Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Baby Shower Gifts on the Cheap

When you give a baby gift this beautiful, nobody will suspect that it only cost you around $5 This is my favorite kind of baby carrier, a traditional Asian baby carrier called a mei tai. The trick is to make it yourself using high-quality fabrics that are on sale. I really like using suedecloth (or similar fabrics) that makes it to the clearance bin at the local fabric store. I only use fabric that costs $2/yard or less (though with climbing prices, I may have to raise my threshold in order to find quality fabrics). For the front panel, I use beautiful brocades that I buy on sale. Normally brocade costs about $10/yard (sometimes more), but I wait until it is on sale or I have a coupon and buy it for around half that price. I can make four mei tai carriers with one yard of fabric. It takes about two yards of fabric for the back and the straps. It is also reversable, so you can have more of a basic fabric for the days when you're not feeling as fancy. The only other things you will need are thread, and something for padding in the straps if you want. I used polar fleece scraps.

It is surprisingly simple to make, and this one only took me one evening to put together. The hardest part is making the straps look good. I added padding, so it took longer to turn the straps inside out. Anyone with a little bit of sewing experience can make a beautiful mei tai carrier that will be the hit of the baby shower. They are also very easy to use, and as you can see by my almost 2.5 year old model, they are useful for a long, long time. Similar brocade mei tais sell for $40-60 on Etsy. The savings are huge if you make it yourself!

Here is a pattern for a mei tai that is similar to the one I make. I have made a couple variations to the pattern to make it more to my liking. You may find that you make variations, too, if you make enough of them. It's a great basic pattern to get you started.

Here are the instructions for wearing. I print this out when I give a mei tai as a gift.

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