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muttix2 12-18-2005 02:03 AM

I tried to make some cloth diapers a month or so ago and failed horribly. I'd never operated a sewing machine before then and had trouble even making a straight line. I ran out of fabric (had only bought a little) and quit.

I am now trying again. I have a couple days of disposables left for each boy, when they are gone I need to be able to at least have a day or two's worth of diapers. I can't afford to buy new disposables and the materials for cloth diapers.

So, here's my questions. I need the easiest, free pattern you've used. So far this one looks like the easiest. But there are some things I don't understand.

1. How do I cut out the diaper pattern? She doesn't say the measurements on this dipe, do I just measure my baby? If so, where? The little one is in a size 4 Huggies Supreme (but will grow out of that soon) and the older one is in a 2T-3T Huggies Pull Up and he's potty training so he won't be going up a size in the dipes I make for him.

2. Once I have the measurements how do I transfer that into dipe measurements?

3. Could I add elastic to the waist of this diaper? Would it be too much trouble?

4. What is stretch terry and how is it different from regular terry? Can I use old towels or should I buy new terry?

5. Is sewing a zig zag hard?

6. Can I serge with a normal sewing machine?

7. What is loop and hook Velcro? I have some normal Velcro (one strip is the sticky side, another strip is the catchy side, if that makes sense), could I use that instead?

8. What are fold back tabs?

Sorry for all the questions but I have no idea about how to make diapers. I'd like to make the bulk of them (a couple days worth for each) tomorrow while I have people around to watch my kids. Please answer as much as you can as fast as you can. Websites that explain this stuff would also be helpful. Please keep in mind that I am very, very new to sewing so don't know all the jargon. Thanks!

Jes'sBeth 12-18-2005 03:24 AM

Don't worry! You CAN do this! LOTS of people on this board learned to sew while making diapers for their children.

My favourite free pattern (it's really a set of patterns) is found here:

That link will show you how to make flats, prefolds and fitteds (either stuffable or not) The instructions are pretty clear and they suggest lots of ways to save money on fabrics by recycling stuff... t-shirts, sheets, old towels etc all work well in diapers. I myself used old towels for inserts for my pockets and they work GREAT! The fitted pattern there is on a grid... you just draw it out on big paper that you've set out a 1" by 1" grid. It's pretty easy. The best way to adjust from that is make one diaper out of cheap fabric (i use left over fabric from my curtains that I had to trim lots off of to get them to fit properly.) and see how it fits. Then you can see how it fits your child and start playing with your pattern, adding in places or taking away from places. You can also compare the diaper you sew to the disposables you're finishing off.

Stretch terry has some stretch to it which helps it to hug your baby. You can add elastic instead and use old towels and you'll be fine. You're baby is going to poo in the diapers so I think recycled towels are great. Much cheaper. If you can find a tag, get ones that are 100% cotton or as high in cotton content as you can get. The ones that have polyester in them don't absorb as well. you'll learn pretty quickly by feel which ones will absorb and which ones don't. I used one that had a pretty high polyester content when I started. It still works, it just doesn't hold as much liquid.

zig zag's are easy. There should be a setting on your machine. You just set it to zig zag and the machine will do all the work for you. You sew straight and the needle will go back and forth to create the zig zag. You can use it when you need the fabric to stretch where you sewed. You can also sew elastic with it. Remember you can control the length of the stitch and the width of your stitch when you're sewing a zig zag stitch.

You can't serge per se on a sewing machine but you can mimic a serger by tightly zig zagging around the edge of your fabric. One half of the stitch is on the material and the other half is JUST off the fabric. That will keep the edges from fraying.

Hook and loop and velcro are the same thing. Velcro a brand name of a hook and loop closure. Other brand names are Aplix and Touchtape. Touchtape is really grippy. Aplix is softer. They all work. Velcro brand tends to wear out faster but I've used it successfully in pockets and had it work well for 4-5 months on diapers we're using now.

Fold back tabs are just loop fabric sewn onto the diaper close to the hook tabs so that when you throw the diaper in the laundry you stick the hook part to it and then it doesn't stick to everything in the wash. VERY useful! It keeps the hook part of your velcro good for longer and keeps gunk out of them.

The library is a GREAT resource for sewers. They almost always have some basic sewing books that will definately be able to help you with basic sewing terminology and practise.

Congratulate yourself on taking on a good first project. You'll be sewing great diapers in no time!

muttix2 12-18-2005 08:46 AM

Thank you so much! Off to check out that website!

muttix2 12-18-2005 09:41 AM

Ok, that diaper looks much easier. I'm looking at the fitted pattern. I don't know what those things are that are holding the pattern down on the shirt, can I just pin it down? Also, do I trace around the pattern or just try to cut around it with it pinned to the fabric?

Jes'sBeth 12-18-2005 11:26 AM

Those are just weights holding it down. Don't worry, you don't need those ones. You can pin the pattern down or trace around it and cut it out. I trace and cut since that's how I get the most accurate results. Lots of people just cut around the pattern though, especially if they're using a rotary cutter (looks like a pizza cutter) You can use soup cans to weigh down as well.

I think it's easiest if you don't have a rotary cutter to either trace and cut or pin and cut. tracing allows you to use the same pattern over and over before you cut. Pinning can put a lot of holes in your pattern too. It's really up to you. My mom always used to pin her patterns down and cut so that's how I started. I don't like rotary cutters yet... I'm not very good at curves and find I have more control over my scissors. Really though, I find tracing easiest.

Hope you have a lot of fun! Remember, make 1 first, make any changes you need and when you have one you like, THEN cut out and sew a whole bunch!

beepsmnms 12-18-2005 12:17 PM

There is a sticky on the front of this forum called Diaper Pattern Resources there are several free patterns on there. My favorite one is the Mamabird and there is another one for a One Size. It turns out super cute too. You'll get the hang of this diaper sewing, I've only been doing it a lil over a month and its very addicting. All the free patterns are pretty easy to sew. I can give you a couple pointers that I didn't bother researching when i began... I found that if you use polyester thread its stronger and if you're making an AIO (all in one) pee doesnt wick thru the thread for the most part. Also on the the sticky of the pattern resources, the ottobre pattern runs big so it works great for us as a Diaper Cover. If you have any old wool sweaters you can turn them into covers or longies really cheap. The link to that is here PP is right, everyone tweaks their patterns differently so make one then tweak it til you like it and cut out a bunch. I need to get to sewing more myself. HTH

muttix2 12-18-2005 03:53 PM

Thanks. I'm getting ready to cut out my first diaper now. I'm going to use a mix of the diaper sewing fitted pattern and the fern and fairie fitted pattern. Basically, I'm using the directions from both and where I don't understand the directions on one, I'm cross referencing the other I think I may have to run to the store to get one of those sewing grid pad things before I can start though. I'm going to try one w/out it though b/c the bus doesn't run today so I'd have to walk to the transit center or pay through the nose at the fabric store near me.

Off to make my first diaper! Hopefully the next time I post it will be with pics!

muttix2 12-18-2005 04:34 PM

Can't believe I didn't think about this, but what about the waterproof layer? I don't have/can't afford PUL right now, is there anything else I can do? I do crochet and have some acrylic yarn that I was making dh a blanket with for Christmas, could I make a soaker out of that? Would that keep my kids dry when they need to be (outside the house, naps, etc)? Or would I need to actually get wool? I'm going to ask this question in the yarn crafts part also.

beepsmnms 12-18-2005 04:56 PM

Originally Posted by muttix2
Can't believe I didn't think about this, but what about the waterproof layer? I don't have/can't afford PUL right now, is there anything else I can do? I do crochet and have some acrylic yarn that I was making dh a blanket with for Christmas, could I make a soaker out of that? Would that keep my kids dry when they need to be (outside the house, naps, etc)? Or would I need to actually get wool? I'm going to ask this question in the yarn crafts part also.
I finally this last week splurged on some PUL because the place had free shipping and cheap PUL by the yard. But.. before that I had been using the vinly pants form walmart, they suck but they work also, did you look at that butt sweater link I sent you to make them out of recycled sweaters? Once those are made up THAT is your waterproof layer. If you dont want longies, dont put the legs on it and just hem or finish the edge of the short legs with a large zig zag stitch. Do you know how to felt the wool sweaters? Wash and dry in hot, as hot as you can get it, do it before you make the covers so the covers themselves dont shrink too much ( i made that mistake). Also, that grid thingy from the store, its expensive IMO, I just got a large piece of wall paper and drew 1"x1" squares on it, and acutally I don't even use it now that all my patterns are cut out, I just cut out on my table now. You can make one of those grid boards out of cardboard too if you really want one.
ps: ive only seen a very few of the croched soakers, most I've seen are knitted or made out of recycled wool sweaters.

muttix2 12-18-2005 05:13 PM

I saw that and it looks good but I don't have any wool sweaters or any access to any right now. I'll likely try that when I have more time to get materials but right now I have the yarn in my closet so I figured if I could use it I would.

beepsmnms 12-18-2005 05:54 PM

I'd just browse the internet for a crochet pattern for them, I'm sure theyre out there, dont know if they are free or not though. You might try other posts too.

muttix2 12-18-2005 06:18 PM

Thanks. I have a pattern from when I was going to make dipes awhile ago. I just didn't know if I could use acrylic instead of wool. I've found something that says that it should be ok, not as absorbant but ok which is all I need.

muttix2 12-18-2005 06:35 PM

What does "right side up" mean with fabric? I am using both fabric from old shirts and stuff and some store bought fabric.

Jes'sBeth 12-18-2005 06:46 PM

The right side is the side you want to show. If you're using an old t shirt and you want the label out, the label side would be your right side. Some other fabric has better colour on one side than the other. That's your right side on that fabric. Other fabric, looks the same on both sides. It's your choice what you want. Often you stitch things right side together (good sides in) and then flip it inside out.

acryllic will work you just have to wash it more.

crocheting will totally work. I don't have a link for you but I'm sure there's a free pattern somewhere online...

deliarose 12-19-2005 12:16 AM

There is not much for me to add, but good luck! All the pp said it all. You can do it!

deliarose 12-20-2005 01:27 AM
This is a free soaker cover that is crocheted. It is more of a wrap style, but I think it is cute. This is another style
This is one may need some adjusting, but it is crocheted.

LeosMama 12-20-2005 01:50 PM

Beep finds PUL jackets at thrift stores and can get one cover per coat. You have to look for the tag inside it that says "polyurethane" and "polyester" it must say both of these things.

But really, you can go to the thrift store and buy wool sweaters or 100% acrylic sweaters or sweaters that are a blend of wool and acrylic (stay away from cotton or other plant fibers). Acrylic has to be washed more often than wool, but it is machine washable, so no big deal.

You can also try using fleece baby blankets or old fleece sweaters (100% polyester fleece, not cotton fleece). Use two layers to make covers from these.

In a pinch, I have a friend who would use a plastic produce bag from the grocery store and cut out the corners for leg holes and use this as a cover. Looks funny, but it works.

Your entire household will begin to look like diaper making supplies when you get a bit more comfortable with what fabrics are good for which parts of the diaper.

LeosMama 12-20-2005 01:52 PM

Oh yeah, and also check out Inca's diaper pattern, it is in the sticky at the top of this forum. It is super-simple and she says it contains poopies very well.

muttix2 12-20-2005 03:18 PM

Thank you so much!

I didn't know that you could use fleece as a cover. I'll have to look around and see if I have any.

I've got the pieces cut out to one diaper for my baby (trying to potty train older one so his dipes are less priority), I didn't realize that it would take so long I though that I could make at least 2 diapers on Sunday but it ended up taking longer to trace/pin/cut out than I thought Today I'm cutting out a couple more and once the boys go to bed I'm going to try to sew a diaper!

Thanks for all the links, I'm on my way to check them out.

Jes'sBeth 12-20-2005 04:03 PM

it gets faster after you have more experience too. I like to work in blocks. I'll trace 5 or so diapers, then cut them all out then pin, taking each diaper to the next step as I go and then starting on the next step. I'll only do this though If I know I like my pattern first.

Everyone has a step they don't like much. I'm not a big fan of cutting out. icky! But what can you do?

About the fleece... yep, it works like a charm. You'll probably want 2 layers of fleece for a good overnight cover unless it's really thick to start with.

tuffykenwell 12-20-2005 04:39 PM

Here is a link to a bunch of PDF downloads for cloth diapers including "draft your own diaper pattern" (third on the list) which I think is excellent!

Good luck!


LeosMama 12-20-2005 04:41 PM

once you get a diaper pattern shape that you like and plan to stick with for awhile, i recommend tracing it onto cardboard and using an exacto or box cutter to cut it out. this way you can skip all that pinning and just trace around it then use scissors to cut it out. so much faster! i use my son's washable markers to trace with.

muttix2 12-20-2005 06:32 PM

I'm glad I checked back in here before doing my cutting. I haven't tested the dipe on the baby yet. So, no more cutting for me today, I'm going to try and get the one I have cut sewn together when they go to bed tonight.

Thanks for the links, I downloaded a few of them and will look at them when I have more time. Took a quick glance though and they seem cool. The cardboard idea is a good one, I'm going to try it out when I find the pattern(s) I like. What would I use to trace it, a fabric pencil? Or would just anything work since I'd be tracing outside of the part that I'd be using? Kids are up from nap (not that my older ds ever actually napped he's just "up" from quiet time ), I'll check in later.

LeosMama 12-20-2005 06:59 PM

i use my son's washable crayola markers usually. sometimes i use a sharpie and make sure to cut inside the line or that it will be a T&T diaper (I use a pale color too) or on the inside of the layer. but the washable markers is the best.
except one time i put the diaper on him right after making it and carried him around the house (no cover on, dumb) and after awhile dh said "What happened to your shirt?" the orange marker which is water soluble had bled all over the diaper and my shirt!
now i'm sure to wash them first and no more orange problems!

beepsmnms 12-20-2005 07:34 PM

Trace? I don't trace. I cut out around the diaper, pin the diaper together and sew it up. UGH, I really need to take a sewing class.

LeosMama 12-20-2005 07:41 PM

why would you need to take a sewing class?! read the email i just sent you about everyone doing it differently and one way not being better or smarter than another.
you know how to do what works for you.
personally, i can't stand pins and don't use them when making diapers. hate pins hate them hate them hate them. dh thinks i'm nuts not to use pins as he pins everything when he sews. he says i need to take a sewing class! (he taught me to sew, so what does that say about his teaching? )

beepsmnms 12-20-2005 07:46 PM

Originally Posted by LeosMama
why would you need to take a sewing class?! read the email i just sent you about everyone doing it differently and one way not being better or smarter than another.
you know how to do what works for you.
personally, i can't stand pins and don't use them when making diapers. hate pins hate them hate them hate them. dh thinks i'm nuts not to use pins as he pins everything when he sews. he says i need to take a sewing class! (he taught me to sew, so what does that say about his teaching? )
your husband sews? Maybe I don't need a sewing class, maybe I need a husband.

LeosMama 12-20-2005 08:53 PM

if it's something you can make with your hands, he can do it (except he doesn't seem interested in knitting so far, but if i asked him to help, he would probably teach himself). He doesn't seem to be concerned about what any other man would ever think of him. He has his own standards of what is masculine and manly. I like his version better than the standard cultural expectations.
Sorry to gush, can't help it sometimes.

muttix2 12-20-2005 09:22 PM

I'm going to have to find ds' markers so I can use them next time, that a good idea. (we learned that "washable" isn't so washable when applied liberally to carpet ).

How do I sew the curves of the diaper? I've got it all pinned together ready to sew (have already sewn the soaker in and am very proud of myself ) but I don't want to mess it up on this step. I'm using my sister's machine and it doesn't have fancy things, just a straight stitch and a zig zag stitch function. She doesn't have the manual. So, should I just go straight and then move the fabric? And if that's so, I can see why people buy sergers!

muttix2 12-20-2005 09:23 PM

And that is so cool that your dh sews! Mine won't so much as help me pick out fabric

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