Your beloved wrap has a hole. Often we see mamas on Facebook, in our inbox, or on forums asking, “Can I safely fix a hole in my wrap?” The answer is something like this: It depends.
Why do holes form in wraps?
First off, let’s talk about fabric. Wraps are, of course, made from fabric, and fabric generally falls into two basic categories: knitted and woven.
Knitted fabrics are constructed much in the same way as knitted or crocheted garments. Using machinery, fine yarns are knitted together using any number of techniques to loop the threads through themselves, creating a fabric with any number of properties. Knitted fabrics can be used to make bulky sweaters or fine cashmere leggings, socks, baby wraps, etc.
Many knitted fabrics resist “raveling.” That is, if you cut the fabric, the cut edge doesn’t fray. However, even if your fabric has this property, a small hole can enlarge over time.
A hole in your knitted fabric happens either because one or more of the knitted threads get caught or torn — on velcro, a wedding ring, a sharp corner — or because they have been worn thin and broken — again, from rubbing against a corner or velcro or snap over time, or simply from use, folding, stretching, washing. Once the thread breaks, it comes free from the loops around it and unravels just a bit, causing a hole.
If the thread is not secured, the loops will slowly unravel over time, and the hole will grow larger, eventually becoming so large as to be nearly impossible to repair well.
Here are some photos of one of my husband’s t-shirts, with a pinhole near the shoulder. T-shirts don’t usually bear a great deal of weight along the fabric (an exception would be a very tight t-shirt, perhaps), so darning this isn’t necessary. However, if a baby stretched against the hole in the shirt every day, it would begin to unravel a bit at a time, and each day, the hole would grow larger.
Repairing a knitted fabric/stretchy wrap
The goal when repairing knitted fabric should be twofold:
- Secure the threads in the areas where the knitting is coming unraveled.
- Ensure that the repair does not put undue strain on other areas of the fabric (imagine a hand-knitted sweater of fairly chunky yard. NOW. Imagine you put your fingers into holes of the sweater and pulled … it would totally disrupt the shape of the garment and cause weak spots in the sweater.)
When you’re repairing a baby carrier, here is how I recommend doing it.
1. EVALUATE THE WRAP. The area with the pinhole — if the fabric is thinner, more “see-through” than other fabric; if you feel as if you could easily put your finger through worn spots on the fabric; if it looks “worn out,” so that many small holes are springing up … then it may be time to retire the wrap. If the worn area is the result of rubbing in only one particular spot — for instance, if you tend to lean on the same cement wall while picking an older child up from school, and the wear is usually on the same part of the wrap — the rest of the wrap might be strong, and removing the worn part and hemming might be an option.
If, like the t-shirt in the picture, the wrap just has some pinholes in it but the fabric doesn’t look worn out, you can repair the holes by patching and darning. You can darn fabric without a patch. However, because baby wraps bear weight differently than clothing, I recommend always using a patch when repairing a carrier.
2. CHOOSE A PATCH. The ideal patch will be similar to the wrap you are repairing, but because it’s a small area, if your fabric doesn’t stretch, that’s ok, too. You can use iron-on interfacing, an iron-on patch, or a piece of fabric that’s at least 1.5″ square.
3. USE A SHARP (ideally ballpoint) NEEDLE. A dull needle can puncture the surrounding threads and weaken and break them.
4. DECIDE WHETHER YOU WANT TO MACHINE DARN OR HAND DARN. I hate hand sewing and my carpal tunnel makes it difficult. Machine darning is lazy and sometimes actually takes longer. Your call.
5. FIND SOMEONE WHO KNOWS HOW TO DARN if you don’t, or check out this site for excellent directions (again, I strongly recommend against the directions that don’t include a patch when doing wraps).
Have a woven wrap? Watch for part two in the next few weeks: Repairing a woven wrap. The principals are similar, though!
Have you repaired a wrap? What would you add? Tell us in the comments!