The mei tai baby carrier goes to Betsy B. Honest at Honest 2 Betsy!
Betsy is one of the funniest bloggers I know, and she has a guest post coming soon on her birth experiences — specifically, the pain part of birthing! It's beautiful and hilarious and...oh! Stay tuned!
The picture is of Betsy and her newest little one, Josephine, born only a week ago and who will get to pioneer the wrap.
Betsy has chosen the polka dots, so I'm not promising, but you might see the stripey one make a reappearance sometime.
I was so overwhelmed by all of you marvelous people and your wonderful entries. So many much-loved babies and toddlers out there!
For those of you who didn't win (that is, all of the rest of you!), I will just point out again that you can make your own no-sew fleece mei tai. Whether you can get around to it is up to you, of course!
My handy-dandy mei tai how-to packet can help! I'm repeating the pattern and no-sew instructions below. The document (it's a PDF via Google Docs) also includes a sheet on how to wear your baby in a mei tai, perfect for your own use or for handing out to friends.
For those of you who have been wondering why on earth it was taking me so long to announce the winner of the giveaway, wonder no longer! It's because I was trying to create the pattern you will see below in Photoshop (which is only on Sam's laptop, so I had to borrow it while he was sleeping!), which involved much measuring and math and then measuring again and shaking my head at myself and measuring again, and then I had to expand my handy-dandy instruction sheet to include my new pattern and how-to, and then upload it and do a test print (also only on Sam's computer, because mine deciding printing is beneath its dignity), so...well, it all takes time. But it's Thanksgiving today hereabouts, so let's all be thankful for babywearing! Yea!
The original pattern and instructions are from WearYourBaby.com, and then I made a few alterations.
The tricky part's making the first one. After that, you can use that one to trace around and make more if you'd like to give them as baby gifts. Make sure to include the first two pages of the mei tai instruction packet so your recipients know what to do with their new homemade-with-love fleece baby carrier!
What you need: 2 yards heavy fleece, in your choice of colors, patterns, or embellishments; measuring tape; chalk or marker that will show on your fleece; pins; sharp scissors (if yours are dull from cutting paper, buy new ones or get yours sharpened — dull scissors will just frustrate you and slow you down — ask me how I know this!)
Where to find fleece: Any fabric store, or in the fabric section of a mega-store. At JoAnn's, it often goes on sale, so you can wait if you're patient.
The pattern: Some of these instructions I'm copying from WearYourBaby.com, and some I'm adding or altering. You can choose which directions to follow, because it's your carrier, after all!
This is the original pattern from WearYourBaby.com, which I happened to download before the domain changed and the image links broke:
Here is my version:
Click on either to see it larger. If you download my handy-dandy instruction packet, my version of the pattern and these instructions are included on the last two pages.
The differences between my pattern and the original are that mine's more to scale (it might not be perfect, but it's free, so why complain...), which makes it easier to visualize as you measure. I also made my straps wider for comfort's sake, and the apron where the baby sits a bit higher. My baby's got a long torso, and I felt like the original length was a little short on him. If you have a teeny baby, you can either (a) cut the apron shorter as in the original pattern or (b) roll up the waist a little (easy solution, and it keeps the length for when you might need it later). What's nice about the longer length is it can double as a makeshift sleeping hood/support for a small and drowsy baby's head.
If you want to use the original WearYourBaby pattern, remember it is not to scale. See how the bottom says "total width of bottom is 60 inches"? But the total length is 72 inches, which, you know, should look longer than the 60 inches. So don't let that confuse you. Also, you fold your fabric in half lengthwise, so imagine folding the mei tai pattern in half as well. If this is too confusing to you, just use my version!
Simple step by step:
• The fleece you start with should be 2 yards long (72 inches). The width will vary depending on the bolt of fabric but should be around 60 inches wide. If it's less, don't panic. Just see if the width will fit around your waist comfortably and allow you room to tie the straps in a knot. Probably it will.
• Fold the cloth in half lengthwise so that the length is still 2 yards but the width is now about 30 inches. Smooth it out and pin it in a few places if you're concerned it will shift.
• In my version of the pattern, the light rectangle is your folded fabric, with the dotted red line showing where the lengthwise fold is. The dark blue is what your finished mei tai will be (folded in half). You cut off all the light parts and save for scraps or discard. (This is kind of a wasteful pattern, but that’s the trade-off of no-sew bliss!)
• Use the measuring tape and your chalk or marker to measure and mark (ah! it makes sense!) the dimensions. (If you use permanent ink, make sure you cut inside the lines so that the marks aren't on the finished mei tai.)
• I’ve widened the straps somewhat to make them more comfortable. You can make the shoulder straps even wider, but I would gradually increase the width in a V shape so that the wide straps don’t crowd the baby in the apron part: so, 5” wide where it intersects the apron widening out to 7” or so at the ends. If that doesn’t make sense to you, ignore me and make like picture.
• Cut along the lines you’ve marked with sharp scissors. If you're having trouble cutting through the two layers of heavy fleece, it's because you didn't believe me on the sharp part. The lines don’t have to be perfectly straight. Don’t cut along the fold, or you’ll have two half-tais! You can trim off any selvage (ugly bits with writing along the edge).
• Unpin & try it out with your baby, if you have one handy. Adjust as necessary.
• Bonus: If you like simple sewing, experiment with adding a pocket from some of your scraps!
Finished dimensions: In my version, the waist straps should be about 6 inches tall and about 60 inches wide. The shoulder straps should be about 5 inches wide and about 2 yards (72 inches) tall. The apron part should be about 24 inches wide (including the two 5 inch shoulder straps) and 26 inches tall (including the waist strap). If you use the WearYourBaby version, here are the dimensions instead: waist straps 4 inches by 60 inches; shoulder straps 4 inches by 2 yards; apron 22 inches wide by 24 inches tall.
For a printable version of this pattern and construction how-to, click on Hobo Mama's handy-dandy mei tai instruction packet to download a PDF version from Google Docs. It's four pages long but can be printed back to front if you'd like a paper-conserving way to hand out the first two instructional pages to friends when you're giving away mei tais as baby gifts. I even included super-cool pictures of a fleece mei tai in use! And it's designed in Word, so you know that's got to be snazzy.
For more ideas on how to wear and how to make Asian-style baby carriers, see my post on "Babywearing the heavy baby: mei tai."
Please let me know if there are any broken links, bad math, faulty measurements, or general incompetencies in my pattern making. This was my first attempt at making a pattern, and I tend to adapt things for use with my (huge) baby, which might or might not be as useful for other (size) babies. So I'd appreciate your (gentle, oh, please) feedback.
Once again, I just want to say that I so appreciated all of your entries into the giveaway and wish I had a mei tai for each of you! I hope you'll stick around so I can get to know you better. Any friend of babywearing is a friend of mine.
Enjoy, and wear your baby!
Mei Tai pattern © www.WearYourBaby.com
with adaptations and sweat labor
by Lauren Wayne (that's me!) from Hobo Mama
Instructions © Lauren (still me!) from Hobo Mama
based on the WearYourBaby instructions,
but feel free to adapt and pass this along
to as many babywearing enthusiasts as you’d like!