Saturday, December 27, 2014

What is a ring sling?

by Tressa Smith

It is a piece of fabric with 2 slingrings sewn on one end. Simple enough huh? Well, kind of.

To begin with, all ring slings (RS) should be made with slingrings. They are aluminum or nylon rings sold at in pairs. They are safety tested for use in babywearing and free of welds (which can break or catch on fabric and damage it). The fabric used for ring slings can be a strong cotton, mesh for water wearing, silk, or a woven wrap. Calico fabrics or quilting fabric is not suitable for RSs because it is not strong enough for weight bearing. Jan Heirtzler of Sleeping Baby Productions (SBP) is considered by most to be the expert on all things ring sling and there is a ton of information on her website

Ring Slings are offered in different sizes ranging from XS to XXL. SBP recommends using your shirt size to pick a size for a RS. The only difference between sizes is where the tail hits you and I have had no issues with using different sizes of RS. Sometimes a long flowy tail is fun while other time I just want the tail out of the way.

So you understand fabric with slingrings and size. Now what kind of shoulder on your ring sling? Shoulder?

The shoulder of a RS is the part where the rings are sewn to the fabric and it sits on your shoulder when worn. There are several types of shoulders for a RS and depending on the wearer some are more comfortable than others. If you can, try different shoulder styles to find the one that is the most comfortable for you.

We will discuss a few of the more popular shoulders for ring slings. Gathered, Eesti, SBP pleated, and a Wallypop pleated shoulder.
Four shoulder styles we will discuss in order from left to right:
Gathered, Eesti, SBP Pleated, Wallypop Pleated

Gathered shoulder

A gathered shoulder is just that, it is gathered and the slingrings are sewn on. No fancy pleats or folding. This shoulder provides a wide spread of the fabric at the shoulder. Because of the wide spread this shoulder may not be comfortable for petite wearers. It does allow the wearer to custom adjust how much fabric is on top of the shoulder or on the side of the shoulder. A gathered shoulder is also what you get when you add slingrings to a shorty to make a no sew ring sling.
Gathered shoulder

Eesti shoulder

An Eesti shoulder is a combination of gathers and pleats designed by Karen Hoppis. Sleeping Baby Productions is the only company licensed to produce this shoulder. It spreads less than a gathered shoulder because of the added pleats but more than a simple pleated shoulder. This can be a great option when a thicker wrap is used and pleats may be too thick.
Eesti shoulder

SBP Pleated Shoulder

A Pleated shoulder is simply several pleats sewn into the shoulder to control the spread of fabric. The Sleeping Baby Productions pleated is the most common type of RS shoulder. Pleated is also one of the narrower shoulders and many petite wearers find this shoulder very comfortable.
SBP Pleated Shoulder

Wallypop Pleated Shoulder

A Wallypop pleated shoulder is just a different form of pleated shoulder. Sarah of Wallypop uses a double inverse pleat for her shoulder. This is also a narrower shoulder. I find this shoulder most comfortable for me when I wear it inside out, but I have always been a little different.
Wallypop Pleated Shoulder (worn inside out)

There are other versions of shoulders out there. Shiny Star Designs has a Seraphina shoulder. Earthy Bliss has a Kenzie shoulder. Zanytoes has an exclusive shoulder in their Splash water RS and offers a full gathered shoulder or a symmetrical pleated shoulder for their other ring slings. Comfy Joey has a hybrid shoulder.

There are a lot of options out there for Ring Slings. Finding a shoulder that fits you well is just one part of finding a comfortable ring sling for you. We have many options of RS shoulder in our Lending Library. So, if you tried a ring sling which was not comfortable for you, try a different shoulder style because it may not be the ring sling that is the issue for you but rather the type of shoulder on the ring sling.

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