Sunday, April 19, 2015

Finished: Quick & Cheap DIY Tablecloth Ring Sling (& Thoughts on Finding Time to Blog AND Sew)

Better photos of my DIY tablecloth ring sling, with actual baby. #SHBsewalong #babywearing #babyDWood #isew #tcrs

Becoming a sewing blogger is contradictory: blogging can inspire you to sew and can be creative in itself, but it can also be a time suck that takes you away from your sewing machine. Suddenly you have to find time not only to to make your project but to photograph (and photoedit) it, write it up (and edit it), answer comments — and, if you're really intense, provide detailed tips, tutorials and even patterns.

So given my limited free time lately as the mother of an 11-week-old boy and a 4-year-old girl I've been trying — and failing — to shorten my blog posts, limit the excessive amounts of detail and cut back on all the sketching and sewing planning and organizing of fabric and patterns I enjoy so much, but which rarely turns into actual sewing. And I'm giving myself permission to take really quick photographs in front of the only spot in my apartment which is vaguely clean and not worry that I can't crop out all the clutter.

I do think planning and sketching can help ensure a garment fits and flatters and actually gets worn ... but since I'm trying to break out of a sewing lull and seriously squeezed for time, it's probably better just to grab a pattern and fabric and just SEW.

(And yes, of course I realize it is possible to sew or knit without publicly documenting it... but at this point, it's almost a compulsion. Part of me just doesn't feel a project is truly complete until I've blogged it, Raveled it or Pattern Reviewed it... or at least Instagrammed it.)

So, anyway. I made a baby carrier out of a fuschia Mahogany brand tablecloth for the Small Human Being Sew-Along and it was ridiculously easy and satisfying. Start to finish the whole project took less than an hour for pressing, pinning and sewing, and that was INCLUDING watching the video tutorials and reading the instructions. It probably took less time than typing up this blog post.

DIY Fuschia Tablecloth Ring Sling

The details:

Pattern: Used the free "A simple un-padded sling" ring sling tutorial with gathered shoulder option from Jan Andrea's Sleeping Baby Productions baby crafts page — she has a huge wealth of free baby carrier sewing patterns, with great videos and essential tips on selecting safe and supportive fabric, weight-bearing rings and strong thread. I didn't bother with a pocket as I didn't have enough extra fabric.

Fabric: Half of a 90" x 60" Mahogany fuschia and yellow tablecloth (100% cotton jacquard). After washing, my piece was about 87" x 29", and the final sling measureds 75" (12" is taken up by the rings area).

It can be hard to find high-quality, supportive and pretty fabrics at a budget price for babywearing, but Mahogany cotton jacquard tablecloths have been road-tested extensively by many babywearers, come in many cool patterns and colorways, and are quite popular for DIY wraps as well.

Notions: Weight-tested size large silver aluminum rings from SlingRings.com, high-quality polyester thread (I used Mettler Metrosene, but Guttermann is also popular for sling-making).

Cost: About $25 for the tablecloth half and sling rings together. Which is pretty sweet as commercial ring slings often cost between $85-$200.

I split the other half of the tablecloth with Clio, so we're going to be babywearing twinsies.

DIY Fuschia Tablecloth Ring Sling

I cannot emphasize enough how much I ADORE this carrier. I've been wearing it all over the place for the last few days — even for outings of several hours. I love the bright pink color, I love how soft and supportive it is, and how "grippy" the fabric is (it really grips the rings and stays put once well-tightened). Baby D seems to love it too, as he falls asleep very quickly in it! And it is much more comfortable than it might look, as most of the weight is spread across the back, not the shoulder.

DIY Fuschia Tablecloth Ring Sling

I'll probably get more practical use out of this sling than anything I've sewn.

This shot probably best shows the actual color:

DIY Fuschia Tablecloth Ring Sling

Again, I'm trying to keep this post short, but the Sleeping Baby Productions instructions are great and easy to follow. Do read them carefully, though, especially in regard to fabric selection — you are going to be carrying a precious baby in that thing, so you want to make sure you select good fabric and sew it carefully and securely with strong thread (she recommends three parallel lines of stitching, spaced about 1/4" apart).

A word or two about safety:

Making your own carrier can be a quick sewing high, but please make sure you know how to use it SAFELY — that baby is high, tight, secure to your chest (tummy to tummy), breathing freely, and seated in a nice deep pocket. I took a little free babywearing class with professional educations when I had my daughter, and I've also been to some great babywearing meetups with volunteer educators who can (I've just joined my local NYC chapter of Babywearing International, and besides meetups and baby carrier education and troubleshooting they have an awesome baby carrier lending library!)

YouTube is also a great babywearing resource. Here are my two favorite ring sling troubleshooting videos by WrappingRachel: "How to Use a Ring Sling With a Newborn" and "Ring Sling Troubleshooting: Keeping the Rings at Corsage Level".

But don't be too intimidated — wearing your baby should be done carefully in a safe carrier, but once you get the hang of it, it's easy, fun and life-changing. Ring slings are great for sleepy little snuggly newborns who need to nurse a lot (you can nurse in the sling and use the tail as a cover), or tired toddlers who can only walk so far before they want up on your hip. And they don't need to cost a fortune, either — if you sew, you can make a sling.

I have one more pair of sling rings and I think I want to do a brightly-colored double-layer silk dupioni or shantung sling with a pocket (I own one and it is AMAZING, but the color is rather subdued). I think I need about 2.5" yards of 56"+ wide fabric... I've been eyeing this lime silk dupioni from Fabric.com...

... and I have a 20% off coupon, but it is only 54" wide, so that might be a bit narrow once folded and sewn into a double layer... I think I'll keep my eye out for bright-colored nubbly silk on sale.

Or maybe I'll just get another tablecloth!

DIY Fuschia Tablecloth Ring Sling

DIY Fuschia Tablecloth Ring Sling

**Disclosure: Actions you take from hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for polkadotoverload.com (quite likely to be spent on yarn or fabric).

11 comments:

  1. I think that quick posts about makes by extremely busy people are the most inspirational. They show that it is possible to eke out a little maker time for a me-made life. Truly, I enjoy them more than the detailed couture sewing blogs.

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  2. Some of my favorite posts are the ones with messy, cluttered backgrounds, especially within other NYC apts. It makes me feel normal!
    Fabulous sling.
    Leuinda

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  3. You can find solid welded rings in the hardware store nearest you!

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  4. I love my ring sling for my toddler, much more comfortable than actually carrying him (for my arms but also for my back)! I bought the plastic rings from ring sling .com and they are great, make much less noise in the dryer than I would think the metal ones would lol. love your fabric!

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    1. I have a sling my mom made me with the plastic ones that I wear a lot as well. But I don't have to listen to the dryer, it's in the basement of my apartment building! :)

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  5. I love my ring sling for my toddler, much more comfortable than actually carrying him (for my arms but also for my back)! I bought the plastic rings from ring sling .com and they are great, make much less noise in the dryer than I would think the metal ones would lol. love your fabric!

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  6. Well done!! I made myself a ring sling for Maggie and I loved that thing to death! Even though I thought I did a really really ugly job of sewing up the shoulder and was always embarrassed by it, it was still one of the best and easiest carriers, especially before the baby was big enough to be in the Ergo without an insert. One of my favorite aspects of the ring sling is that it packs down into a tote or backpack so easily - much more easily than a soft structured carrier.

    I feel ya on the blog posting. I struggle to find the time to post these days. I used to do it on my lunch breaks at work, which was perfect because I was sitting in front of a computer anyway, but lately I've been trying to take a walk on my lunch break instead to fight the computer burnout! I have no easy answers!

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  7. Beautiful carrier, and yay for tablecloth refashions! I've never been able to wear my guys--I have tendonitis in my shoulders and 30 minutes in my Ergo every go would lead to 3-4 days of me hobbling around in searing pain. I admire women who do it though, and Jan Andrea's page is one of the most helpful things out there. I've used her regular bra into a nursing bra hack every time...it's so brilliant, and allows you to not have to mess with evil RTW nursing bras or trying to guess your size, knowing it will change tomorrow if you build your own (better) nursing bra.

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    1. I haven't even looked at her other crafts, I have to go check that out!

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  8. Love the color! I didn't know about those tablecloths. I made one for jane but didn't end up using it for very long. Summer gets really hot here and we would both sweat like crazy. I did like how comfortable it was to have her high up on my chest.

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