So read on — a 41-step process to craft a no-sew (or minimal-sew: your choice) doll carrier mei tai out of fleece scraps. Skip a step at your peril.
(Editor's note: Slightly abridged version with pattern is at the end, as well as a chance to WIN YOUR OWN mini mei tai!)
Here is the real tutorial:
You can click to see the pattern larger.
I've adapted the mini mei tai pattern from my regular mei tai pattern, which was in turn adapted from a pattern at www.WearYourBaby.com (but the links to that site don't appear to be currently working).
The idea is that this pattern should fit within the scraps you had left over from making the adult mei tai out of a heavy fleece fabric. If you look at the pattern for the large size version here, you'll see that three large pink areas are discards. There should be something in there that would give you enough fabric to create a mini mei tai for a baby doll.
Otherwise, just look for some other big fleece scraps you have around! Fleece is preferable because you don't have to hem it since it won't unravel. Yea! Plus, it will be plenty sturdy enough to hold a doll or two or three.
The measurements I used in the photographs above turned out to be a wee bit large. I've tried to adjust the finished size down for the pattern. That said, compare your own child's size. I have a 2-year-old who weighs 35-ish pounds and wears 4T, and his biggest doll is 14 inches long; if your child (or doll) is much smaller or much larger, you might want to do a specific waist and torso (and doll) measurement to see what would be best. Keep in mind that big dolls might be able to have their legs outside of the fabric apron as with carrying a larger baby in a real mei tai.
In this pattern, the apron covering the child's chest will be 12 inches wide and 14 inches tall. The straps will be about 45 inches long.
To use the pattern: fold fabric over into a big rectangle and mark and cut out, along the folded side, the smaller pink rectangle of approximately 3 inches by 45 inches. You'll probably have excess to cut off the other side and the top or bottom as well, unless you want an oversized mini mei tai like mine. I mean, hey, mine works, so whatever you want to do! You know, it's scraps anyway, so if you want to just sort of eyeball it, feel free.
And that's it, if you want to stick with not sewing. The leftover scraps weren't enough to do a legitimate no-sew mei tai with waist straps, but I think the shoulder straps alone should be sufficient to hold a doll's weight.
But, if you don't mind sewing a straight line or two, you can add a waist strap from the small pink rectangle you cut out.
Cut the leftover rectangle in half lengthwise and then line it up along the bottom of the apron, as in the pictures. (Those captions were serious.) I folded mine in half lengthwise and tucked the bottom of the apron inside so that the mei tai would be reversible and look the same from either side.
Then just sew the waist strap on! I imagine you could use some sort of hemming tape or glue if you really want a waist strap and really don't want to sew.
Does that all make sense?
Then you tie it on your child like a normal mei tai:
- If you have a waist strap, tie that on first.
- Have your kid hold her doll against her chest while you pull the apron up over the doll's back and smooth the shoulder straps over your child's shoulders.
- Cross the shoulder straps over her back.
- Bring the shoulder straps around front and tie. You can do a knot or a bow.
- If you don't have a waist strap, tie the shoulder straps under the doll's bum to keep it hoisted!
This should be ever so clear, but let me be explicit: This is a doll carrier. It is not meant for human babies. It is not designed to support an infant's weight, only a doll's. Supervise your kid if he's likely to try to wear his baby sister when you're not looking! Also just supervise your kid in general, because these are some long straps on this carrier that could be a hazard if your child becomes tangled. Keep an eye out when the carrier is in use, and put the carrier away when not in use. Ok?
So what do you think? Is this cute or what? Passing on babywearing to the next generation!
Send me your photos if you make one, and I will die from the adorableness. I also welcome any feedback or suggestions, because I am not, and I think there is no doubt here, advanced at doing sewing tutorials and/or sewing. Oh, and did I mention the pattern's not to scale? It so isn't.
For a chance to WIN YOUR OWN Mini Mei Tai, check out my giveaway post on Hobo Mama Reviews! Winner chooses from these four sweet fabrics. Contest closes March 18, which should give you lots of time to pick.
While you're there, check out my giveaways page, where you can currently also win a copy of Mama Knows Breast, a wonderful breastfeeding guide by Andi Silverman.
Just think what a great combo pack this would be for a new sibling gift: a mini mei tai for the older sib, and the breastfeeding book for the mama!
In fact, get an extra entry into the mini mei tai giveaway by entering the Mama Knows Breast giveaway! But hurry — the Mama Knows Breast giveaway ends this Thursday, Feb. 25!