Saturday, July 13, 2013

DIY Woven Wrap

Ok so for the past week my husband has been out of town for work, and I knew I would need something to keep my hands busy while he was gone. As you know I wear my babies. Up until now I have survived with a ring sling, a faux moby, and a couple of circular wraps. Then I learned about woven wraps. Oh my gosh you guys WOVEN WRAPS. They come in all shades, sizes, fabrics, and patterns. Swoooooon!

And HOLY CRAP are they expensive. Sure, sure, many will argue that they are worth the price. I mean they are HAND WOVEN, on a LOOM. Those people are right. Totally worth it. But in case you haven't noticed yet, I'm cheap, and broke, and dear husband is an unwilling participant in the government furlough (don't get me started), so we're even poorer than we would normally be... So I decided to make my own! Booyah.
One of my friends introduced me to this group, and they helped me loads in learning how.

First thing I did was find out what size I wanted. I decided a size 4 sounded good (completely arbitrarily since I've never owned one and had no idea). Then I decided on a fabric. Although linen, and linen/cotton blends are good, they are expensive, and since expensive is what I'm trying to avoid I opted for osnaburg. Osnaburg is a woven cotton utility fabric usually found near the muslin at the fabric store. I got mine from Hancock Fabrics for dirt cheap. It retailed for $3.99, but I had a 50% off coupon and 15% off for military appreciation so I got it for less than $2/yard!!! Hells yes! I bought 4 yards as a size 4 is just shy of 12 feet, and I knew the fabric would shrink when washed. 

I got that baby home threw it in the washer on hot, and then dried it on high heat. I quickly ironed it, and that baby was ready to cut! (I learned after the fact that it is easier to tear osnaburg.)

Wraps only need to be about 32" and since my fabric was 43" it needed to lose a few!
After I trimmed the width I decided to do tapers. I free handed a slight curve into mine. (Tapers make knotting easier, but as I discovered, shorten the length of your wrap, as you tie above the taper, so in the end I ended up with a long size 3).
UPDATE: DO NOT CUT YOUR TAPERS LIKE THIS!!! If you want a taper cut in one direction leaving your final product looking like a parallelogram (not a trapezoid or in my case with two pointed ends). If you cut it like I did you won't be able to tighten your rails easily and you will be frustrated and want to kill your wrap. SO, like THIS: /----/, not like this: /----\ or <---->. 

Next it needed to be hemmed. A rolled hem is best to prevent your wrap from tearing and for bearing the weight of your baby. All this means is that you fold it over twice before sewing. I did myself a favor and ironed mine, I suggest you do too.
Then I just sewed around the edges!
I had to try it on immediately. I take horrible selfies, but you get the point. :)
Now the natural fiber color is pretty, but it just isn't my style so I started looking into dying options. I quickly found out that Rit dye is a no-no for babies. Babies like to suck on their carriers. They think it's delicious.
So dying with caustic chemicals seemed like a bad idea. I decided to try to use natural dyes, you know, do it old school. At which point I stumbled upon this:
Check out her tutorial here.
 Gorgeous right?!? I wanted that. ^THAT is fabric dyed with turmeric. So I ran to my local organic market which happens to have an awesome bulk spice section and I bought myself a bag of turmeric ($.89!!). The only other thing I needed was Alum, which I already had (thanks mom!), so I set to work.
I decided to do a test run with scraps I had leftover from cutting, and it's a good thing I did! My Facebook group Dyed Baby Carriers taught me about the importance of Soda Ash (otherwise known as washing soda or sodium carbonate) in the traditional dying process. I thought I would try it with just turmeric and alum first, since that's what my tutorial said to do (sorry I forgot to take pictures of this step). After that I gradually added washing soda. Here's what happened:
It turned the turmeric a deep burgandy/orange color. Neat! But totally not what I was going for...
Here are my scraps drying.
This is what they looked like after I threw them in the dryer:
Whoa! Totally gorgeous, right? I concluded that if I wanted that bright sunshiny yellow I shouldn't add any soda ash at all.

Thanks to the tutorial I knew I needed a 2:3 ratio of alum to turmeric. I used 1/4 cup Alum and 1/3 cup Turmeric.
I knew that was right thanks to this:
Thanks measure magnet! :)
I poured them all in my biggest stock pot and waited for them to come to a boil.
Once it was boiling I turned it down to a simmer and added my fabric (which I wet down first in the sink).
I let it hang out in there on low heat for about an hour, giving it a poke every now and then with a shish kabob stick to make sure it was getting dyed evenly (don't use anything that you don't mind turning yellow to stir your wrap). After that I dumped it into the sink and rinsed it under cold water.
This didn't work for 2 reasons:
1) I'm lazy
2) I'm impatient
So I threw that sucker into the washer to finish rinsing.
After it dried it looked like this!
Whoa! Great picture. Thank you, little man, for the photo bomb. Almost managed to get your face in there didn't you?
It didn't turn out as bright as my scrap did. I'll admit I'm a little disappointed, but really it did turn out pretty gorgeous considering I had no idea what I was doing and it was basically a massive science experiment. 

After this I decided, Gee, that burgundy color is awfully pretty. I should try a gradient dye! So here is what I did. Again I followed this tutorial (sort of).
I found a tub and hung my wrap from pants hangers over the shower curtain rod that I moved down. It was too long to fit in the bathtub, so I settled for just outside (hey, at least it's still in the bathroom!). I mixed my turmeric and water and this time I added 1/4 washing soda to turn it that awesome burg color. I made just enough to fill the bottom inch or so of the tub.
I used a marker to mark how much warm water I wanted to add to make the gradient (this turned out to be a superfluous step as a tea kettle full raised the water about an inch). I let my wrap steep for about 20 minutes and then started adding water every 5 minutes. After every add I refilled my kettle and put it back on the burner, because I wanted my water to stay hot.
Be careful not to splash when you pour in the water or it will leave marks on your wrap. I didn't do such a great job!
I kept adding water until I reached the top of my tub, at which point I pulled the wrap out and let it drip for about 20 minutes to let the dye set (in retrospect I think I should have just let it dry without rinsing, but se la vie).
Wrap before rinsing. SO pretty!!
I then rinsed it in the tub, and threw it in the dryer. This is what I ended up with:
Yeah... not so much what I expected. But it's my first dye job, it was bound to be imperfect! Cy doesn't seem to mind, in fact he fell asleep in the time it took me to wrap him and take a picture. Maybe I'll try again... maybe I won't. But there you have it. Naturally dyed sunshine/gradient wrap. I love it.


  1. Hey. Thanks for your comment - you can so absolutely borrow one of my images for your blog, with link back.
    I'm glad to know the tutorial is being used. Please do let me know if there's anything needing clarification.
    I love your new baby carrier. Yah to natural dye for babies.
    The great thing about doing your own natural dyeing is if the colour starts to fade, as turmeric can sometimes (especially on cotton), you can simply redye and get new colour. I will be doing a tutorial in the next two weeks for dyeing with onion skins, which keeps it's colour a lot more than turmeric.

    1. I will absolutely link it back to you! Thank you! I'm already thinking about dying it again, but that is just because I am in love with the vibrant bright yellow. :D I'll keep a look out for your onion tutorial.

  2. This is a great tutorial! I'm going to be making my first DIY wrap in the next few days & I love the idea of using natural dyes! I think this came out great! You said in hindsight you wouldn't have rinsed it after the gradient. So do you mean you would've just tossed it in the dryer as is & then use it? I wonder if you would still end up with the same fading after the first wash or if the drying would "set" it? Either way I think it came out great! This is definitely on my list of possibilities!

  3. Oh! I love this!!! Thanks for posting. :) Also, love your hair... beautiful :)

  4. Thank you thank you thank you!! I am just getting ideas for making my woven and I am so incredibly happy that I found this tutorial for dying it. I really didn't want a print, but I dint want a neutral because my Sakura Bloom is But I also didn't want to use chemical-ridden dyes either. I am soooo going to try and mimic that gorgeous yellow! I would love to find a natural way of dyeing it green. any thoughts? Anyways, great info, and thanks again!!

  5. Thanks for the fun tutorial and the what-not-to-do's! I'm making my wrap today and will be dying it with turmeric and doing a batik design on it. So fun! Love your pictures and have to say your baby is absolutely adorable!

  6. You don't have to use anything but tumeric for dyeing.


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