Monday, May 19, 2008

Pleated Ring Sling Tutorial

I make and sell sling rings. If you know how to sew, you can easily make a ring sling yourself. Here is how I make mine. Feel free to use the instructions for your own personal use, but be considerate and don't use my design--which I have developed over the past few years--if you want to make slings to sell.

Materials:
  • slightly over 2 yards of woven, non-stretchy fabric (2 yards 4" for most people, 2 1/3 yards if you're big-chested). I prefer linen-cotton blends. You will see the back side on the "tail" of the sling, so choose something that looks good on both front and back. Embroidered fabrics work very well.
  • 2 aluminum sling rings. I use the largest size (3") for medium to heavy weight fabrics. For very thin, lightweight fabrics, I recommend the medium size (2.5").
  • thread
  • masking tape
  • disappearing fabric marker or dressmaker’s chalk
Instructions:

1. If desired, wash and dry fabric before sewing sling.

2. Cut a length of fabric 26-30” wide. Square off the ends.

3. Hem the two long ends and one short end. (I turn 1/4” and press, turn 3/8” and press, then stitch.)

4. Lay the fabric out right side up, with the raw edge on the right side. Make two parallel sets of marks—one at the raw edge, the other 9” from the raw edge--starting from the bottom hemmed edge. The first mark starts at 2”, and the rest are every 3” after that. (So 2, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20...)
5. Fold and press along each parallel line (pressing the wrong sides together).
6. Make the pleats: fold the first pressed edge down until it lines up with the edge of the fabric. Press.
7. Fold the next pressed edge down until it lines up with the underside of the pleat (you can feel it by running your fingers over the fabric). Press.
8. Continue until all of the pleats are pressed into place. The last pleat may need a bit of adjusting to make it line up just right with the finished edge. You can see me doing this in the photo.
9. Temporarily anchor the pleats with masking tape. Put one length about 5/8” from the raw edge, and another length of tape 8” from the raw edge. Flip over and tape on the back side.
10. Zig-zag stitch the raw edge. Trim if necessary.
11. Mark a line 4” from the raw edge with a disappearing fabric marker.
12. Using masking tape, fold the pleats close together so they overlap only ¼”. Tape on the front.
13. Flip over and tape the back of the pleats, arranging the pleats to make them look nice (if you're a perfectionist like me; you won't ever see them).
14. Stitch two parallel lines, 1/8” apart, to hold the pleats in place. This holds the pleats neatly in place when the sling is washed.
15. Remove the center masking tape. Put the two sling rings onto the pleated edge. Fold over and line up with the masking tape. (Be sure to that the "wrong" sides are folded together, not the "right" sides!) Stitch two parallel lines through all layers, 1/2” apart.
16. Add a third line of decorative stitching between the first two lines. Here are some photos of the stitching from various slings I've made.
Remove all masking tape and enjoy!

53 comments:

  1. The fourth from the bottom is mine :)
    you can also see it featured in several of my latest blogposts! I had no idea how much I'd be using this simple little sling, Rixa. A gift that really keeps giving.

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  2. Thanks for the tutorial. I love the pleated shoulder, but each time I make one, I feel like a new sewer, trying to figure out pleats, LOL. I have to add though, that I often use a twill with 3% lycra, and love those slings. But nothing stretchier :)

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  3. I may have to use this tutorial since I cannot find my ring sling at the moment. It got lost in the move, along with a whole box of newborn clothes. :( Anyway, this tutorial comes at a good time. Thanks. I even have on hand some good fabric I could use. I'd just need to get the rings.

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  4. Yay! I am glad I got to see a sneak peak of the sling you're making for my SIL before you sent it! It looks great! :) I know she's going to love it!

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  5. You make that look so easy! I can already see myself fighting with the pleats. Next time my eggo ends up preggo I will be trying this out.

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  6. Thank you for posting this. BTW, Bree had her little boy last Saturday, and he's doing well. :) Congrats on the new house!

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  7. Beuatiful. I pleat my shoulders as well, but a little differently and add a couple more rows of stitching to reinforce the shoulder. I just pull and pin, then stitch. I love the decorative stiches, I wish my machine had the capability :)

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  8. I was at a breast feeding seminar yesterday. Somebody suggested we give out slings to our new Mom's instead of the formula bags. We didn't have enough room for the formula bags so they had to go.

    I think I like the sling idea.

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  9. what machine do you use, Rixa?

    I got some pretty gender neutral Amy Butler fabric to make a couple of these...one for me and one for a barista at a coffee house I go to who is due days from me. I got burned out making mei tais so this sling makin' is gonna be a nice change.

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  10. I made one on Saturday night and it took me probably 45 minutes given I had a couple of interruptions...It turned out great!!! thanks for the post, Rixa!

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  11. I have a refurbished Brother cs-6000. It works okay for light duty sewing, but really throws a fit when I try sewing heavy-duty materials such as denim, canvas, or leather.

    I just bought a very old sewing machine (White Rotary 77 series) for $8. It is made of solid metal, has all the original attachments, and works perfectly. It only does straight stitches, and I think this will be just what I need for heavy-duty sewing.

    Here is what my machine looks like:
    http://tinyurl.com/3f9cc5

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  12. I absoluetly loved making AND using this!! Thanks so much for your easy to follow instructions!

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  13. Quick question: Is the amount of fabic used pretty universal? I am bigger around and was wondering if I should use more fabric. I am thinking about making one for a friend and she is built like I am. Thanks!

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  14. 2 yards is the shortest I'd go. If you're tall or bigger around, go with a longer length (perhaps 7 feet or so). It's easy to cut off extra and re-hem the bottom edge if it's too long.

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  15. Fantastic and gorgeous! I make a slightly more complicated sling when I make one for friends so I'm eager to try a new and easy way. Thank you for posting this tutorial! I'll probably still add a handy pocket on the tail.

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  16. may i link this post to my blog?

    thanks,

    http://halinazairi.wordpress.com

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  17. Yes, feel free to link !

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  18. I am planning to make one of these as a gift but I'm wondering if you've ever done a two layer version (reversible)? Is it still possible to do pleats with thicker layers?
    Thanks!

    HSP

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  19. I've never done a reversible ring sling with pleats, but I imagine it's possible if the fabric is thin enough. And if your sewing machine can handle that much thickness.

    I think you'd want to stitch the two layers together in parallel rows (with the grain of the fabric) every inch or two on the part where you'll be pressing the pleats, so that they layers don't shift around while you're pressing and sewing them.

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  20. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial! I just finnished my first sling a few days ago, and my son LOVES it (there's pictures on my blog)! For those of you asking about two layers, I did make mine reversible with two layers of cotton. I didn't have any trouble at all with the pleats shifting while I was sewing, although the sling is a little bulkier than I would prefer. Anyhow, your tutorial was great! Thanks a ton!!

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  21. Great minds think alike :)

    If you get questions about doing double layer pleated slings, I have a few different sets of directions at http://crafts.sleepingbaby.net/
    along with pleated sling directions I posted way back in 2001 :D I'd be happy to link to yours for a different look at construction; I use pins and sew a little closer to the rings.

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  22. Jan,
    Thanks for your link. I've never made a double-sided sling yet--always more fun things to try out!

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  23. Thank you for this tutorial. It was so nice of you to share.

    I finally finished 2 ring slings last night. It is by no means perfect, but I am happy with the results.

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  24. THANK YOU so much for the visual!!! I have tried to follow many many patterns in my head but its confusing! This is my first sling and I want to do it right!

    Thanks again :)

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  25. Just want to say that this was an amazing tutorial and even though I've never done pleats in my entire life, I was able to figure them out with your tutorial and sew my ring sling all by myself! Now I wish I had sewn a couple!

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  26. Glad you liked it! Masking tape is my new best sewing friend.

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  27. what sewing machine do you use?

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  28. I use a Bernina Record 930. Click on the product reviews tabs for more info about it. Best sewing machine ever!

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  29. ps--I used to have a Brother and a really old White Rotary, but now my Bernina does it all. I sold the other two machines.

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  30. I ask because I recognize some of the stitches from my new Brother CE550PRW and I love it... Just wondering how many other machines do those types of decorative stitches.

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  31. i would love to see a photo of this design in use since i think i know what it would look like (how it would work) but am not 100%.
    even if you send me to a link of a pic that would be awsome.

    I have been thinking of buying one for a friend who is due soon but most i find the shipping costs almost as much as the item itself for the ones i am willing to buy, so i think sewing one up would be just right for me.

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  32. Here's how they look when you're wearing theM;

    http://www.secondwombslings.com/vintage.shtml

    My slings ship for $5 to the US & Canada, and $10 world-wide.

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  33. Hi Rixa,

    I absolutely love your slings. I am just wondering where do you buy your fabric from. I want to make one of your slings for a friend of mine and where I live fabric is hard to come by. Thank you!!

    Tamara

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  34. where can i buy the aluminum rings, other than from this site? i need them right away and would like to drive somewhere and get them today. i found some steel rings, but they seem to be pretty heavy.

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  35. Unfortunately, you probably won't be able to find aluminum sling rings anywhere locally. I order mine from www.slingrings.com

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  36. Unfortunately, you probably won't be able to find aluminum sling rings anywhere locally. I order mine from www.slingrings.com

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  37. Lee in Albuquerquei9/26/11, 9:17 AM

    Slingrings ship fast - I had mine in a week. I ordered 2 thinking the price was for each ring instead of a set of 2 rings so the price is really reasonable even with shipping. Your instructions on pleating are much clearer than the ones I have been struggling with. I should be able to finish it today.

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  38. Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial! I've made two for myself over the last couple years (found your tutorial in 2008) and many many more as gifts! Pregnant again, so making more :) Thank you thank you thank you!!

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  39. I'm glad you've been able to make lots of slings with the tutorial!

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  40. I have a question. What makes it reversible? The fabric you choose? When I hear reversible I think two different sides. Any suggestions on how to make it that way? Thanks so much!

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  41. You can make a reversible sling 2 ways:

    1) use 2 different thin fabrics, sewn together and then turned right sides out

    2) use a reversible fabric (like a woven jacquard)

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  42. where do you buy your fabric

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  43. I buy my fabrics from just about anywhere I can find them! I've ordered a lot of my recent linens from www.fabrics-store.com.

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  44. Hi Rixa,
    What do you think the likelihood is of a 6 month old who's never been in a sling enjoying one? We used to carry her in the moby wrap, but now we use the Baby Bjorn almost exclusively. I'm worried about carrying her dangling by the crotch, but she's a super active and curious baby who always wants to face front and have her legs free to kick around. Can you face a baby forward in a sling? Thanks!

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  45. Ariann,

    Since your baby is already 6 months old and likes her legs free, a ring sling probably wouldn't be the best thing. You can face babies forward, but their legs have to be tucked up inside cross-legged for that carry to work. I'd suggest either a soft structured carrier (like an Ergo) or a good hiking backpack.

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  46. Rixa, hi!

    I love this tutorial! Thank you for postig it! I plan to make one for myself as i have this really gorgeous fabric - a mix of hemp and silk - but i'd really appreciate your opinion on whether the design fits it. I see you also make silk ring slings. Do you use the same design with those? Thank you again. :)

    Tadeja

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    Replies
    1. Tadeja,

      Feel free to email me with more questions about the slings. I use the same pattern for silk slings too. Your hemp/silk sounds wonderful--I wish I could find something like that here!

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  47. Grazie dei tutorial!!!
    Simona

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  48. Never followed a sewing tutorial that was so clearly explained. Thanks a million!

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  49. Excellent directions!! I don't sew very much at all but I think I can do this!! Can you tell me what material the black and white sling (above) is made out of? Thanks!!

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    Replies
    1. The black and white sling is an embroidered linen fabric that I bought several years ago at Joann Fabrics.

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  50. Thanks for a great post. Do you find you need a heavy duty needle to sew through the layers of fabric? I'm going to convert my Size 6 woven wrap to a shortie and a RS :)

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    Replies
    1. Unless you're working with really heavyweight fabric, you should be fine with a medium-weight needle. I often use a 90/14.

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