How to Buy a Woven Wrap
This is a very loaded topic! Selecting a wrap is a very personal decision and an investment. With that in mind, here are my tips for wrap shopping.
- Learn about wrap sizing. Wraps are great because just about any size wrap will work for any size person, it all depends on what kind of carries you want to do (single-pass, multi-pass, ring ties, fancy finishes, etc.) and the wrapping qualities you're looking for (cushy, stretchy, textured, etc). See the Wrap Sizes page for more details on the possible carries and wrap length for each size.
- Learn about wrap qualities. As mentioned, these are basically ways to describe how the wrap fees: cushy or thin, stretchy or tight, textured or smooth, etc. See the Wrap Qualities page for a lot more specifics. Once you live with a few wraps you start to get a feel for what you really like, which is why the next tip is so important...
- If you haven't already, find out how to try wraps before you buy wraps!
- Other factors:
- Cost: some less expensive wraps are really fantastic, such as BabyloniaUSA, Babydoo, and Little Frog. A good quality woven wrap will likely cost $100-200 retail as of 2016, but they can be found for less. In 2016 we're experiencing a market saturation so it is very possible to find used wraps offered for much less than retail (which has not always been the case).
- Quality: Again, price is not always in direct proportion to quality, but it is a factor. Look for a reputable weaver, one that has a good reputation in reviews (you can find reviews online for almost any retailer. Check Facebook, do a Google search of the brand, look for blog postings that review the weaver or the specific wrap you're after). Quality wraps have an even weave, no skipped threads, consistent measurements, and consistent wrap quality from one wrap to another (of the same style/colorway, of course).
- Buying used can be a great way to get a quality wrap for less cost (especially during the summer months when the swaps are slow - just make sure you check the listed price against retail to make sure it is really a deal). If you're on Facebook, The Babywearing Swap is a treasure trove of goodies. Also, for almost every brand of woven there is a chatter and/or buy/sell/trade group on Facebook where you can ask questions about wrap qualities, read posts from others who chat about the wraps, and look for used (sometimes new) wraps to try. The number one factor for buying from a person rather than a company is to check feedback. Sellers will always have a link to their feedback so you can see that they are an honest person. Feel free to ask questions of your seller if not already disclosed in the listing, such as care routine (how it was washed, dryed, stored, etc.), frequency of use, and how broken in it feels. Make sure the condition is good - any repairs should be fully disclosed and you must be fully comfortable with the risk of those repairs, if sufficient.
- Fiber: Itsaslingthing.co.uk has a great post about cotton, bamboo, silk, wool, linen, and hemp fibers. I’d add two "green" fibers to that list that are gaining popularity in the woven wrap industry:
- Repreve: made from recycled plastic bottles, Repreve is technically a poly fabric. It is woven with cotton. Repreve wraps are generally very breathable and easy to break in, usually with one wash/dry and a couple wears. I have several Repreve wraps even though I hate polyester - you'd never know the fabric used to be plastic bottles. It's great to support this kind of recycling. Also, Reprev e has wrap qualities similar to wool - great bounce and stretch, so moldable, breathable (my best summer wraps are Repreve), and, even better than wool, it is super easy care because it can go in the dryer. No ironing needed - ever. I've ironed a lot of wraps but never Repreve. It's the best of both worlds!
- Tencel: also a recycled fabric, Tencel is made from wood pulp. It is also woven with cotton. I find it not quite as breathable as Repreve but a bit softer. Also very easy to break in, usually with just a wash/dry. It has the awesome recycle factor and ups the anty on being "natural" since it is made from trees. Tencel is very "squish-worthy" as they say because it is so soft without much breaking in.
- Finally, here are more resources with thoughts and tips about purchasing woven wraps. These can also be found on our Resources page.
- A great run-down of sizes, fibers, thicknesses, and more by Modern Babywearing - https://modernbabywearing.com/2015/07/21/so-you-want-to-buy-a-woven/
- Tips on just about every category to think of when researching what to purchase by Becoming Mamas - http://www.becomingmamas.com/how-to-buy-a-woven-wrap/
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