Mei Tai style baby carrier with Tute

I’m pretty sure my brother’s girlfriend doesn’t read my blog but just in case she does visit pre-baby…hope you like your gift!

My brother and his girlfriend are expecting their first baby this August.  I’m super excited about it and in addition to a few other things, I wanted to make them a baby carrier.  I personally used the Mei tai style carrier with a few modifications based on Corrina Troth’s ‘Frankencozy‘.  For me this was the most fabulous thing since my daughter was put into my arms but the design doesn’t suit everyone.  Case in point, my other sister-in-law requested one from me but after trying the style I used, requested the type with padded shoulder straps as she tended to carry mostly on her back, backpack style, which the wide straps of my carrier did not comfortably suit.

So on to this Mei tai.  I got a remnant of bright orange fleece at work and it’s the kind of orange hunters wear.  Since my brother and his girlfriend like to hunt I thought it would be fun to make something for the baby out of this fleece.  Also my brother is in the military so I thought something with camouflage would be fun to.  When I visited my mom and found a piece of camouflage material she wasn’t using, I knew it was meant for me.

Usually a carrier like this requires up to two yards of fabric in order to properly cut out all the pieces.  I, on the other hand, did not have nearly that much in just one piece so I’m going to show you how I squeezed this cool little carrier out of less than two yards of fabric.

Things needed:

Ruler
marking pencil (optional, I eyeball a lot of things)
pins
scissors
denim/canvas sewing machine needle
approx. .5 meter/1/2 yard of 60″ wide fleece
approx. .5 meter/1/2 yard of 60″ wide denim or canvas
approx. .8 meter/ 7/8 yard of 60″ wide decorative fabric (use a medium weight fabric with a tight weave)

For the pieces, refer to the photo’s for reference but basically the body is about 32 cm/13″ wide by 40 cm/16 long.  The shoulder straps are about 20cm / 8″ wide by 150cm/60″ long.  The waist straps are about 20cm/8″ wide by 75cm/30″ long.  I cut the center portion of the strap curved in an attempt to accomodate the natural curve the straps want to make when tied around the waist and in doing so, eliminate some bulk caused by the subsequent bunching.  I based this info off of another carrier, however the information is no longer available online so I can’t link to it.

meitai pattern

I’ll start with cutting out the pieces.  For the body cut one piece out of the fleece, denim and fashion fabric. If you are tight on fabric, measure out everything before you cut to make sure that you can fit all your pieces.  Because I had so little fashion fabric I laid it out on the floor in one layer.  I cut the body from the corner of one end, making sure the shortest measurment was in the fabrics lengthwise direction.  From the bottom portion of the fashion fabric I used the full 60″ length for the length of the straps.  I had about 16 inches so I simply cut the strip in half.  from the remainder of the fabric I measured off  30″ in length and split it in half, since it was already 16″ wide.  From the last piece, I was able to cut two of the center waist pieces.  Not sure what I mean for the layout? here’s quick picture that should help.

meitai layout

You will also want to cut out two center waist pieces in the fleece to use as padding for the waist.  If you want you can extend the length of the piece by about 4″ (10cm) on either side so that the padding extends into the waist strap a bit.  You will also want to cut to rectangles of fleece that are 13″/33cm by 7″/18cm to use as padding in the shoulder straps.P6280050

Here is how I put it all together.

I started with the straps.  Fold the shoulder strap in half, right sides together, and stitch across one end and up the unfolded side so that it makes a tube.  Clip the corners, turn the tube right side out and press.  Do the same for the other shoulder strap.

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Take your shoulder strap padding peice and fold it in half.  Insert it into the open end of the shoulder strap.  You may have to wiggle it around until it is laying flat in a double layer, even with the open end of the tube.  Next, top stitch around the entire strap and make a couple of lines of stitching in just the padded area to keep the padding in place.

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Next fold the waist strap pieces in half, right sides together, and stitch across the end and about halfway up the unfolded edge.  Clip corners and turn.  Then layer your center waist piece like this: two pieces of fashion fabric, right sides together and then two layers of fleece on top.  Stitch across the bottom edge, trim the fleece very close to the stitching line to remove bulk.  Next you are going to attach the waist strap pieces to the center waist piece.  It’s a little complicated to explain so hopefully the pictures will tell you how to attach these pieces.

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Next layer the body pieces together like this: Lay the fashion fabric right side up.  lay one shoulder strap on one top corner and then the other strap on the other corner and pin in place.  Place the fleece right side down on the fashion fabric and then the denim piece on top of that.  Stitch around the sides and top, leaving the bottom edge open.  Clip corners.  Make more stitching lines in the seam allowance where the straps are connected to reinforce the seam.  Turn right side out.  You should have the denim fabric layered between the fashion fabric and the fleece.  Then top stitch around the edges.  In order to further reinforce the shoulder straps I did some zigzag stitching.

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Almost done.  Now to attach the waist strap.  Center the center waist peice on the bottom edge of the body with right sides together.  Stitch across and trim the fleece very close to the stitching line to reduce bulk.  Flip the waist peice down and press.  Fold up the other side of the waist piece and turn under the seam allowance.  Pin and stitch close to the edge from one end of the waist strap to the other, closing the opening in the process.  Then stitch some lines in the padding to hold it in place.  It also helps to reinforce the strap.

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Clip your threads and you are finished!

Usually a meitai is worn like this:
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The waist strap is tied around the waist like an apron.  Then the body is flipped up around baby, the shoulder straps go over the shoulders, cross in the back and then tie around the front either around baby’s body or under their bum.

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You can still wear this carrier like that, however you can also tie it so the waist strap isn’t flipped up.  Basically lay the carrier on your front so the shoulder straps are over your shoulders. Then tie you waist strap.  You can then let the front flip down to put baby in and flip it back up and tie the same as above.

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Some thoughts on this project:

You can make the waist strap straight.  You can add a hood.  You can leave out the padding.  There are dozens of ways to make this style of carrier and dozens of instructions online to make them.  Just google “how to make mei tai carrier”.  One of the best sites for instructions and links is Jan Andrea.  There are instructions as well as links to other sites showing many different variations on this carrier.

If you find the straps are not long enough, you can add fabric to the end.  The length of straps here should fit most sizes.  Smaller sizes will be able to tie the straps in a bow, while bigger sizes may have to tie in a knot.  If at all possible, try to cut your pieces out in one piece.  The more seams, the more areas at risk of becoming weak and tearing.  So if you are seaming, be sure to do lots of reinforcement stitching.

Please please please exercise caution when using this carrier.  There is a learning curve to any infant/toddler carrier and this one is no exception.  If this is the first time you are using this style, practice with a teddy bear until you get the hang of holding baby with one hand and adjusting the carrier with the other.  One of the best sites for instructions (and place to buy a ready made, super quality carrier) is Kozy Carrier.  You can see just how versatile this style is and if you decide to buy from her, know that you are supporting a stay at home mom and not some mass produced thing from a big box store.

Also, I worked hard on this redesign and would appreciate that you don’t use my instructions directly to create your own carriers to sell.  experiment with your own measurments, strap styles etc until you come up with your own version.  These instructions are meant to help anyone looking to make their own for personal use.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Janice on June 30, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Hey that looks fantastic – I’ll bet that she loves it, I certainly love mine. I acctually had Megan in it on the weekend. We went camping at Cyprus lake national park and I took the kids on a long hike. Megan couldn’t take the trail for long (her little legs got tired poor kiddo) but she rode on my back and loved it. She isn’t heavy (28lb) but she felt light in it and loved to be able to see up hight – typical for a 3yo.

  2. Posted by Lynn on September 17, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    After searching and searching the web for the right Mai Tie wrap tutorial for me, I was about to settle on one that would suffice, when I finally landed upon your blog post! Thank you for taking the time to include the world in your work. It took me awhile to make, but now I love it! On our walks to and from school baby #3 is riding in stylish comfort so I can have hands free for my other two kiddos. Thank you!

  3. Posted by Kelly on December 23, 2010 at 10:55 am

    GREAT TUTORIAL I CAN’Y WAIT TO TRY IT

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