Oscha co-founder and mum of 3, Zoe, talks to us about how baby slings are designed and why they are so meaningful to baby wearers.
Those who love to carry their babies in woven wraps don’t usually see them as simple carrying devices, rather they are treasured possessions that are imbued with meaning. They come to hold memories of the precious first few months or years of a child’s life and are part of the story of the family and the children they hold.
The particular design and colours of each wrap are often also meaningful to the parent and carefully chosen. This is why, at Oscha, we put so much time and effort into crafting each baby wrap, from creating patterns to selecting yarns and colours - so each piece becomes a treasured work of art for the user.
Where do ideas for woven baby wraps come from?
At Oscha, we can be inspired by nature, a visit to an art gallery, or more often a random idea that comes unbidden! Our customers are also very vocal about what they’d like to see and regularly suggest colours and patterns (or adaptations of existing patterns). We also occasionally work with artists and especially enjoyed developing the Puffins design with a Scottish tapestry artist. Generally, we don’t look at high fashion - we’re aiming for timeless designs that the parent will feel good wearing.
Puffins - original sketch and final woven design
How does the design process begin?
With new patterns, we usually start with some sketches. Straight away we are considering how the design is going to work for the product - so we’re not just looking at it as a flat graphic piece of art, but as something that will be woven and used as a sling.
For instance, before any real work is put in we will consider how an idea will work as a repeat, especially if there will be large elements in it. The repeat can’t be too wide so that, as much as possible, whatever portion is visible when wrapped, the wearer will get to see a nice section. Key elements of the pattern should also sit around the top 3rd of the wrap as a lot of the design can be lost under the baby’s bum when it is in use!
The Lonely Mountain™ Zoe’s very rough original layout sketch showing how the pattern might repeat
Once we’re happy with a rough repeat of the idea we will carefully draw out the main elements of the design and ink them up ready to be scanned into the computer. Using Illustrator the pattern can then be outlined and this is much easier for working on pattern repeats and getting ready to send to our weavers. Sometimes we will begin work digitally, usually using an iPad and pen tool.
The Lonely Mountain™ from Oscha’s Middle-earth™ Collection as a final woven wrap
How is a baby sling design translated for weave?
We have experienced textile designers at Oscha who consider each design not just as a graphic print, but also how different weave structures can be used to enhance the pattern and add to the ‘wrapping qualities’ of the sling. For instance, different weaves can be used to create a shaded effect or add texture and ‘cush’ to the sling.
Oscha has an exclusive relationship with our mill - a family-run business in Lancashire, England. Their textile designers have a special program to translate our designs and instructions into a file that can be read by their jacquard looms. We then usually go through numerous samples and make tweaks until we’re satisfied with the new design.
PATTERN DEVELOPMENT CASE STUDY - Dhalia
This design began as a sketch on a plane back from the yarn show in Milan where our designer, Carmen had been checking out new yarns to use in Oscha’s baby slings. The original idea was embellished flowers with a strong outline and patterned elements joined together with interlocking vines.
Carmen then worked through various iterations of the pattern, all the time considering how it would join together as a repeat.
She then added shaded areas to indicate weave textures that should be applied at the trial stage.
Lots of feedback was given to our weavers to adapt certain areas and get the overall pattern size we wanted.
Finally, we planned out which colourway and yarns to first weave the design on, trying to decide what would suit it best, alongside the season and how it will fit into our overall collection. There are always a few options!
And the final option was woven and modeled.
How do you make & choose the amazing colours on baby wraps?
Oscha was the first baby wrap company to develop the ‘warp fade’ and we still have the smoothest most beautiful colour fades out there! We spend a lot of time planning our orders to consider the exact shades and transitions to delight customers and we also work with customer groups who design their own stunning fades!
We really go all out to try to bring as much interest, fun and beauty to the fabrics including weft fades (where you have a fade moving vertically and diagonally across the fabric) and unique yarns, from slubby rainbow tussah silks to space dye cottons. We have many customers who don’t actually use slings and are with us for the unique fabrics - they tell us there is nothing else out there like our colours and patterns. For others, once their baby-carrying days are over they like to collect the fabric as scarves and shawls to continue having the connection.
Creating a new baby wrap design takes many months from conception to fruition and it is so gratifying to receive feedback from customers that they then experience the wrap as a piece of artwork that is also imbued with meaning and memories from its special use.
Oscha customers say it best -
“My Oscha wraps are gorgeous, woven textile art that is one of a kind and made for customers to treasure.”
Oscha designs are more mature and less mainstream. I want to be the only one with that pattern and colors.”
“Beautiful fabrics to make baby wearing beautiful”
“So many of my memories are tied in with my wraps, they are so special, true works of art”
Oscha Slings makes baby wraps, carriers and more from natural and organic yarns, woven in the UK and handcrafted in their small Scottish workshop near Edinburgh. Established in 2010, Zoe began Oscha when she had 3 children within 16 months and slings became a lifesaver. Her mission has been to create beautiful, ethically made baby slings with a focus on design and colour so the parent can feel comfortable and stylish.
Oscha are proud to supply Baby Tula with special jacquard woven sling fabric for their Signature Collection and we have been collaborating together for over 10 years.