Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sewing diapers

For the last 3 years I've sewn a lot of cloth diapers. And I have to say, I was really getting tired of them! The first ones I did for DS2 were copies of Happy Heinys, 8 of them, with my own home-sewn hemp inserts. The trickiest part was making the pattern because I had to trace around the original and pull the elastic as I went. Sewing them was quite fast as there aren't many pieces, but the top layer of PUL tended to slide so the ends of the seams didn't always line up. (And who's going to look?!)

PUL and Micro Fleece lining fabrics came from Wazoodle (update: they don’t list the micro fleece lining in their Diaper section on the new website, but they use the DiaperMaker Lining Pique fabric instead…I used it for later diapers, which I write about below), and the Organic Hemp Fleece from Cloth Diapers EH!. (It looks like they don't carry the pure hemp now, but offer an organic cotton fleece instead.) I was disappointed with these diapers, as the leg seams always wicked very quickly, and in the end I gave up and switched to Kissaluvs.

Now, before DS2 was born I'd bought a dozen of the
Kissaluvs Fitted diapers newborn size and loved them so much I had to make them! Over the next 2+ years I made a whole slew of copies: a handful of the newborn size, then about a dozen each of the next 2 sizes, but with Velcro instead of snaps. Snaps would have been really nice, but the presses are quite pricey. This pic is of the first few I made, the rest are simply bigger.

The fabric, also from Wazoodle, is a 14 oz.
cotton sherpa that was initially made for a diaper maker customer of theirs. I'd bought 10 yards of this stuff anticipating making many, and I'm glad I did. The Kissaluv diaper design was the best of all the diapers I've used (I bought several other kinds to try out over time), but it's the most difficult to sew. The leg elastic is sewn between 2 layers before the inner and outer layers are serged around the edge. Initially I sewed the elastic using a waving stitch to make sure I'd caught it, and only after making about 20 diapers did I start to feel comfortable using a straight stitch. I'd had to do a lot of resewing to catch the elastic, and that tends to stretch it a bit too much. I have to admire the Kissaluv sewists, their diapers look great!

Last winter I needed to make more diapers for DS2 but didn't feel like making another batch of Kissaluvs copies, so I went shopping to see what was new. I decided to copy the
Flip diaper! and then I might be able to make use of the hemp inserts, which were never used. In the end I made 9 of these, the first 4 of which lasted only 1 month before the PUL (from Wazoodle) totally separated! This pic is the result:

I made foldover laundry tabs (red jersey) to cover the Velcro closures, but wasn't too thrilled with them.

The next 5 were made from a (red) 2 mil PUL that I bought from Cloth Diapers EH!, and are still in great shape. I think the original Flip diapers are made from a 1 mil PUL as they have a much softer drape than my red ones. Instead of foldover laundry tabs, I sewed a piece of loop tape onto the back facing and just folded the closure tab back on it when I washed the diapers. These diapers went together pretty well, like a typical pocket diaper, except when it came to the leg elastic. The Flip diaper design has the elastic fixed at each end inside an enclosed casing, and this was a *real* hassle to sew (I had to do quite a few resews along the way). For the leg casing and tab closures I used a medium weight polyester/spandex double knit that is used in dance outfits (according to the label at Fabricland). The original Flip diaper also uses a similar fabric for the closures as it has a nice stretch and allows some give at the infant's waist.

The diaper uses a soaker pad insert, and I made about 8 of them from 2 layers of Wazoodle's
ZORB (it is *FANTASTIC* stuff, I wish I'd had it earlier! I think it's very similar to Sham Wow), with a top layer of their DiaperMaker Lining Pique. This soaker was thinner and lighter than the insert that comes with the Flip diaper, but it holds a bit more liquid. (I did a comparison test with both kinds and was pretty pleased with myself! 2 cookie sheets, one for each, and measuring cups with water!)

Here it is! The final product, with my little white "no-name" label sewn into the seam by the tab closure. You can just make out the soaker pad inside.

Oh, the blood, sweat and tears!...of sewing the darn things! Unfortunately (or maybe not) I potty trained DS2 about 2 months after making these!!! Potty training with him went extremely well.


  1. Thanks for the information! I just bought some Flip covers and am planning on making inserts. I have two heavy wetters and I have not heard of Zorb before. I might have to give it a try! Any suggestions with the Flip? This is my first time cloth diapering :) cowgers (at)


  2. Boy, do I feel really silly...I haven't looked back at my old posts in months, and missed your comment Cerissa. I'm so sorry for not replying sooner.

    Well, the Flip diaper is really nice looking, and it's a cool idea to be able to just switch out the absorber long as it's just wet. When there are solids in the diaper it's another story. If you can change the insert right away you're fine. If not, it's going to be a mess, and often ends up behind the insert! That was my main beef about the concept.

    The best diaper that I used for performance was the the Kissaluv. It keeps everything in 99.9% of the time. The biggest issue with these diapers is that they can be a little hard to rinse out when the solids are soft and messy; we're talking once the little one is on solid food, so you can't just bung these in the wash as is like you can when you're just nursing exclusively.

    I'm sure you've already mastered the cloth diapers by now, and have found the best one for your little one.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment earlier, I really do appreciate it.

  3. Curious if you could give more detail on the leg elastic, I emailed you at you yahoo address. Do you angle the elastic/ binging somehow to make it lay flat at the ends?

  4. Also curious about the construction sequence of the flip. Looks like you cut out, sewed on binding,then stretchy tabs then facing/flap then topstitched . I may have left out a couple of steps but I'm more interested in the leg elastic / binding part.

    1. Hi Cynthia, I've just emailed you back. I'll check through my old photos to see if there's more, and I'll send you some inside peak shots I took last night of the real and copied versions. Look for another email later on today.

    2. Thanks! Looking forward to your email.

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