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Stupid diaper making question

827 Views 21 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  our3boys
I just got a sewing machine and I have a really dumb question. What is the price difference between making an AIO and buying an AIO. I also would like to know on average how long it takes to make an AIO as opposed to other dipes. I am wondering if it an endeavor I really should delve into or not.
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Not sure that anyone has figured this up and shared the info publicly or not...

It really depends on alot of factors, like where you buy your fabric, what pattern you use, if you have to cut on the grain (stretchy fabric) or not, where you would buy your AIOs from if you were buying them, etc.

Assuming lots of stuff...

*1 yard solid PUL = about $8
--on average 2 larges, 2 mediums, 2 smalls & 1 newborn out of 1 yard of 60"
*1 yard microfleece = $7
--on average 2 larges, 2 mediums, 2 smalls & 1 newborn out of 1 yard of 60"
*1 yard hemp fleece = about $7.50
--3 layer contoured soaker per diaper
*snaps (18 sockets, 6 studs, 24 caps at .02/piece) = $0.96

So... around $4 per diaper? This would vary widely on what materials you were using and such.

Depends on what you definition of an AIO is and how long it takes you to make other dipes - which varies by what types of other dipes you mean. Depends on your skill at sewing, too.
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I have been sewing since 8. I have ONLY found the materials to make them on the same online stores most of you go to. I have never made diapers obviously and I have found the AIO's to run an average cost of $22 a piece. Can they be made cheaper than that? Really that is the question I need answered. Specifics aren't necessary if you think it would hurt any business opportunities. I hadn't thought about that sorry.
First, even if a person got all her materials for free, selling the AIO for $22 earns her less than minimum wage when she factors in the time to procure materials, make the diaper and market, sell and mail (the mail materials cost money, too). My guess would be half to 2/3 of minimum wage. Then, if she declares the money on her taxes, she has to pay the full Soc Security and maybe the income tax (depending on total income). So I would hope that people would not get upset about the "profit" she is making.

Yes, it is a lot for a diaper, but not when you think about her time and extra expenses.

That being said, it sounds like Amari's mama is probably close enough if you are going to make at least a dozen or so (you will have postage on the materials, too). I make pockets and they cost me about $3.50 to make a basic one (with Malden Mills fleece purchesed from them or from an online diaper materials store). I make a lot with the pattern I bought, so the cost of that has averaged over many diapers. I could sell that when I am done, but I probably will not. Then I have to figure in the cost of buying more fabric than I need, embroidery designs, etc. Most of us here end up putting far more into it than we had planned b/c it is also a hobby and a "labor of love" for us. You can do it for a minimum investment and save money, definitely, but consider your own personal ability/desire to stick with a budget or use this sewing for other reasons as well.

Also, if you are planning to sell your diapers when you are done, you will have to consider what you could get for the purchased AIOs and the ones that you make (our own will not typically sell well, even if the sewing is fabulous).

I make a Honeyboy pocket which are known to be labor intensive. They probably take me about 3 hours each if I make several at one time (get the production line going). The first ones you make will take longer. There are other patterns that can be put together faster. An AIO will not take me much longer to sew. I have been sewing for over 25 years but I am not generally a speed-sewer; I focus more on detail and the pleasure I get from the time in my sewing room. I have found that my time to make a diaper is often similar to "newbie sewing mamas" who have learned to sew here just so they could make diapers. Their first ones take a while, but they speed right up. So times that may be listed in various postings here will likely be similar for you.

I don't mean to discourage you. I
to sew my diapers and we favor the ones that I make (which is most of them). But it sounds like you are trying to be realistic.
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I agree that it depends on what materials you use, but I'd say that $3-4 sounds about right. I don't use super expensive materials because I'm making a small/nb stash right now--the only thing I need to buy online is Aplix and PUL, although I do also sometimes get cute knit fabrics.

I also agree that you need to factor in everything. I have two patterns, the Darling Diapers and Cuddlebuns. The CB takes me 2-3 hours per dipe, but I mostly am making fitteds there. And since it's a one size, I figure I'll get more use out of it. The DD pattern takes me about an hour, maybe an hour and a half for an AIO with PUL outer, stretch terry or velour inner and hidden layer of flannel. I do quick dry soakers mostly, so I also serge those to make them look nice, but it doesn't take long to do that part. I have also sewn for many years, so I doubt I'll get much quicker at diaper making.

I don't have *any* problem with what WAHM's charge, they deserve it! But I am too cheap to pay $22 for a diaper, and I know I'm too lazy to resell them later, so I'd rather make my own. Plus, I really love sewing and I love cute dipes, so it's a hobby for me.
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I figure my diapers cost about $5 in materials to make. I'm not a fast seamstress. It takes me about an hour and a half to make an AIO. It takes about the same time to make any diaper, fitted, pocket, AIO... the only difference is a bit more cutting for fitteds or AIO's to get the extra absorbant layers.

I only need to order PUL and Aplix online. I often buy other materials and elastic online to get a better price when I'm purchasing aplix anyway. PUL is the biggest pain for me to get since I can only really get it from American websites and it takes forever to cross the border. While I have some professional patterns, there are some great free patterns online or you can draft your own.

The biggest difference between a diaper you make yourself and one you buy is the cost of labour. You don't have to pay yourself to make the diapers so you make them for the cost of the materials. If you've already got a machine, It's very easy and cheap to try making a few diapers out of recycled fabric that you might have around or from very cheap flannel you can pick up at Wal-Mart.
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This is an interesting question. I wanted to make a stash of 12 medium VB AIOs last summer, they are great for when we are out and about, traveling, etc. Using the materials list at OSDS and the price of materials there, plus the pattern, I found it would cost me about $9 to make each diaper. Resale on 'homemade' diapers averages $3-$5 IME. I could buy used VBs for $9-$12 and resell them for $6-$10. It was clearly more cost-effective (and much easier time-wise) to buy off the TP than to make my own. Jack is just now outgrowing them, I am getting ready to sell them, and they are still in great shape.

If I preferred new diapers, I probably would have made my own as the cost difference isn't as small. VB AIOs start at $16, I know I could do much better especially if I went to co-ops for materials. I also would have made my own if I wanted to modify the pattern for fit or to add other features.

If you have the time and inclination, though, I say go for it!
I was pondering the cost difference between the VBs Kari mom was planning to make at $9 and the pockets that I make that cost about $3.50 to $4. I had forgotten to include the cost of the inserts which run another $3.50 to $4 depending on how many I order and how much shipping is. I only need one insert at a time during the day. If you needed two for a heavy wetter...
our3boys said:
I was pondering the cost difference ...
Thank goodness you did, I was beginning to wonder if I was crazy after reading the other replies!
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Pockets are the cheapest "fancy" diaper to make, and I use flats and PFs that I already have for burpclothes for inserts. Even new Gerber flats are around $9 for 12, so they are still really cheap. It cost me a few dollars per diaper and I can make a Darling Diaper pocket in less than an hour each, even faster if I am doing a few at a time. Since I am not planning on selling my diapers it is most cost effective for me to make my own, esp. when my ds gets a custom dipe that Mommy made with fabric she picked out!

Originally Posted by our3boys
I was pondering the cost difference between the VBs Kari mom was planning to make at $9 and the pockets that I make that cost about $3.50 to $4. I had forgotten to include the cost of the inserts which run another $3.50 to $4 depending on how many I order and how much shipping is. I only need one insert at a time during the day. If you needed two for a heavy wetter...
yeah, i make my soaker pads out of a microfiber towel cut in thirds. Each towel costs me 60 cents (Sam's). I top it with extra inner fabric that I have anyway because of the shape of the diaper...I always have good sized pieces left. If you buy inserts, that's a totally different calculation.

That's the thing...if you buy everything from OSDS, you are going to pay a fortune, but will probably have dipes that will still look good after one babe wears them. My dipes are made from cheaper fabric, so they probably won't be as pretty once I'm done with them, but I wasn't going to resell anyway so it didn't matter as much to me. I figure everyone says PUL starts to crack and leak in AIO's after a while anyway, so I'm not going to spend a fortune on fabric.
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THank you for the advice. I am just wondering $$$ vs time vs purchasing w/ S&H. I have a good stash of dipes now but they are fitting my DS and my soon to be out of dipes completely DD. We are planning to have more DC so I need to get a newborn supply as well. I am merely exploring ALL my options. Thank you again for all your advice and experience. It is appreciated.
I have been making honeyboy but altering the pattern a bit to suit my need, but I only spend about $2 each on them. They take me a little over an hour to assemble and sew. I use old towels for soakers and then cover them with matching flannel to the inside of the dipe, then I sew the soaker onto the diaper like a flap for fast drying. That way I don't have to stuff them. They are sooo cute.
I haven't actually used them yet, baby is still inutero, but I can't wait to. Usign recycled fabrics works great. Old towels, flannel shirts, fleece blankets, etc. Has saved us alot.
For me, it will save me money. I like cute prints on my diapers, and I swear those are always more expensive. Like Valor's Kids or Lucy's Hope Chest - GORGEOUS diapers, very well made, own a few LHC diapers myself. But even if it costs me $10 a diaper to make, I'm still saving at least $10 to buy one new. Or more.

I have found that shopping around for fabrics really helps. Joining co-ops or checking out the TP for fabric, or swaps also helps. I had something I wasn't using and am going to swap that for PUL cuts. I have a few Babykicks duz-it-alls that I'm not wild about (still use, but not wild) and I thought "Hey! I can turn those into inserts!"

The really nice thing about making them yourself is being able to customize it for you child. You have a heavy wetter? You can add more layers. Want trimmer in the crotch? You can adjust the pattern.
Depending on the fabric, snaps, etc, I can make an AIO for as little as $2 and ranging up to about $6. Buying them is usually $12+. The nice thing about making them is you can do cute details like applique for practically no monetary cost. They're just time consuming.
I'm working on my newborn stash- 36 xs very baby aio's. If I bought them, it would cost me what, maybe $600-700 for the quick-dry, souped up ones I like....that would be absolutely ridiculous for a newborn stash!! Dh would kill me
. I got all of my fabrics through co-ops (much of the fabric has been in my sewing room since the last baby!) and each diaper is costing me $3 or so. So that's maybe $110. If I want to resell them, I probably could, and not lose anything- I'm SURE people will pay $4 for an xs vb aio if it looks nice. I'll probably keep them, though, and save them, or just keep them because I like them
It's mostly for fun for me, but it's so much cheaper I think.
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FTR gals

I haven't had the chance to try out my pattern yet, but I found that while joann's doesn't carry it, hancocks carries birdseye pretty cheap (er, 4/yd maybe?) and if you are on their can occasionally get 40-50% off "one item" coupons.

I did this a couple times to purchase cuts of birdseye for like 1-2 bucks a yard

I went to one store and the birdseye was dirty and had some flaws through the fabric, that shouldn't affect usability for diapers (maybe a touch more waste..but not much) and she sold me like 10yds of it for like 5yd price, plus the 50% off. I think I spent 8 bucks for 10 yards of birdseye

That was the biggest expense in pricing out AIOs from OSDS...shipping on heavy birdseye!

I bought my pul, elastic, velcro...etc from online though
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What a deal on birdseye! FTR, though,
the Hancock stores around me don't carry birdseye...I've looked and asked many times. I agree though, it adds up with shipping.

When I did my calculations, I also didn't have time for co-ops - none of my usual haunts were co-oping everything I needed. It does raise the price to buy retail, no question about it.
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I chatted with some knowledgeable ladies at hancock (they always seem to be pretty good, compared to joann's and she said they get it in, but not very often and it sells out pretty quick when they DO get it.
I got like 10yds from one, 5 from another, and 2 from a third...

I'd ask the ladies about it, and maybe they will call you if they DO get a bolt in?
Co-op fabrics run a LOT cheaper too if you're interested in fancy(ier) fabrics - like velour, wool, hemp, PUL (or PUL prints), etc. so if you can hook up with some (I'm in one and it's overwhelming... I can't imagine more than one) then you'll be doing your diapers for a lot cheaper.

Snaps are the same way, but there are some less expensive ways to do them (buy them from a co-op or search out a good place) and you can jimmy your own snap press from a drill press and snap die sets - which if you buy a cheap/non-motorized drill press and add the $15 die set - is a heck of a lot cheaper than $90 or whatever it is for the snap press and die set normally.

Anyways... I get satisfaction from making my own diapers - I can control the fabric that goes in them (always been something I've wished for), I can change the pattern to fit my specific child and I can somewhat control the quality of the diaper (if a snap breaks or elastic goes bad, I can re-do it). So to me it may be somewhat comprable, but instead of trying to snatch TP diapers and pay shipping and all that I can spend the time giving myself a creative outlet too. I'm just weird that way.

I love sewing diapers, I'm sure I'll keep doing it for many years...
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