Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sew a Fitted Cloth Diaper

by Dianna’s Journal

Tutorial - Here are my instructions on sewing a fitted cloth diaper. It's so easy!! Learn how to here
Any cotton fabric will work. You can use old clothing, old flannel sheets, old towels, old receiving blankets, if you want "free" fabric. You can check out the $1/yard table at Walmart for some cotton fabric. You can purchase flannel fairly inexpensively; at Walmart it's about $2.50/yard for some prints, and you can look at JoAnn Fabrics and see if you can find some on clearance. Any flannel will do, there's quilter's flannel, diaper flannel, and "cuddly" flannel.

You'll need thread, sew-on velcro (1.5" preferably), and elastic (3/8").

Whenever you stitch, make sure to backstitch at the beginning and at the end of your stitching. (That means, stitch forward, then backwards, then forward again). This will prevent your stitches from coming undone.

Step 1
First, get your pattern. I traced a diaper I already had, and altered it some. It's not hard, just get the general shape, and with subsequent diapers, you can lengthen or shorten whatever doesn't seem to fit right.

If you're making your own pattern, I suggest tracing half the diaper, then folding the pattern in half to get the rest so the diaper is identical on either side.

Step 2
Cut 2 pieces of your good fabric. This is flannel I bought at Walmart for $2.50/yard.

Step 3
Cut 1 or 2 pieces of your inside fabric, using the same pattern. This particular fabric is a cotton knit (kind of like t-shirt material), that I bought from Walmart's $1/yard table. Isn't it ugly? I like to use 2 inner pieces for a thicker diaper, but you can use only 1 if you prefer.

Step 4
Get your soaker pad. You can use fabric scraps (like the one on the right), or a washcloth, part of a terry towel, etc. I like the soaker to be about the length of a washcloth. On the right is a microfiber towel I bought for $1.10 on clearance at Meijer's. It's the same size as a washcloth. If I was using it, I would fold it in thirds, and stitch around it to hold it in place. Walmart also has cheap washcloths for like 12 for $4, and those work fine too. The microfiber towels hold a LOT of liquid, and with one of those as a pad, the diaper will easily go all night.

This time, I'm using the fabric scraps. They don't all quite fit evenly in the rectangle, but that's ok. I stitched a straight stitch all the way around it, and evened out the edges with a scissors.

Step 5
Sew the soaker pad to one of the center pieces. Make sure it's in the very center of the diaper. I did a zig zag stitch at the very edges of the soaker pad, all the way around it.

Step 6
Pin all 4 layers together. You want the outer fabric's right sides facing each other, at the very center. You notice I've got the black checks facing outwards, so that the whiter side is towards the outer layers. This is so the black checks don't show through to the outside of the diaper.

So at the very bottom, there's the black check fabric, black checks facing downwards. On top of it, there's the blue fabric, right side facing upwards. On top of that one, there's another blue fabric, right side facing downwards. On top of that one, there's the one you see, which has the black checks facing upwards.

Make sure to get all the edges as even as you can with each other when you pin it together.

Step 7
Sew a straight stitch all the way around the diaper, leaving the front part (that's towards the bottom in the picture) open. Cut with a scissors all the way around where you've stitched, fairly close to the hem. Make sure not to cut too close that you cut your stitching!! Clip (cut towards your seam WITHOUT nicking it) around the curves a little bit.

Step 8
Fold the diaper lengthwise in half, and mark where you want your elastic to go. I used a pink highlighter, use whatever works. You fold it in half to do it so the elastic is evenly spaced. I usually do it an inch or two away from the end. Do the same thing for the leg elastic. Start near the tab and end near the front somewhere. (it doesn't matter that much where it goes, just make both sides even).

Step 9
Take the elastic and hold or pin it where your first mark is. You'll want to sew it along the seam, in line with the straight stitch that's on there. With the sewing machine, you'll use a very small straight stitch, going forwards and backwards over and over a few times to tack it down. Then switch the machine to a large zig zag stitch, without taking the diaper off the machine. While stretching the elastic with one hand, and pulling the diaper through the machine with the other, zig zag the elastic down to where the 2nd mark is. Tack down that end of the elastic, then cut it off. Do the same thing with both legs, along with the back.

This is what it'll look like with the back done:

This is what it'll look like with the back and the leg elastics done:

Step 10
Turn the diaper right side out. It'll look like this, then:

Step 11
Fold the front flap in, and pin it shut.

Step 12
Sew closely to the edge of the front, to securely close the gap.

Step 13
This step is optional (I've made a few diapers without it), but it makes for a really nice finish to it, and keeps everything inside better. This creates a kind of "cuff" at the waist, and legs.

You can iron the seams, so they stay open better, or pull them out all the way and pin along them. You'll pull the elastic to stretch it, and pin along side it (not on it).

While stretching the elastic, sew a straight stitch next to it (where you pinned), keeping the seam as flat as you can.

This is what the waist will look like after you do that:

This is what it will look like after you do the waist and legs:

Step 14
Time for the velcro! Pin a length of the loop part to the front, exterior of the diaper.

Step 15
Sew a zig zag stitch all the way around the velcro to secure it. For the tabs, cut a piece of hook, and zig zag it all the way around. It's best to place it as close to the end of the tab as you can. This is what it will look like with all the velcro on it.

And this is what it'll look like, completed, and closed. That was easy, wasn't it?

ADDED UPDATE 2/26/2008
To answer questions in comments, yes a fitted diaper needs a cover of some sort. Gerber plastic pants, or whatever, just something for over top, because the flannel will wick onto clothing. If you make the outer layer out of PUL (so make it an AIO), it will take forever to dry in the dryer, and will wick out of the legs if it gets wet enough.

Personally, I think this particular pattern isn't a very good one... what I would use these instructions for are to understand the sewing concepts of making a diaper, rather than totally copying the pattern (although you can if you want, of course). When I first started out sewing diapers, it took a lot of figuring out what they meant by "put in the leg elastic" without good pictures, and that's what this tutorial will hopefully help you all with.

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