Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cloth Diapering Made Easy -- Sewing Tutorial

When Wyatt was born one of Jeremy's professors lent us a large stash of newborn-sized cloth diapers.  (Jeremy's profession is pretty "green" in general.)  We've done cloth diapering on and off with each of our boys, but enjoyed trying out some of the "fancier" products we'd never spent the money on.

The all-in-one cloth diapers are the easiest cloth diapers.  They have a waterproof outer cover and thick inner lining, and you either velcro or snap the diaper on the baby just like a paper diaper.  When it's wet you throw it in the wash pail, and 2-3 times a week you do laundry.

The drawbacks to the all-in-one diaper are that the laminated waterproof cover breaks down fairly quickly because you wash it every single time it is worn, and the diapers take a really long time to dry because they are so thick.  A pocket-style cloth diaper has an opening at the back where you slide in the large soaker pad, but then pull it out for laundering.  This way the thickness is in two pieces and the diapers dry faster, but still the diapers must be washed every time.

The favorite product that we tried from this stash of newborn diapers was the Thirsties wrap.  It's a waterproof cover with no inner lining.  You put a cloth diaper on the baby and then put the waterproof cover on over it.  The cloth diaper gets wet but the cover stays dry so you can reuse the cover over and over until wash day.  (I also think the wrap seems a bit smelly after a messy diaper, so I usually retire it until wash day then as well.) 
The cloth diapers we borrowed were really nice, but I already had a stash of converted prefold cloth diapers that I made when Owen was a year old.  So we bought some Thirsties covers to use with those.  It's a lot easier than the plastic pants we used with Owen and Jonas.  Pulling the plastic pants on and off can be a pain especially when there's a messy diaper involved.  We are loving the diaper wrap covers, and the best part was--we only bought three and that is all we need. 

When I was pregnant with Owen I researched a lot about cloth diapers.  I wanted it to be inexpensive and easy.  Who doesn't--right?  An idea I came across that I really liked was converting a prefold to a contoured or fitted diaper.  Adding elastic helped the fit, and adding hook and loop tape helped the user-friendliness.  Gerber Prefolds are like $20 for 12 I believe.

Prefold into Fitted Diaper Tutorial

Supplies: Prefold cloth diapers, fold-over-elastic, hook and loop tape (Velcro), scissors, thread. 

Lay out the cloth diaper and trace the pink shape on each side.  Cut out on the pink line--set that piece aside, and then trim the diaper by cutting along the green lines.  Discard the piece marked by the blue triangle.  Use the piece outlined in green to extend the tabs at the top of the diaper and make them longer.  The pink pieces cut from the sides can be unfolded to create an oval shape.  Lay 4-6 of these on top of each other and serge or zigzag the edges together to make "doublers" for nap time or bedtime or bigger kids. 

Fold the elastic over the raw edge of the diaper to bind the edges.  Pull to stretch out the elastic as you sew along the back waist area and the two long sides that will stretch around the thighs.  (If you can't find fold-over-elastic you can surge the edges or bind them with something else but you will want to sew some 1/4 inch elastic at the back waistband and along the legs first.  Sew it in between the layers of the diaper so it's not against the  skin.)

Sew on hook and loop tape.  The placement of loop tape makes this diaper fit a number of sizes baby through toddler age.  Sewing a loop tape to the inside of the tabs allows you to secure the hook tape when washing so it doesn't stick to all the laundry. 

 Fold the top inside and overlap the tabs for infants.  Fold the top inside and use the large front hook tape for a bigger baby (that's the stage Wyatt is at right now.)  For toddlers leave the front up and use the hook tape in the upper corners.

We used to use these plastic pants, and they are still an acceptable option.  I love the wrap style of our new covers--it makes it really convenient.  Some people also like wool covers so they can avoid using plastics.  Any of those covers will work with these fitted cloth diapers. 

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