Image by MissMessie
I wrote about cloth diapering in a post awhile back. Now, if you looked at some of the sites I included, you probably realized those diapers are expensive! Most are $15 – $19 each. Granted, this is still significant savings over using disposables (cost estimate is $2000 – $2500 for disposables, birth to potty training, and only $400 or so for cloth, assuming 24 one-size diapers), but wow! It’s a big expense all at once, and if you ever lost a diaper or something, you’d be mad.
Sew Your Own
Instead, you can sew them! I designed and sewed all of mine. The average cost per diaper I sew is around $2. A lot better, right? If I used one-size diapers, I’d only have to spend about $72 on diapers. Since I use sized diapers (newborn, small, medium), I spend about $200 (this gives me 24 NB, 36 small, 36 medium, which is a rather large stash). But, that’s half of what you’d spend on purchased, one-size diapers. For a more accurate comparison, I spent about $48 on my newborn diapers, vs. $400 on purchased diapers. 8 times as much.
Sewing the diapers is NOT that hard. But, it’s good to learn from someone who’s already done it. I’m going to detail my attempts to sew diapers for you so you don’t have to make all the mistakes I did.
January, 2008: I first looked at cloth diapers seriously. Bekah was due in just a few weeks. Up until that point, people had mentioned them to me but I thought it was kind of weird. I thought it would be yucky and messy and I didn’t even want to try. Give me some disposables, I thought! But I was starting to get a little more “green” and I decided to give it a try. Since I had learned to sew some as a teenager, I couldn’t actually bring myself to pay for something I could make. This led to my first attempts.
I printed off the Mamabird pattern (then free, now $2). I decided I’d use flannel I had sitting around for the diaper, terry cloth for the soaker, and a hidden layer of PUL for the waterproof part, so it would be an AIO. I also used Aplix (like Velcro, but stronger). The first diaper I made looked crappy and seemed tiny to me. I didn’t think it would ever fit my baby and I abandoned the project temporarily and resigned myself to starting with disposables. I just couldn’t visualize the fit without a baby to try the diaper on.
February, 2008: I tried the diaper on Bekah. It was huge! I had no idea how tiny newborns really were. It also leaked inside of an hour. PUL underneath cotton flannel = bad. I thought that it would be really fabulous if I tried some with the PUL on the outside, and used buttons to secure them. I wouldn’t need a snap press, and I wouldn’t need any Aplix. I decided to make 10 like this.
March 2008: Okay, so I finished all my new AIO with PUL outer and buttons. They’re all white and boring (inside is terry cloth) and they feel wet against her skin. I’m still trying to use whatever I have around the house, although I did break down and buy some microfiber cloths for the soaker (the part that holds the wetness). I only use them for a couple weeks because with only 10, I’m always washing them and they don’t look so great anyway. They don’t leak though.
April 2008: I discover FOE (fold over elastic) and fitteds. Fabulous! I sew up a dozen of these, with flannel on the outside and Alova suedecloth on the inside (okay, I broke down and bought fabric that would wick the moisture away). Still using microfiber. I use these diapers until she grows out of them. I also sew a few (4) fitted pockets and 3 covers. The covers are just PUL bound in FOE. They have snaps on them now but I still use them. I designed the fitted pocket myself (not the concept though) by narrowing the front of the pattern and making a few other adjustments to see if it fits better. I like the fitted pockets so much, I design a medium pattern just like it and cut out 24 diapers.
June 2008: Bekah’s outgrown her small fitteds, but is way too small for the one medium I sewed as a test. Conundrum: adjust the medium, or sew more smalls? I end up sewing a bunch of smalls. This time I make her “real” pockets (PUL outer) with the opening at the back edge. I use Touchtape on these. TT is a LOT better than Aplix, in my opinion. After the first 6 or so, I try out using cloth tabs instead of cutting the whole diaper body out of PUL. This saves a LOT of PUL! I always use this on my diapers now. I use these until she is 11 months old, when I buy a snap press and start transitioning all the diapers to snaps. I still use these sometimes. Daniel wears them.
October 2008: Ben doesn’t like the fitted pockets I sewed as mediums, which Bekah has been wearing for a few months. At. All. We are stuffing with microfiber cloths, and Ben hates these too. So I start designing new medium pockets (“real” ones), with cloth tabs, and I also add a sham pocket opening to the design (this means an opening in the middle of the diaper instead of the back edge; I’ll show pictures in my tutorial in a few days). I sew 6 like this, which we use for night time. Ben loves these and wants more.
February 2009: I’ve finished my new stash of medium pockets. They’re wonderful. Bekah still wears them today. I have 36 of them.
April 2009: I’ve finished sewing 24 newborn diapers with the same design as the mediums. When I get a chance to use them, I love them.
September 2009: I sew 24 new smalls, because there isn’t quite enough elastic in my old ones to fit Daniel yet (I had 17 originally but added more). I’ve widened the front of these and changed the design slightly from the mediums. They’re so awesome, they fit BOTH kids (Bekah at 26 lbs. and Daniel at, then, 10 lbs.). When people see them, they think they’re professionally made (believe me, my early attempts did NOT look professional). I’ve contemplating sewing them…but just too busy to really commit to it.
My pattern, by the way, is available online for free: www.rctdiapers.webs.com. I will also be posting a tutorial in a few days on exactly how to sew diapers from this pattern.
Do you (or would you) use cloth diapers? Would you ever consider sewing your own?
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