The slings that I make for myself have no padding around the edges. Many sling manufactuers make slings with padding, with the rationale that it helps to contain the baby better. I have found though, that I can very securely carry even a newborn in an unpadded sling. My toddlers have also been comfortable and secure on my hip with this design, as well. Some manufactuers even make unpadded slings.
If you wish to make a padded sling, please let me direct you to a company called Elizabeth Lee Designs. They have a padded sling pattern in their catalog. They also sell metal and nylon rings of various sizes and colors, too.
Homemade unpadded slings....
Different fabrics behave differently under load of a baby, and their characteristics affect how easily the tail slides through the rings, and also how comfortable (stretchy or supportive) the sling is to the baby wearer and wear-ee. Each sling has it's own personality! In general, I prefer a little stretch to the fabric, as it comfortably stretches over the skin at the legs of Little One while in the hip carry position. I find that fabrics that are very stretchy cause some muscle strain in my upper back, as the baby seems to bounce up and down with every step I take. (My daughter actually loves this...and bounces herself! Aye, Aye, Aye!) Simple 100% cotton weave works well...it hardly stretches at all, so it is very supportive to the upper back, but it may bind at Little One's legs in the hip carry. This can be accomodated by making the sling a little wider so the fabric can be pulled beyond the bends of Baby's knees.
smaller ring: 3 inch outer diatemer, 1/4 inch thick
One more tip...I usually air dry my slings that have
metal rings. When you feel the weight of them in your hand, you understand
why. I envision my dryer having dimples and dents from the rings
smashing into the sides. I just take the tail out of the rings and
drape the sling over something to dry. I have dried nylon-ringed
slings in the dryer without problems.
Here we go...
Wash and dry your fabric first! Then it won't shrink
to a too-small size with subsequent washings. Determine how much
fabric you will need. If you are average build, about two yards is
enough. If you are making a pocket by folding the end of the tail
back on itself and stitching, add another 1/4 yard. Choose a width
between 32 and 38 inches and cut this width along the entire two
or so yards. You should have a long rectangle.
To make the fabric about rings more secure, stitch from
the folded over (and now stitched) edge towards the rings about two or
three inches in several places
If you are making a pocket by putting a pre-cut piece
onto the sling, hem the edges of the pocket piece, and then stitch it to
the end of the tail. If you make your pocket too high on the tail,
the pocket will stop you from singging up the fabric where the pocket meets
the rings. note: This may keep you from tightening the sling as much
as you need to keep your baby secure.
Now pass the tail end through both sets of rings, then
fold the tail over the second ring the tail passed through. The pass
the tail through the first ring a second time. (only this time going
in the opposite direction) This is the identical process as putting
on a belt with rings on the end. (remember those rainbow belts back
in the 70's and 80's?) Take care to not twist the fabric as it passes
through the rings. The "wrong" side of the fabric is what you should
see facing out on the tail when completed.
If at first you don't suceed...
Try over and over! Allow yourself a few weeks of daily babywearing to get the hang of it. It can be difficult at first getting the sling on your body, getting it in the right place, enlarging the pouch, maneovering the baby in, getting the sides of the sling in place where you want them, etc. I have heard so many mothers tell me that they couldn't get the hang of it and give up after a few tries. It can be the easiest way to carry your little one with some practice.
Give your body a chance to get used to wearing your baby,
especially if Baby is older when you begin. Don't put baby in all
day from the first day. Condition your back and shoulders by easing
into it. There is nothing like trying to care for you child(ren)
and everything else while miserably stiff and in pain.
Hope this page was informative and inspiring in offering
an alternative choice in babywearing. If you do decide to make a sling,
I wish you the satisfaction of creating something unique for yourself that
is so good for you and your baby. Enjoy!