I was trying to come up with some kind of witty title for this post but to be honest, I’m exhausted from actually finishing the pieces I want to show you so I’ve given up on that! I’ll focus instead on trying to write some kind of coherent account to accompany the pictures. Does that work for you? Excellent. Let us begin.
Selena of The Couture Cookie Shop got in touch the other week and asked me to design a couple of new items for her.
First up is an adjustable belted waist pouch, a bit like the ones we wear for doing markets.
Selena does a lot of walking with her kids and needs something she can store her stuff in that’s easy to carry (hands free is good when you’re a Mum) and also secure. This pouch has three pockets, two with button flaps and one enormous one, hidden away inside, with a zipper:
I made the waist band the same way I do the straps for our messenger bags. Both sides needed to be adjustable so the pouch didn’t end up lopsided and weird when adjusted, so I used a couple of grippy tri-glider thingies to make sure there’s plenty of wiggle room. The snaps were a must. Much less irritating than trying to tie a secure knot when busy with a couple of active toddlers!
I have plans to make some more of these, if nothing else I must make myself one for when I start doing markets again.
The second item I want to show you was something of a learning curve and if I’m honest, the main thing I’ve learned from making it was that I really don’t want to make one again! I’ll explain why after the visuals.
It’s a mei tai style baby carrier.
With a button up pocket on the front for those little bits and pieces you need to have with you. It’s hot, wearing a baby, so coats and jackets tend to be awkward and jeans pockets are a pain. Hence the need for a front pocket:
Selena chose the same cute dino fabric that I used for the trims on Orlaith’s pirate jacket the other week. And to go with it I picked a chocolatey brown cord. I chose cord because it’s fairly tough and when folded in layers it’s very very soft. Given that this is going to be used to carry a heavyish toddler around, tied on, soft padded feeling straps are a must.
And there is the main reason why I will almost certainly never ever make another one of these. It’s going to be used to carry around someone else’s child. Which means it has to be securely sewn to the point of paranoia and insanity and it needs to be sturdy beyond belief.
In terms of construction, this is a really simple item. It’s a big rectangle, with four longer, thinner rectangles poking out at each corner (the straps.) But to make sure that everything is secure and won’t unravel you have to sew it over and over and over again.
The main rectangle has to be made of at least 2 to 3 layers of cloth, for padding and for strength. Do NOT use jersey for this. Sturdy woven cloth is what you need here. I used quilting cotton, reinforced it with interfacing for a bit of added stiffness, a layer of plain lining cotton and then a layer of the brown cord, to make sure it was really cushy and strong.
The straps were the real killer though. Each of those babies is a long strip of cord, folded in on itself several times over for thickness and strength, then top stitched 3 times with straight AND zigzag stitch for extra strength in the seams.
I stitched them onto the centre layer of cloth in the main body of the mei tai, then I put all the layers together, sewed around leaving spaces for turning inside out. Once turned inside out, I had to do triple rounds of top stitching round the edges and THEN I had to securely topstitch each of the four straps in place:
It’s not the prettiest stitching I’ve ever done but by gum, it is secure.
In summary, if you want a pretty mei tai carrier, don’t ask me to make you one! I found it interesting to try out a new technique and the finished product is very satisfying to look at but I won’t be making one for Brutus. I’ll be sticking to my enormous woven cloth sling or if I’m feeling adventurous making myself a stretchy Jersey one like the one I whipped up for our friend Claire.
If you want to have a crack at making one for yourself there are tonnes of detailed and fantastic tutorials out there, for example this one: how to make a Scandinavian style mei tai, which explain in great detail how to do so. But there are also lots of lovely people who already make them out there, who are specialists and who can probably make one for you faster, sturdier and with a lot less cursing!
I’m looking forward to handing over Selena’s finished items and do make sure to go and check out her website, especially if you’re in the South London area as her cakes and cookies are AMAZING!
And now, I have a date with my rotary cutter. Just ONE custom order to go! It’s a big one, but I know that once it’s done, I don’t have to panic about going into labour leaving anything unfinished. Ahh, the relief!
PS I can confirm that Alex has landed safely in Bris Vegas and appears to be enjoying herself thoroughly in the warm weather. Huzzah!