Woven wraps are just that – woven. Thousands of tiny hooks work together on a loom to weave threads together into the beautiful wrap that holds you and your baby so snugly together. This means every wrap is individual, has its own quality and birthmarks, which to me at least is part of the appeal. I love having a piece of cloth that I know is like no other, and getting to know my wraps means I can be confident in caring for them and knowing they are safe to carry my babies.
There’s a decent amount of terminology surrounding woven wraps, but it’s really pretty simple. Every wrap is hemmed all the way around the edge, with each end tapering to a point to create a long parallelogram. The ‘rails’ are the long edges of the wrap and the middle marker is literally a tag sewn into the hem that shows where the halfway point of the length is to aid with wrapping. The ‘warp’ of a wrap means the threads that run the long length of the wrap, while the ‘weft’ is the threads running from rail to rail (the width of the wrap). Weft threads tend to be thicker and fewer, and are far less likely to have big pulls. Some wraps have a looser weave where it’s very easy to move threads around and see the intimate construction of the wrap – these are good wraps to have a good nose at if you want to understand how woven wraps are put together.
So what are woven wraps made from? There are more and more ‘ingredients’ being introduced by companies lately, but the basic ingredient for most wraps is cotton. Strong, soft, easily come by – it’s the main element in most woven wraps. Many wrap makers also blend in other materials, the most common options being linen, hemp, wool or silk. Repreve is also becoming more common. These are added for various reasons – they provide extra strength, support and softness, or generally just give the wrap a different quality. Some people adore linen blend wraps, some adore wool, some never stray from all cotton. Ultimately how a wrap feels and supports your baby is very individual (there is no magical unicorn wrap that everyone will love!)
Ok, so the most common question is about care. Washing your wrap is unavoidable. Let’s face it, babies make mess in many ways and wrapping outdoors is bound to drag your tails on the ground. On top of this washing a new wrap is important as it gets rid of the general dust and dirt from the making process and will begin the process of ‘breaking in’. By ‘breaking in’ I essentially mean making the wrap as supple and soft as possible by working the fibres and settling them into the weave, similar to how you break in a pair of jeans! This is achieved mainly through use – these beauties are, after all, supposed to used and loved! Washing-wise, check the label. Most cotton/linen/hemp blends are machine washable at 30 degrees with a lowered spin. Wool and silk will probably need handwashing and drying flat to prevent any damage to the fibres. I usually tumble dry my cotton/linen/hemp blends on low until damp and the give them a good steam iron – don’t underestimate how a good iron can help with breaking in. I also don’t wash unless the wrap actually needs it, as a wash crisps up the fibres again and you temporarily lose some softness.
So that’s the very basics really – getting to know your woven and how to treat it. These wraps don’t need to be babied though, use use use them and have an awesome time with your bubba! Next time I will be focusing on how to deal with faults, damage and how to avoid damage. Any questions just ask 🙂