Monday, October 19, 2009

What do I do with all this fabric? Choosing a wrap length

Once someone has decided to try a woven wrap, the most common question I am asked is "Which length do I need?" Length choice is an important factor, since many brands come only in select lengths. Most brands are priced by length, so it makes sense to not purchase more wrap than you need! Here are some more things to consider when choosing your length.

The wrap length you need is determined by which ties you want to do- not necessarily by your physical size!! I am nearly 5'5" & wear a size 8- average for a woman. Although I can use wraps ranging from 2.7m to 4.6m, depending on which carry I am using, I can tie most carries comfortably in a 3.7m wrap. While there are some specialty ties that eat up quite a bit of fabric, I rarely find they are needed so I rarely teach them. A good rule of thumb is that the longest tie most wrappers use is the FWCC so if you can tie this, even on the tails, you have the right length.

Front carries, which are normally done only with smaller babies, use up more length than back carries, as a general rule.

Tying on the tails: Most woven wraps have tapered tails, which makes it easy to tie a smaller knot with them. You don't need a lot of fabric for your knot. Most woven fabrics are grippy enough to safely hold a knot with only an inch or two of fabric left hanging. This is called tying on the tails!

If you have too much fabric left over at the end of a tie, you can use it up with some knotting variations like the Tibetan tie in the picture to the left, or you can simply wrap the extra fabric around your middle.

As you gain experience with wrapping, your tightening will improve & you will get more length left in the tails once you have finished your tie. This is another reason to err on the side of a shorter wrap.

The Kangaroo Carries, aka the Ruck , the Kangaroo Front Carry & the Kangaroo Hip carry, all use minimal fabric length. They are also the most supportive of baby & wearer due to the ease of perfectly tightening one layered carries.

It is important to know that manufacturers have never claimed that their sizing is perfectly accurate! The advertised length is normally considered a minimum, as opposed to a guarantee. North American wrappers are often surprised to discover (when they measure their wraps themselves) that their wraps are a significantly different size from what they expected. Many factors can affect the actual length- time since the last washing, strength with which the wrap gets pulled, thread count, fibre content, etc.

While many wrappers do like to have a collection to choose from, most have just one wrap that can do everything. For most people, 3.7-4.1m is plenty of length for that purpose. I hope this post helps you in your decision making process, whether you are choosing your first wrap or your 5th!

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