Monday, November 30, 2009

Cold Weather Wearing: DIY Babywearing coat

Now that the cold weather should be here (maybe next week), let's talk about how to wear your child and keep you both warm.  Yes, you could spend the money on a dedicated babywearing coat, but you could just as easily convert a coat to accommodate both you and your little precious bundle.  Here is a fabulous tutorial that I used that was easy to follow even with my novice sewing skills.  These instructions were translated from German and used with permission from Nancy, with slight editing.

Choosing a coat & choosing fleece:
The coat I chose was a down coat, two sizes larger than what I normally wear.  I found it at our local thrift

store for less than $10.  As for the fleece, I just picked out something from our local fabric store that I thought would coordinate with the jacket.  I went a step further and found some faux fur to line the top of the pocket.

How big should the opening be?
I made my opening 23 cm x 57 cm, and measured down only 12 cm from the back seam of the jacket.

My coat had a slippery lining, and I had to pin the two layers carefully together, then run two (not one) lines of basting before I started zigzagging.  THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  OTHERWISE YOU WILL HAVE A MILLION FEATHERS EVERYWHERE!! A helpful hint if you’re using a down coat, try to create a “valley” in the down so that your stitching and subsequent cuts will only have to go through the fabrics layers of the coat, not through feathers.

Carefully zigzag two lines of stitching, one on either side of the basting line. Make sure not to overlap the two lines of zigzagging, since you’ll be cutting between them.

Carefully cut between the two lines of zigzagging. This will leave you with a coat that has a 3-sided flap cut out, STILL CONNECTED along the bottom edge.

Vertical fleece inserts
To cut your fleece, fold it so that the stretch goes perpendicular to the fold. Cut TWO of these pieces. (Note that it’s cut on the fold so that the insert is a DOUBLE LAYER of fleece!)   The piece should be a total of 61 cm long (draw the curve, starting 9 cm from the bottom), and 13 cm wide. I drew the curve freehand, which worked fine. (Then, to make sure the curves matched, I used the first piece I cut as a template for the second.)

Zigzag the open edges of the folded fleece piece together. Make sure the right side of the fleece is facing out! (This makes it tons easier to deal with.)

Match right sides of the fleece insert and the coat together, lining up the curved side of the fleece piece with the CENTER of the coat flap you’ve cut. (I.e., the curved side of the fleece will be sewn to the flap, while—eventually—the straight edge will be sewn to the main part of the coat.) NOTE: make sure when you line up the bottom of the fleece piece that there’s not going to be a gap once its sewn—i.e., you need to scootch the fleece piece down maybe 5mm to allow for a seam allowance at the bottom edge.

Sew the flap and the fleece piece together, with about a 6mm seam allowance.

Trim off any of the fleece piece that rises above the flap.

Do the same with the second side.

Fleece across the top of the flap
The next piece you’ll cut and sew is the fleece piece that goes across the top of the flap. With the stretch of the fabric going in the SAME DIRECTION as the fold, fold your fleece. Cut a piece that’s 9 cm by 47 cm.   Zigzag the edges of the fleece together for easier handling. Matching right sides together, sew the fleece piece along the top edge of the flap.

BEFORE you do, pin it in place and give the whole thing a quick eyeball to make sure the flap is the right length to go up just a little beyond the top cut in the main body of the coat.

This is where I added the faux fur flap.  I used the same measurements as the fleece piece above.  It is just essentially a decorative cover.

Lining the raw edge on the inside of the pocket:
The next piece is the fleece that will line the inside of the opening at the top. With the stretch going long ways (and NOT cut on the fold), cut a piece that’s 5 cm by 24 cm

With right sides together (i.e., right side of the fleece with outside of the jacket), line up the edge of the cut along the top of the coat with the fleece piece. Fold over and pin 6mm at each side. Sew right along this edge. Then fold the piece of fleece around the raw edge of the coat/fleece seam to the inside of the coat. Pin it in place, and sew right on the original line of stitching. (you may need to fiddle a tiny bit to hide the seam allowances on the edges.) This makes a really nice soft edge for your baby’s face.

Putting it all together:
Matching ride sides together, line up and pin the flap to the coat body.

Starting from the bottom, sew, leaving a bare 3 mm seam allowance. Makes sure to catch the raw edges at the top. I ended up doing a little top stitching at the top corners to reinforce the connection.

The only thing that I would add would be a drawstring of some sort to adjust the opening of the pouch along the top rail.  Sometimes I could feel the cold air coming in, and that just defies the whole purpose of us wearing a coat!

The finished coat:

Other links to DIY Babywearing coats:

Posted by Angelique

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A monkey on your back and a bun in the oven: Wearing while pregnant

The average spacing between children in this country is 2-3yrs.  This means that many mothers are becoming pregnant in their child’s first or second year.  Mothers are then left with the dilemma of attending to their infant or toddler’s need to be carried (and their own need to get things done) while also dealing with the physical challenges of pregnancy.  A good carrier can help mom attend to all of these needs at the same time.

In early pregnancy, mom may not find she needs to change much, front or back carries continue to be comfortable in any carrier she has been using.  However, for some moms (including me) as the belly first starts to grow there is a period of discomfort with having anything pressing on the belly.  For some mothers, this feeling never goes away and they feel uncomfortable with anything on the belly the entire pregnancy.  For other mothers the feeling changes.  Always listen to your body and if it hurts or is uncomfortable, try something else.

As the bump gets bigger, most moms find it works best to stop using front tummy to tummy carries.  Back or hip carries can fill this gap easily.  For mothers who are uncomfortable with anything near their bump, a ring sling in a hip carry can be a great choice because your baby or toddler will be above and to the side of the bump and the weight is entirely on your shoulder and back.  The downside of a hip carry can be a discomfort with the uneven weight distribution coupled with the weight of the belly.  This summer when I was between 12-20 weeks, hip carries made my pelvis hurt a great deal even if only used for a 2 block walk to the pool.  I had to find a different solution.  However, now that I am 38 weeks, hip carries are not uncomfortable.  Babywearing while pregnant constantly changes in the same way that your body is constantly changing.

Back carries can be accomplished most comfortably and with good weight distribution with wraps, mei tais, podaegis (pods), and soft structured carriers. Wraps, mei tais, and pods can all be tied for a back carry to keep everything off of the bump and tied above it.  Lureta is demonstrating a mei tai with a Tibetan finish.  This can be much more comfortable for a mom who doesn’t like anything pressing on her tummy.  Soft Structure carriers generally fit better buckled below the belly, so they may not be the best choice if you find yourself bothered by the feeling.  However, I found that the buckle below the bump helped support the bump and evened out my balance with the weight in front AND back (yet somehow the only picture I have shows it above my belly). 

Keep in mind that your body is changing; a few times during this pregnancy superman tossing (my usual method for getting my toddler on my back) has suddenly thrown me completely off balance and I feel weak and incapable of lifting her.  Then a couple of weeks pass and I’m back to easily tossing.  Make sure to avoid situations where a sudden attack of weird balance would send you both tumbling down a hill.  With toddlers, this problem can often be solved by asking the child to climb on like a piggy back ride.

Enjoy your pregnancy and this opportunity to get in some last solo snuggles with your little one.  Soon you will be wearing two, or chasing one around the playground while wearing another.  I’ll be back in a few weeks to talk about newborn wearing (since I’ve been promised a baby in about 3 weeks).

Non-babywearing tip from Ellen: While practicing a front wrap cross carry before the birth of her third, Ellen discovered that a FWCC over the belly provided excellent support at the end when she felt like a bowling ball was just pulling down her stomach muscles.  So practice for your newborn AND support your own belly with your wraps.

Posted by Ann Marie