05 June 2011

Tutorial for sewing your own cloth diapers

This post is a work of progress, I've been wanting to put it up for such a long time. Now I finally finished it. This is a tutorial about sewing my own cloth diapers. This is what worked for me.

When I started to cloth diaper, I was able to borrow all the necessary diapers from my lovely neighbor. Her child had just potty trained, and the second one was not made yet ;) So I am thankful that I was able to try it out without any costs for me. It took some time to get used to it, when you come from the convenient way of diapering with very absorbent Huggies. But I loved the idea of being more environmental friendly - being green is the key! Eventually, I started buying some Fuzzy Bunz and loved them. Then when her baby number two was on the way, my neighbor needed her diapers back.

Once you started cloth diapers, it is hard to get back to the old wasteful way.... it is! So I figured (and had read on some blogs) that I could try to make my own diapers. I did some research and found some websites that provided a tutorial for making your own. The once that I did like were just way too complicated. When I found the right page, I printed the pattern, bought all the necessary materials, and started sewing. Then I tried it on, but it seemed way too big. I was a bit disappointed, to be honest. So I read some more and tried a few more diapers, until I came up with my own pattern.

Here is it in pictures:
After doing a few of those diapers, I have more like an assembly line now where I make a few diapers at the same time. It seems to go faster this way. I don't know why.

This is the pattern for a fitted diaper. You will need a cover for this.
So the fabric you need is the following:
   1 layer of flannel
   2 layers of anything you can find in your house, I use cotton alot
   1 layer of fleece

I did not go out buying all new, I used all old at first and only started buying later. I used old blankets out of fleece and old baby receiving blankets out of flannel.
The flannel is for the outer part, the cotton as soaking fabric for the inside, not visible after the diaper is all done, and the fleece for the part that touches baby's skin - the part that is the most sensitive. Fleece has the characteristic to let the fluid right through it without soaking it, so baby's skin is not sitting in wet cloth. 

This is my assembly line. I made five diapers at once, because I needed the room for our coming guests.
I cut all the fabric out first and then put them together, so I know if I have enough. I also tried to only use three layers of patterns but it seems to soak through too fast, so I still would use four.

In the middle of those four layers, you need to sew the soaker pad. The picture below shows that I make my own.

I use a few layers of leftover fabric, some cotton, some flannel and even fleece if I have it. Fleece seems to be the most expensive fabric, so I try to only use it for the inner part of the diaper where it touches baby's skin. 

I also bought wash gloves at Walmart, just simple, white ones. Adding to those wash gloves, I sew in a few pieces of my leftover fabric to make it a bit thicker in order to soak up the fluids.

I then sew the soaker on the inside layer of the diaper, so the stitches are not visible afterwards.Make sure it's right in the middle and more to the front than to the back.
The next step is sew on the Velcro. I sew the Velcro loops onto the outer piece of the diaper, both outer layers by the way. It seems to work best for me. It is also easier to do this now, through only two layers, then later through four.

Hint: Buy Velcro that is not self-adhesive. My first diapers, I didn't know that they existed, so I used the ones with the sticky stuff on it and it ruined a few needles of mine. Bummer.

The Velcro hooks go on the two inner layers. Here I cut the edges away, so they won't hurt the baby. Once again, I had to make the experience of NOT using the sticky kind.... "Practice makes perfect."
The next step is to sew in the elastics. You cut two pieces of the same lengths, maybe four inches, that go along the seam on the legs. The other one go on the back part of the diaper, so it's a bit elastic in the back. You can cut it any size, I measure around three to four inches.
I try to stretch it out to where I want it to be and sew it to the diaper, to the two outer layers, a few times back and forth. You sew it with a very small straight stitch. In order to sew the elastic on, you need to hold it all stretched out, pulling it through the machine.
Do the same for both leg pieces and then the back part.
We are almost done, now we have to sew the four layers together. The way to do it, you take the two outer layers and the two inner layers and face them wrong sides to each other, so that the soaker part is visible. So the fleece and the flannel are touching each other and the two cotton pieces are outside.

Then you sew it together, leaving the entire bottom part, the part that goes on the belly, open. Sew it with a straight stitch all around the diaper.

Once that is done, you turn it right side out. Then you can fold down the front part of the diaper, and pin it, or not, and then sew it shut. 

The next step is optional, I don't do it, but I read about it. You could do a straight stitch next to the elastic on the legs and on the back, but I have never done it.

But what I do is a zigzag stitch around the part that gets touched the most, the front part with the Velcro loops. It gives it a stronger feeling, and on diapers where I hadn't done it, I sewed it on afterwards for a tougher hold.

This is how my very first diaper looked like. I still like it. You can see that I zigzagged all the way around the entire diaper, that is not necessary, and especially not on the leg part where it rubs baby's skin constantly.
These are my first five diapers. They are all a bit different in shape and size and stuff I did do and didn't do with them. Some I had to alternate after a few uses when I saw how it doesn't work, at least for me and my baby.
These are all my 17 diapers. I have finally found my own pattern and what works best for us. I use them every day. I love how they all have different colors and fabric. And my daughter has a few favorites of her own.

It is so much fun to make these.

A few hints for washing them: I use the same detergent I have been using since day one: Biokleen. It works great, it gets all the stains out and I love the smell... oh wait a minute, what stains and what smell??? Well, there is no smell to it, which means it is better for baby and environment. And stains? Well, one other great advantage of the fleece is that it doesn't get stained from Number Two! Believe me, she has done some not so pretty things, and it all comes out! Everything. I wash them in a cold cycle, like a prewash, and then a full cycle on warm, and then a rinse cycle, and it all comes out, there is no smell and there are no stains.

I love it.