Something I’ve really enjoyed since the birth of the little bear is wearing her in a sling. Back when she was teeny tiny we would pop her in and she’d more often than not go off to sleep, all snuggly and warm. Now that she’s bigger, she loves being high up so she can poke me or papa bear in the face, and look at birds, cats and dogs from a higher vantage point and play all sorts of fun games, and sleep is a very rare thing!
But what does that have to do with sewing?! Well, when you have a baby strapped to you it becomes useful to have a bag that is capacious and adjustable. I’m not a massive bag-maker (I’ve made just one before, and find them quite fiddly), but I thought I’d like to have a go at making one myself. When The Honeycomb Loom started selling woven wrap fabric I decided that would be the perfect fabric to use. This is partly aesthetic, because it’s lovely to have a bag that looks wrappish, but it’s also functional – one feature I wanted to include was a long, wide, adjustable shoulder strap, and wrap-suitable fabric is perfect for this.
The Honeycomb Loom is a joint enterprise between two British woven wrap manufacturers (Baie and Firespiral). The cloth is woven in Lancashire (a small county of little consequence, bordering the mighty Yorkshire ;-)) from ethically produced cotton. The fabric industry is notoriously dirty and unethical, and so this alone makes it an attractive prospect, I think. The weave structure was designed to be ideal for baby-wearing, while also being easy to sew with and to care for. You can see that the weave isn’t one we (as sewers) are used to. I chose the ‘stone’ colour, which is a beautiful blue-grey.
The fabric is wonderfully soft and has a lovely drape. It has the soft squishiness I’d associate with a brushed cotton, but without the brushed surface. The weave is fairly loose (though in no danger of being see-through), and it frays if you so much as look at it. I took care of that by overlocking all the raw edges and finishing the seams immediately. Unpicking was also a made pretty tricky, especially since I found thread that matched the grey almost perfectly, but thankfully I didn’t have too much of that to do!
I chose to treat the side on the left in the photo above as the ‘right’ side, but think you could choose either. The fabric is lovely to work with it, because it is just so soft. Sadly, to give my bag more structure I decided to interface everything apart from the strap. Yeuch, hours of ironing interfacing! And then bleurgh, sewing nasty stiff interfaced fabric. Does anybody enjoy interfacing, I wonder? Tell me if you do! But it definitely helped the finished product, so all that ironing is forgotten now (almost).
For the innards I used this delightful umbrella cotton twill. I love cotton twill, it feels so much nicer and more proper than ordinary quilting cotton. And the greyish umbrellas go very well with the main fabric. Since this bag is being used in conjunction with a messy dribble-fest of a baby, it must be able to contain the essentials, so I was careful to include pockets suitable for nappies and wipes and other such delightful sundries. I also have a zip pocket on the front, so that I don’t have to dig around the whole bag for my purse / keys / phone.
To make the strap adjustable, I used two sling rings, attached to the top front of the bag. The strap is threaded through the rings so that it’s held by tension, but easily lengthened or shortened. The strap is wide (I think about 30cm) and so the pressure is distributed nicely – it’s very comfy! If I’m carrying my daughter with the bag over my shoulder, I can spread the strap over her back and it doesn’t dig in (this isn’t my clever idea, it’s a pretty common feature in baby-wearing bags).
So there we go! I can’t say I’m in a hurry to make another bag any time soon, but I’ve been enjoying using this one. I’m toying with the idea of making a skirt from honeycomb loom fabric, maybe simplicity 2226. Definitely back to sewing clothes for a bit for me I think!