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How To Make Cloth Diapers

Updated on February 1, 2013
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

Why Cloth Diapers?

Do cloth diapers save money? Certainly they do!

Cloth diapers are good for the environment and they are good for your finances. Disposables may be somewhat more convenient (and I would argue this point) but they are expensive. Cloth diapers are more expensive initially but they last through many years and many children! You can cut the initial cost by buying them used on auction sites like ebay OR you can make them yourself. It really isn't difficult if you have some sewing ability.

Homemade cloth diapers are nothing like the not-so-absorbant rectangles that leak all over the baby's (and your) clothing. These are as, or more, absorbant as disposeables, and the elastic in the legs hold in messes and leaks with no problem.

A homemade cloth diaper with a flannel exterior and fleece interior. This was used for several years and is still in good shape!
A homemade cloth diaper with a flannel exterior and fleece interior. This was used for several years and is still in good shape!

Choose the Right Fabric

When I made homemade diapers I found that I liked fleece for the inside because it wicks the moisture away from baby's skin and keeps the baby drier for a longer period of time. I used burly terry for the soaker on the inside and a cute flannel print for the exterior of the diaper. There are many other materials that can be used depending on your needs. Cotton, flannel, terry, and cotton knits are all good candidates for diapers.

If you want to be very frugal you can use the extra baby blankets and old towels you might have that you don't need. You can cut up old flannel shirts, sheets and other articles that are unusable for other things. A trip to the local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or thrift store can get you enough fabric in a couple of old flannel shirts to make several diapers and for little money.

close up of the fleece interior of the diaper
close up of the fleece interior of the diaper

Drafting a Pattern

Making a pattern for cloth diapers is a simple process. One of the easiest ways, if you have been using disposables is to open the disposable diaper up and trace a pattern around it adding 1/4 inch for seam allowance. You can see that the diaper is basically an hourglass shape with back tabs that can be pulled around and closed in front. It is important that you make the tabs big enough that they come all the way around the front. In this way the diaper can be adjusted out as baby grows and the diaper can be used longer.

There are also many free cloth diaper patterns available online. I have linked to some of them below.

The fleece inside of the diaper helps keep baby dry
The fleece inside of the diaper helps keep baby dry
The outside can be anything you want. The cuter the better!
The outside can be anything you want. The cuter the better!

Making the Diaper.

You will need to cut 2 hourglass shapes, one of the interior material and one of the exterior material. In addition you will want to have a rectangular soaker to go in between the exterior and interior. The soaker should run almost the full length of the diaper. One or two layers of burly terry zigzag stitched together should be more than enough for even the heaviest wetter.

When you are sewing remember to keep the elastic inside the diaper from the seam allowance.

Lay the soaker on the wrong side of the interior hourglass. Sew it in place.

Measure baby's thighs and cut 2 pieces of 1/4" elastic (you may want wider, whatever you prefer) to fit comfortably. Using an elastic stitch and stretching the elastic to cover the whole leg opening, sew the elastic to the wrong side of the exterior hourglass shape.

Measure baby's back and cut a a 1/2" piece of elastic to fit. Using an elastic stitch sew the elastic to the back of the exterior hourglass shape, stretching it to fit the full width of the diaper.

Now, lay the two hourglass shapes right sides together, and sew around the diaper, leaving a small opening in the front to turn the diaper right side out.

Turn right side out and use a pencil or butter knife to get the seams where they need to be. Fold in the seam allowance and hand, or machine stitch the opening in the front closed.

You can add velcro or snaps to the tabs if you like. I prefer to use old fashioned diaper pins because it makes the diaper more adjustable and I don't like the fact that velcro gets messed up in the wash.

The procedure for making adult cloth diapers is the same. By making adjustments to the pattern and soaker you can create the size you need.

Taking Care of Cloth Diapers

You will find that with the elastic legs and back the cloth diapers keep messes contained as well as disposables. When you change a diaper just put it in the diaper pail..You can keep a solution of 1/4 c cider vinegar and 2 gallons of water in the pail but it is not necessary.. If there is solid waste then shake that into the toilet and flush- no need to rinse the diaper. When you are ready to do a load of diapers then put the contents of the diaper pail (drain the solution first if you use it) into the washing machine and run it through a cold prewash cycle. Next run it through a hot wash/cold rinse cycle and then rinse again on cold. This will get out any detergent residue and keep baby from getting diaper rash. I like to hang the diapers on the clothes line until almost dry. This santizes them and bleaches any stains away. When they are nearly dry I put them in a hot dryer for 10-15 minutes to soften them up. Do not use softeners on the diapers as it will make them less absorbant.

In the summertime You may want to go ahead and use the vinegar solution in the diaper pail, especially if you have a fly problem. Cloth diapers with maggots on them are not fun to find, but it does happen. The best way to avoid this is to keep the diapers submerged in the vinegar solution and wash regularly.

Selling Fitted Cloth Diapers

Check out ebay any day of the month and you will find a plethora of cloth diapers in all colors and styles..and prices. Certain brands resell better than others. If you would like to sell your used diapers they do sell very well. Be sure to be honest about the condition and take good pictures.

If you want to make a little money and sell the diapers you make then there is a market for that as well. Research the designs to find what sells best and be creative in yourown designs. Again, it is very important to get good pictures! Price the diaper competitively and only list the best you can make. If you make some that are good but not AS good then list them accordingly and mention that you messed up a seam or whatever. You probably won't get rich but you can make some egg and butter money!

Making and selling homemade cloth diapers can be a relaxing hobby that brings financial benefit.

Video Instructions on Making a Homemade Cloth Diaper


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    • Guckenberger profile image

      Alexander James Guckenberger 

      8 months ago from Maryland, United States of America

      interesting :)

    • louromano profile image


      6 years ago

      Great tips. Excellent hub. Thanks.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you so much for this page - I have been cloth diapering my son (who is currently 6 months old) since day zero (he's only been in two disposible diapers since he was born because of emergencies) and I love it. If you are able to breastfeed your baby, you don't even need to scrape the #2's just toss it all in the wash.

      Mine are getting a little thread worn (from me using them so much and they were used when I bought them) so was thinking it can't be that hard to make. Thank you so much for this resourceful article!

    • MelindaS69 profile image


      7 years ago from United States

      We also used cloth diapers, but I wish I had found this page when we used them! Very useful, thank you!

    • funmontrealgirl profile image


      7 years ago from Montreal

      Great article. Sounds easy enough.

    • maxravi profile image

      Ravi Singh 

      7 years ago from India

      Good one!! I don't have baby yet but surely will be useful for me in future.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You give me hope to cloth diaper my 14 weeker!!! You even elaborated that you need the soaker of vinegar and water in the pail before washing!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!!

    • profile image

      Timothy Harrington 

      7 years ago

      You really make it appear really easy with your presentation however I find this topic to be actually something which I feel I'd never understand. It kind of feels too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am having a look forward in your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

    • Guyana Masala profile image

      Guyana Masala 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      ...this absolutely reminds me of home! It's awesome to see this practice is far reaching and people still care about saving money and the environment.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      We were also using cloth diapers but not as absorbent

    • webtoys profile image


      7 years ago

      great post....

      really love to read....


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This is good. :) I've been cloth diapering since June 2009, and started making my own AIOs in May 2010. I don't think cutting out material is nearly as fun as the actual sewing. I use the Very Basic pattern from

      KIMMY: A waterproof material called PUL is popular for covers and diapers. An all-in-one diaper made with it doesn't need a cover. This talks about different types of cloth diapers:

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      my 15 year old daughter is a bedwetter and i sew 24 of the gerber flat cloth diapers in the24x27 inch size together to make one diaper out of them.they work real well.i pin the diaper on her with diaper pins then put adult size rubber pants on her over the diaper.she cant wear disposables as she breaks out in rashes from them.

    • profile image

      karen- bumgenius organic 

      8 years ago

      I made all of the cloth diapers for my son when he was just born. It was awesome, but very time-consuming with a newborn (all of the one's I had made before were way too big for my little preemie's butt). We eventually decided to go with bum-genius and fuzzibunz, but if I'd found this site first I'd probably would have continued making them. these are way easier than the pattern I found! Thanks for the great resource!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Another useful source for cloth nappies/diapers is a uk based forum

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have been sewing cloth diapers for several years now. It is my hobby and addiction. I sell some on ebay and etsy for a little profit. If it can at least pay for itself, well, great! I haven't quite been able to pinpoint "why" I love to sew cloth diapers, but I do. And yes you can sell used diapers on Ebay now. I don't know ANYBODY else you uses cloth diapers where I live, pretty sad. People simply don't want to mess with the mess. And I don't think they want to really add up how much they spend on disposables. Thank you for providing more info about making and caring for cds.

    • Mama Sez profile image

      Mama Sez 

      8 years ago from Canada

      We were also using cloth diapers but not as absorbent as what you have here. I linked this hub in my recent hub on motherhood so more people may benefit with your ingenuity. Thanks :)

    • adorababy profile image


      8 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      Cloth diapers are reusable. Disposables are laden with chemicals which have been associated with many physical problems.

    • Shifrah Combiths profile image

      Shifrah Combiths 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I use cloth diapers and I love them! I can sew also, so the thought of making my own cloth diapers is intriguing and enticing. I was wondering - you used these without a waterproof cover? Thanks again for this great resource.

    • baby-gifts profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for the detailed explanation, Marye. I never knew how easy making cloth diapers could be- and resourceful!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      ebay still sells used cloth diapers all the time i see them constntly.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for this! I've made some inserts for the cd's that I bought from ebay. I used plain washcloths from walmart folded them in thirds then stitched down the sides. I've since decided that I wouldn't sew them from now on. Just folding is enough. I also recycled some old receiving blankets I picked up cheap at thrift shops. I also folded those in thirds and did a tight zig zag around the edges. I experimented with adding padding for the boys in the front of those. I love the cloth diapers! It's definitely ann addiction. We can only have so much clothing and justify it, but, the clothies are something you HAVE to have on your baby. The cuteness is just a bonus!

    • scaffolding tower profile image

      scaffolding tower 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      This is exactly what I would expect from a mom that's resourceful. We need to rethink our spending habits in light of the current economic slump. I'm glad someone's getting creative in the home and with baby care. Great stuff.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Marye: I am going to "attempt" to make my own cloth diapers for my fourth, but I've never used one before (never even seen one! With the information above, what exactly am I making? Is this the AIO deal and I could buy some inserts or buy some material to make inserts? Also, when I see AIO I think of a diaper that's ready to go, apparently this is not the case, why do you still need an insert if it's supposed to be AIO? I guess I just need the whole low-down on what, when, and whereas far as cltoh diapers are concerned.

      Any information you could give me would be great!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      This hub has great information about cloth diapers. I found out some of the minor and important things of cloth diapers like detailing about the fabric etc.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Ive been looking for a site that breaks down CDing easily and haven't been able to find one. Your site has been easy to read and not at all confusing! Love the idea of just using a disposable diaper to get the correct size! I'm hoping to find time to try making CDs this week. *I favorited your site to help!*

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Another great site for cloth diapering is You can buy, sell, and trade there.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi...I just wanted to add to this...My Grandmother told me that my father was allergic to the rubber pants they had to use way back when ...and she told me she saved her bread wrappers and cut them open and pinned them over the diaper, to use as the "rubber pants" over the diaper and she said u just threw em away and used a new one the next thrifty is that?? she also told me they used cotton dish towels sewn together and you fold them different for boys then girls ( for wetness)it's amazing what they did and how easy we have it now days....I use the cloth too and I sew my oen....I use old towels cut up for the inside soaker part;)works great!oh yeah and grandma is 101 today!! God Bless her.....

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i live in dubai its hot as can b i wanted to kno doesn't the flannel keep the baby too hot, what's the options? :-) thanks great article didn't miss a thing!

    • Ashley Joy profile image

      Ashley Joy 

      9 years ago

      I used cloth diapers when my daughter was little and it did save me lots of money. I did cloth while we were at home and disposable while we were out running errands for the convenience and it was great on my budget.

    • JennifersJumpers profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for creating this. I never would have thought of using a disposable diaper for a pattern (DUH). I don't know where my mind went on that one! Thanks again.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      i was quite surprised to see a familiar face on a google search.

      we are expecting our first and i wonder if you know where to find a newborn pattern? and if there is a fabric that doesn't require a cover? i'm new to this cloth daiper thing and honestly kinda lost, ok a lot lost.

    • profile image

      mary sowell 

      9 years ago

      I do a lot of sewing of infant items at my home, I need to find a way to sell my products, especially these AIO's. Could someone help me with info?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks so much for creating this! I was low on disposables and broke but now i can make my own diapers i may just start using these to save me money, and to save the earth that we live on. I ewill stick to disposables when we are running around in town all day but most of the time I am home so this should be great!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      yes what a great hub you have made, well done. Yes go the cloth is about all i can say, better for the environment, better for your baby, and batter on your wallet. Really lovely hub, love it

    • gale583 profile image


      10 years ago from New England

      My mom had me in cloth daipers until I was a toddler and claims I was almost ready to be potty trained...until I went into disposables and couldn't feel the wetness anymore. I hope to use cloth daipers when I have kids too, but I'll try not to make my mom's mistake of switching out like that.

      Great hub, and thanks for the info!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I have an 87 year old mother with alzheimers disease and she is at home with me. She is allergic to the disposable diapers and I thought oh heck ill make some for her to help her be comfortable and lo and behold I found this sight. Great tips. Mom is bedridden so every little bit of love is helpful. i cant wit to get started. Ill let you all know how it goes. Bless all of you and great news for this earth. We sure can use it.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      huh! that's a great description. thanks!

    • MarcyL04 profile image


      10 years ago from MIdwest smack dead in the middle of corn country LOL

      I have been lecturing my daughter because she goes thru so many disposable diaper it is crazy.  I want her to start saving money and help our environment.   Because I heard it takes 500 years for the to degrade.  That is crazy.  I have 4 kids and I used cloth diapers unless we went on long trips and things like that.  But at home and around family we used cloth.  Thanks for your post.  I am gong to make her some cloth diapers even if I have to use then when they come to my house. 

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Ashley...wool covers work can read about them at

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      what kind of cover do you use with these?

    • profile image

      Working at Home Mom 

      10 years ago

      Great tips. Learned a lot.

    • RainbowRecognizer profile image


      10 years ago from Midwest

      This is very nice... I also love cloth diapers when they're babies :o)

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Moondrops..I did not know that! Why did they stop? Is eBay getting really picky or what?

    • Moondrops Way profile image

      Moondrops Way 

      10 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      i'm a WAHM who makes cloth diapers. I know ebay no longer allows the resale of used cloth diapers. a great site for used is

      it isn't something that gets me rich but it really makes me feel good to be helping others do their part to save the environment too.

    • coolbreeze profile image

      Rik Rodriguez 

      10 years ago from Hawaii

      Kewl hub I changed a few diapers in my day ;-) I prefer cloth also.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image

      Ashok Rajagopalan 

      10 years ago from Chennai

      We have used cloth diapers for both our babies. They are white cotton squares, folded diagonally to form triangles. And we use no pins, we knot the cloth in front. I have become quite an expert at this!

    • cgull8m profile image


      10 years ago from North Carolina

      Great article, your article is mentioned in the Hubpages Newsletter. Well done Marye. Cheers.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks, Marye. Very informative. I have to agree cloth diapers much cheaper and better for the environment. But it's the washing part that's a pain.

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      10 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      not really..I used them for all 8 of mine. much healthier and better for the environment

    • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

      Marye Audet 

      11 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      Hi Maria,

      I did a ton of research and all I could come up with is this site..if it isn't what you need it willa t least give you a good start!! It is written for history reinactors.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      We have been making cloth diaper for international missions with wonderful success, however we would really like to find a pattern for a triangle diaper that can tie to be used in undeveloped areas. Any ideas?


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