by Leslie Hing Hing Kung
(Cedar Rapids, Iowa, United States of America)
An Onbuhimo is a Japanese style carrier very similar to a Mei Tai, but instead of waist straps, an Onbu has two rings.
I'm going to show you how to make an Onbuhimo from one placemat, one tablerunner, an accent fabric, and two sling rings.
To begin, you'll need:
-placemat of suitable fabric
-two sling rings
-at least 1/2 yard of accent fabric
Nice to have, but not necessary:
-upholstery weight thread
I found great coordinating sage green tablerunners and placemats at Target (soft, multi-layered, and easily washable).
I took one tablerunner and cut it down the middle lengthwise, creating two long strips 70 inches long. Lacking a serger (which would have made this task easier), I zig-zag stitched along the cut edges multiple times to prevent fraying. (I could have also hemmed or used bias tape / blanket binding to finish the edges in a neater manner.)
I used white thread, found a remnant of material also in white, and got two sturdy rings. The ones shown are clear acrylic, but I HIGHLY recommend slingrings.com
for all your carrier rings.
I sewed the straps to the top of the place mat at an angle that seemed right. Normal (sane) people would have actually measured the angle/distance between, etc. They might have also pinned. I just eyeballed it, pinched it into place and sewed both into place using the bartack stitch (small zigzag). Check out the symmetry!
I followed the pattern of the fabric itself to sew the initial triangle, then I free-handed some loopy designs to fully secure the straps. I was in a rebellion-against-box-stitches mood.
To top it off, I sewed a leaf at the top corner of each side. This was all using my Janome Hello Kitty sewing machine, which is surprisingly a real workhorse.
I then took the accent fabric and doubled it over, sewed around 3 sides, and flipped it inside out. I stitched around the edges of that for a clean look. The rectangle shape I made was way longer than the width of the body of the Onbu (aka the placemat).
I eyeballed some pleats (to make more of a seat for the baby), stitched them into place at the bottom of the placemat. Then I overlapped the body of the Onbu until the bottom edge was at the half-way point vertically on the rectangle of cloth. I bartacked it into place with a trapezoid shaped filled with freehanded loopy shapes.
Then I took the bottom edge of the rectangle of fabric and folded it over onto the inside edge of the Onbu body, sandwiching the placemat in the white material. I sewed that firmly into place, stitching around the perimeter of the doubled rectangle, creating a narrower band of fabric which protruded out from either side of the bottom of the Onbu about 6 inches.
(An aside: You can actually put the rings of an Onbu on straps that protrude pretty far from the body. So, if you want, you can go longer than 6 inches. Remember to leave some room for the next step:)
Threaded through the rings on either side, I folded the fabric back over and bartacked the flaps into place. (I made sure the fold was toward the back of the Onbu body, so the raised ridges of fabric wouldn't dig into the user's waist.)
That's my Onbuhimo! I hope I gave you some good ideas, and remember to choose your materials with care. Do not use single layer placemats or tablerunners that you can tear easily. Using upholstery weight thread can go a long way, just make sure you have a needle that can handle it, and keep in mind that the bartack stitch is one of the most secure out there.
Check out my matching bag! Here is the matching diaper bag tutorial
where I used the same white fabric and one placemat to make a matching diaper/carry bag for my Table Textile Onbu.