DIY Baby Carrier – Turkish Towel Ruckbu

In recent months I have taken a bit of an interest in baby carriers. I wanted to buy a custom made full buckle carrier but they don’t come cheap. Then a friend said “why don’t you make one?”. At first I thought it would be near impossible to make a safe baby carrier myself but then I started doing some research and I made myself a full buckle carrier!

I then discovered a wonderful facebook group called DIY Babywearing (website here) and I was hooked. I never realised before just how many different types of carriers there were.

My most recent DIY addition is a ruckbu, or reverse onbuhimo, made from a turkish towel. I used this tutorial and made a few tweaks here and there so decided to write my own tutorial.

First a word about safety. Not all fabrics are suitable or safe for babywearing. I am not going to go into all the rules about safe fabrics here today. If you are interested in making a baby carrier you need to research the fabric carefully or you can send me a message and I will be happy to discuss things further. The DIY babywearing group has a fantastic website with lots of information about safety and also loads of tutorials for all the different carrier styles. If you decide to make a carrier that has any kind of “hard wear” such as buckles or rings, these must be suitable for babywearing and must be weight tested. Again, the DIY babywearing website has lists of places to source hard wear from.

You Will Need:

  • A Turkish towel – I got mine from Amazon. The advertised size is 37 x 70 inches. This made the straps fairly short but it is usable, I just can’t do any fancy tie offs. I wouldn’t go any shorter than this.
  • 0.5 meters of plain cotton twill – this is a good weight-bearing fabric for the inner 2 layers of the carrier.
  • 4 pieces of fleece measuring 4.5 x 10 inches.
  • 4 size small sling rings (2 inch) – I got mine from Rings for Baby Slings. This is a good place to get suitable, weight-tested, safe rings for baby wearing in the UK.
  • Basic sewing machine.
  • Polyester sewing thread.
  • Fabric scissors or rotary cutter and mat.
  • Pins.
  • Pattern paper and a pen.

Method:

  1. Wash, dry and iron your Turkish towel.
  2. Cut your Turkish towel. I used the following layout:
    Cutting layout
    Cutting layout

    I cut a 21 inch long piece, the full width of the towel and cut the tassels off. This is to make the body panel from. I then cut 2 wrap style straps 45 inches long and 11 inches wide. (If you cut these along the edge of your towel then you only have to hem 1 long side on each). You then need 2 pieces 15 x 9 inches for the shoulder straps and 2 pieces 6 x 5 inches as ring attachments.

  3. Draw your body panel pattern on paper. I started off drawing a rectangle 18 x 16 inches (finished size of body panel). I then added shoulder strap “caps” coming off the top at 45 degrees that are 4.5 inches wide. Add a half inch seam allowance to the top, sides and bottom of your body panel (not the caps).
    Body panel
    Body panel (red) with seam allowance (black)
    Shoulder caps
    Shoulder caps
  4. Use your paper pattern to cut 1 body panel from the turkish towel and 2 panels from your cotton twill.
    Cut pieces
    Cut pieces
  5. Take 1 of your 6 x 5 inch pieces and fold it in half length ways, right sides together and pin (it should now measure 6 x 2.5 inches).
    Folded right sides together and pinned
    Folded right sides together and pinned

     

  6. Sew together along 1 short edge and the long edge with a half inch seam allowance.
    1 short edge and long edge stitched
    1 short edge and long edge stitched

     

  7. Turn right sides out. Repeat for the other 6 x 5 inch piece. Tuck the raw, unstitched edge inside and top stitch the tube closed.
  8. Take 1 of your 15 x 9 inch pieces and fold in half length ways, right sides together and pin (it should now measure 15 x 4.5 inches). Sew together along 1 short edge and the long edge with a half inch seam allowance. Turn right sides out. Repeat for the other 15 x 9 inch piece.
  9. Take 2 pieces of fleece and layer them on top of each other. Stitch a couple of lines down the fleece to hold them together and stop them bunching.
    Fleece with 2 lines of stitching
    Fleece with 2 lines of stitching

     

  10. Stuff inside 1 of your shoulder straps (from step 6) all the way to the end, making sure it lays flat. Fix it in place with 2 lines of stitching along the length of the padded part of the strap. Repeat for the other shoulder strap.
    Shoulder strap stuffed and fleece sewn in to place
    Shoulder strap stuffed and fleece sewn in to place
  11. Take 1 of your ring attachment pieces (from step 5) and thread 2 rings on to it.
    Rings threaded on to attachment piece
    Rings threaded on to attachment piece

     

  12. Pin it to the padded end of your shoulder strap so your rings are just on the padded area (and wont dig in you when wearing).
    Rings pinned in place
    Rings pinned in place

     

  13. Sew it to your shoulder strap with a reinforced x-box. I do my x-boxes by sewing the initial rectangle and then sewing over it another 3 times. I then sew the “X” from corner to corner and sew over that another 3 times. Do all of this in one go without cutting your thread until the x-box is complete. This is a big weight bearing part of the carrier so it needs to be secure. Repeat for the other strap.
    Stitched in place with triple reinforced x-box
    Stitched in place with reinforced x-box
  14. Take one of your long wrap straps and hem the raw long edge. You then need to pleat the end of the strap any way you like to make it approx 3 inches wide. Sew your pleats in place. Repeat for the other strap.
    Pleated waist straps
    Pleated waist straps
  15. Lay one of your twill body panels down. Take one of your shoulder straps and position it, ring side down, on top of the body panel so the strap is coming out from the cap on the body panel.
    Shoulder strap overlapped by 4 inches and pinned in place
    Shoulder strap overlapped by 4 inches and pinned in place

    Your strap should be sunk in about 4 inches. Pin in place. Repeat for the other shoulder strap.

  16. Sew the shoulder straps to the twill panel with large reinforced x-boxes. Don’t sew too close to the edges of the strap or the cap.
    Shoulder strap stitched in place with large triple reinforced x-boxes
    Shoulder strap stitched in place with large reinforced x-boxes
  17. Now lay your wrap straps on the same twill body panel, right sides down. Again, the pleated end of the straps should be sunk in approx. 4 inches. Leave at least half an inch between the bottom of the twill panel and the strap.
    Waist straps in place on twill body panel with 4 inch overlap
    Waist straps in place on twill body panel with 4 inch overlap
  18. Sew the wrap straps to the twill panel with large reinforced x-boxes.
  19. Lay down the twill panel with the straps, strap side UP. On top of that lay your second twill panel right side UP followed by your turkish towel panel, right side DOWN. Pin or clip the layers together.
    Layered body panels
    Layered body panels
    Clipped in place
    Clipped in place
  20. Sew the whole way around the carrier with a half inch seam allowance EXCEPT where the straps are attached. Do not sew over the straps.
  21. Turn the carrier the right sides out through the openings you left in the previous step, and pull the straps through.
  22. Turn under and pin the raw edges where your straps attach. Top stitch these areas.
    Strap opening raw edges turned under and pinned
    Strap opening raw edges turned under and pinned
    Strap opening turned under and top stitched
    Strap opening turned under and top stitched
  23. Top stitch round the entire carrier.
    Top stitch around entire carrier
    Top stitch around entire carrier
  24. Admire your amazing work.
    Finished!
    Finished!
    Inside view with straps threaded
    Inside view with straps threaded

Action shots to follow.

The DIY Babywearing website has lots of instructional videos for each type of carrier so please check it out.

If anything in the tutorial is unclear please get in touch.

If you decide to make a ruckbu I would love to see it!

Love Ashleigh x

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