Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I Made a SSC!!!

SSC=Soft, Structured Carrier. Like an Ergo, a Beco, or, for the more mainstream, a distant relative of the gastly Bjorn. A cross between a Mai Tei and a Bjorn. LOL.

Funky, eh? I bought that canvas at Wal-Mart. They had a few different, similar patterns, but I just had to have the pink one. I have wanted to make this style for a long time, but there is no one, single, pattern on the internet. In the Yahoo Slingsewing group there is a sketch and most measurements to make a 'psuedo-Ergo', but there aren't detailed instructions, and a few of the measurements are missing, or open to variation. In the DIY forum at http://www.thebabywearer.com/ there is a bit of a fuss about copying commercial carriers (like the Beco), and posting the measurements. One woman had made an awesome carrier with a similar fabric, based on her Beco. She had said she' d post instructions, but it's been a few months now. So, I gathered up all the measurements I could find from different posts, and all the different tips, and created my own!!! I am so incredibly proud of doing this. There are a few issues, but overall, I can't believe I planned, designed, and constructed this! Me, who two years ago, didn't even know how to cut a long length of fabric to half it's width, LOL.

I can't believe how skinny my legs look, and how big my boobs look! LOL. You're supposed to wear it lower, but Megan likes being up high.

For those of you who don't care about the sewing details, you can move on now ;) For those of you who are hoping to find a step by step instruction page, well, I'm not quite going to post that. Much of making this is similar to a regular MT. I will share some of my tips that I figured out, and if anyone wants more detailed info, email me at TracyKM at yahoo dot com.

I took all my measurements and made a sketch. Then I took a roll of paper we had gotten at IKEA (I would actually recommend not using rolled paper if possible, even though it laid flat, it has a weird grain to it, making the pieces be ripply once cut out), drew out my pieces to full size, and did NOT include a seam allowance. I wanted to be able to use the tracing around the shape as my sewing lines, so it wouldn't matter too much if my seam allowances were cut a bit wonky. I laid them out on my fabric, traced them, and cut them out. I did notice some errors with the paper parts as I was cutting them, and tracing them on the fabric, but I did still end up cutting the shoulder straps wrong. Not a big issue, the fix is actually an improvement.

The first thing I realized was that if I wanted something sewed to the outside of the straps, or the waistbelt, I had to sew it to the top layer before sewing the sides together. So, I wanted D rings on the shoulder straps, to hold keys, or a pacifier, I cut a piece of webbing, folded it in half with the D ring in it, and sewed through the webbing. I figured that I didn't have to have both edges flush together, the bottom layer of webbing could be slightly inwards. That improved the look a bit, but I figured out with the waistbelt a different way that looked even better.

I wanted to pad the straps with three layers of Fun Foam, wrapped in fleece. I thought perhaps I could sew the fleece to the inside of the strap when I sewed the side seams. That worked, but made for a bulky seam, and there was NO way to insert the Fun Foam. So I unpicked that one, and asked the engineer what to do.I sewed the strap seams, and turned it right side out. We inserted the webbing through the small end, and pulled it through the other end. I wrapped the Fun Foam with fleece, and used my zipper foot (!!) to sew really close to it, and sewed the webbing to the end of this package. Then I pulled the package into the strap by pulling the webbing at the small end. This is how you pull electrical wires through walls, LOL.
Then I pinned the straps to the two inner layers. Yeah, I used two layers of white twill; it's pretty light stuff. Then the engineer and I had a 'discussion' on how to layer the body pieces to sew the straps in and the four body pieces together, and have the right side of the straps with the outside layer of the carrier, because the inside layer is pink Ultrasuede! He was certain I had messed up. I have done several reversible MTs and I have this same discussion with myself each time. I even made a diagram after I got the first one right on the third try, but I've since lost that. I've made another diagram!
I was most worried about the waistbelt construction. Other DIYers use camp sleep foam mats, or yoga mats. I asked on Freecycle twice, and finally got part of a blue sleep mat last week. All I knew was the width should be 4", and there should be two pieces of foam in the middle, and one piece on each side. Some people like it totally curved on bottom, some just slightly curved. I wanted to make it wrap all the way around and overlap at the front because I had the pink webbing, and it came in 1" width only, same with the white buckles. I didn't know how to sew it together, but get the foam in, and sew inbetween the foam pieces so they don't slide around. And before I did all that, I had to figure out where to sew the webbing on for the buckles, and the two D rings! I was almost overwhelmed. I really had to exercise my brain on this one, and in the end, it was actually pretty easy. I realized that you leave the top of the waistbelt open, and it's extended up a few inches to sew over the bottom of the body. THe middle, doubled, piece of foam is the same width of the body. BUT, that one doesn't have to go in first! Duh! I put one side piece in, then used my zipper foot to sew close to it. Then, on the other end, I used two layers of Fun Foam. The ends of the waistbelt were to overlap and I didn't want 1/2" foam on both ends, overlapping (most SSC don't overlap the waist. That would make for MUCH easier construction, but I didn't want a 1" pink stripe across my waist, digging in as well). THen I sewed close to the Fun Foam. This was tricky because it was right near the webbing for the D ring you see on the left side of the waistbelt in the picture below. Then I put a piece of the 1/2" foam mat in for the rest of that side, and sewed close to it. I was left with the middle section open for the double layer.
However, before I actually did all that sewing it in, I tried it on and decided that the end of the webbing holding the adjustable buckle end needed to be moved back. I needed to wear it as tight as it would go, and if I ever lose weight (ha ha), or more likely, sell it to someone smaller, they'd need to adjust it tighter. So I picked off the D ring and webbing, and the X-box holding the end of the buckle webbing. Turned that end inside out and unpicked the seam around the end. Folded the top layer back, and re-sewed the D-ring webbing. I went to pin the buckle webbing, and realized I sewed the D ring upside down. Unpicked that, and did it, and the buckle webbing again. You can still see all the little thread bits in that photo, on the left!
I don't have any pictures of sewing the waistbelt on. It was tough. First you have to fold the edge under (you could sew it down, that might make life easier). Then you slip the lip over the bottom of the body, and sew it with a couple rows. Uh huh. Well, there's one inch of foam in the waist band, and about two to three inches of 'lip'. While holding it in your hands, you can center the foam fine. But when you place it under the presser foot of the sewing machine, the bottom side is flat, and the top side is stepped, pulling the lip towards the waistbelt, making the lip on the top only about an inch, but still 2 inches on the underside. Not a huge deal, but it did make it tricky to sew. It might be better to cut the front lip an inch longer to accommodate this.
And the Ultrasuede does not slide on the sewing machine. I'm sure there's a way to lower the feed dogs, but my solution was to grab a piece of printer paper, and lay it between the Ultrasuede and the machine, basically sewing it to the carrier!

My little helper and tester. We went for a short walk around the block, and when we got home, she didn't want to get out! We tried it again today, and again, she was very happy and wanted to stay in longer. There are a few issues regarding the buckles rubbing under my arms, and it's hard to pull the carrier up over her back because of the Ultrasuede, but we're working on fine tuning all that.

There's a shot, trying to show the side buckles. I don't know if the webbing holding the end to the body is too long, of if the body is too wide, so the buckles sit right under my arms instead of towards my back, or what. And, she sort of sags over the waistband, the fabric under her bum is ripply and not pulled tight. I think that's related to the Ultrasuede issue, or to the fact she wants her arms over the top. Does it come up high enough? It could be pulled higher, if I had someone other than a 7 year old to help me. But, come September, it will be just me and her! It's tricky to put on, I'm not sure I'm doing that right either. I like the feel of the waistband, but I'm not sold on the shoulder buckles. Which sucks, cause the next one I want to make, I don't have enough fabric to make the traditional long ties of a MT. Well, I might, if I didn't make them as long as what I have done....



5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, that looks great!!
2 comments. On the "underarm" buckles: I've found it easier to attach them to the carrier body so only 1/2 the buckle sticks over the edge. It is a bit more difficult to reach, but more often than not I find myself removing the carrier without unbuckling anyway.

"sagging": Your dc's bum should sag down below the waistband a little bit. If she were totally held above it, her legs would be in the more harmful straight down position instead of the beneficial "knees above bum" one.

And one more! A slick fabric for the interior is great!!! So much easier to slide over shirts and waistbands of babes. Also, your dc will eventually "help" with the loading. She'll lean forward, closer to you in anticipation of the carrier being pulled up. Keep practicing, you'll be a pro in no time!!

Anonymous said...

"sagging": Your dc's bum should sag down below the top of the waistband a little bit. If she were totally held above it, her legs would be in the more harmful straight down position instead of the beneficial "knees above bum" one.

Victoria said...

Tracy,

That looks really great! Good job! I'm even going to put your blog in my favorites now.

earthchick said...

Wow! That's really great!

Thanks so much for your comment on my blog! Nice to know I'm not the only one who gets so wrapped up in researching yarn for patterns I will never knit!

Lesalicious said...

Hi came across your blog. That is so cute. My girls is to big for it but, shoot I can still make something like that for my little niece. I was reading more of your blog and came across one of your topics saying you don't crochet well don't give up on it try try again. I am not a knitter at least not now want to learn soon more of a sewer and crochet. :) just wanted to drop and and see your blog and love it great job on all your work.:)