A case FOR sewing Cloth Diapers
When you sew something you are obviously saving money - but when making fabric diapers it is not just about the money.It is a lot of other things, just as important.
There is this belief ( I believe and many more do - see this article) that cloth diapers are better for my baby than the chemical filled store bought diapers.
It is also about the environmental impact you are leaving behind. I read here that it can take up to 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose in landfills. The baby will have to live in this world which is already filled with all the plastic waste that it can afford.
True that the disposable diapers can make the baby really comfortable, keeping him dry. But don't you take it to the extreme and keep it on for longer. With the cloth diaper, you inevitably change it as soon as it is wet. Or the baby will make sure that you do !
The fact that you can make these beauties in the prints of your choice, in the colours of your choice doesnot influence you? Well, that was a major one for me in favour of cloth diapers when I used them for my kids.
Then the thought in the back of your mind that your next child or your (not yet married at that time) sister's kid will inherit the cloth diapers - The idea of Recycling tickling my Uncle Scrooge bones. This was big for me.
The cloth diaper wins hands down in all ways, in spite of the convenience of the store bought one.
If you have decided to sew your own diaper the types of diapers you can make are many: The flat cloth ones, prefolds or fitted diapers and their many variations. The plain flat cloth ones are folded by you and fastened with a pin; the Prefolds are just fabric folded and prestitched. The fitted diapers are a replica of the ones you buy - they can be all in one or with a separate insert. The one with the inserts are diapers which have pockets for keeping in extra inserts -ie you put an absorbent padding into a pocket that is built into the diaper. My advice is, if you want a full coverage make the fitted ones. Then there are water proof diaper covers which you can use over cloth diapers which donot have waterproof covering.
What are the things you need to start making the cloth diapers
If you have a serger you have it easy. But this is absolutely not essential for making your own cloth diapers. A zig zag machine is enough
For a cloth diaper you will need 3 layers of fabric and if you want a waterproof layer that will be additional.
Cotton, wool, hemp and bamboo are the usual fabrics used to make diapers, because they are breathable, absorbent, and soft. Choose organic avatars of these fabrics to be more safe.
Outer layer - Cotton fleece , cotton french terry are the favourites fabrics for making cloth diapers; they are thick enough and smooth on one side where you can print your designs or embroider or face towards the baby's body so that he is comfortable.Flannel is also great, but you have to take into consideration that it doesnot stretch. You will also have to source good quality flannel as there are many types.Polyester fleece also maybe suitable as outer covers.
Inner layer - Polyester microfleece is a good fabric as an inner layer for diapers; It is soft enough to keep near the baby's body, and also very water absorbent.This material is good for making inner layers of the cloth diapers because it stays dry. Suedecloth( a 100% polyester fabric) , cotton french terry are all good choices for inner fabric
Water proof layer -PUL (Polyurethane Laminated Polyester is a knit fabric with a plastic backing; this is used as a waterproof outer layer for diapers.High quality Polyester fleece can also be water proof to a degree.Check out this post on the different types of waterproof / water resistant material you can use for making the water proof layer)
Inserts : Microfiber is an inexpensive but quite effective fabric that can be used for making inserts. Microfiber is not so good for touching the baby's body but as inserts they are the best.
When you are practicing, try to use an old receiving blankets/ old sheet to make the diapers. For making the flat diapers you can even use old tshirts.
Needle and thread
Use polyester thread because it is strong. You will be sewing lots of layers and you need a sturdy thread. The cotton thread can retain moisture and remain wet for longer than polyester. If you are using a waterproof material for your diaper you will have to use a ball point needle.Knits also sew well with ball point needle
Diapers are fastened with Diaper pins, velcro bands and snaps.
Baby Diaper pins are the most convenient from a sewing point of view - no need to bother with sewing up any closures on the diapers. Just fasten with the safety baby pins. But pins can get frustrating after a point - the layers of fabric which have to be pinned maybe beyond the capacity of the pin you have; most lose the sharp point after some time.
If you are using velcro ( hook and loop) better choose a good quality one. Most cheap ones lose their joining capacity after a few washes. 1" velcro strips are the most used. Snaps are the best closures. They are easy to remove, donot get damaged in the wash, no fear of them piercing or irritating the baby skin
Elastic is used for a snug fit along the legs. 1/4 inch wide elastic is enough for making diapers
Tips for sewing Homemade Fabric Diapers
You need really absorbent fabric for making cloth diapers. Fabric straight from the shops have stiffness in them and which makes it less absorbent. Do prewash the fabric atleast 3 times in hot and cold water before making them into diapers. This will make the fabric, whether it is cotton, hemp or bamboo, more absorbent than off the shelves.
You may need to make many many cloth diapers if you do decide to use only these - like say about 24 numbers or to be extra cautious 36
The easiest way to make a cloth diaper is to fold a big piece of absorbent cotton to a rectangle of size approximately 20 inches by 10 inches. Place the baby on this folded fabric and then take one short edge and pin its corners to the waist. You need to use special diaper pins for this
Another idea for a newborn baby is to cut an 18 inch square fabric diagonally by the center to make a triangle shape. Use this as a cloth diaper with the pins; Of course, this is just a temporary diaper till the baby wets it.
Free Patterns for making Cloth Diapers
(Click on the pictures to go to the relevant pages)
This is a beautiful downloadable Free cloth diaper pattern and sewing instructions from themafiatutu blog
This free diaper pattern has instructions for making a back pocket which is the highlight - but apprently this feature means you can only make personal diapers, not sew it and sell it, because it is patented.
Free Cloth Pattern from mamacandoit
This is a fitted cloth diaper pattern ( Printable) which is one size fits all with step by step instructions; they even have a video
Sewing instructions to make quick and easy pinnable Diapers that you will need to use with plastic pants or a diaper wrap from nevadamidwife.com