Well, my obsession for dyed baby carriers continues. We have a trip to Disneyland coming up soon and I wanted something comfortable and easy to travel with. Enter the Infantino Sash Mei Tai. You can find this carrier at many big box stores, Amazon, Babies R Us, basically everywhere. I ordered the gray "birds" print from Kohl's because I had a coupon but the shipping takes for-eeev-veeer! But the price is very affordable and the carrier is surprisingly comfortable, even with my extra chunky girl. The tan and gray versions make fantastic dye blanks and with the variety of hard-to-find fabric available from places like Ebay, Etsy, and Spoonflower, the possibilities for personalization are endless.
I wanted to make an Ariel carrier for my Arielle so I hunted down a "vintage" bed sheet (how can something from my childhood be considered vintage already?!) on Etsy. I also had a very specific color in mind for this carrier. I wanted it as close to mermaid tail teal as I could get it. So I stepped up from the craft store dye brands and ordered the color "Sea Glass" from Dharma Trading Co. Their procion dyes were so much easier to use and a 2 oz jar will dye A LOT of projects. Also you get a free gift with your first purchase and I chose this silk play scarf which delighted my 5 year old.
I did a couple of test runs with this dye and a onesie, since I wasn't sure how the color would really end up. I was pretty pleased with the hue.
After the carrier pigeons released my mei tai from the slowest shipping time ever, I picked the part of the sheet I wanted for the panel. The size, including a quarter inch on each side for the hem, is 11 1/8 inch wide by 12 inches tall. I cut this a bit big and pinned the hem under so it would be ready to sew on later. Obviously, don't pin the fabric panel on the carrier unless you want to dye it too!
I followed the directions on the Dharma site for using the procion in a tub dye. I used a tablespoon of dye, 3 gallons of water, 3 cups of salt and 1/3 cup soda ash (or a heaving 1/3 cup of washing soda). BE CAREFUL here! It is easy to end up with a really dark green and not mermaid fin. In retrospect, I would have diluted the dye bath more. But at that concentration, I only swished the carrier around for maybe 5 minutes. If you leave it for a full 20 like the directions say, it will be very dark. When it reaches the color you want, what ever color that may be, take it out of the dye bath! I ran it through a couple cold rinse cycles in the washer, then a hot wash with a few drops of blue Dawn and a splash of rubbing alcohol to catch any leftover dye, then dried in the dryer.
Now it was time to sew on the panel. I laid it out how I wanted it one more time and then ironed it so the hem would be crisp and fold over on it's own. I trimmed the extra hem down and pinned to the top layer of the carrier. I found it easiest to kind of fold the carrier at the panel seam to catch the stitch.
The stitching is nothing special. You can find YouTube videos for hand sewing appliques and that is a similar process. I just used a whip stitch with cotton floss and secured the fabric right over the existing panel. Of course if you actually know how to use a sewing machine, you can use that too. Be sure to go through all the layers of the hem fold of your new panel at the corners so they are secure.
Now it's ready to be worn and loved.
The mei tai even comes with sleepy dust! Enjoy!