Saturday, April 4, 2009

Onbuhimo Tutorial

Recently, I was watching babywearing blurbs on youtube and noticed some women using an Onbuhimu, which I had never heard of. I looked at several videos and thought it looked like a really great sling! It is less bulky than the mei tai I made with less straps (none around the waist) and the straps were nice and long so I could make a Tibetan tie. Upon research, I could not find one good tutorial on how to make one so I documented my journey into onbuhimu- hood and hopefully this will help someone make one for themselves one day!

I want to start by saying that I am no sewer! I do sew, mostly because I am cheap and can figure out how to make something cheaper than what I can buy it for, but I don't know correct terms, tensions, proper anything. I am a free form kind of girl!!!! So, take my experience as a beginning for whatever you want to do to make the Onbu your own!

Also, I loosely based my Onbu on a pattern by Beth M. for a 'Man Tei.' Her directions are found here: I also looked to as a rough tutorial. It would be very wise to reference these two sites also. I belong to the yahoo sling sewers group and EVERYONE said to order rings from so that is where my 2' aluminum rings came from. Rochelle Price from Sling rings was very helpful and gave me the measurements of her onbu to assist me in the process. Thanks Rochelle!

I made the solid brown bits (back of sling, bottom where rings are attached and straps) out of canvas and the pink pattern was 100% cotton. The canvas bears the bulk of the weight of my darling Evie.

OK.... here we go. First, I measured out my straps. I made them 6" wide and 65" long. Cut two. I folded them in half and ironed a crease down the middle as a reference point. I wanted them padded so I layed a double layer of fleece- stuff I had laying around the house, about 4" from one end going a distance of roughly 30" which is probably 5" too far. It works just fine but some of it goes into the ring and it adds a bit of bulk.

I then sewed the fleece to the canvas with a straight line down the middle of the canvas. This is the side that will be the bottom of my strap when I attach it to the rest of the sling. I folded the right sides together (fleece facing OUT) and sewed a 1/4" seam, closing one end of the strap and leaving the other end open.

I turned the strap inside out using the pole off of my beach umbrella! A yard stick or broom stick would also work. I pressed the strap then top stitched the whole way round to avoid slipping.

Next, I cut out a large square of canvas and contrasting cotton (18" by 22") and traced a lampshade to get the curve around the top. I placed a piece of fleece on the canvas for padding then placed my strap on the fleece. I pinned the strap into place and using a satin stitch (I looked that one up!) I secured the strap to the canvas body of the Onbu.

Then, I placed the right sides together of the canvas and cotton and stitched around the edges and curve of the sling MAKING SURE NOT TO STITCH OVER THE STRAPS!!!! You want to make sure there is an opening to pull the straps out when you go to turn the sling the right side out. Trim the edge of the curve, turn right side out and press.

Here you can see that I did not stitch over the straps.

When you turn your Onbu to the right side, simply pull the straps through the opening. Press the Onbu and at the same time press under the raw edges around the straps and pin down.

Top stitch the entire sling (I did two seams of top stitching for added detail and to be sure the fleece padding did not slip around and bunch up) being sure to close the openings around the straps.

Fair warning.... this part I pretty much did free hand. I cut a section of the canvas about 11" wide by 28" long and pressed a crease down the middle. I added two layers of fleece for padding and stitched around the edges but leaving an opening to put the body of my Onbu in the top.

I placed the Onbu body into the pocket (about 2 inches in) and pressed the raw edges under and pinned. I then top stitched twice, all the way around to securely attach the body to the bottom section.

I placed the ring on one end of the strap, cut the strap to the right length and satin stitched it into place. According to Rochelle (the only Onbu wearer I know) you want to be sure to use the 2" rings and keep the rings close to the body of the Onbu to avoid digging into your armpit! Repeat on the other side. I also top stitched down the center of the body a few times for added detail.

Clean up any loose thread and VOILA! You have yourself an Onbuhimu! Please leave comments if you are using this tutorial and let me know how it worked for you.... I would love the opportunity to make improvements if needed! Happy sewing and even happier baby wearing!



jference said...

I think I might make one for Malakai. I'm just starting to get into the whole sewing thing. So this looks like it would be a good little project.

SlingRings said...

Thanks for the great tutorial! Now we just want to see a picture with it on :D
Do you mind if I link this on my website?

Cherry said...

This is fantastic! I have been looking for something like a Mei Tei but without the waist straps and was pointed in the direction of an Onbuhimo... it will be wonderful to make one myself rather than buying one, thanks so much for the tutorial- I will let you know how I go!

Cherry said...

Just letting you know that I made an Onbu using your instructions and I love it!

Here is a link to it:

By the way, my little one (in the carrier) is also an Evie! Such a lovely name. She loves her carrier too.


mistyeiz said...

tq for this tutorial! :) i'm definitely thinking of making one n this is such a good tute. but need to get the rings first so off to sling rings!! :D

mistyeiz @

MamaMiller said...

Thanks for the instructions, this was easy and fun to make!

mistyeiz said...

thanks again for the tute. i finally made it!!! i love it... :D

ChloƩ said...


thanks a lot for the tutorial.

I read on a forum that the rings can be "painful", and they advised to make fabric rings? What do you think about it.

I already bought metallic rings, but made a conversion error inch --> cm so I think they're way too large (over 3 inch).

Michelle said...

I have never had an issue with the rings digging in. I was told to avoid this by keeping the rings close to the bottom of the onbu. Try the fabric rings and let me know what you think!

Jess said...

Thank you for the tutorial! I'll be showing mine off on my blog I enjoyed making I just have to figure out how to use it!!

tjs77tsa said...

Thank you I just made one and I love it.

Lorene Clark said...

How do you put it on?

bonbon said...

I am a proper amateur when it comes to sewing, but I have made an onbu that I am proud of thanks to you!! V grateful for your tutorial :-) x

bonbon said...

I am a proper amateur when it comes to sewing, but I have made an onbu that I am proud of thanks to you!! V grateful for your tutorial :-) x