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simple unpadded sling pattern.

Posted by on May. 7, 2007 at 12:10 PM
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I found a pattern for a baby sling, check it out!

A Simple, Un-Padded Sling

Making an unpadded sling is very easy!

Please note: if you're making slings using this method that you intend to sell, please include a link back to these instructions in your sales page, and send me an email. I hate browsing through eBay auctions and suddenly finding slings that look just like mine for sale -- I would like at least a little credit if you're using my directions and selling them! You can use the graphic at the bottom of the page, or just a text link -- either is fine. These directions have taken me many, many hours to put together -- they are not just some random freebie. (If you want to make them to sell, I may allow you to license the pattern, if your sewing is attractive and secure; this license would include a link to your sales from mine, so it does behoove you to email me!)

Obligatory statement of the obvious: I assume no responsibility or any form of liability for the quality of a sling made from this pattern.

Materials needed:

  • Fabric:
    • 1 to 1.25 OR 2 to 2.5 yards of 54-60" wide fabric (depending on how long you want the sling), or 2 - 2.5 yards of 36-45" fabric. (I will use 2.5 yards in the remainder of the instructions, but if you are smaller or want a shorter tail, 2.25 yards is ample. Check the size chart for the slings I sell for further detail.)
    • See the Fabric FAQ for specific fabric recommendations and online sources.
    • Solarveil is a neat summer fabric (good for the beach, has UV blocking properties and is very lightweight), but can be bought only from their website.
  • Rings:
  • Sewing machine and thread to match/contrast with the fabric. You could sew this by hand, but unless you don't have a machine, I wouldn't recommend it!

If you are using 54-60" fabric and have only 1.25 to 1.5 yards...


First cut along the fold line, so that you have two pieces that are 30" by 1.25 yard each:

Please note: Make sure the *selvages* and not the cut edges line up -- otherwise, your sling will be far too long and too narrow!

Preparing the fabric 

Next, sew the two pieces together along one of the original cut edges, making a single piece that is 30" by 2.5 yards. A flat-felled seam is the most secure, and is what I use when I need to piece a sling.

Hem the new cut edge. You may also hem the selvage, but I like to keep it as-is, so I can tell the two edges apart when I am adjusting the sling.

Sewing sections together.

If you have 2 to 2.5 yards...

And this is more ideal... instead of making just one sling, you can buy 2 to 2.5 yards of fabric, cut in half down the foldline, and voila, you have two pieces of 30" wide fabric, enough for two slings. You can then keep one to give as a gift to a new mom, or have one for yourself and one for a spouse, or one to wear and the other to wash (especially helpful in the early, poop-blowout-prone days).

For 45" wide fabric...

Try these directions! They make a safer sling of a more useful width than the just folding it in half (as follows): You'll need to get a length of fabric as long as you want the sling. You can either cut 15" off the width (so it's 30" wide) or just fold it in half, so it's 22" wide. The latter works with calico prints; you can sew the edges together and then "quilt" the layers for more strength. If your fabric is heavy enough without doubling, you can cut it down the center fold and have two 22" wide slings. Do keep in mind that while you *can* use a 22" wide sling, it's not great for smaller babies -- definitely not to be used for a kangaroo carry, as that requires a much wider swath of fabric to be secure. 22" is doable for a hip carry with an older baby or toddler, and a cradle or tummy-to-tummy for a very small baby, but not great for much else. (Please feel free to email me if this isn't clear enough!) If you have to make it 22" wide, I'd suggest using Kristine's "Adjustable pouch" directions instead, as the built-in pouch seat makes it more secure with that width of fabric.

For either width of fabric...


Hem one short side and the cut edge -- you may hem the selvage, but as long as the selvage is strong, it's okay if you don't. I use a 6mm hemming foot, which works well with most fabric weights. Having the hem on the outside makes it less likely to dig into you or your child when you're wearing it. I really recommend using a hemming foot if you can get your hands on one (it makes it so much faster and easier!) but if you can't find one, you can either turn and press the hem, or do what I used to do, which is fold the hem, hold it with your fingers while you sew through it; stop when you get to your fingers (ouch!), refold about 10" below that, etc. It takes a lot longer that way than with a hemming foot.

If you are using a 45" fabric, I would recommend this method. Or you can fold it in half, put the printed sides together and sew around the edges, leaving a space for turning. Turn it right-side-out and topstitch the edges, including the gap used for turning.


* There are almost as many ways to fold a sling to put it through the rings as there are people who sew them! Please don't feel that you need to use pleats in your sling. Here's a page I just made with some folding variations -- many of which are in use by other WAHMs who make slings. *

Here are some newly-revised step-by-step illustrated pleating directions.

Using this method, it's simplest to pin as you go, at least on the raw edge. Or, from a suggestion by Deanna M., you can use tape to hold the pleats in place. Masking tape, which comes off easily, would also be a sewing aid if you have trouble sewing straight lines. I usually put pins at the very top of the pleated section, and again at 5-6" down, then sew perpendicuarly across the pleats at 1/2" and 5-6" from the top, with a basting stitch that I can take out later, so it looks neater. Questions? Check here.

Sewing in the rings: (click any image for a larger version)

You can see the pleats basted in (stitching on the left and right is about 6" apart, because this sling will have the thicker nylon SlingRings), and the position of the needle and fabric in the machine as I prepare to zigzag over the raw edge.Showing the zigzag I use to finish the raw edge of the sling. I use a very wide, close stitch (on my machine, the width is set to 7 and the length to 1.2, although the numbers on your machine will probably be different), so that the edge is completely enclosed with thread. This is far easier to sew through than an edge that's been turned under, and it keeps the raw edge from fraying just as well.Showing the "right" side of the pleats, basted in and with the raw edge zigzag finished -- all the folds appear to be the same width, although the back shows otherwise :)

Showing the "wrong" side of the pleats, basted in and with the raw edge zigzag finished -- you can see the first, large fold at the top, and the subsequent pleats towards the bottom.

First stitching line for sewing the rings in -- note that I am sewing just to the right of my basting stitches, and on top of the zigzag stitch that keeps the raw edge from fraying. This is much easier to sew through than folding the raw edge under (which works only with extremely thin fabrics) and is just as tidy when in use.Finished -- back side. Between this picture and the last, I have flipped the sling over and sewn another stitching line about 1/2" from the first (from the "right" side of the sling), then a line of decorative stitching between the two. I have also removed the inner line of basting stitches (the ones that were approx. 6" from the edge).  Finished -- "nice" side. You can see the two lines of stitching with the decorative stitch in the middle, and if I had a better macro shot, you would also be able to see the holes left from the basting stitches. (Those disappear when the sling is washed.) Optional: add a zippered patch pocket to the tail of the sling.

Threading your sling and babywearing:

I finally got around to adding illustrated directions on threading and wearing your sling. Please check them out! If you have any questions, please email me! To thread your sling, place the ring-end on your shoulder so that the rings hang a little higher than your armpit. Reach around, take the other end, making sure that the fabric doesn't twist, and bring it through both rings from underneath. Now thread the fabric through the top ring. Adjust to fit.

Also keep in mind that if you don't want to, or can't, make your own sling with a pleated shoulder, you can buy one from me.

by on May. 7, 2007 at 12:10 PM
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by on May. 23, 2007 at 9:49 AM
I used Rev. Jans patterns when I was pregnant.  I love the sling pattern.  It is easy to understand and once you have it together it is really nice.  I made four and they are still in fantastic condition.  I used them non-stop.  But now that my son is 2 and 1/2 he won't go near one. 
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