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Free Baby Sling Patternfree baby sling pattern

You can make your own baby sling easily with this free baby sling pattern!   All you need are some basic sewing skills, and this tutorial.

See the baby sling pattern index page to find out why I love this type of baby carrier.  You'll also discover links that help you make the best fabric choices, several creative design options, and wearing and safety information for creating your perfect custom baby sling.

free baby sling pattern

This free baby sling pattern is for non-stretchy fabrics.  If you're interested in a free baby sling pattern for making a sling with a stretchy fabric, like fleece or knits, please see this pattern instead.

And be sure to check out the nursing cover pattern.  A nursing cover is the perfect compliment to your baby pouch sling, as it allows you full privacy anytime...even on the go!

I created this instruction page for someone who has never sewn a baby sling before.  This is the long version, and it has very detailed instructions and tips. Please don't get overwhelmed...just read through slowly, step by step.  It's easier than it looks!   Want a short version?  Click here for a fast photo guide baby sling pattern.  

Safety Note:  Please educate yourself on wearing and safely using a baby sling.  
This pattern is offered as my gift to you, but it is doesn't include any guarantees, and is 'use at your own risk'.



Free Baby Sling Pattern


Tips For Designing Your Baby Sling Pattern

  • See this page for fabric suggestions, adorable reversible sling combinations, and several design options to consider that will personalize your free baby sling pattern.
  • Discover some great ways to save money when you sew a baby sling.  My sister Frugal Fran shares the best strategy to saving money on sewing supplies, and even some top secret, but practical ways to save money on fabric.  
baby sling pattern

Baby Sling Supplies
You'll Need:
  • 2 yards of regular **non-stretchy** fabric.

You can make 2 unlined baby slings
with two yards of heavy weight fabric,
like home decor fabric, cotton duck or denim.
or
Make one self-lined baby sling
with a lighter weight fabric,
like quilting cotton, seersucker, chambray or calico.
or
Make a reversible sling, buy 2 yards of each fabric type.  
You will be able to make two lined/reversible slings
from your 4 yards of fabric.
 
  • A sewing machine*and accessories
  • Iron and Ironing board
  • Thread in a contrasting or matching color to your fabrics.
  • Yarn or string to help lay out your curve and tapering cuts. (optional)

*Hand sewing on pouches is not recommended, as the center seam is weight bearing.  For baby's safety, it is critical that the center seam be as strong as possible.

Free Baby Sling Pattern

Fabric Prep

Wash and iron your fabric.
Don’t skip this part!  Especially if you’re using 100% cotton fabric.  It’s very tempting to just dive right in with that beautiful new fabric you’ve just purchased.  

But if that beautiful finished sling you just finished shrinks in the wash, it will become an ugly duckling that may not even fit correctly.   Don't ask me how I know this.

"Pre-washing and ironing is what
makes the difference between
‘Is that thing homemade?’ and
‘Wow!  You made this?’"

baby sling pattern key


Time Saving Tips for Cutting Your Baby Sling Pattern:
  • If you are lining your sling, you can carefully line up your fabrics with right sides facing.  Then proceed with the rest of the free baby sling pattern directions, cutting both pieces of fabric as you go.
  • Be sure to keep those edges lined up and neat as you make your cuts and folds.  This makes it much easier to sew straight and professional looking seams later.  
  • The illustrations in this baby sling pattern are not to scale...the goal is to clearly represent the idea that I am trying to convey to you.  If you would rather have photographs to go by, then try this photographic free baby sling pattern.  It's not quite as detailed as this free baby sling pattern.
  • Look for more tips and time saver advice as you go.


Cutting Your Fabric to Width
Unfold your fabric and lay it out flat on a cutting surface or the floor.  
First, you’ll be measuring and cutting the fabric so that it is the right width for a sling.  This cut will determine how high the sides of the sling are when worn.  You can either choose the standard 22" side or a higher 24" side for your sling.  I'll walk you through your choices and fabric widths here...stick with me.
 
When to Choose Shorter Sides:  Cutting your fabric to 22" wide creates a shorter sides ling. This is the standard width of most slings, and your most efficient use of fabric, allowing you to get 2 slings out of one 44” piece of fabric. Shorter sided slings work great for older babies who already sit up well.  They are perfect for the hip carry, as there's not as much fabric to bunch up baby's back.  The 22" sling works great for heavier fabrics like canvas and denim.  See fig. 1 for a 22" sling out of 44" fabric.

When to Choose Higher Sides:  Higher sides create a deeper pocket in your baby sling.  I like the sides on my slings to be a little higher for newborns and younger babies, especially if I am making a tapered sling.  A 24" side allows me to temporarily shade or cover the baby to keep wind or strange fingers out off of her face when I carry her in a cradle hold (just be sure to leave plenty of air circulation if you do this).  The higher sides also supports the baby’s head and back when they are facing you in a seated hold.  This helps a younger baby to sit up in the sling a little easier.   I like a sling to be about 24 inches wide, and so I cut the fabric to 26” (which includes seam or hem allowance).  See fig. 2 for cutting a 24" wide, deeper pocket sling.

Cutting A Sling With 22" (Standard) Sides 

Out Of 44" Fabric

Instant Self Lined Baby Sling Pattern with 44" fabric:  You can fold the fabric in half (right sides together) and create an instant lining for your sling.  This is a great choice for lighter fabrics like quilting fabric, etc.  If you want to make a self-lined sling, simply fold your 44" fabric lengthwise down the center (usually along the bolt fold line) with right sides facing. See the left side of fig.1 below. 
Then move on to the Then Fold step to continue laying your fabric out.  You will not need to stitch down the folded long side at the first sewing step.

Two for One: If you have a good heavy weight fabric, and choose to use the 22” wide baby sling pattern, you can make two unlined slings.  Just cut your 44” piece of fabric in half, right along the long center (bolt) fold line.  See the right side of fig. 1

baby sling pattern fig. 1


Cutting fabrics that are wider than 44"  (fig. 2)

For a sling with lower sides,  follow the instructions on fig. 2 and fold your flap at 11".  If you want a sling with higher sides, then fold the flap to 13”.  Cut along the top edge of the folded up flap of fabric.


Time Saving Tip: Since I make these regularly for gifts, I cut a piece of poster board to 13" tall, and drew a line on it to mark 11" tall.  I use it as a template to fold my fabric up to the right depth. 

You can use your leftover fabric to make a matching nursing cover, a custom pouch for your sling, or even a pocket if you want!  Since the fabric you've just cut is already folded in half, you’ve already done the first step of Laying Fabric Out To Cut, so skip down to Then fold…

free baby sling pattern fig 2

Laying Fabric Out To Cut
your free baby sling pattern


First, fold your 22-26 inch fabric as shown by matching long edges of the fabric together, making it narrower down the whole length. (fig. 3)

free baby sling pattern fig 3

Then fold, matching up the short sides of the fabric, which makes it half as long as it was.  Fold it neatly so that the edges and corners are all lined up perfectly.  All 4 corners of fabric should meet at the top right. 

The illustration (fig. 4), shows the fold 'in progress'.  I have allowed you to see all 4 corners, but you'll want them stacked neatly so that it looks like a plain old, boring rectangle of fabric...like Fig. 6

free baby sling pattern fig 4


Finding your Custom Measurement 

for a free baby sling pattern


free baby sling pattern measurementIt is very highly recommended to take your body measurement for a custom fit. (fig.5)  To get your custom measurement, measure across the front of your body from one shoulder to the opposite hip bone, and then add 3” to the body measurement.  This is your custom length measurement. The extra length is allowance for the pouch that cradles the babies heiny.   When in doubt, go larger.  It's simple to cut along the seam and just stitch it smaller.  You don't have a simple option for making a small pouch bigger.

Ifree baby sling pattenf you are making the sling as a gift, and cannot take a custom measurement,
here is an average size chart that I use:  Choose the size based on what size fitted shirt you wear.  

It's always best to take an actual measurement instead of relying on an average size, but these are helpful guesstimates if you are making a gift.  If you have more questions about sizing, there are some helpful tips on the FAQ page.
Please give me feedback if you find these sizes too far off...they will vary, and are not nearly as reliable as taking a custom measurement.

Note: Do not
add 3" if you are using a measurement from the size chart.  The allowance is already built into these measurements. 

Cutting Out Your Free Baby Sling Pattern
This is what your folded fabric should look like when it is ready to cut.  All of the corners should be lined up in the upper right hand corner.  Using your custom measurement, (or an average measurement from size chart above).  Measure (fig. 6) from folded left edge of your fabric, and mark your correct length along the top and bottom edge of the fabric (I like to use a pin to mark my cuts).  Cut fabric to length in a straight line from one mark to the other.  

baby sling pattern fig 6

Note: Since your fabric is folded in half lengthwise, it is actually  twice as long as your body measurement.  This gives you enough fabric to go all the way around your body when you’re wearing the sling. 

Another Note: If you're cheap like me, and like to save fabric, then you can slide the top layer of fabric back to the measuring tape.  This will cause the bottom layer to have a larger scrap left over that you can squirrel away.  


Cutting the Curve for Your Free Baby Sling Pattern
Next, you will cut a curve that will become the pouch shape that baby will sit in.  Marking and cutting the curve is the trickiest part of this free baby sling pattern, but it looks harder than it is.  Just take it slow and follow the directions.   When you make your second sling, it will make more sense and is much easier.   I use pins and string to mark out the curve. (fig. 7)

free baby sling pattern fig 7

I like to place a pin at the bottom right corner to hold everything in place while cutting.  Pin straight down into the carpet or cutting board through all the layers of fabric.  

Next, you are going to measure and place a pin 3 inches back from the top right corner.  Stick the pin straight up, through all the layers of fabric.   Move down 1/2 inch and put another pin directly below the top pin.  The 1/2" straight part is the seam allowance that you'll need to hem the sides of your sling.

Now we’ll mark out the curve:  Use a piece of yarn or string to help you lay out a curve as shown in fig. 7.  When you are satisfied with the shape, place pins or draw along the curved string to mark your cutting line.  Cut out your curve.   
Now you can taper your baby sling , or create a paper pattern of your sling if you wish to make others in the future, or just proceed onto sewing your baby sling.
       

Cutting a Tapered Pouch Sling (optional)


A tapered cut will reduce the amount of fabric that lays across your shoulder when wearing your baby sling. 
Measure from the lower left hand corner where the fabric folds in half both lengthwise and widthwise.  Place a pin 7 inches up the folded side (fig 8).  Next, place a pin at the far right hand corner through all the layers.  I like to stretch a string between the pins to lay out a straight line and pin through it to mark my cutting line.  Make this angled cut from one pin to the other. 

free baby sling pattern tapered cut

Time Saver Tip:  

Make a Free Baby Sling Pattern 

in your custom size!

If you plan on making more than one sling, then use the sling that you've just cut to make a quick paper version of your custom made free baby sling pattern.  Take the folded sling fabric, and lay it on a piece of heavy paper.  A cut and unfolded paper shopping bag or a heavy piece of wrapping paper would work well.  
Carefully trace around your sling to create a paper pattern.  Be sure to label the pattern with the name and measurements of the person who it is made for, as well as the fabric type (stretchy or non-stretchy).  Now all you have to do for your next sling is fold the fabric, pin on your free baby sling pattern, and cut it out!  
It's also easier to make modifications when you make your own free baby sling pattern.  If your first sling turns out a little too long after you sew it, or you want the pouch to be deeper, just make some notes on your paper pattern, and make the needed adjustments on your next sling.


Now you're ready to sew your free baby sling pattern!