Monday, September 22, 2014

How to Turn an Infantino Sash Mei Tai into Your New Favorite Baby Carrier

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!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dyed Watermelon Ergobaby Tutorial

After completing an Ergo to Tardis redo recently, I was excited to try another baby carrier dye job. When REI put the camel Ergobaby on clearance, I took it as a sign to start another project. Enter the Watermelon Ergo. This was considerably more difficult than the dye for the Tardis, which was a solid color. This would require a gradient between the pink and green while leaving some natural to give the look of the rind. Give yourself plenty of time to work on this one because it will need more than one dye application. I will warn that I didn't take as many pictures of this process as I probably should have, but my daughter was napping and I was trying to get as much possible done while she slept. 

First, prep the Ergo by washing and drying. Then soak it for about 30 minutes in one gallon of water and 1 1/3 cup of Washing Soda (or a cup of Soda Ash). I wring mine out and leave it damp overnight. When you are ready to dye, wrap a couple plastic bags around the waistband of the Ergo and secure with rubber bands. This helps keep dye splashes to a minimum. Then prepare the dye. I used two packets of Dylon Tulip Red. I mixed 4 cups of hot water with 4 TBS of non iodized salt then added one packet of dye and mixed well. Like really, really well. There should be no clumps of dye in your solution. I didn't do a good enough of a job and ended up with some speckling. Don't make my mistake. Repeat the water and salt mix with the other dye pack and pour into a tub big enough for the Ergo. Starting with the straps (which I unbuckled), dip into the concentrated dye bath and lower down until you get to the bag at the waistband. Since I wanted the color to be graduated, I worked the straps most and was careful about getting the dye too close to the bag. After about 15 minutes, I rinsed in my bathtub until the water was pretty clear. Then I used a garbage bag and put all but the waistband in, securing again with rubber bands, basically bagging it in reverse. 

For the green dye, I moved to a covered table in the garage. I prepared a packet of Dylon Tropical Green in the same proportions as the red dye-- 4 cups hot water, 4 TBS salt and the dye pack. I put this in an extra large 8 cup measuring cup. I also grabbed some paint brushes. Do yourself a favor and get good quality ones. The brushes I bought at the craft store had bristles falling out all over. I started by painting a layer of dye on the waist band, trying to let any excess dye flow downward towards the bottom of the carrier. 

After I had a good base color painted on, I dip dyed the bottom of the Ergo in my cup of dye. I left this in for a couple minutes, letting the dye concentrate at the bottom and moving it up and down. Then I rinsed a bit in the tub and threw the Ergo unbagged into the washing machine. I did a rinse/spin cycle on cold then a warm wash. 

The waistband needed another pop of color so I mixed up a batch of Dylon Dark Green in the same fashion as the Tropical Green and re bagged the red portion. I did the same process with the dark green, painted on with a paint brush, paying close attention the top as to not mix colors and letting the dye flow down and finished with a dip dye at the bottom. 

I gave the Ergo another rinse, wash and dry. It was time for the seeds! I used a pencil to outline my seeds first then colored them in with black Jacquard fabric marker. I tried to be balanced with their placement and avoided drawing any on the straps where it is common for babies to suck. 

Then it was all done! I'm pretty happy with how the waistband turned out and even though it wasn't in the dye long, the color is vibrant. 

It's like carrying baby in a little slice of summer. Delish!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to turn an Ergobaby Carrier into a TARDIS

It's been over a year since I posted a blog and something fantastic has happened since then; I gave birth to a baby girl! Arielle Eve was born at home on May 1 after an intense labor. Like many babies, she wants to be held and we have started over with Adventures in Babywearing. A new carrier I've tried this time is a linen ring sling, ours made by Willow Tree Slings. Jenn was kind enough to make me a "plain" one and I embellished it with this Van Gogh inspired Doctor Who fabric pocket. 

Apparently, this was not enough to satisfy my need to mix babywearing and Doctor Who. When I learned that Ergobaby carriers are fairly easy to dye, I had to try it out with our Galaxy Gray Ergo. Even the name, galaxy gray, sounds like it is describing the lonely, ageless space traveler and I thought it would be perfect to turn into a TARDIS. 

First, I gathered all the dyeing supplies I would need: Plastic bin to tub dye in, Super Washing Soda to help fix the color, a nylon ladle to mix and distribute the dye, three packets of Dylon brand dye in Jean Blue, non-iodized sea salt to add to the dye mix, kitchen gloves, a large measuring cup and a recently washed Ergo. I also got a seam ripper and took off the tags from the hood and pocket of the carrier. Next I soaked the Ergo in a mixture of 1 gallon warm water and 1 1/3 cups Super Washing Soda for 30 minutes (not pictured). I then drained off the mixture, wrung out the Ergo and let it sit over night so I could dye it the next morning while my daughter was napping. Then I dyed the Ergo with the 3 packets of Dylon dye, 12 tablespoons salt and 12 cups of lukewarm water. Mix the salt into the water then add the dye packets. Stir thoroughly until the dye is fully incorporated and not "crunchy" at all. Add the soda soaked damp Ergo to the dye and swish it around in the tub for 45 minutes. Don't let it sit in one spot for more than a couple minutes or the dye job might be uneven. I also threw in a couple onesies so they would match the Ergo. Then rinse with cold water for forever. Ok, not quite that long but until the water is totally clear which is going to take a while. Give it a wash in hot water and liquid detergent and air dry. Now your Ergo is Tardis blue! The stars don't dye because they are polyester and the color reactive dye only works on the natural fiber of the cotton on the rest of the Ergo. 

Now I wanted to add the appropriate wording to the Tardis colored hood. I ordered these patches from Pandora Productions on Etsy.  The Police Box patch is 7x1.25 inches and the Pull to Open patch is 2.53x2.04 inches. All I needed was to make the windows out of felt!

For this step, I would recommend using a rotary cutting tool and a self healing mat to cut your windows. Mine were supposed to be 3 inches long by 2 inches high but I eye balled this and cut them a little short. Use the grid on the mat to help mark off one inch squares with a disappearing ink fabric pen. 

I then used all six strands of embroidery floss to back stitch the outline for the windows.

I decided to use permanent, washable fabric glue to apply the patches so I didn't have to sew them through the hood. Placing the patches was difficult because the hood of the Ergo is not flat. The easiest way I found to do this was to buckle the carrier around a chair and poof it out like there was a baby in it. Then you get a sense of how the fabric falls when it's actually worn. The line in the "P" for Public was the center line of the Police Box patch and I used the seam in the hood as a center guide. After it was pinned, I glued it carefully with Fabric-Tac, paying close attention to the corners of the patches.   

I let the glue dry while it hung on the chair. 

I really love how it turned out. I plan to have a friend knit a blue hat with a white pom pom on top so that baby's head is the light at the top of the Tardis. Add a pair of navy Babylegs and it's an awesome Doctor Who babywearing Halloween costume. I can't wait to take this fun Ergo through time and space. Allons-y!


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Giveaway--Copy of Sacred Pregnancy and a Handsewn Felt Surprise

Today happens to be my birthday. So what better way to celebrate than with a birthy giveaway? I've teamed up with Facebook page Birth Nerds to send one lucky winner a copy of Sacred Pregnancy by Anni Daulter and a felt surprise hand sewn by yours truly. Use the handy Rafflecopter entry form below for your chance to win! If you have any questions about the giveaway, please email me at The value of the book is $19.95 and the value of the surprise is yet to be determined. Mostly because I don't know what it is yet. 

Happy Winning!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 25, 2013

A First Foray into Birth Photography

I was so touched and elated when my friend Helen asked my to take photos at the home birth of her son. When she sent me a text message at about 1 am on March 19 telling me to come over, my camera bag was packed and ready by the door. 

When I arrived and got myself together, it was almost two in morning. I learned the midwife (who was also my midwife) was already at another birth, as was her assistant. A doula neither myself nor Helen had ever met was on her way to help out. Helen was already in her bath tub, vocalizing through contractions. 

Helen's husband Lou was the official back rubber and hand holder. 

Around that point, close to 2:30 am, Ashley the doula arrived. I guessed Helen to be in transition by the pace of her contractions and the vocalizations she was making. Ashley let the midwife know the baby was not going to wait for her. 

This was one of my favorite shots. Helen's two year old was awake for almost the entire labor and she did so great. 

Not long after, Helen was feeling pushy and wanted to get out of the tub. We ended up laying down some towels and chux pads on her carpeted bathroom floor. Ashley had never caught a baby on her own before but she did a great job. 

At 3:17 am, baby Nicholas was born. He pinked up and started to breath without any trouble. For a surprise unassisted birth, everything went amazingly smooth. I was so proud of Helen! 

About 10 minutes after the baby was born, the midwife's assistant Celeste arrived. She helped with the placenta delivery. When the cord stopped pulsing, Lou did the honors of separating mother and baby. 

Nicholas nursed like a champ right away. I went downstairs and made my friend her first postpartum meal--a  beef burrito with black beans and corn. 

Celeste and Ashley did the newborn exam. Nicholas was 20 inches long and weighed 8 pounds even.

Getting dressed for the very first time:

The new family, minus their 4 year old Sara, who slept through the entire birth!

So sleepy after filling his tiny belly with colostrum. 

This was such an amazing experience for me and I learned a lot of lessons from Baby Nicholas' birth. It's very fun to be part of the birthy action but not have to do the actual work. It's also very tiring to be up all night without the oxytocin cocktail that comes after you do the actual work. Bathroom lights on a timer may be a birth photographer's worse enemy. My 50 mm lens was far too slow for the low light conditions I was in and I was surprisingly thankful for my kit lens.  All in all, it was an awesome first foray, and I hope I get the chance to do it again. 



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