Reversible Wrap Pod or Mei Pod

Yesterday a question from another mama inspired me to think about how to make a Reversible Wrap Pod (i.e. a fully reversible podeagi carrier made from wrap fabric and with wide, supportive wrappy straps).  I’ve never seen or tried a pod, but I had a lot of lonely wrap scraps waiting for a project, so thought I’d give it a go.  My method has been inspired by 3 fabulous online tutorials for a on-sided wrap-pod, a reversible topstitched mei tai, and a ring sling with pleated shoulders that look great whichever way you wear it. I’ve linked all three fantastic tutorials at the bottom of this page.

Here’s my finished pea-green Wrap Pod (pics of other side to come):

Podaegis are great for quick back carries, and ones like mine which have narrow bodies are good for summer too as they use a lot less fabric than a wrap would and so are much cooler to wear. Best of all, they fold up really small to easily fit in your bag:

[folded pic to come]

I’ll link some ways of wearing a pod at the bottom of this page, but now to get on with the making!  As with most pictures on my site, the thumbnails below are all clickable to view a larger image (if any links are missing, please let me know by adding a comment!).

What I used

2 x wrap scraps approx 28″ x 16.5″for the body panels (or 2 wrap cut-offs which are full-width and each 16.5″ long)

1 x wrap scrap approx 90″ x 24″ for the straps.

1 x piece of strong cotton canvas or drill approx 4″ x 16″ to reinforce the weight-bearing seams inside the carrier.  I’m using lightwieght cotton drill,which has a strong, dense diagonal weave, but isn’t too stiff or thick.

1 x microfibre washable nappy insert for the headrest padding (I’ve also used those cheap microfibre cleaning cloths, which are the same fabric).  You could leave the padding off if you don’t want it, or use whatever other padding you’d prefer.  I’m just using what I’ve got lying around 😀

The finished measurements of my pod are approx: body= 14.5″ x 23.5″ and straps= 11″ x 80″. I got the idea for the basic shape from this wrap-pod tutorial: Making a Wrap-Pod.

From what I’ve read, most pods use larger pieces of fabric for the body than I did – I simply used the biggest suitable pieces I had spare, and it seems to work fine for me.  For a bigger body, you’ll need fabric that is about 5″ longer and 2″ wider than you want your finished pod body to be.  You could use my sizes to make a whole, 2 sided wrap-pod out of a wrap that is standard width and at at least 124″ long – this is about 310cm, or a size 3 wrap.  This would allow you to have a side of the pod that shows each side of a wrap with contrasting colours.  You could use my method to make a pod out of a 270cm or size 2 wrap, if you used a different fabric on the other side.  When measuring a wrap to use, make sure you take into account any tapered ends, as these can affect how much fabric you actually have to work with.

What I Did

I first prepared all of my fabrics.  I cut the wrap pieces so that they were square and the right size.  This meant cutting the longer piece for my straps in half lengthways, and squareing off the body pieces.

To get the fabric to pad the top of the carrier, I cut off the overlocking from all around the microfibre nappy booster.  This left me with 3 pieces of soft microfibre fabric (and a lot of bits of microfibre fluff to hoover up).  I’m going to use 2 of them, which I cut to be approx 4″ x 14″ (about as wide as the cotton drill, but at least 1.5″ shorter than the body panels so that they’ll be about 0.5″ shorter than the finished body width).

I then hemmed the fabric for the straps by folding the edges over twice and stitching it down.  My strap fabric is diamond weave, so there are lots of lines I could follow to do this by eye – you could also pin it first, or use a 6mm hem-rolling machine foot.  I made slight tapers in the ends because I like how they look, and hemmed these, but left the other ends (which will be attached to the body of the pod) un-hemmed.

Taking the unhemmed ends of my wrap straps, I folded them into 3 pleats and pinned into place.  I’m folding the first 8″ of the strap as each folded strap end is going to lie inside half of the width of the top of the pod body (this’ll make more sense later!).  I’m pleating the straps so that they will look very similar on both sides and equally nice whichever way you wear the finished carrier.  This method was inspired by Jan Andrea’s way of pleating for ring slings + more details of how she does it can be found here: Jan Andrea Sling Pleat

Once my pleats are as I want them (mine aren’t perfect, but will do the job fine), I sewed them down in 4 places – the last row of stitches should be no more than 7″ from the raw ends otherwise this stitching might show on the finished carrier.  Repeat for the other strap, using the first one to mirror the pleats so that they match.

Now take your cotton canvas/drill and pin then sew your two pleated wrap strap ends onto this so that their ends meet in the middle.  Make sure that you sew at least 2-3″ from the edges of the reinforcing fabric – this will allow for turning the edges in to neaten later on.

Now we’re going to put it all together.  Take your two body fabric pieces, and place them right sides together, and with the top edges at the top.  Sew these two pieces together along the top edge only, about 4-5″ from the top.  You could chalk a sewing line onto the fabric first if you need to, but I just followed a straight line in the pattern of the fabric. I went over this row of stitching twice to make sure it’s really secure.

Now take one of your microfibre padding pieces, and place it on the 4-5″ seam allowance, just above the line you’ve just sewn, in the middle of the body.  On top of this place the reinforcing fabric with the wrap straps attached.  Lastly, place the other piece of padding on top.  Pin all this in place.

Do lots of reinforcing stitching to sew all of the layers to the body fabric.  I bartacked (very close zig zag) through all of the layers at each end about 3″ from the sides of the body.  I then did an x-box inspired diamond design to hold everything down in the middle.  If you’ve already done the bartaking, then horizontal or vertical lines of stitching would be fine here.  Just make sure all of the stitching is secure and really well reinforced as this is what’s going to be holding your baby’s weight.

Now fold the whole of the top down at the stitching line and mark where it comes down to on the sides of the body panels (I marked mine with a black pen right at the edges).

[at this point, make and attach your Mei Pod loops to your body panels if applicable – see futher down the page for details.  Bartack them before sewing the side seams and then just continue following the Wrap Pod instructions…]

Unfold, and sew down the sides of the body, starting from the marks you just made, and finishing at the bottom.  Don’t sew right up to the top, or across the bottom of the body just yet.  I’ve left 1″ seam allowances all around so that the raw edges will get caught in the top stitching later and strengthen these seams.

Your wrap pod so far will look something like this:

Now it starts to get exciting!  Turn the whole thing out using the space at the bottom…

…and pull the straps through the holes you left at the sides (this bit of the method was inspired by Luna Moth’s mei tai tutorial here: Reversible Topstitched Mei Tai).

Pin around the outside of the body (ironing would also be a good idea here, but I’m generally allergic to irons so I didn’t bother).  At the bottom of the body, fold in one edge by about 1″, pin just this one first (first pic below) and then fold the other edge to meet it + add more pins (second pic below).  I made the bottom corners of my pod square as I think it’ll make it easier to tug the body into position when using the finished carrier.  I’ve also seen pictures of pods with rounded corners, so you could do that if you prefer the way it looks.

Do the same where the straps are; I found that it was too thick to pin through all of the layers here so I folded and then pinned each side of the body just to either side of the straps.

All pinned up and ready to sew!

Finally, I sewed all around the body, 1 cm from the edge.  If you wanted, you could then also slip stitch (by hand) the folded edges at the straps and bottom of the body, which are not completely flat, but it’s not necessary and I haven’t got around to doing that to mine yet.

Take out all the pins and you’re finished!

Note how the folded edges at the straps on the second side of my carrier (the side that I couldn’t see when I was top-stitching) are not straight – this could have been prevented by more careful pinning, but can be made to look better by doing the hand-stitching step above.  I may get around to that another time, but for now I’m going to have fun practising with my new carrier!

NOTE: I’m now changing this design to make it more adaptable to different ways of tying/using (see additions below), so will post updated method soon! 😀

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Links to Inspiring Tutorials

My method above was informed and inspired by the following online tutorials.  Many thanks to these mamas for sharing their great methods and ideas.

Wrap Pod Tutorial: Making a Wrap-Pod

Reversible Mei Tai Tutorial: Reversible Topstitched Mei Tai

Pleated Shoulder for Reversible Ring Slings: Jan Andrea Sling Pleat

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Links to Ways to Wear Your Pod

There are loads of ways to wear a pod!  Picture instructions for lots of different ways to wear a pod are on this fantastic site: http://www.coreanne.com/en/podaegi_instructions.html (though see below for why I wouldn’t advise using this pod design with carries that take the straps over the shoulders first).

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Pod Problems

I wore my home-made wrap pod a couple of times briefly at home and it felt very comfy and supportive. But the first time I wore it out to go to the local shops for an hour it felt fine while we were out, but for the following few days I had tingling and pins and needles in my upper back (around the spine about level with my bra strap). I’d never had pain or anything there before and asked advice on naturalmamas babywearing forum.

The advice was that pain in this area can be caused by overcompensating when back-carrying a loose top rail/section of a baby carrier. I’d tried wearing my pod with the straps coming up and over my shoulders first, so the top of the body wasn’t tight at all because the straps come out of the body horizontally rather than diagonally upwards (like on a mei tai).  In my pictures with DD above,you can see how loose the top was.  In order to get the carrier nice and snug and supportive all around, the straps on mine need to come under my arms first, not over them, so I tried experimenting…

… after a bit of fun with Teddy, here’s a way of tying it that seems to solve the problem for me. It’s a bit like a Double Hammock (which I’d do with a size 5 or 6 wrap), but you start off with both sides coming under your arms + you do a chest pass with each + then go under the same leg and over the opposite shoulder with both, pull up to tighten and then down to make ruck straps and tie under bum:

The only problem is that it’s not particulary quick or easy, which was kind of the point for the pod…. It does use much less fabric than a size 6 though so still cooler to wear and easier to carry around .

The Birth of the Mei Pod

So then I decided to think about it differently, and came up with this…It’s a Mei-Pod!

Basically I turned the whole thing upside-down, tied the straps like a mei tai waist strap, then hip scooted the teddy around, lifted the body of the thing up to his neck (required a bit of double jointed shoulder action), and brought the ends of the straps back around my waist, under the leg on the same side then up and over the opposite shoulder. Down in front for ruck straps and tie under bum as before.
… But… this is still fairly awkard to do, especially since you need to knot the waist before you sort out all the rest of it and so it can’t be pre-tied, so…

… I found the big SSC buckle that I bought to make a wrap conversion, and threaded it onto the straps so I could wear it like this (it looks the same as before on the back):

So it’s sort of a half-buckle mei pod! 😀

So now I’m going to sew loops diagonally across the corners of the body of my carrier so I can pre-thread the straps through them. Then all I’ll have to do to put it on is buckle the waist, pop DD into it (being careful not to let the waist loosen too much) and lift the ends of the straps up over my shoulders (spreading out the cross at the back and bouncing a bit to get it comfy) + tie off behind. So it’ll have fewer straps than a mei-tai or SSC and I think it’ll be fairly quick and easy to use (AND I could still use it as a pod like above if I wanted to). Phew!

Plus: When I’m finished I’ll do some more pics for how to do these carries 😀

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How to convert your Wrap Pod into a Mei Pod [not quite finished, sorry – pics to come!]

I need to first unpick the seams along the bottom edge, and half way up the sides before following the instructions below.  Obviously if you were starting off intending to make a Mei Pod, you’d do this next bit before you sewed the side seams for the first time!

So I’m going to make straps that run diagonally across the corners of the Mei Pod body.  They will be bartacked to the body fabrics on the seam allowance, and then sewn into the seams side and bottom (or top, depending on which way up it is!).  When top-stitching the body, I’m going to go under these loops so that they can be flipped over and used on either side of the body panel (I hope you’ll see what I mean). So…

To make the straps I cut a piece of wrap fabric (the same as my wrap straps) about 7-8cm wide, and XXcm long.  I folded it in half lengthways and sewed along leaving about a 1.5-2cm seam allowance.

I then used a safety pin attached to one end to thread it into itself and turn the whole thing inside out.

I pinned it flat and top-stitched the top and bottom edges (about 3-5mm from the edge) to make the whole thing lie flat.  I then cut it in half to make 2 straps, and pinned them to each corner of the Mei Pod body, on the right side of the fabric.  Mine are positioned to that the top edge of the strap is 4″ along the body, and 4.5″ down the body as this looked nice and left a good 5″-ish space under the strap to thread the wrap strap through.

I then bartacked either end of each strap to the seam allowance of the wrap fabric body.  Now you can turn it all inside out and sew the side seams of the Pod body, and then follow the instructions above to finish the carrier.

When you get to the top-stitching, just make sure that you don’t sew over the top of the straps (I found that it wasn’t too hard to keep them out of the way, as long as you start with them in the right place).  If you do, then you’ll only be able to use the straps on one side of the body fabric (which kind of spoils the reversible bit!).

Finished!

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Applying a Mei Pod [not quite finished, sorry – pics to come!]

To use, thread one half of a sturdy buckle onto each wrap strap; try the carrier on and position the waist buckles in a good place for you.

Now thread each wrap strap back and up through the Mei Pod loop on the opposite corner of the body.

Now you’re ready to wear!

You can wear this front, side/hip, or back.  I prefer back carries, and it’s harder to get this on on your back so will show that.  For front and hip carries, you can tie the whole thing to you, slip your baby/child into it, and then tighten all the wrappy bits afterwards.

For a back carry, first buckle the carrier around your waist with the body and straps still hanging.  If you have slippy buckles, the waist won’t be tight so don’t try to get it to support your LO’s weight until you’ve got tension in the wrap straps.  Make sure each strap is hanging down over your waist on the right side and within easy reach.

Now get your LO onto your back in your preferred way (I like superman!).

Supporting your LO, grab the wrap straps and pull them up over your shoulders to get some tension.  Hold them between your knees while you spread the back passes over your LO’s bottom, then take each side and pull up to tighten it all and give a supportive seat.

Pull the straps down in front of your shoulders, back over your LO’s legs and tie under bum.  You could also do a twist at the front to add chest support before taking behind you to tie off. Done!

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About emeriminni

My name's Emily and I'm a pragmatic mum to 2 inspirational children, Sling Librarian, business owner/manager, part-time student & chronic craft enthusiast. I love reading, ranting, learning and making things & I'm interested in philosophy, psychology, babywearing & practical, natural-ish parenting, and all sorts of creative things (esp. crochet, dyeing, sewing, beading and baking).
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One Response to Reversible Wrap Pod or Mei Pod

  1. lunamothmama says:

    Hi! I saw you linked to my reversible mei tai tutorial… its so awesome to see what comes of my sewing experiments! I have made wrap-pods as well, using a method similar to yours but without the inner canvas panel and the straps were one continuous 12″ wide strip, kind of like some of the wrap conversion mei tais. But I used Jan Andrew’s pleating method to narrow it at the body – she has the best sling tutorial out there!
    And just as a side note… 😉 I also have a double hammock carry vid on YouTube… I believe it is under “chunei back carry” which is the first name we gave it over at thebabywearer.com… 🙂 it was my favorite back carry ever!

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