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Ring Sling Shoulders: Pleated vs Hybrid vs Gathered

Shoulder styles are a completely personal decision. What works for one wearer may not be comfortable for another, and vice versa. There are unfinite ways to sew the shoulder, which further complicates the matter. That said, the three most popular shoulder styles are Pleated, Hybrid, and Gathered.

Pleated Hybrid (including Eesti) Gathered (including Floating Gathered)

Shoulder is pleated evenly across the width to bring width down where it goes through the rings. It is then folded under and three lines of reinforcement stitching are sewn very close to the rings.

Uses the least amount of fabric for the shoulder.

Lays neatly on the wearer's shoulder - no bunching or tangling.

Easy to get the shoulder portion spread evenly, but does not spread very wide.

Less likely to have the edges dig, but also does not distribute the weight of the baby quite as much as a gathered would.

Generally (but not always) preferred by very small, thin wearers who feel overwhelmed by the wide spread of a gathered shoulder.

A few pleats on each rail, with the center of the wrap left straight to gather naturally. The fabric is folded through the rings and the three lines of reinforcement stitching are typically sewn fairly close to the rings. A "floating eesti" shoulder can be done with the stitching 9"-16" away from the rings; in this situation, you can add stitches lengthwise along the folds of the pleats in order to keep them neat and in place.

Qualities are typically a balance between pleated and gathered. Less potentially diggy and spread than a gathered, but better weight distribution than a pleated.

"Eesti" is a specific style of hybrid shoulder developed by Karen Hoppis.

Shoulder is left to bunch/spread naturally. Fabric is pulled through the rings, folded over and can either be sewn straight across with three lines of reinforcment close to the rings (for a traditional gathered shoulder) or further away (9"-16") for a floating gathered.

Easiest style to sew.

Can be more finicky to adjust on the shoulder; floating gathered especially, due to the double layer over the shoulder, can get bunched and tangled.

Floating gathered has two layers of fabric across the shoulder, which adds cush and padding.

While a poorly adjusted gathered shoulder can result in diggy rails, a well-adjusted gathered will give the best, most even weight distribution for longer wearing.

-- Alyssa Leonard - 2016-09-30

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Topic revision: r1 - 2016-09-30 - AlyssaLeonard
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