This rainbow wrap has been in the works for quite a while. Abby was outgrowing the Ergo and the Mei Tai I made. Ring Slings are okay for her still, but not for any length of time. For the grocery store, I’ve been using a Kangaroo Korner fleece pouch that I got at the consignment shop. I wasn’t sure if Abby really started liking being carried more often, or she really liked that carrier. Anywho, the point is, I needed one that actually fit her 2 ½ year old height and weight… plus a little room to grow, and the potential to use when kid #2 rolls around.
I was part of the Babywearing DIY Advice and Support group on Facebook. I watched as people asked questions and showed off their woven wraps that they had bought or made. It’s so simple, but looked so complicated. It follows the same idea as the Moby wrap, but it’s not a stretchy fabric. It can be made as wide as you need, so there were people showing themselves carrying anywhere from newborns up to toddlers (and sometimes beyond). I thought… that’s what I want, but I don’t know how to wrap. So I started doing some homework on wraps… and man… those things are expensive! Since I sew, I couldn’t in good conscience pay that much for something that I knew I could make. Over the course of researching what to use, I got an invitation for the Dyed baby carriers Facebook group. And that’s where I saw my inspiration.
The next day, another person in the group posted her low water immersion (LWI) dye job in progress.
I stalked that picture until the she posted the final product.
It was almost exactly what I wanted. I decided I was going to follow her lead and even used the same colors that she did.
So here we are. I have experience sewing, but none dying whatsoever. I jumped in with both feet. I wanted a rainbow dye job and a glue resist design as my middle marker. I drew up a picture of what I wanted it to look like.
Here is a close-up of the design.
I ordered the most recommended fabric (Osnaburg 100% cotton – 6 yards) and the fiber reactive dye and soda ash from Dharma Trading Company (the go-to place for dyes apparently). The colors I used are:
- Chinese Red (10A)
- Soft Orange (5)
- Bright Yellow (2)
- Kelly Green (66)
- Brilliant Blue (46)
- Deep Purple (18)
I washed and dried the fabric on hot to shrink it down. It went from 6 yards of 45” wide to 5 yards, 16” and 45” wide. Then I scoured the fabric.
Scouring is basically a deep clean with soda ash. You wouldn’t think that new fabric would be that dirty (especially since I just washed it), but it was disgusting.
After I was done scouring, I washed it again on hot and did a hot dry (just to make sure it wasn’t going to shrink anymore.
I ripped the fabric down the side to make it 31” wide and cleaned up the edges. Then I did a rolled hem with cotton thread (so it would take the dye too), and did a double hem. This left my wrap about 29” wide and about 180” long… just under a “size 6”.
Next, I did a soda ash soak. There is a chemical reaction between the dye and the soda ash, so it somehow sticks better to the fabric. I wanted nice, vibrant colors, so I needed this step. After the soak, I let it air dry outside on a drying rack.
Once that was done, it was time to do the glue resist pattern. Unfortunately, I don’t have a good place to lay out that much fabric, so I laid down a bunch of trash bags in our living room and then laid out the fabric.
Soda ash is very caustic, so I didn’t want it touching anything and I wore gloves while using it. I measured out where I wanted my designs to go. I ended up placing one large one in the center (22” in diameter), and two on either side in a smaller size (11” in diameter).
The next day (when I had adequate light), I hung the wrap in the window with the design taped to the glass. Then I traced the design onto the wrap using a washable marker.
Man, my arms got tired from being in the “up” position. It took probably 2 hours or so to do it. Then I drew inside the lines with the glue – plain old white Elmer’s school glue. I went through about a bottle and a half… and my right thumb was numb for about ten days (I’m not kidding… I don’t know if that’s normal or not, but it was weird).
Once the glue resist was done drying, it was dye time! I accordion folded the wrap and tied it off with yarn that I had laying around. In washable marker, I wrote the letters R, O, Y, G, B, and P where I wanted to place the dye.
I laid out the trussed fabric on some baking racks in a Tupperware container (one of the flat ones that is meant to go under the bed). I got the dyes mixed per the instructions, and then put the dye on where I’d placed my markers. I think that next time I would wear 2 pairs of gloves… apparently I had a hole in one!
I underestimated how long it was going to take to actually get the fabric dyed. I started about 7:30 thinking it would take an hour or two to mix the dye and put it on. I ended up going to bed at 10:30 (which is way passed my bedtime)! Once the dye was on the fabric, I placed it on some trash bags that I’d set out, wrapped it up, and taped it shut.
Then I put it on the table in my sewing room. You’re supposed to keep it someplace warm, but April in Seattle isn’t really warm… the light coming in through the window and the heat rising to the second floor was the best I could do.
I let it sit like this for about 2 days. I unrolled it outside and did a few rinses in the backyard with the hose.
Then I took it back inside (using the under bed container to transport it), and threw it in the washing machine. I rinsed it on cold. And I rinsed, and I rinsed, and I rinsed.
And then the next day while I was at work, my husband ran the washer a couple times on cold. When I got home, I ran it again on cold and threw a diaper pre-fold in there (a trick I’d picked up in the dye group). It came out clean, so I rinsed it one more time in cold, and then did a few washes on hot with regular laundry detergent (I used Kirkland brand Free & Clear).
Then I dried it and added the outlines to the design (without the lines, the design just looks like a Super Jew design rather than the Jewish/Celtic knot that it’s intended to be).
I stepped back to look at my handiwork. I’m very proud of myself. I wasn’t real happy with the way the glue resist came out, but it’s growing on me. It has character – character that I know no one else has on their carrier.
I still have to learn a lot about how to use the darn thing. The first trial went okay (my daughter is so patient with me). I tried a bastardized version of Robin’s hip carry.
The second time was a better trial. I think I did a bastardized version of a rucksack with a knotless Tibetan tie (and actually, I just watched a video on YouTube, and I think I actually did it right! Except I reversed the non-ties… whoops). I really want to learn how to do a Giselle’s Back Carry… that’s my goal.
Abby did really well. I started to take her out and she said she didn’t want to get down. Then she said that she was comfortable. Comfortable! From a 2 ½ year old! So I undid the straps and tightened them a bit. I was getting a little warm (and I still wasn’t comfortable with the wrap job), so I decided to take Abby out. She threw a little mini tantrum because she didn’t want to get down (babywearing WIN), and then pointed to the Kangaroo Korner pouch… she still wanted to be worn. I have never been so excited for her to be throwing a tantrum! Well, we did the Robin’s hip carry again and then when Daddy got home with dinner, then she wanted to down. I consider this all a win.
Anywho, there you go. I’m really proud of it!