Babywearing Love

I didn’t discover how amazing babywearing was until I had Danny. With Maddi, I had one of those stupid crotch-dangler baby carriers, but I never really used it. It was painful and uncomfortable for me (and probably her too). Unfortunately, I didn’t discover good baby carriers until my second child. But once I did, I fell in love.

When I had Danny, babywearing became a necessity. The first time I went to the grocery store, I didn’t anticipate the problem I would have. Maddi was too little to walk in the store, so she had to sit in the cart. If I had her sitting in the seat, then I had to either carry Danny (which made pushing the cart difficult) or put him in the basket part of the cart in his car seat (which left me little room for groceries). Just getting groceries turned into an extremely stressful ordeal for me.

Unfortunately for me, I was pretty broke at the time. My husband and I were living in my soon-to-be-ex-step-dad’s house in his spare bedroom with our two-year-old and our newborn. It wasn’t the ideal situation and we were struggling. Finding a baby carrier wasn’t easy. My grandma helped me make a simple pouch sling, which worked for a while, but once he got heavier (which he did quickly) it was too uncomfortable for me and it was too much strain for me, especially considering the pain I have from my sacral deformation in my spine.

This is how I learned to sew.

Sewing is a big part of my life. I do it often, and I really enjoy it. I have been told that I’m an amazing seamstress and have an incredible talent, but most people don’t know that sewing didn’t come naturally to me. When I was a kid, I always wanted to sew with my grandma, but I refused to follow patterns and ruined a lot of fabric. My poor grandma would get so frustrated with me and lecture me about how I have to use a pattern and follow instructions, and that if I didn’t, she wasn’t going to help me. I must have frustrated her so much. Then in middle school home economics, I flunked the sewing module. Somehow I managed to screw my projects up in ways my teacher couldn’t imagine.

I found a beautiful baby carrier that I fell in love with. I was just head over heels for this carrier… until I saw the price tag. This carrier was everything I could ever want, but unfortunately, at just shy of $200, it wasn’t an option for us. I decided that I was going to make one and enlisted my grandmother’s help. Of course, I couldn’t find a pattern for one, so my grandma was anxious and doubtful, telling me I couldn’t make one without a pattern, but I was determined. Fortunately this determination paid off. I managed to scrounge up a bit of cash and bought some fabric that was on clearance and gave it my best shot.

This was the very first baby carrier I made. Of course, it doesn’t look nearly as nice (or symmetrical for that matter) as the ones I make now. But, even in it’s lopsided state, it turned out pretty well, considering I had no pattern and drew it out on brown paper bags. Even my grandmother was impressed. She told me that she would have given me a B- if I made that in a home economics class and she was the teacher. I was proud, especially hearing that from my grandmother who had told me it wouldn’t turn out right. Even so, it still wasn’t good enough.

After a few more trial runs and tweaking my pattern a bit, I finally got my carriers to a point at which I was satisfied. At this point, I had a couple for myself, and soon, I started to sell them. I had many women stop me in public, asking about my carrier and I made quite a bit of sales this way.

A new baby on the way

By the time I found out that we were expecting our third child (Averly), I had three carriers that I had made, as well as a Moby wrap. I was very excited about the idea of trying out even more baby carriers with the new baby. By this point, I had made several dozen baby carriers and was quite experienced with it by this point.

While I was pregnant with Ava, I planned to make her a new carrier. All the carriers I had were boy carriers and I knew I wanted something girly and unique. I had two blue swirl carriers that I absolutely adored. I wish I still had these ones.

I actually made three carriers in this design. I sold one and planned to keep the other two. One of them, I gave to a friend who had to move out of state suddenly and needed one for the plane trip, and the other was stolen from me by someone I trusted (and who doesn’t even have children, go figure). These two were my favorite, but even so, I still really wanted a girly carrier for Ava.

Procrastination

As usual, I got really busy when I was pregnant with Ava. Considering I had to travel for her birth, and move all sorts of mountains to have a VBA2C, it wasn’t a typical pregnancy or birth experience. I had planned to make her a carrier while I was pregnant, but I didn’t want to make one until I found out the gender. Well, by the time I found out the gender, things got super busy and I kept procrastinating making the carrier. I was struggling just to get the diapers sewn up before she was born!

Unfortunately for Ava, I never got around to making her carrier before she was born. I did, however, use the Moby wrap with her a lot as a newborn. I love using Moby wraps with brand new babies.

I did try my hand at a beautiful mei-tai designed to look like the Chanel Cambon bags. I absolutely love how it turned out and I used it quite a bit… Unfortunately, it also went missing. I wouldn’t doubt it if the person who stole the blue swirl carrier stole my mei-tai too. It was pretty while it lasted, and instead of the Chanel double C’s, I made overlapping V’s for Van Vleet on it.

 

I did still have a camo baby carrier from when Danny was a baby. I used it, but I was never crazy for the camo print in the first place (it had been left over from a custom carrier). There wasn’t anything wrong with it, I just wasn’t a big fan of camo prints, especially for a little girl!

I used the camo carrier for a little bit, but like I said, I just wasn’t too crazy for it. I usually ended up putting Ava in the Moby wrap when we were out, but eventually, she got too big for the Moby wrap. You can supposedly use the Moby wrap up to 35lbs, but for me, I found myself uncomfortable using beyond the baby turning six months. You could use it, but once baby got heavier, it was harder on my back. She was also much more active and moving around a lot more, so it didn’t feel as safe for her, since the fabric was stretchier. I love Moby wraps for little babies, but once they get older, heavier and become more active, they aren’t my carrier of choice.

Since she had outgrown the Moby, I sold two of my Moby wraps and then I gave one to one of the women who donated milk to Ava. Then, a few months ago, I sold the camo carrier too. I hadn’t used it in a few weeks, and I really wanted to make a new, girly one for Ava. Of course, I sold it thinking I’d make a new carrier pretty soon, but I ended up procrastinating the task for almost six months. Oops. My bad.

The perfect carrier

When I chose fabrics for the carriers before, I usually just got whatever fabric was cheap or on sale. I either bought cheaper fabric, or fabric that the customer had chosen for their custom carrier. Sure, I liked some of them (like the blue swirl carrier) but they were never the fabric of my dreams. Recently, I decided I was going to search high and low until I found the perfect fabric for my baby carrier. This is the fabric I fell in love with.

I paid a lot more for this fabric than I normally pay for fabric, but it was worth it. It came all the way from Japan. When I got it, I was surprised to discover that I was able to get four carrier pieces out of it. Normally, I can only get two out of a yard, so this was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t cut four though. I cut three carriers, and saved the last of the fabric to make a diaper or two.

It was different making these carriers though. I wasn’t just making one for myself. I was making one to donate to Cloth Cooperative for their fundraiser in September and I was also making one for my little sister, who is pregnant and due to have her baby any day now. Before, I always made my carriers one at a time, but this time, I did it assembly line style, repeating the same step for each carrier, one right after another. It was different. It made it seem like it took forever, especially since I have to go over most of the seams three times! The carriers slowly but surely came together, bit by bit.

I worked on the carriers in the same order for each step. I did Becky’s carrier first, then the one for the auction and then mine. I did mine last for each step because I was the most excited for mine. I figured if mine was last in line, then it would motivate me to finish the other two as well. The carriers all look the same at first glance, but upon further inspection, different parts of the print are upright in each carrier. On my carrier, the little ghost looking things are upright.

Adding the waistband (once it’s assembled) is a relatively quick step (especially in comparison to how long all of the triple x-box stitches take) but it can be frustrating, and usually takes me a while. I finished Becky’s carrier first, then the one for the auction yesterday, and then mine today, just in time to use it while I was Maddi’s parent-teacher conference.

And somehow, despite having spent so much time slaving away over these three carriers this week, I have an urge to make a few more. I’m making one for Alinda that I’ll take to her when we fly in for the holidays. I’m using this fabric and have considering making Ava one in this print too.

And of course, I was so excited after I finished the first carrier (Becky’s) that I had to snap a million photos.

Becky is pretty excited that she’s getting a baby carrier too. Of course, once I finished my carrier, I just had to make a matching diaper. Thankfully I had some black PUL on hand.

So, that’s it. If you made it through this far, congrats on reading all about my excessive love of baby carriers. <3

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