Making cloth diapers

Remember how I told you we recovered our dining room chairs using the fabric from a set of drapes we were given? The drapes were a super quality, and were flannel lined, so there were actually three layers of fabric. After finishing the reupholstering, we were left with a bunch of white flannel, and I started thinking about what I could use the material for. It just seemed like such a waste to throw it away.

Around this time, I found that I needed more cloth diapers. I had given about four dozen prefolds away before this baby was using them, and kept just two dozen of the best ones. When I started using cloth for him, I kept feeling I should have a bunch more diapers than I did, when I finally remembered my decluttering and the earlier decision to get rid of two thirds of my stash.

So I thought I could take advantage of my surplus of free white flannel, and turn them into cloth diapers for him instead of buying more. I was considering making fitteds (which means they have elastic around the legs and back, and Velcro straps that close around the front), but didn’t feel the extra bit of effort was worth it – after all, I would have to use wraps over them (which have the elastic and Velcro) to keep them waterproof. So I decided instead to make contours, which are shaped diapers that fit into a wrap.

It’s really amazing what a wonderful source of information the web can be, and I easily found sewing instructions for what I needed. Well, maybe not exactly what I needed, but close enough that I got the idea and just adapted it. I cut the flannel in an hourglass shape (using the wrap as a sizing guide so it would fit inside it), with one layer for the outside and one for the inside, and then made a soaker pad to run down the middle of it for absorbency. For the soaker pad, I used layers of flannel scraps and pieces from one old towel I decided to donate to the cause. I sewed the soaker pad together, then sewed in onto the inside of one layer, then put the second layer on so the soaker was sandwiched between them. If it sounds complicated, it’s really not. The first contour took a bit of time to figure out how it should all go together, but the subsequent ones were much faster. Things also went faster after that since my two older dds saw what I was doing and thought it looked like fun. So one sewed all the soaker pads together, and the other sewed the soaker pads in – I cut more flannel shapes out while they worked, and then did the final layer.

All in all, I’m really satisfied with how they turned out. Dh said how professional they look (though I think that was generous of him). The flannel is a softer material for the baby to have next to his skin than the cotton of the prefold, and they are much, much less bulky, so I think he’s more comfortable (not that he was complaining before, but I know I would be!). They are also simpler to use, since you just stick them in the wrap as they are, with no folding necessary. (That’s nice since five of my kids change the baby and if it’s easier for them, then they don’t mind doing it as much.) Even though they are less bulky, they are much more absorbent. The baby used to get soaked through if I wouldn’t be careful about changing him after a couple of hours went by – it was one of the things I thought was just normal about having a baby wearing cloth diapers. And after the entire night, forget about it – even with a double prefold, he was always soaked. We haven’t had that problem since a week and a half ago, when we started using the new contours – so that has meant I’ve had less laundry to do, which I certainly am not complaining about!

We made about a dozen so far, with enough flannel to do lots more when I’m in the mood. It was fun finding a way to use our available resources to get what we wanted. And it is so great for the kids to see, once again, that there’s a way to create by yourself the things that you want to have – it’s really empowering. Before I sew any more, though, I have a couple of other sewing projects that my kids have asked me to make for them, so I won’t be making more cloth dipes until those things are done. I started one of those projects last week and spent some more time on it tonight, and will update you on that sometime soon!


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