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Trials and Errors of a Homemade Diaper

feature trials and errors of a homemade diaper

Concerning sewing a cloth diaper:

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When Doll was around a month old and I first started looking into cloth diapering, it was inevitable that in my research I would come across the option of making my own diapers. Lots of people make cloth diapers. At the time, that knowledge didn’t help me at all because I was still trying to figure out the differences between the different kinds of diapers and which one I should get. But I did tuck that tid bit in the back of my mind.

And it’s been rolling around I there ever since (more than a year).

I started looking into tutorials and free patterns of pocket diapers recently. I read lots of posts, downloaded lots of patterns, and watched my fair share of YouTube videos.

And it looked totally doable,

as opposed to the last time I looked and it was way out of my sewing league.

The only thing keeping me from actually doing it now was materials. Oh, I had them, all right. I have a stash of PUL. But I didn’t want to use it in case I totally botched the diaper. And I have lots of fleece, but same dilemma.

First world problems, eh?

And I just wasn’t sure what materials to use instead. How could I make a diaper without PUL?

Turns out: easily.

It’s pretty common to make pocket diapers without that PUL exterior, so I learned.

What should I use for the wicking fabric, if not my fleece?

Again, simple: old fleece.

I have plenty of old fleece from pajamas and such. Not to mention scraps from making Doll’s car seat poncho (I’ll write that post another time).

I already had elastic from making repairs to her existing diapers (another post for another time, if you want to know about that).

And I have thread in abundance, having bought tons of it for pennies on eBay (before finding out its mostly crap). We’ll call that scrap or prototype thread.

And so I made my first cloth diaper.

I chose an old pair of board shorts for the shell (because I liked the pattern and didn’t know what on earth else I could ever use that scrap material for).

I chose an old red fleece shirt for the lining.

I even had “scrap” elastic that I had cut for a previous project but never used. They weren’t the length I thought I needed, but they were close enough and I was stoked to find a use for them.

I chose one of Doll’s diapers that was somewhat stretched out (it was on its way to the fix-it pile) and REALLY roughly (and I do mean REALLY) traced the outline straight onto my fabric, stretching the elastics out their last little bit to get the approximate size right.

No, I didn’t even make a pattern. Normally when I do something like this I trace the item being copied onto newspaper or tissue paper but I really didn’t expect this diaper to work out. Not to mention I could only work on it while Doll was sleeping so I was cutting corners right from the get go.

I traced the bottom edge up to the leg elastics. Then doing my best to keep that edge lined up, I stretched out one of the legs and traced it. Then I traced the top edge.

Then I cut another corner: I eyeballed the middle of the straight edges, folded the fabric in half with the full side I had traced showing on top, and cut. The goal being to get the two sides symmetrical without having to actually trace the second side.

It worked surprisingly well but obviously when I make another diaper I will do this part properly. I mean, I’ll do all the parts properly.

So that was the board shorts material. Now I laid that on the fleece shirt and cut it out with plenty of seam allowance. In fact, the seam allowance varied quite a bit. Sometimes wide, sometimes narrow. As I said, cutting corners.

Weirdly enough they came out to just about the exact same size once I was done. *shrug*
I marked where the pocket opening was then sewed both pieces right sides together, not sewing the pocket opening.

Trimmed off the excess seam allowance (except the pocket opening).

Then I picked my two shorter elastic scraps and tacked each end down (stretched as far as the elastic possibly could go) on either side of the pocket opening on both fabrics. Not right against the edge of the fabric though, but with enough fabric to fold over the elastic with a bit to spare.

Then I folded the seam allowance over the elastic and sewing along its rough edge (not the folded edge) so that the elastic was encased but not actually sewn on (except at either end). I did this with both sides of the pocket (the fleece and the board shorts).

Turns out I was a little too generous with how big to make the pocket opening given how much my elastic scraps would stretch so then I sewed along the edge of the fabrics again until I got to where the elastics actually started.

That was probably the hardest part of the whole shebang. Not joking. (An since you can’t tell tone from typed words I’ll say: it wasn’t actually hard, just the hardest part of this project).

Now I eyeballed where the leg elastics would go and, once again, stretching them as far as possible I pinned the ends down. The tricky part (possibly unnecessary) was that the elastics were on the inside (wrong side of the fabrics) but I pinned the edges of the elastic from the outside (the right side). I did this by holding the end of the elastic where I wanted it to go, then turning the diaper right side out and finding the elastic end, pinning it through both layers of fabric.

Boy, that’s hard to explain! Did anyone understand that at all??

Anyway, I did that with both leg elastics then I turned the diaper right side out and began top stitching along the edge. When I got to a leg elastic, I would go along the edge until I could make a right turn and sew across the beginning of the elastic. I went over each end quite a few times. Then I would pull the fabric so the elastic was fully stretched and go alongside the elastic (like I did with the pocket opening) so the elastic was encased but not sewn on. Then at the end of the elastic I would make another 90° turn and go over its end a couple time before continuing with the top stitching.

So pleased with the result so far!

finished diaper without fastenings

Finished diaper without any fastenings.

backside design of finished diaper without any fastenings.

Backside of finished diaper.

I don’t have snaps and I considered waiting until I could order some but… it looked too good and I wanted to try it out. On Doll, I mean.

So I used “hook and loop tape”, which is just Velcro but nobody making diapers actually calls it Velcro, for some reason. I honestly can’t remember if mine is name brand Velcro or if it’s generic.

And I found out that I should have put it on waaaaay earlier. Because my diaper was already basically finished I couldn’t sew the fastening to just one layer; it had to go through both. Oh well. Not a big deal. That’s why this is a learning diaper!

Finished diaper, with hook and loop tape.
Oh, and when I added the hook part (the scratchy side of Velcro), I sewed a bit of the inner netting material from the board shorts right underneath so that when I put this diaper in the wash I can just flip those up to cover it so this diaper doesn’t snag on everything it touches.

net cover tabs for hook tape

And that’s it! All done!
Of course the diaper is not perfect. I had a problem with the bobbin a couple times so I got some thread-mess on the bottom of the work but I wasn’t about to go back and fix it (especially since it was along one of the leg elastics!).

bunched thread on homemade pocket diaper
All in all a success. Will sew again. Will consider using new and proper materials next time (but will probably do another practice diaper and actually make a pattern this time).

Sorry I didn’t take pictures while I was making this. As I said, cutting corners, in a rush.

Here’s some more pictures of it anyway:





And just a note: I hate that it doesn’t use snaps. No matter how excited I am to get my next diaper in the rotation, I will wait for snaps.

So what do you think?  Any tips to share?  Any comments or questions?  Or just tell me if you make yours a different way and what materials you used!  I’d love to hear whatever you have to say!

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