Ever since A got sick and spent 10 days in the hospital hooked up to so many things you could barely hold her, she doesn’t like to be put down. Neither of my babies liked the Maya wrap I made and while A will let Daddy wear her in the Bjorn she screams if I do.
In the hopes of having hands again I bravely spent a few of the hours I usually would be sleeping making a Mei-Tai. I followed the Grumbles and Grunts Tutorial. Be sure to look down at the comments for the alternate straps method, it saves a lot of time and effort.
Of course I made a few changes. I made the waist straps nearly horizontal as they are meant to tie like a belt. They are angled down just a bit. The shoulder straps come off at a more vertical angle, just angling them out a bit similar to how backpack straps would be. This is important for a comfy carry if you don’t make your carrier extra narrow. Speaking of extra narrow, I think making the carrier a bit narrower might make it easier for smaller babies to straddle the fabric. A started in the carrier at 7 weeks and straddling wasn’t going to work. She sits Indian style which keeps her completely out of the wind and weather for the time being. She almost always falls asleep because she is so cozy.
I used canvas to make my Mei-Tai feeling it would be stronger. The canvas I purchased had a 60″ width so I really only needed 14″ for the shoulder straps (60″ long by 7″ wide strips) and then 19″ to fit the body and waist straps (30″ long by “7” wide), so one yard of fabric was enough. On sale that’s only $6. Be aware, a half yard of the pretty fabric actually wouldn’t fit the 19″ by 25″ dimensions for the standard Mei-tai. Shrinking it to 18″ by 25 would probably be fine. You could probably even shrink the body to fat quarter size particularly for small babies, but I haven’t tried it. I used several layers of cotton batting cut from leftovers and standard (quality) sewing thread that I had on hand. So the total cost was less than $10 worth of supplies and a few hours time (I’m not sure how long it took. I often worked only a few minutes at a time.).
Two more points on assembly:
1. I chose to top stitch across the bottom of the batting to help hold it in place and to help keep the fabric from shifting. You might be able to cut down on time and costs by skipping the batting for the body portion. It’s fabric not rock so it’s pretty soft anyway.
2. An alternative method of attaching straps is also offered in the comments on Grunts and Grumbles and I thought about doing it. It would be really easy and as I waited for a chance to actually get sewing I realized the following:
Attaching the straps with them on the between the layers makes them pull the fabric in so that it is hugging your baby, this distributes the stress on the fabric more evenly than attaching them to the part of the canvas that faces you, which would have the body hanging off of the straps. The interior attachment with the top stitching over the straps where the come out also adds another layer of strength and stress distribution through the top stitching. You could get the hugging function by sewing the straps directly to the outside of the fabric through both the pretty fabric and the sturdy fabric, but it doesn’t have the same finished look and doesn’t have the top stitching reinforcement. Don’t sew only to the pretty fabric, it could tear.
I’m still trying to figure out how to best keep the long shoulder straps up out of the way when it is untied. Often if I take A out, but plan to put her back in I just wrap them around my waist and tie them, but I feel that perhaps attaching a couple of hair ties so that they could be rolled up out of the way might be good for transporting or storing it. If you have any ideas how best to do that please share them in the comments.