Saturday, February 16, 2013

Guest Blogger: Ring Tai Tutorial (a Mei Tai with rings!)

Hello friends, this is my first guest blogger post! I was trying to decide which baby carrier to make first and came across this Ring Tai on the DIY Babywearing page on Facebook (check it out, but warning it's addictive!  You will feel the need to make and try EVERY carrier you see on that page!)  Heidi Imel laid out very clear instructions on how she assembled her Ring Tai and gave me permission to repost them here. Thanks Heidi!

First lay out your supplies.  There are some missing photos of the supplies but easy to assemble these.  All dimensions below are raw dimensions unless specified.

  1. (2) shoulder straps 10" tall (8" finished) X at least 37" long.  If you want to know exactly how long you will need your straps (I am a larger woman than Heidi so I wanted to make sure mine were long enough) measure from your shoulder blade over your shoulder and under your arm to that same point and double it.  My measurement is 42" plus add to that a 5" seam allowance for the part of the strap that stays inside the carrier body. (photo later)  So I cut my straps 10" X 47". Hem both long edges and one short edge, the other short edge can be left raw as it will be hidden inside the body of the carrier.
  2. (1) waist strap 10" tall (8" finished) X your waist measurement.  Mine is 40".  Hem both long edges and one short edge, the other short edge can be left raw as it will be hidden inside the body of the carrier.
  3. (3) straps for the rings 10" X 7"
  4. 3 sets of small rings from Slingrings.com
  5. (1) beautiful woven wrap or 100% cotton tablecloth!

Now that you have all the pieces collected, let's start assembling!  We will start with the 3 straps for the rings.
3 sets of small slingrings
  Now grab the (3) 10" x 7" pieces you cut.
Fold one side over (about in thirds) then for the right side, see how I fold the raw edge of the yellow over? That is going to seal in the raw edge.

Then fold the right side over the left side, pin, and press.

Stitch along the fold to seal it all together.  The short edges can be left raw, they will be inside the carrier body.

Put 1 set of rings on each sewn strip.  Fold in half around the rings with the seam toward the inside and pin together.
Set these aside for a bit while we switch to the body of the carrier.
I cut out 2 body pieces of my wrap, this exact shape (not pictured). Here is my inner layer of duck canvas for all my "safety sewing"---this is 1" smaller than the outer body panels. The smaller inner later will allow it to fit inside without bunching up.


Pin your waist ring piece to one side, gather the raw end of the waist strap and pin it with a 3-4" space for X-boxes on the inside. Pin the ring pieces (I prefer a slight angle upwards) about 7" above the waist pieces--this will leave enough room for chunky baby thighs but wont be so high that they'll dip in arm pits or be hard to thread the rings.

I'm assuming anyone who will make this (or any) carrier knows about back tacking and triple stitching---I used black polyester Gutterman thread so you can see my X-Boxes. I stitched X-Boxes at each strap/ring attachment point. I went over each X twice and they are intentionally not sewn directly on top of one another-that can weaken the fabric. Stitching doesn't have to be perfectly straight or pleasing to the eye, just safe, because its on the inside of the carrier. :)

Close up of a couple X-boxes.

With right sides together, pin your 2 body pieces together, making note of the entrance points of the ring straps and shoulder straps. (I suggest laying the inner layer on top of the body pieces BEFORE they are stitched together and using a pen to mark where the holes need to be.) I left a 1/3-1/2" seam allowance. Sew the pieces together at all sides EXCEPT at the strap/ring piece points--see next picture for example.

Here is an opening I left for the waist strap.

Here is an opening I left for a side ring strap.

Carefully feed your inner canvas layer between the body layers, threading the straps through the openings (I used the widest opening at one of the shoulder straps points to feed my whole piece) then pull each strap/ring piece through it's proper opening. Carefully smoosh everything into place, flattening the inner layer and making sure its all lined up and the inner layer edges match up with the "slip cover" edges. (A flat yard stick comes in handy here!) Pin.

Top stitch around the whole carrier, folding under all the raw edges of the strap/ring pieces openings. I'll add some action shots as well!


Thank you, Heidi, I can't wait to get started as soon as my rings get here!  I will post my finished product, friends, please feel free to post yours!  As always take extra care when sewing your carriers, you will be carrying precious cargo and I take no responsibility for anyone's stitching but my own!  Happy sewing!

17 comments:

  1. YOU GO GIRL!!! I can't wait to see your little bundle in my house this May!!

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    1. Thank you and me too! I will be wearing him in a contraption similar to this. Gotta have some help hefting him about as we see the sights of Alaska!!

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  2. Just so you know, we still do have the jogger stroller. That baby happily goes over all kinds of terrain. I think we should go with that while hiking in Denali for sure :-)

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  3. Help! This is my first time doing a DIY conversion. Where can I get that pattern for the body piece?

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  4. I modified the pattern found here at My Inner Need to Create http://myinnerneedtocreate.blogspot.com/2011/05/handmade-mei-tai-baby-carrier.html
    After drafting it out on paper, I rounded the top, but that part is up to you. It's personal preference.

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  5. Did you use a woven wrap for this? Is there a tutorial on how to put it on? I've never seen one with side rings before, only a ring waist.

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    1. I'm so sorry I missed all these comments, I switched emails for a while-so sorry! For mine I used woven fabric from the fabric store and canvas for the inner panel. the gal that wrote up this tutorial for me used a size 6 woven wrap but it truly depends on how long you want your straps. Cut the body panel from either the far left or far right of the wrap so that you can maximize strap length. To determine what size wrap you need, first determine what length you want your wrap straps and then factor in the width of the panel. There is a tutorial on Youtube on a front carry and a back carry in a ring tai. I started using a saltwater twist to the straps before feeding them into the side rings. I carry a Hefty Boy and that helps distribute some of his weight across my body and takes some of the weight of my shoulders.

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  6. Hi.. I used this tutorial to make one but added a giraffe hood to it. I just wanted to thank you for the tutorial. http://mac21610.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/tutorial/

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    1. Her giraffe ring tai complete with horns and ears can be found here! You really need to go check it out. She took this idea and improved it 100 fold!

      http://dragonflycreations21.blogspot.com/2014/03/mei-tai-hood-tutorial-with-ears.html

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  7. What size wrap would be enough material, hopefully enough left over for a hood? Thanks!

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  8. What material did you use for the straps? Is it a softer stretchy material or a material more like linen? Thanks!

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    1. I made my straps out of linen and with my HEfty Boy they can be a little diggy. Next time I want to try canvas core (inner layer for strength), with cotton batting on the underside (for padding) and then wrapped in soft brushed cotton? You don't want a whole lot of stretch or else baby can lean backward in the carrier, it's not as secure since we don't have multiple passes of a traditional Mei Tai.

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  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  10. I second the question of what size wrap you would need?

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    1. That depends on your size and how long you want wrap straps to be. Measure from your shoulder blade over your shoulder to the front and down to your midway between armpit and waist then add at least 5" for extra strap length. That is your strap length. Figure your carrier body width (widest part, 24" if you are using the same pattern I did) and then figure out what you will need leftover to create a hood. Add those all together and that will be the required length of fabric!

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  11. What size is the body piece? there are no dimensions. Do we just decide what we like and do it?

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    1. Up above I linked the pattern I used for inspiration. Then I rounded the whole top instead of straight across in between the strap attachment. I also curved the bottom waist strap so it was more comfortable across my fanny. Check out the pattern linked below. You can then tweak it like I did.

      http://myinnerneedtocreate.blogspot.com/2011/05/handmade-mei-tai-baby-carrier.html

      I have heard a glowing recommendation for this downloadable pattern, but I HAVE NOT tried it myself. I like the look of the padded waist! but you attach a ring to one side of the waist instead of both being wrap straps. And then of course you would have to change the length of the straps. To find out how long you need your straps, measure from the back of your collarbone (or top of your shoulder blade) over your shoulder (to the front) under your armpit (like where a backpack strap would run) and down to your waistline, then double that measurement to give enough extra strap length.

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