Sunday, January 30, 2011

Cloth Diaper Making Craziness

AJ and I plan on cloth diapering Bug.  This decision was made almost entirely for a financial reason (but partially because of an anti-chemical in disposable product reason).  Cloth diapers look to be a cheaper option overall than continually buying diapers, but they are still more expensive than we would like.  When I started doing my research I was stunned to find out bought cloth diapers could be so much.  I was looking at the FuzziBunz on Kelly’s Closet.  They were $17.95 each and $335 for an 18 pack (which does include 18 wipes, a wet bag, and 6 additional inserts).  That was more than we were willing to spend.

This lead to a flurry of doing research, hunting patterns and fabric, and trying to convince myself I could accomplish this task on my own.  I found a great community in Diaper Sewing Divas.  There is a lot of information on this site, and seeing so many people making their own diapers gave me the confidence I needed to try to make my own.  This then lead to hunting a pattern that I liked.  I was trying to find a free one that I could adapt, even though there are some awesome ones out there that aren't that expensive.  I finally decided on the Cloth Revolution patterns.  They are easy to follow and very easy to customize.  I have made different tweaks to it just because of my sewing style and experience (or lack there of).  

Here is a photo journey of making the pocket style diapers (sized small). 

 I traced the pattern onto PUL and flannel, and then cut them out.

Line the pieces up, right sides together.

I used these funny paper clips that I picked up from Target years ago (on clearance) to "pin" the layers together because you aren't supposed to poke to many holes into the PUL fabric.  I will say I am not sure why you couldn't pin with real pins in the seam line, but these clips are working for me and they are easy to un-clip when I get to them on the sewing machine.

Sew the wrong sides together, but don't sew the flap where the elastic for the pocket is going to go.  I used a regular straight stitch on everything.  I do back stitch every time I start a new line.

All sewn together.  The PUL fabric shifts a little bit because the plastic side is down on the machine, so I am still learning to keep it perfectly even and keep an even seam around the edges.

Pin down the flap for the elastic on the top (back).

Sew the flap down, but just a straight line. Don't sew the little ends closed because the elastic has to be fed through.

Cut the elastic and then put safety pins in the end so that it can be fed through the openings.  I goofed on this one and cut the elastic too short.  It was supposed to be 7 inches (stretched) and I cut it 4 inches (stretched).  Unfortunately, I didn't catch the mistake until I was all done, and had to rip it out and replace it.

Feed the elastic through, and then pin it with straight pins to hold it in place until it can be sewn in.  Again, I just use a straight stitch and back stitch on these.  It seems like it will hold really well (considering how hard it was to rip this out.  See how small that looks - it isn't supposed to be that small).

Turn it right side out and then top stitch around the whole thing.  That purple line is the starting/ stopping point for the elastic.  What I do is make a casing for the leg elastic (this is where I differ a bit from the original pattern).  I top stitch really close to the edge everywhere except between the purple lines, for that I drop in to about 1/4 inch.  I stitch to the purple line, back stitch, cut the thread, lift the needle, move the fabric over to 1/4 inch, stitch,  back stitch, sew to the next purple line, and then reverse the directions.  Then, I feed the leg elastic in and sew it down the same way I did the back pocket.

I cut out my tabs and my label.  I have 2 tabs of hook and 2 tabs of loop (for laundry tabs).  The label I made so that I could keep track of what sizes I have.

I sew down the front loop closure.  I have tried the zig zag stitch on this part, but I really didn't like the way it looked.  It was a lot easier to rip out a zig zag stitch when I goofed it up though. 

Sew on the tabs on the wings.  It is hook on the outside and loop (as a laundry tab) on the inside.  These seem like they are going to hold really well.  I have Touchtape brand hook and loop.  It is fairly soft - especially the loop side, but it is really strong feeling.

My personalization label.  I made these and I am really proud of them.  I figured out really fast if I didn't label what size the diapers were now, I was going to forget and I don't want to try to figure that out when we have two kids and try to put the wrong size on the wrong kid.

I can't believe how tiny these are.  This size is small for 5 to 14 lbs.  

My goal is to make four in each of the five colors of PUL that I have in size small and medium (12-24 lbs), that should give me 20 of each size and 40 total .  I did a cost break down to see how much I had spent on supplies to this point.  I have spent a grand total of $73.68 on supplies - PUL, elastic, thread, velcro, and the flannel.  That means that at this rate each diaper should cost $1.84 each.  That doesn't include the inserts, but I plan on making them out of more flannel and mircofiber that I pick up on sale at the fabric store.  I am hoping to keep the cost of each diaper down to under $2.50.  
Time-wise they aren't that bad either, as long as I am not making silly mistakes that take longer to correct than making a new diaper would.  It is taking about 1.5 hours per each if I start from the tracing on for each diaper, but I am starting to assembly line things.  I am cutting out all the pieces of PUL and flannel together, all of the tabs for the number of diapers I am making that day, and having all the labels made. 
I have all four of the small sized yellow ones done.  It made Bug seem a little more real having a stack of diapers all done.  I had made 3 of a newborn of a different pattern as practice, but they didn't give me that same warm fuzzy feeling.  I am not sure if we are going to cloth diaper from birth because of the meconium  staining, but hopefully after all that is gone we will be able to switch.  Though, the small size should fit if we decide to use them from birth - I am thinking I could get around the staining by using a liner type insert that I would be ok either throwing away or bleaching afterward. 

What are your thoughts and experiences cloth diapering?  Is there something I am missing that would make this process simpler or make the diapers more effective?

I am linking up to a couple of craft parties this week.  If you want to see some other fun things, check these out:

The Girl Creative


Alisa said...

Hi, I found you from Skip to my Lou. Checked you out b/c I have a friend who is thinking of making these for baby #1. I used gdiapers for my kids - you could use those liners in the beginning (are one like them). They are flushable. That way you don't have to worry about staining (b/c there WILL be staining!) or bleaching, ext. I just used disposable in the beginning b/c my kids were tiny and even though it said 5 lbs they leaked, not fun for anyone!

Joanna said...

Wow, I'm so impressed!

We started E in cloth at about 3 weeks old, and I'm glad we skipped the meconium stage. The laundry isn't nearly as big a deal as I expected, and I'm glad to going through way fewer disposables. We are using prefolds and covers, which is more affordable than the 'fancy' pocket or AIO diapers, but not as frugal as making them yourself!

Molly said...

Alisa - Thanks for stopping by! I hope this helps your friend and I like the idea of the gdiapers inserts to save the diapers!

Joanna - We thought about prefolds and covers, but AJ thought those were still too expensive. I am glad to hear the laundry isn't as bad as I am fearing. I am worried about having to do laundry on no sleep and all.

Anonymous said...

No matter what you think merconium is going to be like, its worse. :P

The problem I had with Luke when he ws born was that he was so tiny, size 1 diapers were too big and he had to wear newborn size for a week or two. So you might want to keep that in mind as well.

House Revivals said...

Awesome tutorial! I cloth diapered all my kids (except for road trips). For the same basic reasons --money and dioxins. Thanks for this great tutorial!

Sarah Schulz said...

My cousin sent me a link to your post! Your diapers are looking gorgeous. I know you already bought all your flannel, but microfleece will be beautiful for keeping baby's bum dry and rash free. I wish I could sew as well as you can! I've tried making several diapers and none of them look as beautiful as the ones you've made. :) Way to go!

Brandy said...

Those look great! Thanks for sharing such a great tutorial!


Christie Smathers said...

I do cloth diapers too but with my first, i tried making some and they leaked all the time (the ones i bought didnt, and i'm not avery good sewer). Any suggestions?

Laura said...

I took a how to make cloth diaper class, and they taught us to use a ball-point needle. I don't know the difference between it and a normal all-purpose needle, but it is supposed to help with seams leaking.
I actually ended up buying bum genius diapers, and loved them. Yeah, $300 was a lot, but totally got it back after like 4 months of use!
Good luck!