Simply gathered shoulders mean just that, the fabric is simply gathered where it is sewn to the rings, with no folds or pleats. Gathered shoulder slings offer the most customizable fit; the wearer can spread or bunch the fabric as much as he/she wants to achieve the most comfortable position. Brands that use a gathered shoulder include Sakura Bloom and Zanytoes, both of which we have in our lending library.
Fully pleated shoulders are at the other end of the spectrum from gathered shoulders. The fabric is sewn to the rings with a series of (often overlapping) pleats, creating a fixed width at the shoulder. This means the wearer does not need to adjust the shoulder at all, which can make wearing a sling faster and easier. Brands that use a pleated shoulder include Sleeping Baby Productions (SBP) and Snuggy Baby, both of which we have in our lending library.
Some shoulder styles attempt to offer the best of both worlds by being partially pleated, and the rest simply gathered. This allows for some adjustment, but a little more ease of use than a simply gathered shoulder. Brands that use this combination shoulder style include Kalea Baby, which we have in our lending library, Eesti, and Comfy Joey, which uses hidden pleats.
The Lightly Padded Maya Wrap is in a category of its own. The shoulder features a lightly padded, fixed-width rectangle of fabric, which is sewn to the body of the sling. The padding adds a cushy feeling at the shoulder and the fixed-width makes this sling very easy to use and, like a pleated sling, beginner-friendly. We have two lightly padded Maya Wraps in our lending library.
Some slings, like the original Maya Wrap and P-Sling, have a “folded shoulder” which means that the fabric is folded like an accordion at the shoulder. In the original Maya Wrap, the top layer of the fold is not sewn down, so that the wearer can fold this layer over to cap his/her shoulder. This makes the top rail (edge) of the shoulder become the bottom edge of the pouch of the sling. The P-Sling is made from very wide fabric that is accordion-folded to create a very narrow shoulder. This is unique from other slings because it is designed to sit on top of the wearer’s shoulder, rather than cupping the shoulder like most slings. P-Sling devotees find this very comfortable if they can find the “sweet spot” to place the shoulder, because it offers more freedom of movement than a sling that cups the shoulder.