Recon Mei Tai- updated 11/19/08
July 20, 2008 § 3 Comments
This is my first entry into baby carrier making. I just got it into my head that I wanted to make a carrier. The only problem was that I didn’t know what kind to try to make. When that happens, I usually don’t want to buy new fabric and I usually just want to start the project NOW. So, I looked around at what I already had and found a pair of maternity overalls that I bought at a thrift store when I was pregnant with bilingual baby. I measured the leg to see if I’d have enough fabric for the top shoulder straps. I didn’t. But then I figured, why not use the overalls from top to bottom. (I wish I had a picture of this.) So, I cut off the buckles and voila, I had enough fabric. We’re talking about the length of the pant, the body and the shoulder straps of the overalls.
Then came deciding what to use for the body of the Mei Tai. I tried to use the front because it had a pocket and I thought it would be so clever to use. But, it wasn’t wide enough, so I ended up cutting down the middle of the back (at the widest point- you know what I mean) and stitching the original “sides” together. I cut a rounded top, cut the second piece of fabric so the Mei Tai would be reversible and set to work on sewing the ties.
The ties took the longest. From what I’ve read, they just take a long time. But, I was also dealing with a lot of jean material (the seams in particular) and actually broke my first needle while sewing! Isn’t that a rite of passage or something?
Once everything was cut and prepped, all I had to do was set up where I wanted the straps to go and stitch around the body of the carrier. I’m smelling tutorial! For now, though, I think I’m going to make another Mei Tai before I start posting tutorials on it. This weekend there was a massive (yes, I just used the word massive) yard sale in town and even though I didn’t get a chance to browse during the big sale I did walk through after it was all over and picked up a couple of pants, jeans and a table cloth. I think the table cloth will do very well as a Mei Tai! The next step is to decide if I want to line it with another fabric from the stash.
The body of the Mei Tai, where bilingual baby’s sitting, is very wide, which I. Grace, at Mango Baby, sells a traditional Chinese Mei Tai, and says that the wide body is one of the traditional elements. I figure the wide body allows for a small baby to be snuggled inside the carrier without extra tying required and can hold an older child, with longer legs, while maintaining a comfortable sitting area.
Regarding the Mei Tai custom, Grace also says:
“Traditionally, the mei tai is given by the maternal grandmother to her daughter when she is expecting. Embroidered with many symbols of luck, long life, and prosperity and happiness, baby carriers are specially made to celebrate each new child.”
Jan Andrea’s website has a great page on DIY baby carriers, which is where I went when searching for directions on how to make my Mei Tai. She also has directions on how to make a Podeagi (a Korean carrier)… maybe after the table cloth Mei Tai.
Here are a couple pics of the Mei Tai flat on the floor- both sides.
UPDATE: Now that I look at the first Mei Tai I made compared to others I’ve made since, I caution you to make sure that you position your shoulder straps where the side of the body meets the rounded top. The pictures above show clearly that I sewed mine to the side of the body instead. Now I can see why my daughter didn’t feel as close to my back as she does in other mei tai’s.
Email me if you need help or visit Thebabywearer.com in the diy forum.