Learning to Make Cloth Diapers
Homemade Diapers for Homemade Babies!
Opposite: Template for Rita's Rump Pocket - a free diaper pattern
On this page I'm recording my experiments with making cloth diapers (or cloth nappies, if you're British like me!).
I've also added links to places to buy cloth diapers as I know I'm going to be buying a few to try too.
I'm expecting my first child and I can't bear disposable papery plastic hygiene products so I'm sure I'm going to feel the same way about disposable diapers.
As I'm not sure what will be the best cloth diaper for my child I'm going to experiment with making as many different types as I can just in case some of them just don't work. I'm also going to experiment with recycling old clothes from around the house.
I'm still learning so I'll be adding my experiments as I go.
Making Fitted Diapers
In the long run cloth diapers work out a lot cheaper than using disposable diapers but the initial cost of cloth diapering can be pretty intimidating.
Seeing as I know my way around a sewing machine and I have quite a stash of fabric hanging around I decided that I'd make up a few of my own cloth diapers.
Inspiring and Frugal Websites
If I can save money by making something myself then I'll jump at the chance.
As I recycle a lot of fabric in my textiles work, I loved the ideas on these websites of recycling old clothes, towels etc to make some cloth diapers.
As I'm experimenting with different fabrics - using old t-shirts and other clothes - I'm planning on making plenty of other diapers in different fabrics just in case some of them don't work very well!
Buying a Sample Cloth Diaper
I found some cloth diapers on eBid and decided it would be a good idea to buy one so I could see how it was constructed and what sort of size it was.
I'm thinking I might supplement some of my handmade diapers with some more bought cloth diapers just in case my experiments go horribly wrong!
I like the snaps on this diaper - useful for getting a good fit on the nappy.
The pattern I started with calls for a Velcro fastening but I've heard that when babies get a bit more dextrous they can easily undo the Velcro themselves.
Above: A cloth diaper I bought from ebid.
Ottobre Design Cloth Diaper - Attempt 1
The PDF Pattern I Started With
I found this pattern quite easily by searching for cloth diaper patterns in my search engine and it looks pretty good so I thought I'd give it a go for the first lot of diapers I make.
- Ottobredesign Cloth Diaper PDF
I used this pattern for the first fitted cloth diapers I made.
Making the First Lot of Fitted Diapers
I collected together a load of suitable recycled fabric from my fabric stash and washed it at 90 degrees.
On one of the websites I found they'd made cloth diapers from old t-shirts. I collected together some old t-shirts made from the thicker fabric and decided to give it a go. I'm a bit dubious about the knit fabric stretching when it gets wet but I guess when that happens then it's time for the diaper to come off anyway!
The First Batch of Fitted Cloth Diapers from Recycled FabricsClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Soaker Pads
I made the soaker pads, for my first batch of cloth diapers, from an old towel robe and a piece of old fleece sweater. I think the fleece isn't that absorbent so I figured it might be good for the outer layer of the soaker pad.
The toweling from the old dressing gown isn't that soft but it's going to be under a layer of fabric so it won't be against the skin. I'm not sure how well it'll work but I know in the cloth pads I've made recycled towels have worked really well.
The soaker pads may be a little too thick so I might have to reduce the layers on the next batch.
These are super easy to make - they're simply rectangles bound together around the edges.
Conclusions on Attempt 1
I don't know what happened with this - I think it ended up as more of a toddler size!
I think the diaper might have ended up quite huge because I was using t-shirt fabric with stretchy material. I've got some fabric on order so I think I'll give this pattern another go with something less stretchy. I was looking for flannel but I couldn't find any so I ordered Winceyette instead which I figure is similar.
I think this diaper could still be useful if I take off the Velcro and use a safety pin to keep it in place. I think I'll keep it around for one of those days where the washing machine has broken and there's nothing else to use!
I've still got 4 diapers to sew up from this pattern - I'm going to try to see if I can work out where I went wrong with the first one and see if I can salvage them.
Ottobre Design Cloth Diaper - Attempt 2
>Please excuse the bits of blue fluff on this diaper! I'm hoping they'll wash off easily.
This is the same pattern as the Ottobre diaper above but I used winceyette as the main fabric - this seemed to work a lot better than the stretchy stuff.
I also treated the elastic differently - in the last diaper I cut a certain length of elastic and stretched and sewed it into place. On this diaper I stretched the elastic out as far as it would go and cut it off when I reached my mark.
I really wish I had an over-locker/serger. I had to zigzag around the outside instead - in the last Ottobre diaper I made I sewed it with the seam inside but this makes the elastic look odd.
Conclusions on Attempt 2
Well, I'm not sure how I feel about the "raw" edges on this. I was going to sew the seam on the inside, but like I said, it made the elastic go wonky. I know it says something about channels for the elastic in the Rita's Rump Pocket and that doesn't have raw edges so I'm going to see if I can figure out how to hide the rough edges and make the elastic stay in place.
I also don't like the way the Velcro protector tabs ended up so I need to look at that too.
I've been thinking that I might try running the elastic further along the legs because I'm not sure it goes up far enough.
Rita's Rump Pocket
Rita's Rump Pocket
I've been looking for this pattern for ages!
I printed this PDF out last year some time and then lost it and couldn't remember what it was called but I found it again whilst doing a little diaper research.
This diaper is a pocket diaper - basically you're making a diaper where you can remove the soaker pad for washing and drying or add another soaker pad if your baby needs more protection.
- Rita's Rump Pocket
A pattern for a pocket diaper.
I cut 2 pieces out of winceyette, sewed them together and then sewed the elastic in place.
The whole diaper was then top-stitched which created a neat little channel for the elastic.
Conclusions on Rita's Rump Pocket
This has to be my favorite diaper pattern so far. It was so easy to make and really fast to sew up.
I'm not sure if I chose the best fabric because it's so thin, I think, but I guess it's the thickness of the soaker pad that I put inside that will count.
I'm going to definitely make a few more of these!
Free Diaper Patterns Blog
I found this website recently whilst listening to the Material Mama podcast.
There are quite a few different ideas for cloth diapers on this site that I plan to try out.
More Resources for making Fitted Cloth Diapers
- How to Sew a Fitted Cloth diaper (on the cheap!)
Live Journal entry showing how one lady made her cloth diapers.
- Fast n Friendly Fitteds
Another fitted diaper pattern.
- Sewing a Pocket Nappy, a step by step guide.
Instructions for a PUL pocket diaper with snaps.
- All About Cloth Diapers
An excellent cloth diapering resource.
- Sewing Mamas
Cloth diaper patterns on the Sewing Mamas forums.
I've heard that prefolds are the best diapers for newborns because you have more control over the fit.
I thought I'd make quite a few of these as I don't have a lot of experience with babies and I have no idea what size they come in yet!
A Simple Prefold Pattern
I followed the simple instructions at the bottom of this page to make my first set of prefolds.
This is essentially just a rectangle with another rectangle sewn inside.
- Confessions of a Diaper Fanatic
Scroll down the page to find some simple instructions on how to make prefold cloth diapers.
These are so easy to make! The only thing I'm worried about is that they only use one piece of toweling in the middle for a soaker pad. I'm not sure whether they'll be enough on their own.
I couldn't get hold of any flannel so I used winceyette and a piece of an old towel robe in the middle - they took about 10 minutes to make - if that.
More Resources for Buying Cloth Diapers (US)
More Resources for Buying Cloth Diapers (UK)
Soakers and Diaper Covers
Seeing as I love knitting I decided to make some knitted diaper covers (or wool soakers).
They need to be made out of yarn with a high wool content and work best when they've been lanolized. The lanolin (natural grease from sheep) waterproofs the cover and keeps it stink-free!
Don't worry if knitting is not your thing! You can also make fabulous wool soakers out of felted wool sweaters.
Alice's Wool Cover
This is the first soaker I made from 100% wool.
This was a really easy pattern to knit - I probably should have knitted a fun pattern into it to give myself a bit more of a challenge!
It turned out a little big although it is supposed to fit over a double night nappy.
I added little ribbed legs as I a few other people had done this too to give the soakers a better seal.
Punk Knitters Soaker
I have to say, of the two soakers I knitted this one is my favorite - it's just too cute. The only thing is - I've never actually used either of them. Oh well, maybe this one will make a great baby gift for a cloth diapering friend.
Rachel has some explaining to do!
OK, don't think less of me but I never used any of the diapers I made for this page.
I was given some second hand fitted cloth diapers and they were so awesome that I just never ended up using the ones here.
I also had bad carpal tunnel syndrome at the end of my pregnancy so I just ran out of time for sewing and finishing off the diapers with necessary Velcro or poppers. I also found that the wincyette fabric I used wouldn't work with the Snappi fasteners and there was no way I wanted to use safety pins. With the exhaustion I had there was just too much of a risk of hurting my little one.
I reckon the diapers would work fine though, maybe I'll finish them off for the next baby!
I'd love to know if you've had any success with making your own diapers and what patterns you used.
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