How To Make An Unpadded Sling

By Corrine Flatt, midwife, Las Vegas NV

I am going to assume that you have one of my homemade slings to use as an example as you make your first sling with these instructions.

You will need 3½ yards of fabric - most any kind is fine, 2 heavy-duty rings, metal or nylon, 2" to 4" (inner) diameter, and two 4" x 2" pieces of Velcro® (Warning: do not use Velcro® with adhesive backing!!) This sling can be made without Velcro®, by just sewing the "ring end" of your sling closed. The advantages of using Velcro® are that one set of rings is enough for all of your slings (and once you start making them you will have several), and you can remove the rings before laundering your slings.

I am going to assume that you have a light or medium weight "woven" fabric, like bed-sheets or men's dress shirts. If you have another type of fabric, that is fine, adjust the sewing instructions as needed.

Does your fabric have a design with a definite "up" and "down"? If so, the "up" or "top" will also be the "ring end". Trust me on this one! The "down" or "bottom" or "tail end" or "pocket end" is the other end. I will probably use all these names interchangeably, so bear with me! The "sides" are also the "edges". Most fabric also has a "right side" where the pretty design is printed, and a "wrong side".

You will need three pieces of fabric, the big sling piece is 30 inches by 102 inches, the pocket is 12 inches by 10 inches, and the tie is 12 inches by 3 inches. (This sling is designed like all "one size fits all" garments, in that it fits most everyone. It will be too long for the tiniest moms, and too short for the broadest dads. AFTER you make your first sling, you might experiment with adjusting the measurements for larger or smaller parents.) (Also note that with two sets of Velcro®, this sling can be adjusted up or down 6" in length.)

To sew, start with the tie first: Fold the fabric in half lengthwise, wrong side out, and sew down the cut edge and across one end. Remove the piece from the machine and turn it inside out (I use the eraser end of a pencil to help.) Tuck the raw edges inside and sew that end shut.

Now the pocket: With the fabric wrong side up, fold one long edge in ½ inch, and then fold it again, and sew down that folded edge, repeating with the other side. Now fold the top of the pocket the same way, making a neat little triangle tuck on the corners, and sew across the top of the pocket.

Now for the sling: Start at the "top" or "ring end" of the fabric, with the fabric "wrong side" up. Start on the right-hand side of the fabric and fold the edge in ½ to 1 inch and then fold it again, and start sewing down the right side. No pinning is required, just fold-and-hold every foot or so.

Make a neat little triangle tuck at the corner and turn around the corner to start sewing across the bottom. Insert the bottom of the pocket piece into this fold so that it will be about centered along the bottom. Continue sewing to the end, and repeat the neat triangle tuck at the corner to turn and begin sewing up the remaining side.

As you are making that turn, fold the tie in half lengthwise, and insert the fold into your hem so that it is about even with the top of the pocket. Triple-stitch over the tie by sewing-reversing-sewing, and continue sewing to the end of that side. (Note: I am no longer sewing the tie into the sling. I am including this step because you may have a sling with a tie sewn in. I am including a loose tie with the sling.)

Remove the fabric and go back to the pocket end, and stitch the pocket securely in place by sewing up and then down each side of the pocket.

Now to finish the ring end of the sling, lay out the ring end of the fabric on a table, wrong side up. (You will only be working with three feet of the fabric, so the pocket end of the fabric can rest on a chair beside the table, and for purposes of orientation, put the pocket end of the fabric on a chair to your right, so that the raw edge of the ring end of your fabric is to your left.)

First, fold the side of the material farthest from you toward the nearer side, but three inches short of the edge. Next, fold from the nearer side back again away from you, making the bottom-most layer of fabric about 5-6 inches wide. And now fold the remaining fabric back again toward you, centering this last folded bit on the top.

Get your measuring tape, a few pins if desired, and a contrasting color pencil or crayon to mark your fabric for the Velcro® (your marks will not show on the finished sling.) Begin measuring from the left, putting lines at 2", 4", 8", 10", 20", 22", 26" and 28". Put an "X" between the marks at 2"and 4", and between 8" and 10"; and put an "O" between the marks at 20" and 22" and between 26" and 28". Pin the fabric in a few places along this length.

(At this point, I usually trim about 1½" in depth from the concealed fabric from inside the raw edge, I don't know how to explain this, so if you can't visualize it, just skip it. Trimming the concealed fabric takes some of the bulk out of the next fold, and makes sewing the first piece of Velcro® easier, but it is not necessary.) Making triangle tucks, fold an inch or so of the raw end of the fabric over, and put the scratchy "hooks" piece of Velcro® over that raw edge, aligning the Velcro® with the mark you made at 4", and sew securely into place. I like to triple-stitch the Velcro on.

Sew the other scratchy "hooks" piece of Velcro® over the "X" between the marks you made at 8" and 10", and sew the soft "loops" pieces of Velcro® over the "O"s between the marks at 20" and 22" and between 26" and 28". (Before I sew the last piece on, I fold the fabric over, lining up the three sewed pieces, and double-checking my marks for the final piece.)

After sewing on the last piece of Velcro®, remove your finished sling from the sewing machine and snip any long threads. Push the rings past the two "hooks" pieces of Velcro®, fold and secure the Velcro® pieces.

Now to thread the tail end through the rings, bunch up the pocket end, and hold it in one hand, and hold the rings in the other hand. The Velcro'ed flap and the pocket and ties should all be "inside" the big "U". Push the pocket end and about 1/3 of the length of the sling through both rings. Separate the two rings, going over the first ring, pull the pocket and material back through the second ring. If you have never seen this done, you will need to find an experienced sling-wearing Mama to help you get this right.

Sling wearing, like all aspects of mothering, is something we learn best with the loving guidance of more experienced Mamas and a lot of practice. Please put yourself in the company of other sling-wearing Mamas. One place you can find them is at La Leche League meetings. Make friends. Become a "student" of good mothering and attachment parenting.

TA DAH!!   You are done!   Wasn't that easy!

After your first few, you will be able to make these in about an hour.

Don't forget to check out the sister document, How to Wear Your Unpadded Sling.

© 2004, 2005 by Corrine Flatt, all rights reserved. Before sharing these instructions, please email me for the most updated version.   Do not modify this written document. Do not post these instructions on the Internet
or mass produce these instructions for distribution. Permission granted to share individually, person to person.