This Doll Mei Tai Tutorial is pretty straight forward – there’s nothing too tricky in it and less than an hour to complete (well, an hour without interuptions – mine took a little longer with an eager toddler bouncing around trying to “help”.)
This isn’t a pattern, you can make it whatever size will fit your child or toddler, and also adjust it to suit the size of the fabric you have – I used up two long and narrow scraps I’ve had lying around for a while that were too big to throw away but too small to do anything with. It’s also completely reversible so you can use two different fabrics to allow your child to choose what colour/pattern they want to wear out.
Step One – Work out the size of the front panel.
I used an A4 sheet of paper and held it against my toddler’s chest to work out how big I wanted the front of the mei tai, cut out the shape and then held it against her again to be sure I was happy with the size. The shape is basically a rectangle which comes in on an angle where the shoulder straps will be attached with a bit of a head rest for dolly at the top.
Step Two – Cut out your fabric
Fold the paper in half and place it on two layers of fabric folded in half – so you’ll be cutting through 4 layers of fabric total. I’ve cut the paper to exactly the size I want the front part of the doll Mei Tai to be I’ve cut 1-2cms around the paper as a seam allowance. (I’ll admit the first piece of fabric I cut out was exactly the same size as the paper… oops!)
Cut out the straps. The straps I’ve had are as short as they could possibly be (I was limited to the length fabric I had) so you may want to make them a bit longer – especially if you’re making this for a child rather than a toddler.
Shoulder straps: 80cms x 6.5cms x 4
Waist Straps: 40cms x 12cms x 4
So when you’re done you should have 2 front panels, 4 shoulder straps and 4 waist straps.
Step Three – Sew the straps
Pin each of the straps with the right (nicest) side facing and sew them together with a 0.5cm-1cm seam allowance around leaving one end open so you can turn the strap inside out when you’re done. If your fabric has a top and bottom – like my cars fabric – make sure that the opening is on the opposite ends for each strap so that when you sew the open side onto the front panel that the cars (or whatever it is) are the right way up on each side.
Turn the straps right side out and iron the seams flat.
Step Four – Attach the straps to the front panel
This part is a little bit tricky, but it should be fine if you pin first and double check that the straps are on the correct side and the right way up, if you’re the same fabric all over then this isn’t so important, but when you’re using different fabric make sure you pin the matching fabrics facing each other, right side in – the straps should be on an angle so they cross over in the centre of the front panel. Like this:
And when you flip the Doll Mei Tai over it should look like this: *Except I forgot to allow for a bottom seam, so position the waist straps about 1cm from the bottom of the front panel, instead of how I have them directly in line with the bottom.
Baste the straps into place with a wide stitch and remove the pins.
Step Five – Attach the front and back panels.
This part of this step is entirely optional, I just wanted to give it some padding so it would look more like a proper Mei Tai. I cut out and pinned two pieces of thick polar fleece to the head rest and to the bottom of the front panel where the waist band will be. I placed the polar fleece on the “wrong” side/inside of the fabric but pinned it from the right side – so I can remove the pins later once I’ve sewed the front and back together. Make the pieces about 1cm smaller than the space they’re going into to allow for a seam.
Before you pin the front and back pieces together gather up the straps into the middle of the front panel to keep them well away from the edges, it’s really (REALLY REALLY) important you don’t accidentally run the sewing machine over the ends of the straps.
Place the other front panel on top with right sides facing and carefully pin them together with several pins, making sure the corners all match up neatly and leave the bottom open. Pick the doll Mei Tai up and allow the straps to fall out the bottom.
Sew up the side across the shoulder, around the head rest and down the other side – leaving the bottom open. Being extra careful when you sew the straps down, you may even want to back stitch over where the straps join so they’re very very secure – though it’s not actually going to be carrying a heavy tot it should still be somewhat “toddler proof”.
Step Six – Finishing up.
Trim any of the lose threads you can see and then turn the Doll Mei Tai right way out. Trim any other threads and make sure that the straps are firmly attached and everything looks neat.
To close the bottom tuck the edged into itself so the cut edges are inside the carrier.
And pin into place so you can run a stitch just across the top – this way you don’t have to do any fiddly hand sewing.
Sew as close to the edge as you can while still making sure you’ve sewn through all 4 layers of the seam. (See how my corners are a bit puckered – that’s because I forgot to leave a seam allowance on the bottom! It would be neater if I hadn’t made this small mistake.)
If you’ve pinned in the fleece as “padding” to finish up sew along the inner edge of the fleece – remove the pins – and sew evenly spaced lines across the fleece and then trim off the ends of the threads. Do this on both the head rest and the waist band.
And that’s it! DONE!
Please feel free to give feedback or ask questions if there’s anything I haven’t explained well or suggest adaptations!
Here it is in action! Tie the waist straps around at the back, place the doll into the front part of the carrier, then cross the shoulder straps around the back and bring them to the front to tie! (Look at how well her doll is supported in the optimal M leg position)