This is the second opportunity I have had to test a woven wrap by Lalu Wovens– an Atlanta based baby carrier company who burst onto the scene last year. This time they sent me Volare Ibis, a combed cotton white/grey beauty inspired by the feathers on the Ibis it is named for. The grey and white work together to create this really interesting depth visually, like the variance in shading you would see on an actual bird feather. It is absolutely beautiful, and felt completely different in hand from the Demoiselle Black Currant they had sent me last time. This combed cotton weft is a new material for them to work with, so I was really excited to check out what the wrapping qualities would be like compared to the earlier release I tried.
The first thing I noticed was how thin and soft it was in hand. Even before I washed it, it was plenty pliable. This is one of the things I love about combed cotton, and a reason I often recommend it for first time wrappers or squishy babies. It typically requires no breaking in, and is really easy to care for. After a quick wash and a no-heat tumble it came out fluffy and amazing and ready to go. I mentioned it felt really thin, it actually weights in around 270 g/m^2 which puts it in the thin-medium category. For Lalu Wovens, this is their “lightest weight wrap yet”. The weave itself was very airy, which made for some really breathable multi-pass carries in the California heat. The light color and light weave made it such a great choice for the summer here in the states, or in any other place where heat is a concern year around.
I tried it out first in a Double Hammock which is kind of my go-to carry with the 32 lb. 4 year old Dragon Baby I am wrapping. The combed cotton has the benefit of making the cross passes slide effortlessly – almost like when you are wrapping with silk. This would be great for learning wrapping with a baby a lot smaller than mine, as it makes for a really easy wrapping job. Only problem is there was almost a bit too much glide with my really heavy wrappee, so sometimes I would tighten the pass and her weight would cause it to slip and loosen a bit. Eventually I was able to pull all the slack out and maintain the tightness, and the texture held everything in place really nicely once it got there. We did a grocery store run with her in a Double Hammock and it stayed put all the way through the trip. There was no sagging in the carry by the end, and it had nice cush on the shoulders which meant no digging even after 45 minutes of big-kid wearing.
I wore it in a Double Hammock with a Freshwater Finish while I was at work with my daughter one day, as she was being particularly clingy. She ended up spending a good hour in that carry, and once again by the time I went to take her down there was no movement in the wrap job. I liked how smooth the passes glided when trying out the different finishes, so I later that week also tried out a Double Hammock with a sternum belt which was also plenty comfy and distributed the weight so nicely on my shoulders. In both carries I spent a significant amount of time with her on my back and was impressed at how comfortable it felt under 32 lbs of duress, despite feeling like such a thin wrap.
I wanted to try it out in a single pass carry, so I wore it in a Ruck with the tails threaded through the shoulder straps. I liked it a lot less in this carry. The wrap has very little bounce or diagonal stretch to it, so it is not the kind of wrap I would usually grab for a single pass carry with a Preschooler. It stayed in place just fine, but felt really uncomfortable under the weight of the single pass of fabric. I feel that this would be a great ruck wrap with a smaller baby or a young toddler though, because it was so nice and easy to wrap with and the wrap job would stay solidly in place once finished with no sagging after a long time wearing. I think this woven wrap is very versatile, and can be used in a multitude of carries with different sizes of baby.
The design is so classy, it is a piece that can be dressed up beautifully. Teresa Aaron, owner and designer behind the family business admits that fashion is a big source of inspiration. “Lalu came to be because of my love of design, my appreciation of fashion, and my fascination with the power of babywearing.” she shares. “I just want to make beautiful textiles that help all moms and dads elevate the way they feel about themselves.” Her statement was a familiar one for me. When I talk to people about how I got started wearing and collecting woven wraps, it was very much a journey towards finding myself again after the glorious trainwreck that was early months of motherhood for me. I had to reclaim my sense of self and my personal style, and woven wraps were a huge part of that. Volare Ibis is one of those special wraps that comes along that makes me remember when I used to collect just for me. It is so simple in its complexity, like the nature it is inspired by. This quality of design in accessible cotton weaves makes for elegant wraps that are not at all pretentious or difficult to care for.
Lalu Wovens is based in the United States. They work with U.S. textile mills to weave their products, and employ local mothers for their sewing and finishing team. Teresa handles the design end, while her husband runs the business side of things. Like others in this industry that I have spoken to, Teresa echoes how difficult that it can be, to be a mother and raise a family and try to stay on top of running your own business. It can be difficult to find the time to create and expand your business as one may hope to. Despite the challenges, Lalu Wovens is continuing to grow and release new creations. They will be releasing a new design in the coming weeks after this review was written, and have recently launched a program called Lalu Lenders that allows people to test out a “pre-loved” wrap for a week at a time to see if it is love before they purchase it. I think it is an interesting way to let more and more people experience the beautiful work coming out of this woven design studio. I am really looking forward to seeing what they come out with this next year!
*** I was not compensated in any way for this review. I have never been employed by Lalu Wovens or offered money in exchange for a positive review of their product. They have agreed to let me give this wrap that I used for the review away on my Facebook Page as a part of my International Babywearing Week 2016 celebration.****