These directions will take you step-by-step through sewing an original-shoulder Maya Wrap sling. This sling uses an accordion fold (like a paper fan) when securing the rings. There are many different ways to sew a ring sling shoulder; if you search for "sew a ring sling", you'll find many other ways to do so. This method tends to be most comfortable for those with pointed, narrow shoulders, or who wish to wear the sling with the rings very high, which can be helpful if you have a very small frame.
Please note: Not all fabrics are suitable for a safe, comfortable ring sling. Please download and read the separate "Rings and Fabric FAQ" before purchasing rings and fabric for your sling.
You will need a pair of appropriate rings (see FAQ) and good thread.
Gutermann or Coats All-Purpose polyester are recommended. Store brands tend to be weaker, break more easily, and are harder on your machine to sew with. Cotton or vintage thread is not appropriate, as they also tend to be quite weak.
How much fabric to buy:
Once you have bought an appropriate fabric, wash and dry it in the same way you will wash and dry after the sling is made.
Length: You need not cut the fabric to its final length before hemming. If you have purchased 2 1/2 yards, you may wish to leave it at that length until after you've sewn in the rings; that way, you can try on the sling and decide how long you want it to be, rather than trying to guess the length you might prefer before sewing.
Width: Most slings on the market fall between 26-32" wide, after washing and hemming. Generally speaking, the thinner the material is, the wider you may wish to cut; a heavier material will still be supportive and comfortable at 26" wide (and will be easier to adjust if it's a little narrower), while a lighter fabric requires more width for comfort and support.
You will be hemming the two long sides of the fabric. If you have already cut your fabric to length, hem one of the short sides, too. You can sew either so that the hem is on the "right" side of the fabric (shown below), or on the "wrong" side. If it's on the "wrong" side, be aware that a narrower hem can cut into your baby's legs. The hems will also be more visible in the tail of the sling if you do them on the "wrong" side. If your fabric doesn't have an obvious right or wrong side, you can do them either way. For a quick indicator of which edge is which when you're wearing the sling, you can do one hem on the right side and one on the wrong side, too.
Folding will be just like making a quick paper fan, where the folds stack up on top of each other.
The fabric shown below is 30" wide after hemming, so the folds will be 5" wide.
Start with your fabric right-side up (if applicable). Measure from the edge to your fold width and mark.
Fold the fabric up by your fold width (5" in this case).
Pinch the fabric at the edge and fold under.
Until all the fabric is in a stack that's 5" wide. The wrong sides of the fabric will be showing on top and underneath.
Baste the cut (or torn) edge about 1/2" from the edge. This stitching will be on the underside when the sling is worn, and not seen.
If you have a serger, serge the cut edge. If not, use a wide zig-zag stitch along the edge, to keep the fabric from fraying when it's washed.
When a Maya Wrap original shoulder sling is worn, one of the folds shown above is unfolded for wearing. The side you choose to open out will depend on which shoulder you will wear it on. If you are right-handed and usually carry a baby on your left hip, you will likely wear the sling mostly on your right shoulder. If you are left-handed, you would usually wear on your left shoulder. This is not always the case, though, so give it some thought.
If you will be primarily wearing on your right shoulder, the shoulder cap will be made with the open edge to the right (shown un-basted below):
If you will be primarily wearing on your left shoulder, the shoulder cap will be made with the open edge to the left (again, shown un-basted):
Once you have decided which edge will make the shoulder cap (left shoulder shown below), measure about 6" from the cut edge and mark.
Sew a basting stitch across the width. This will hold the folds in place while you sew in the rings. It's easiest to remove a basting stitch if you use a very long stitch length, and also reduce the upper thread tension. (This is usually done by turning a knob just above the needle. It's often marked from 0 to 9. Normal tension is between 4-5; if you reduce it to 1-2, you will be able to pull out the bobbin thread after the rings are sewn in for a neater finished appearance.) You can often follow the threads in the fabric to make a straight line; if you don't think you'll be able to so, use a piece of paper as a straight edge and mark the line with chalk.
Finished basting stitch:
Now you will stitch in the rings. Flip the folded fabric over, so you're sewing on the wrong side. Line up the zig-zagged edge with the basting stitches to get a straight line. Remember to reverse the sewing direction (backtack) at the start and finish of the stitching line, to keep the stitches from coming out with use.
Sew slowly and be careful not to catch the shoulder cap in the stitching.
Here's the completed first line of stitching on the right side of the fabric, with the basting stitches removed. Note the slightly thicker backtacked stitches at the left and right.
Sew another line of stitching about 1/2" from the first, and another between them. You will want at least two, but preferably three, lines of stitching for safety. The center line can be a decorative stitch if you prefer. Use the sides of your presser foot to space the stitching lines.
Three lines of stitching shown. You can see the unfolded shoulder cap to the left -- this would be a left-shoulder sling.
When the sling is threaded correctly, the shoulder cap is unfolded, and the "wrong" side of the fabric shows in the tail.
This is what the sling will look like when worn. Having an even number of folds ensures that the top rail unfolds evenly across your back.