for cheap and aren't so valuable that you'll be loosing money wrecking it in the pool. However, the only thing that bothered me a bit was I noticed her Ergo fabric (cotton) was wearing out pretty good. It certainly seemed stable enough, but I conjectured that there had to be better materials out there for water use. So I found a polyester canvas to pair up with my polyester comfort sport mesh fabric, and hope that this would prove a more water durable option. Nylon is lovely too, but tends to be a bit slippery, and flimsy, so Polyester it is. One downside though is this polyester canvas is not very soft... at all. It's not going to win any squishy baby carrier awards that's for sure! However, since I need an experimental for this new pattern I'm playing with, if it doesn't turn out awesome, I won't be heartbroken.

On the other hand, if it's as I'm hoping, I'll have a more clear direction to take with my precious Girasol Donua Wrap.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Room for two heads

Baby opening tucked in
closed position
Right because two are better than one.
Baby opening
It's my hope that when I don't need an opening for baby the button panel will tuck under discretely and not be too noticeable.

I'll have to sew on buttons, but the button holes are ready on the flip side of the baby collar/ opening ribbing.

Weird, uh?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Baby and Me Sweater

Here's the beginning
of the baby opening.
While it's spring, I'm still keenly aware of how awkward staying warm while baby wearing was this past winter. Waiting till next winter to come up with a solution seems silly, and now's the time to solve this problem. There are a few baby wearing coats being made which retail for anywhere from $100 to $200, but most need to be imported from overseas. I might still opt for a shelled baby wearing jacket eventually. However, for the moment I'm working on something which I hope will work for most winter days, save the most extremely cold ones, as our Virginia winters aren't too terrible. Often a heavy sweater or fleece coat is sufficient given you're properly layered underneath.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Donau Wrap Conversion

I have all the materials, except my made up mind at hand. I know I'm turning this wrap into a carrier with buckles. I like how the olive drab webbing looks with this, but I haven't determined if I want a firm structured waist belt or a softer quilted belt. Do I want a ventilation panel or the baby pouch to be totally made out of the wrap? What size I've yet to determine. So I'm not sure when I'll begin this particular wrap conversion.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

ACU carrier

seat straps cinched all the way
for baby mode
While the stitching is rather sloppy in several places, they seem to be functional. Perhaps an industrial machine would help in a few steps, but I'm making due with what I've got. I changed a couple more things with this carrier, and still have one more addition to make once my digital camo elastic arrives (with the webbing for my next wrap conversion). 

This new ACU carrier
will work for both
present toddler
and incoming baby
The waist belt padding is one solid piece instead of three separate pieces. Not only is this easier to work with, and more esthetically pleasing, it seems to be equally comfortable.

The shoulder straps are still big and fluffy, which I love. My strap padding is a little longer and wider than Kinderpack standard straps, almost as long as their plus straps. However, my buckles are single adjust, and sewn so the buckle stays on the strap (or at least once I get the elastic on it should stay put). With our Kinderpack, my husband needs the plus straps in order to not get choked by the sternum strap, while I'm perfectly comfortable with the standard straps. This resulted in needing a special Dad carrier or he never wanted to wear it. I've noticed that with my first SSC (Dandies) wrap conversion, we can go back and forth wearing the same carrier and it works for us both.... or my dear husband is making more of an effort in making me believe I've improved our carrier situation. Our Dandies currently serves as the resident van carrier since it works for us both with our current crew of toddlers.

Proof that this is becoming a bit of an obsession, I want to make "just one more." My husband really likes the pockets on the waist belt, and the uniform label I transferred to the inside of the belt that keeps him from putting the carrier on backwards.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Almost finished...but not quite done

Another naptime, and I was able to get the belt and hood sewn onto the body of the carrier. I tried something a little different on the belt, and while it's tighter than previous seams in this area, the stitching, when examined up close, is not impressive. Having the stitching up close to the firm padding is very hard to accomplish, and so the feeder foot doesn't move the fabric as evenly as I'd like when I'm doing this seam. It hardly moves it at all, so I have to sort of tug at it to keep it feeding through, resulting in a very teeny stream of stitches. While they're quite functional, it's not appealing to the discerning eye.

The straps clash with the ACU fabric in the exact same fashion that the current uniform regulation desert camel boot clashed. I gave my husband a choice between the kaki or black straps. He choose Kaki, staying true to the look of the uniform indeed. The buckles will be black though, as I've yet to run across any other color in all the sizes I require.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Today's sewing...

I wouldn't usually sew in the middle of the week, but as the school children were out for a field trip all day I was home with the little folks, which allowed me to revert back to the good old days when I could sew during nap time.

This is my third soft structure carrier effort, at this point, turned inside out, and not totally assembled just yet. On this one I'm trying to do as much fabric sewing as possible before I start adding the buckles and stitching the webbing ends. It feels like it's going together a lot faster than the first two carriers.

Monday, March 30, 2015

More hints....

Much of my time prepping this project involved a seam ripper. I think I've finally got all the pieces cut out, and couldn't help but pin a few together to get an idea of what it would look like.... because we don't have enough of these laying about the house, I've got to have more of them. Actually, this one is going to be for my husband.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


As is prone to happen, uniforms having been decommissioned are being called up once more to serve another tour of duty, but with a new mission. Can you guess what this will be?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sheet dress... I hate zippers

New dress, left
previous dress, right
Both repurposed bed
I've been reading negative reviews here and there of other crafting merchants, and it's getting to me a bit. Now I scrutinize my projects, nit picking till I no longer feel they're worthy of value to anyone other then my own children, who love their twirling dresses. A fellow angoras rabbit, spinner, knitter, and crafting enthusiast (who passed away last year) once told me to stick to making things I'll be able to use myself, because nothing ever sells very well. She made some lovely hand spun, angora wool hats, gloves, and sweaters and they would sit on her little website for ages. I try and keep her advice in mind when prioritizing my sewing and knitting projects, because it's very sage. My kids will grow up wearing a lot of handmade.

Not being prone to giving up entirely or wallowing in failure, I've decided that I could certainly use some instruction on sewing zippers. I've sort of winged it for years, but honestly, hate how they always look, and am certain there's a better way, I just haven't figured out yet. My attempts a hidden zippers never work out the way they should. The instructions on the zipper package just don't make any sense to me. I'm going to have to google this and see if I can find some tutorials online or something. I get frustrated with folks who never try or choose to turn away from the lessons they could learn. So what if that first knitting project looks awful! Try again, and the next will be better.

 There's also got to be a way to keep more seams tucked and hidden. On my dress I have almost all the major visible fabric seams turned and topstitched, but not all of them. Like the shoulder sleeve seams, and the bodice to skirt, while all on the inside, are still finished off with a tight zig zag because I couldn't figure out a way to have them hidden. A lot of garments just utilize the finish of a serger for these sorts of things, but I don't have one of those, so I zig zag the edges.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Recycled sheet dress

This weekend's sewing project is operation clear out the sewing closet supplies by doing the project stacked up in my mind. Two worn out sheets are being turned into a dress. The purple Egyptian cotton sheet will be the lining and the butterfly print cotton sheet will be the outside.

Cutting fabric is kind of tedious, but perhaps the most important step. Tomorrow we'll see how much I can get done.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Baptism Gown in a new medium

Usually I knit these with my yummy stretchy cotton, but alas, I couldn't find any in white. Instead I decided upon a 50/50 Merino/ Bamboo sport weight blend called Galileo by Knit Picks. Both being very fine and silky straight fibers, there's not much crimp, and the only elasticity is created by the ribbing effect of the cable patterns. Befitting a spring time baby, this is short sleeved, and hopefully won't be too hot or heavy. It's no lace knit, but it's certainly not worsted either. I purchased 6 skeins for this project, but only used four. I could make booties or a hat, but neither would be worn. My last Baptismal gown had a matching hat, but it was worn for like a minute and was practically a waste of time and energy.