It you’re new to the world of wraps, chances are you’re extremely overwhelmed. When I was first learning about wovens I felt like it was a special club that spoke in secret code so no one else could understand! While it might take a bit of learning and immersion in the topic, understanding and loving wraps isn’t so hard. Once you have the basics down, you’ll be well on your way to perfecting that DH TAS (and if you know what that is, you can probably skip this wrapping 101 post).
Some of the terms used for wrapping can be confusing when you’re first learning. Hopefully these images in connection with the text will help you navigate you’re way through your first few wrap jobs.
The middle marker is exactly that – a mark in the middle of the wrap. Often carries will require you to start in the middle of the wrap, so the middle marker is there to make it easy to, you guessed it, find the middle.
Top and bottom rail
Every wrap has a top and bottom rail. When you hold your wrap out in front of you, the top rail is the very top of the wrap and where you will find your hands. The bottom rail is the very bottom of the fabric. It’s important to know where the top and bottom rail are throughout the wrapping process as getting them twisted can be both uncomfortable and difficult to get your wrap properly tightened.
The tails are simply the right and left sides of the wrap. When instructed to grab a tail, it just means you grab fabric that hangs down.
Getting a good seat is possibly the most important aspect of wrapping. The seat is the section of fabric in which the child sits. You want to pull the fabric up between you and the child and create a bit of a “pocket”. You can achieve this by either pushing the fabric up from under the child’s bottom or by reaching between the two of you, grabbing the fabric from between the child’s legs, and pulling it up. You want to have enough fabric that you ensure the seat is deep enough that child isn’t going to “lose” their seat and fall (“losing” the seat simply means the child no longer has a seat, or the fabric between the two of you has fallen). It is generally recommended that you get the fabric up to the child’s bellybutton to help create a deep enough seat. Another important aspect of the seat is providing proper support for the child. This is achieved by making sure the seat is knee-to-knee (the fabric seat goes from the bend of one knee to the bend of the other knee) and the child’s knees are above their bottom (creating an “M” with the child’s bottom/legs).
It’s important to properly tighten your wrap to secure your child and make the carry more comfortable. You can tighten your wrap in a number of different ways; some people find that giving the tails a few good tugs can tighten it fairly well, but one of the most common and successful ways to tighten a wrap is strand-by-strand. Strand-by-strand tightening simply means selecting different “strands” of the wrap and pulling them tight. For example: starting with the top rail, grab the fabric and pull. Once the top rail is tightened, move to slightly below the top rail, grab the fabric there and pull again. Repeat this throughout the rest of the wrap. It’s difficult to know exactly how many sections of the wrap/strands you should tighten as it depends greatly on how snug the wrap job was to begin, but a good rule of thumb is to tighten the top rail and three sections/strands throughout the middle. It’s not a perfect science and will change with every wrap job you do, so don’t get too caught up in the number of strands and the distance between each strand you’re grabbing.
Once you have properly made your seat and tightened the wrap, you can tie off the carry. This simply means that you tie a knot so that the carry stays in place. Many carries will require you to simply tie a knot while a few will call for a special knot (such as a slip knot). The carry should specify what type of tie off is required.
Wraps are generally approximately 30-35 inches wide and vary in length with the length of the wrap determining the size. The size of the wrap you want depends on your size and the types of carries you want to do. Woven wraps are either a size 2 (2.6 or 2.7 meters), 3 (3.1 or 3.2 meters), 4 (3.6 or 3.7 meters), 5 (4.1 or 4.2 meters), 6 (4.6 or 4.7 meters), 7 (5.1 or 5.2 meters), or 8 (5.5-6.0 meters). You will hear the term “base size” often when learning about wraps. Your base size is the size of wrap you need to complete full length carries. An easy way to figure out your base size is to try a front wrap cross carry; whatever length you need for the carry is your base size. An average person will require a size 6 for their base while someone who is petite might need a size 5 and someone who is plus size might need a size 7.
A length comparison with a size 1 (the blue/green wrap on top) through size 7 (the yellow/white wrap on bottom)
While this isn’t nearly all of the information you will come across when learning to wrap, the very basics are laid out here for you to get started. Don’t be too intimidated – we all started in the same place. Good luck and happy wrapping!