Homemade Pouch Sling

[Ooops!  I haven’t finished this page yet…please check back later!]

The first baby carrier I made was a pouch sling.  I mostly used this when DD was very small, up to about 6 months.  After that I’ve been using wraps more so this has been sadly neglected.  Pouches are great for quickly and easily carrying your baby on your hip, front or back.  I found it especially useful for breastfeeding as it supports your baby in the right position and covers you up.  Best of all, it folds up tiny to fit happily in your baby bag (in my case for ‘fit happily’ read ‘fall to the bottom and get forgotten’!).

Pouch slings are really easy to make.  The main fabric is some 100% cotton fabric that I got from Ikea – it’s fairly heavy weight so strong and durable.  I lined it with some much softer white cotton fabric to make it more comfy for the baby.  My pouch isn’t adjustable (some pouches have drawstrings or straps that allow you to tighten the sides), and it doesn’t have padding in the rails (again, some pouches have this to make it more comfy for with bigger/heavier LO who is in a sitting position).

If you have a pouch that you cannot adjust, it’s very important that it fits you properly, which is why I made mine myself.  Even with the best fitting pouches, you may find that, as your LO grows and changes shape, the fit will get better or worse.  I found that mine fitted at first while DD was lying in it, but then was a bit too big when she first started sitting in it at about 4-5 months.  Now she’s nearly 12 months and more chunky, it fits perfectly again!

How I made my Pouch Sling

What I used:

54″ x 20″ strong cotton fabric – Ikea is very reasonable and has lots of fun designs!

54″ x 20″ soft cotton for the lining – you could use other soft fabrics here, but I’d reccommend only natural fibres to keep the whole thing breathable so your LO doesn’t overheat.

You could also use 2 different patterned medium-weight fabrics to make a reversible pouch.

Measuring tape – for measuring yourself to make sure it’ll fit.

What I did (sorry for lack of photos in some places – will supplement with sketches soon)

To make the pattern, I first measured myself from the side of my left hip bone (where baby would sit) to the far corner of my opposite shoulder.  It helps if someone else does this for you as it can easily go a bit wrong if you’re trying to measure yourself.  Take this measurement, double it and add 2″ for the seam allowance.  This is the length of fabric you need.  If you’re not sure on the measurement, I think it’s better to go slightly too small rather than too big to allow for stretching as you wear the pouch. I find pouches are more comfy and supportive if they’re slightly too tight than if they are too loose.

My fabric is 54″ long, to fit me at about 5’4″ high and about a UK size 10-12.  The finished pouch is 26″ long at the longest point (this is my hip-shoulder measurement).  I cut my fabric 22″ wide and the pouch ended up 19″ wide, which is plenty to fit my fairly long, now nearly 12 month DD.  You could happily make it narrower if you prefer, and you can easily make 2 pouches from one length of fabric (and so have a spare for when the inevitable baby messes need washing off).

Here’s the fabric cut to size:

For the pouch shape, cut your fabric to the right size and fold it in half widthways,

and then again lengthways (so now it’s folded into quarters).

Draw a curve onto the fabric using a pen or fabric marker.  This curve is what gives your pouch its pocket shape for your baby/toddler to lie or sit in.  My curve starts about 3″ from the ends of the fabric and you could probably get away with a slightly smaller one.  Making the curve too deep will make the carrier less supportive.

Cut along your curved line, and you now have a piece of fabric about 20″ wide by 54″ long (at the widest parts) with curved ends.  Use this fabric as a pattern to cut the same shape out of your lining/other fabric.

To construct this carrier, I basically made two one-layer pouches – one with the outer fabric, and one with the lining fabric.  When you’ve made both, you then sew them together at the sides.  If you wanted a reversible pouch, simply use 2 different patterned fabrics (though I’d make them both fairly soft to be next to your baby) rather than an outer and a lining fabric.

So all you do is to cut out your two pieces of fabric, and make a french seam along the curved edge.  This is a double-reinforced seam for strength (very important as this seam will take a lot of the weight in the carrier.

To do the seam, I put the curved edges of the fabric together, right sides facing out, and stitched along this about 1/2″ from the edge.  Then I turned the whole thing inside out (so the wrong sides are now facing out), iron or pin your folded seam flat, and sew along the curved edge again, about 3/4 inch away from the edge.  You should end up with the raw edges of the fabric encased inside the seam and not visible on the outside.  I then pinned the whole seam to one side and stitched this down about 1/2 inch from the seam.  This was to add extra reinforcement, and the flat seams help the pouch to be more comfortable for your LO.

Here’s the finished seam, folded down on the inside – the row or white stitching you can see is where I sewed the seam flat in the last step:

Do this for both fabrics (in my case the outer and lining fabrics).  You’ll have two big loops of fabric.  Put one inside the other, right sides together, and sew all around one edge, leaving about a 1 1/2 inch seam.  Now turn it all to that it’s the right way out.  Top-stitch over the edge you just sewed with two rows of stitching (my rows are about 2mm and 7mm from the edge) like this:

Now for the last side.  You need to do this seam differently because you wouldn’t be able to turn the whole thing inside out after sewing if you tried to do it the same way as above.  So with the whole thing the right way out, I folded 1 1/2 inch of each fabric over at the raw edge, and pinned the folded edges together all around.  I then top-stitched them together with two rows of stitching as above.

Notes on adding padding in the rails:

My pouch has no padding in the rails, but the large 1 1/2 allowance I left on the width means that I could unpick it and add in some light padding to help make the pouch more comfy on DD’s legs (and my shoulder).  I’d just cut long strips of wadding about an inch wide and sew them to the edges of the out fabric before making the seams.  the second row of stitching at the edge I’d sew about 1 1/4 inch in from the edge to help secure the wadding all around.

How to wear a non-adjustable pouch sling (sitting position on left hip)

You probably find that you often have to pick up your LO and carry them about on your hip.  The pouch lets you do this quickly and easily, while supporting and distributing your LO’s weight across your back and shoulder, and leaving you both hands free.  Genius!

1. First flatten out the pouch.

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2. Then fold it in half edge to edge all the way around, like this:

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3. Now put the pouch over your head and left arm, with the curved seam just to the front of your left hip.  Most mamas find they carry their LO on their left hip – this is apparently because LO instinctively find it more soothing/calming being nearer to mum’s heartbeat.  Obviously change sides if you carry your LO sitting on your right hip.

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4. Open the folded pouch out at the seam, and plop your LO into the pouch with their bum in the pocket made by the curved seam, and making sure that the pouch fabric goes from knee-pit to knee-pit.

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5. Adjust the shoulder so it all feels supportive, and off you go!

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Lying position for a smaller baby (up to 3-4 months) or for breastfeeding

Steps 1. and 2. as above.

3. Now put the pouch over your head and right arm, with the curved seam just to the front of your right hip. This is the opposite side to when your LO is sitting in it, assuming that your baby will prefer having their head next to your heart.  For breast feeding, the pouch should be over the shoulder on the side that you will be feeding on.

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4. Open the folded pouch out at the front, and gently lay your LO into the pouch with their face at near your heart and their bum and legs sloping down towards your right hip.  Make sure that no fabric is covering their face, and that their weight is supported all the way along.

[pic to add]

I found it took a little while to get the hang of where baby needed to lie in a pouch.  The best fit seemed to be when I put DD in at an angle to the pouch (rather than with her body along the legnth of it), so that her face was near to the outside edge of the pouch at the top, and her legs were pointing more to the inside edge.  I hope that makes sense!  Pic 1 below shows how it looked from my angle (see how here head is near to the edge?).  Pic 2 shows sort of how she would have been positioned if I’d taken the pouch off with her in it (which I did if she fell asleep in it) – diagonally across the width of the pouch.

[pic to add]

5. Adjust the shoulder so it all feels supportive, and off you go!

For breastfeeding, simply turn baby so that they’re facing into your body and adjust the outside edge of the pouch to cover you both.  As the pouch is nice and wide, I found it easy to feed discreetly in public.

And some more action pics, just for me 😀

From our summer holiday in rural Italy (DD is 5 months here):

Easter Holiday March 2010, Stone Henge (DD is about 6 weeks here):


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