the sweetpod!

I have been intending to sew a soft structured carrier similar to the Ergo Baby Carrier for nearly a year. My friend Jess wrote up a great tutorial but I just never made it a priority. I bought fabric, I bought hardware, and I waited. Then in December, Jessica released the Sweetpod pattern, which I bought immediately. The Sweetpod is more like a Beco Butterfly with an internal panel to hold smaller babies more securely and make putting babies onto your back easier. Fast forward four months, and I decided that it was finally time. I made one more trip to Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics to get some more hardware and webbing (seriously, that is the coolest place. I am such a fabric and hardware junkie it's not even funny. It's a good thing it's far from my house or I'd go there more often. I scored some awesome remnants on some very cool technical fabrics) and I finally cut out all the pattern pieces. I cut out all the fabric pieces and set to work. Several hours later (and some seam ripping from not paying close attention) I ended up with this. Isn't it awesome?
Then when the baby woke up from his nap, we tried it out:
front carry

The rest of the pictures I took are here on flickr.

I think it will be more comfortable than the Ergo. The shoulder straps on the Ergo are just a little wide-set for my shoulders.

Now, the technical details for those interested. The tan fabric that makes up the body and straps is cotton duck that I bought at Joann. The prints are all from the Back Porch Bouquet by Bates and Taylor for Maywood Studios collection that I bought at Porters last summer (I told you this project has been in the works for a long time). Since I didn't have the Sweetpod pattern at the time I bought the fabric, I had purchased three fat quarters and a piece that was 3/4 yard. This left me short just a little for the fabric requirements of the Sweetpod. The panel on the outside of the body is from one fat quarter (which only works if the print is non-directional, otherwise you need more yardage). The hood and hood lining are each from a fat quarter. The body lining and the internal panel lining are from the yardage I had, and I have some left, but not enough for the sleeping hood pocket. The sleeping hood pocket is made of muslin in my carrier. The webbing and hardware came from Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics and I made one substitution from the supply list. OWF doesn't have the streamline buckle that is supposed to go on the sternum strap, so I just used a regular heavy-duty buckle. I also had a single-adjust buckle for the waist strap on hand, and I like the looks of that better than the dual-adjust buckle, so I changed the measurements of the waist webbing to 9 inches and about 20 inches (I trimmed some excess at the end). The pattern says to cut 2 18" pieces and has the dual-adjust buckle in the center of your waist.

The pattern also calls for 1/2" open-cell foam to pad the shoulder straps with. Since I knew I was putting hours of sewing into the project, and intending no disrespect to the designer, I didn't really think that the foam would hold up over time, especially because I had borrowed a baby carrier at one point that had practically no padding left in the shoulder straps. Instead of the foam, I used fleece, just the regular blizzard/glacier fleece that is available everywhere. I was going to use 4 layers because it was about 1/2" thick, but after stuffing it into the straps, decided that 6 would be better, and it is. I stacked 6 layers on top of each other and then stitched a straight line down each long side about 1/2" in to keep the layers from shifting around. I had to be very careful and slow when sewing the webbing to the shoulder straps but I managed it.

The snaps on the hood straps are metal Snap Source snaps that I bought years and years ago when I used to sew lots of baby clothes for my now 11-year-old.

All in all, I think this was definitely time well spent! Aside from the fact that I spent about $20 instead of $120, I think the Sweetpod will fit our needs quite well. Thanks Jessica for a great pattern!

p.s. My friends Jess and Erika both made carriers this week too! They turned out awesome!