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How to Replace the Elastic in Your Cloth Diapers

Replacing Cloth Diapers Elastics jaclynbree.com

Concerning Cloth Diapers:

Have you ever gotten to a  point with your cloth diapers where you start snapping them smaller to make up for the elastics being so stretched out?

I have been there.  I am currently there.  And have been for a while.  I keep replacing elastics but you don’t realize just how many diapers you have until the elastics start needing replaced two at a time.

I keep pulling a couple out of rotation to get fixed but then they tend to just sit on my sewing pile because I forget or other projects are more urgent.

But I finally got around to fixing one AND taking pictures while I did!  Talk about multi-tasking, eh?

Now when I talk about replacing the elastics I’m talking about diapers where the elastic is encased.  Not serged.  I’m not even sure it’s worth the effort to replace serged-in elastics.

So not counting those devilish serged elastics, there are still two ways for the elastic to be attached to the diaper.  The elastic can be attached at either end and be “loose” within the casing or it can be attached at either end and also be sewn along its entire length within the casing.

Obviously the easiest elastic to replace is the one that is free within the casing.  I’ll briefly outline how to replace the elastic if this is the case:

  1. Open up each end of the casing to expose the ends of the elastic.  Cut the elastic and pull it out.  Use a safety pin to thread a new elastic through and sew it onto the where the old elastic stubs are.  Reclose the casing.
  2. Open up each end of the casing to expose the ends of the elastic and use a seam ripper to free the old elastic and pull it out.  Use a safety pin to thread a new elastic through and sew it onto the seam allowance hidden in the casing at the same place the old elastic was.  Reclose the casing.

Now if your elasatic is sewn in through its entire length there are also a couple option:

  1. Open up each end of the casing to expose the ends of the elastic.  Use a safety pin to thread a new elastic through the casing alongside the old elastic.  Sew the ends on right alongside the old and reclose the casing.
  2. Open up the entire casing and use a seam ripper to free the old elastic.  Sew the ends of the new elastic where the ends of the old were.  Reclose the casing, being careful to NOT sew on top of the new elastic.

In the following pictures I will demonstrate how to do two of these methods: open up the entire casing to replace an elastic and opening only the ends.

The diaper I happened to be fixing did not have the elastic sewn into the casing so you will have to use you imagination to picture the beautiful photographs I could have taken of me tediously removing the stitches along the entire length of the old elastic. Besides that it should be accurate.

Here is the before picture of the diaper.

Elastic Replacement before beginning

You can see that not only are the leg elastics worn out, but they’re worn out unevenly.  What a pain!

Besides a sewing machine, here are the tools you’ll need:

Elastic Replacement supplies

It may be worth mentioning that the elastic is chlorine resistant.  I keep reading that cloth diapers should be made with “swimmers” elastic but there are only two types of elastic available at my local fabric store; regular and chlorine resistant.  I have already repaired quite a few diapers but I used the regular elastic and it seems like it is wearing out pretty fast so this time I’ll be trying the chlorine-resistant.

Cut the elastic to 4 1/2 – 5″.

Cut the elastic to longer than the actual desired length.

This picture is what the diaper looks like with the leg elasatics removed and the new elasatics laid alongside, for size comparison.

The cut elastics laid out beside the diaper with elastics removed.

For previous diaper elastic repairs I cut the elastic to 4″ and I found that it’s so close to being perfect that I have to sew them on too close to the ends to really be secure.

The first step for either method is to turn the diaper inside out.

To replace the leg elastics, turn the diaper inside out.

Opening the Entire Casing

Now find where the casing for the leg elastics begins (and/or ends, however you look at it).  You’ll need to use a seam ripper to open up the entire casing.  Do be careful so you don’t end up poking extra holes in the PUL.

Rip out the stitches of the elastic casing.

 

What it looks like when the entire casing is opened and the elastic removed:

Fully opened leg elastic casing.

Now locate where the ends of the old elastic were sewn in.

Locate where the ends of the elastic were sewn on.

 

Now you can sew the ends of the elastics to the same spot where the old one was. I cut my elastic to 5″; longer than I want therefore when I sew them on, I’ll be leaving a good amount of slack.  Better to have slack than the elastic too short.

Sew both ends of the elastic down.

Sorry that picture is so dark.

Now you will turn the diaper right-side out.  Begin top stitching before the leg casing starts.  When you get to where the casing starts (you should be able to see the stitch marks from the seams you ripped) just follow the old stitch lines.  Pull the elastic so it’s fully extended before you do the casing and make sure you DO NOT sew on top of the elastic.  When you come to the end, keep following the old stitch lines to end the casing.

Sew the entire leg casing closed again, without sewing on the new elastic.

Don’t forget to backstitch at the beginning and end!

Opening the Ends of the Casing

Find where the leg casings begin and end and open each about 1/2″, or enough to access the stitches holding the ends of the elastic.

Now put a safety pin in both ends of the new elastic.  Attach one end of the new elastic to the end of one of the old elastics.

Attach the new elastic to the old with a safety pin. Put a safety pin the the other end of the new elastic as well.

Feed the other end through the casing alongside the old elastic.

Feed the pinned free end of the new elastic into the leg casing.

 

This may be easier to do with the diaper turned right-side out again.  Feed the end through until it comes out the other end of the leg casing.

Feed the elastic through until it comes out the other side of the leg casing.

Now sew each new elastic end onto the old elastic ends.  Make sure if you cut the elastic long you leave the right amount of slack.

Sew the ends of the new elastic to the old.

Now turn the diaper right-side out again and resew closed the ends of the leg casing. You should be able to follow the stitch marks from the stitches you ripped out.

I used black thread so you can see how I closed the leg casing:

Sew the leg casing closed by topstitching.

And those are the two ways to replace the worn-out elastics in your cloth diapers.  If you have elastic on the pocket opening, the procedure is the same, just on a smaller scale.  In my Piddly-Winx diapers, the pocket-opening elastics are never sewn down through the whole casing (although it’s a lottery whether or not the leg elastics will be).

Here is the finished diaper!

cloth diaper with new elasticsrepaired diaperLeg of repaired diaper

Questions, comments, I welcome all!

 

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4 Comments

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  • Reply Bablofil January 23, 2017 at 21:49

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