The Ultimate Mei Tai Carrier – Durable and Easy to Sew

meitai

Update! You can now purchase the sewing kit to make a solid black buckled Mei Tai carrier for $36.95 or the notions-only kit for $18. Click here.

From my babywearing days, I have tried just about all styles of carriers. And my all-time favorite way to wear my babies is in a Mei Tai carrier. It is very comfortable because it evenly distributes the baby’s weight on both shoulders. The only problem is that all the ones I’ve come across have long straps that you have to tie. My second favorite carrier is the Ergo baby carrier. The problem with that one is it’s too bulky and hot for our Texas weather but I like how easy it is to put it on. So, I have come up with my own design for a buckled mei tai carrier that combines the best of both styles. It is:

  • easy to sew
  • strong and durable yet lightweight
  • comfortable with minimal padding only where necessary
  • easy to put on and take off
  • small enough to stuff in a diaper bag

Take a closer look!

meitai2

weakpointRemember that your carrier is only as strong as its weakest point. That would be the corners where the back panel and waist strap come together where your carrier is being pulled in two directions. If you look closely on the Ergo baby carrier, you will notice that those corners are reinforced. In my pattern, the back panel and waist is a one piece two-ply fabric and the corners are contoured. Not only is this easier to sew, but this simple change takes much of the stress off the weakest point of your carrier.

Update! You can now purchase the sewing kit to make a solid black buckled Mei Tai carrier for $36.95. Click here.

Here are the materials you need to sew this carrier:

  • 2 yards of non-stretchy bottomweight twill or denim fabric
  • 1 yard of 2″ nylon webbing for the waist strap
  • Two yards of 1.5″ nylon webbing for the shoulder extension straps. Cut in half to get two 1-yard long pieces
  • One 2″ wide stealth buckle
  • One 1.5″ wide dual-adjust buckle
  • 3 pieces of 1/2″ thick foam – padding for the waist and shoulder straps, each 3″ wide by 22″ long

cutting-layout
Cutting:

  • Fabric cutting layout for 44” or 58” fabric: Fold fabric in fourths, crosswise, then lengthwise. Cut as shown to get one two-ply body/waist panel and two 25” straps by 8” wide. Download the free pattern for the body panel here.
  • Finish all webbing edges – using a lighter or candle, carefully melt and fuse the edges to prevent unraveling.

Basic Sewing Directions:
You can purchase detailed instructions along with the body panel pattern printed on 8 1/2″ by 11″ paper for only $4.

  1. Make two shoulder straps, 4″ wide x 25″ long, with foam inserts stitched in place. Taper in one end and reinforce stitch the 1.5” webbing in place.
  2. With right sides together on the two-ply body/waist panel, stitch the body/waist panel along the sides. Make about three ¼” long slits at the curves.
  3. Turn over through the top opening.
  4. Insert the waist foam piece in place through the top opening.
  5. Using the pattern, mark the four points for each of the shoulder strap placements. Stitch in place using a reinforced stitch pattern.
  6. Topstitch all around.
  7. Loop the female part of the 2“ buckle through the left end, tucking the ends under.
  8. Stitch webbing in place, reinforce stitch at both ends.
  9. Loop the remaining webbing through the buckles, making sure theys are oriented correctly. Fold the ends over twice and stitch. This is a safety measure to keep the webbing from sliding completely out of the buckles although with the carrier on and the straps taut, the tension is enough to keep the webbing from sliding loose.
  10. If you want a decorative panel, simply sew it on after the carrier panel is complete. I do not recommend pockets on the panel. They’re impractical – you cannot put keys or anything sharp in there as it will poke your baby and if you use it as a back carrier, you can’t reach the pockets. Instead, clip a small purse to your carrier.

Want to make it easier?
Get the sewing kit to make a solid black buckled Mei Tai carrier for $36.95, notions-only kit for $18, or detailed instructions for only $4.

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19 Comments

  1. Sharleen
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Hi can you send me pictures of how the shoulder strap connect do they go around the tummy to?Thanks

  2. KT
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    I agree – it’s not clear from these instructions where the shoulder straps connect – on other mai tais I’ve seen they connect at the side of the panel but in your pictures it looks like they somehow connect to each other?

  3. Wabi Sabi Baby
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    -Sharleen
    the shoulder straps wrap around and connect to each other at the waist. So, for a front carry, you would criss-cross on the back, bring it around to the front lower waist and buckle. For the back carry, bring the straps over then under your arm, criss-cross on the lower back below baby’s butt, and bring it around the front lower waist to bucke. I do not have good pictures. If I get some in the future, I’ll post an update.

  4. Wabi Sabi Baby
    Posted October 4, 2009 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    KT,
    Yes, they connect to each other centered on the front lower waist area. See my other reply. When I get clear pictures, I’ll post an update.

  5. Sharleen
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for that understand now xx

  6. Mary Beth
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Thank you for the lovely pattern! I had been looking for an alternative to the long Mei Tai straps when I found your carrier. The only alteration I made was to have the arm straps connect to the sides of the carrier (like a SSC) instead of crossing in the back. I also added a simple sleeping hood. Your pattern was straightforward and easy to follow– thanks!!

  7. Heather
    Posted December 23, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    Is bottom weight twill or denim the only material to use? I live is a small town, and don’t have easy access to material unless I travel or order online but I do have a lot of cotton material would that work? Otherwise I super excited to get started on my own carrier!

  8. Wabi Sabi Baby
    Posted December 26, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    You could also use drapery or upholstery weight fabric. Nothing stretchy. I have not tried regular cotton/quilting fabric so I don’t know if they would hold up to the wear-and-tear. Good luck!

  9. Sarah
    Posted January 31, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone tried making this out of Hemp material? I imagine it would be very durable.

  10. Linnea
    Posted May 27, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    I like how the body is lower for baby’s arms to hang out but would prefer the tieing long straps. Can I modify these instructions for those straps?

  11. Marge
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Great pattern–one question–it looks like the 2″ webbing for waist is sewn to the lower front panel piece–if I do this it won’t fit around waist. What am I missing??

  12. Wabi Sabi Baby
    Posted February 13, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

    @Marge – yes, the 2″ webbing is sewn along the lower front panel. The webbing is longer than the width of the panel and adjustable so it should fit around the waist.

  13. Kasey Bealer
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    where did you get the buckles for the top straps? i am converting my ties into buckle straps and i bought parachute buckles but they just don’t seem secure (the webbing slides right through). this is my first time trying this and i’m not sure what to get or WHERE to get it.

  14. Jean
    Posted March 20, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    A couple of comments on the pattern/kit that I adjusted – the width of the shoulder straps call for a 4″ gap but it came out too roomy so I adjusted narrowed it to 3.5″ and it works better. Also the 2″ wide strap that came with the kit for waist band is WAY too short. Needs to be another 12″ longer so you can adjust. I can’t even fit it around my waist! Disappointed with this – will have to redo this part and find webbing somewhere

  15. Margaret
    Posted June 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I too ran into the same problem that Jean did (I purchased the items based on the length mentioned). I recommend at least a yard and a half (depending on your waist). Here is a site you can get both the webbing AND the dual adjust buckle http://www.cdwplus.com/ for a reasonable price including shipping.

  16. Posted June 12, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the tutorial! I’m going to link to this website from my blog. I’m making a list of things I want to make and wanted to include this!

  17. Aimee
    Posted July 15, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Great pattern! I actually found the waist straps to be too long and had to cut off about 6″.

  18. Jen
    Posted July 30, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Love the idea, disappointed with the execution in the pattern (paid for full instruction set — don’t bother, they aren’t that much more different). I think I’m going to have to just design my own because of the adjustments that are necessary.

  19. Sarah
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I love this carrier! I made the plain black one with the kit so hubby can wear it too. Finished it in a weekend!

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  • […] of baby carriers, how about this Mei-Tai carrier pattern and tutorial from WabiSabiBaby.com- The pattern is free and basic instructions are available on the webpage- the […]

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