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).
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.|
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.|
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! :)|
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!!|
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.