Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Getting to the BOTTOM of it.

I have wanted to cloth diaper my babies for some time now...since Wesley was a baby, actually.  I'm not sure why.  I'm not overly concerned about the environment.  It probably has something to do with my love for living natural and being self sufficient...saving on the grocery budget is a plus as well!

I can remember, as a child, going to stay a week with my cousin who had a baby in cloth diapers and another on the way.  I was really fascinated by cloth diapers as I had never seen them before.  Of course, back then it was HUGE diaper pins and plastic pants on top.  I loved cloth diapering even way back then.

When Wesley was a baby, I couldn't get Peter totally on board with the idea.  There is quite a "start up" expense to cloth diapering and it can sound overwhelming.  So, I waited.  After Ransom joined our family (two babies later) I tried again to get Peter on board.  This time he was more willing to give it a shot...after all, nothing can be worse than the Delve diaper studies (where you have to return the used products!) and we had done quite a few of those.  With Peter on board and willing to invest in the idea, I was ready to start.

Phase one: Research.  I was looking for the type of cloth diaper that I felt would fit our lifestyle (busy!) and yet allow me to be more natural and self sufficient.  Oh, there are so many different options out there for cloth diapering these days and many of them are really not much more work than paper diapering.  However, the prices of these AIO (all-in-one) diapers are still quite expensive.  Hmmm.

Phase two: Shopping!  I really didn't want to spend as much money as I was seeing cloth diapers listed for so, I decided to buy a few of the brand that I liked and use them for a template to make my own diapers.  I needed to purchase PUL fabric, no-pill fleece, terrycloth or hemp, velcro, and elastic.  Amazingly enough, Joann's Fabric just happened to have their PUL and fleece fabrics on 50% off that week.  So, I was able to use my 40% coupon on another item.

PUL is an amazing fabric lined on one side with a pliable plastic that keeps diapers from leaking.  (I have also found it good for many other uses like changing pads, bibs, and wet bags.)  The diapers that I wanted to make would have an outer layer of PUL, be lined with fleece (to keep baby dry), and be stuffed with "soakers" or absorbent fabric rectangles.  I chose my fabrics and was ready for the fun to begin:) 

Phase three: Sewing:)  I love sewing.  It reminds me of being a child and watching my Meme's hands create.  She could do it all...sew, crochet, knit, quilt, and much more.  So, after prepping the fabric, I pulled out her sewing machine (watch for a later post on this!) and went to work.

I pulled out a large roll of brown paper that I keep around for the kids art projects and began tracing and cutting out my templates.  If you are trying this, know that the template will look huge but not to worry when all of the seems are in place it will be much smaller and you can always bring it down to size with elastic later.

Next, I traced the newly made template onto the PUL and fleece fabrics and then cut out my diapers.

Here are some pictures of the PUL cutouts.  Aren't these fabrics just too cute?

I then placed the PUL and fleece right side together and stitched around the edges, leaving an opening in the back, just as you would to make a pillow.

After flipping them to the right-side-out position, I did a quick zig-zag stitch on the edge of the exposed fleece and folded down the exposed PUL, stitched across, and inserted some elastic to give the diaper a snug fit.  You can see the plastic interior shinning in this picture.

 Next, I inserted some elastic (through the opening in the back) and placed it in the area that I wanted to stay snug around the legs.  I stitched across the elastic on one end, along the side of the elastic (careful not to stitch on top of the elastic), and then pulled the elastic to the desired length, stitched over the other end of the elastic, and cut the elastic.  Here is a stack of diapers awaiting elastic. You can see where the elastic is around the legs in the picture below.

 Lastly, I need these diapers to stay closed!
I decided on Velcro over snaps as I haven't had much experience applying snaps in many years and this wasn't the project where I wanted to practice.
I sewed the Velcro (fuzzy side) across the front and (scratchy size) onto the two side flaps.  I then added a piece of "fuzzy" velcro on top of the tab and used a zig-zag stitch to attach it only on the inner most side.  This is to "close" the tabs during washing and protect the diapers.

**On the next batch of diapers, I added a layer (scrap piece) of fleece behind the long, front Velcro strip for added strength.  I also sewed the Velcro on first (before stitching the PUL and fleece together like a pillow).  This way, the inserts can go all the way to the top of the diaper.**

The diapers are now complete and I need to make some "soakers" to stuff inside.  I chose terrycloth this time but would like to try a few other absorbent fabrics as well.   Again, I laid out the purchased soakers and traced around to make a template.  I made my soakers four layers thick, but three would be sufficient.  Just one of those things that I learned in the process...haha.

Here is a stack of soakers waiting for the zigzag stitch around the edges.  I don't have a serger so I purchased an industrial strength needle for my Meme's machine and did a zigzag stitch around the edges.  Finally, the project is complete!

Phase Four: Diaper the babies. ...and start saving.


And, as long as I am leaving paper products in the dust, I decided to make a few "pull-up" style pants for my little one who needs them from time to time at night.  These were a little tricky (and I am still trying to come up with a better way to make them) but they have the same basic idea with a layer of PUL, soaker stuffed in the middle, and fleece to keep little bottoms dry and rash free.


Goodbye, Huggies!  I enjoyed you but am happy to move on..haha.

To sum it all up: I spent around $75 and made 14 diapers, 14 soakers, 4 night time pants, a large hanging diaper pail, changing pad, and several bibs.  That sure beats the $20+ per diaper...yes, you read that right...PER DIAPER price of buying them from a manufacturer.
So far they have held up great and I am really happy with the outcome.

The first batch (jungle animals) that I made turned out way too small for my two year old so, I put them on the baby.  I then made the green ones a little bigger and then the monkey diapers even bigger:)  Peter even joins in the diaper changing and was pleasantly surprised by how easy cloth diapering is.
We now save about $100 each month in paper products and I do one extra load of laundry each night.  (We already do 3-5 loads each day, so what's 1 more?)  And, because I make my own detergent (watch for a later post on this) and hang them to dry (heat damages the PUL fabric), that doesn't really increase costs much:)

I like to think that my Meme would be proud to know that her machine is now sewing for six of her great-grandchildren:)

Update:  12.2011  It is now five months later, and the only issue that I have had with these diapers is that I laid a few of them flat on top of the dryer to dry and the heat from the dryer damaged them.  The PUL from Joann's seems to be more heat sensitive than the ones from the manufacturer.

Update: 4/2012  I recently looked at newer PUL fabric at Joann's and it is a much higher quality.   I helped a friend make diapers for her coming baby and was amazed at the progress in the PUL.  Joann's has tons of super cute coordinating fabrics, patches, snaps, velcro, and much more for diapers.  I wouldn't advise stitching patches on diapers however because you would be punching holes in the PUL.


  1. Thank you for this Allison!! What a fantastic and informative piece for all of us to reap from!! You are truly a blessing :)


  2. I can't wait to share this with my friends--thank you!!