How to sew a Fully Reversible Turned & Topstitched Mei Tai

9 05 2008

I love to wear my babies.  I use ring slings, pouches, wraps, mei tais, podegis, onbuhimos, chunei… you name it, i have tried it!  Becasue i dont have alot of extra cash floating around to BUY carriers, i have had to MAKE my own carriers.  I have started a small business making custom carriers to make a little extra cash…  and in the interest of helping other mamas and daddies who want to wear their babies without spending too much money, here are my directions for making a Fully Reversible Turned & Topstitched Mei Tai!  You can make this whole thing for $10 if you can find the appropriate fabric on the $1/yard table at WAlmart or Joannes… not a bad price!


2 yards of bottomweight fabric for inner hidden layer & for straps.  Twill, denim, canvas, home dec fabric (think couch covers) or even well-broken-in wraps are suitable (in a pinch, try a nice heavy jacquard tablecloth as long as it is 72″ or longer)

2 fat quarters of coordinating fabric for front & back panels – this can be WHATEVER.  Quilters cotton, fashion fabric, Minkee, silk, velvet, patchwork, anything goes! just remember, the fabric will get a lot of abuse, so choose wisely. 

small amount of cotton batting, polar fleece, old blanket, or something similar for padding

coordinating thread.  I like Gutterman’s becasue it is very strong & durable and comes in nice colors.

1) Find a pattern you like, trace an existing carrier, or make something up.  General measurements are 17″ 20″ for the body, and 7″ x72″ each for the shoudler straps, 5″ x 24″ each for the waist straps.

2) cut 2 shoulder straps of the bottomweight fabric and 2 waist straps of the same fabric.  Cut 1 17″x20″ of bottomweight and of the 2 decorative fabrics. (17″ wide, 20″ high)

3) Roll &  hem the long edges of all the straps.  Leave both short end unhemmed until later.  You need to be able to adjust how long you like the straps after you finish the carrier.

Now for pictures to go with the instructions!!  Please note, the carrier in this tutorial is being made with knit jersey straps as an experiment THIS DID NOT WORK!  DO NOT USE KNIT FOR STRAPS! IT RIPS ALONG THE STITCHING LINES, MAKING A VERY UNSAFE CARRIER! Please only use a sturdy bottomweight fabric for the straps.  Thank you.  Now, on to the rest of the instructions!

Here are my two decorative fabrics, cut as a contoured mei tai.  I am using vintage home dec fabric and grass green Minkee Dot.

4) Take your mei tai body piece you cut from your bottomweight strap fabric and sw your straps on as shown.  Sew leaving at least 1″ free to the edge of the mei tai body (to allow for folding under during the topstitching) and reinforce by sewing an “xbox” – a box wth an X of stitching from one corner of the box to the other.  Please use  triple-straight stitch (usually found in the stretch stitches) or by sewing over three times, for safety.  Look closely at the straps, you’ll see my Xbox stitching.

5) Now, layer your decorative fabrics right sides together and the canvas layer on top.

6) Stitch all around, leaving open by your straps to allow for turning the straps to the right side. You will close these openings when you topstitch.

7) Now, open up one of the strap openings and reach in between the two decorative layers…

8) and turn the whole thing inside out…

9) so it looks like this:

10) press the seams, and fold in along the strap openings, nice and neat.

11) topstitch around the whole thing, paying special attention to the strap openings. You may need to manually turn your needle to go through the number of layers of fabric at the straps.   

12) and you’re done!  a fully reversible, turned & topstitched mei tai!  go ahead, pat yourself on the back! you deserve it!