Chocolate Brown and Brocade Ring Sling
(Centreville, VA, USA)
me and my sleepy toddler modelling the ring sling
I made this sling for a friend, who just wanted something in a "chocolate brown." I found some gorgeous twill in a color called "Potting Soil" and an even more gorgeous brocade with a brown background that was a perfect match for the twill. The brocade had lovely metallic turquoise flowers on it that I thought would be perfectly unisex for my friend with her 2 toddler boys and baby girl on the way.
To make the sling itself, I basically followed the instructions created by Jan Andrea of Sleeping Baby Productions
. I started by cutting the twill to 2.5 yards long by 30 inches wide. I sewed a half yard of the brocade onto the tail end, by sewing right sides together, leaving the top open, turning, and topstiching along the top of the brocade. I used a 5 mm hemming foot to do a rolled hem all around the outside, excluding the area covered by the brocade and the end that would be sewn into the rings.
Then I made Jan Andrea's fabulous pleated
shoulder. This involves overlapping 4 inch wide folds of fabric about half an inch apart and sewing straight across in 2 locations (right next to the end and 5 inches lower down). It was my first attempt at doing a pleated shoulder, and it took me a couple of tries to get the pleats straight, even, and sewn in correctly, but once it was done I LOVED the way it looked. Finally, I sewed in the rings - I bought large aluminum Sling Rings in a beautiful turquoise to pick up the turquoise in the brocade. I'm so glad they had just the right shade.
The ring sling was finished, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. I decided to add a final little
touch - a scrap of the extra brocade made into a strip to sew on the shoulder, right where the seam is that holds the rings in. This turned out to be the most difficult part of the whole project.
Brocade is a slippery fabric, and the threads kept pulling as I tried to sew right sides together to make a little tube about half an inch wide. Eventually I got it to stay in place and pressed the tube flat. It was just long enough to wrap around both the front and back of the shoulder "strap" right at the seam. I pinned it in place and attempted to sew it. Imagine sewing through: 2 layers of brocade, 2 layers of twill folded into little pleats (sometimes 6-7 layers deep, each), and another 2 layers of brocade. Plus all the stitching that was already there, since I'd done at least 3 lines of stitching for the seam and another line of zip-zag stitching on the very end of the fabric to keep it from fraying. It was difficult, to say the least. The seam ripper was used extensively.
I almost gave up, but it finally worked. Because it was placed right on the seam, if you look at the shoulder from the back, it looks exactly the same as looking at it from the front. So, if my friend ever wants to wear it backwards, she can.
All in all, I'm very pleased with my first attempt at an overlapping pleated shoulder. My one final complaint is that it's too long for my friend - I made it based on my body and she's more slender than me. It could easily be a quarter yard if not a half yard shorter than it is. But she likes it, so I'll let that go.