Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The making of a fitted diaper

I love to make my own fitted diapers.  A high quality, one size fitted diaper will run you anywhere from about $20 and up, each.  But if you make your own, even using those same fancy fabrics, you can do them for $8 diaper.
IMG_1197Making your own fitted diapers is really very basic.  There are tons of patterns available online for sale.  I use a free pattern, though, the Rita’s Rump Pattern.  I’ve made a few dozen diapers from this pattern.  But I use the template, not the instructions.  What I’ll go over today is how *I* use that free pattern.  The link to the pattern itself shows you other options, as well.
When making more than one, I do it all assembly line style.  I use size 18 poly resin snaps when I make mine.  You can use Velcro instead.  Or, as the original instructions suggest, just use pins and fold for a custom fit.  The one draw back with the free pattern is it’s lacking in detailed instructions, a soaker pattern, and snap placement template.  I’ve got you covered, though, as we’ll go over all of that today.
My templates(templates are on Craftsy, this is my affiliate link.  Templates are free, Craftsy is free)
First, though, let’s discuss fabric.  I use high quality, high absorbency fabrics when I make my diapers.  I want my diapers to perform and to last.  It just makes sense to me to go with nicer stuff.  Especially when the cost really isn’t that much different.  Bamboo and hemp are my favorites, especially bamboo.  It’s lightweight and highly absorbent, and it’s crazy soft.  Seriously, s.o.f.t. soft!  Also, unlike hemp that has natural oils that need to be washed away, bamboo is ready to go from first prewash.  It will gain in absorbency with more washes, but you don’t have to prewash more than once to have it start to perform for you.
I prefer to use a bamboo/cotton velour for the lining of my diapers.  It’s just so soft, if it were my bum in that diaper, it’s what I would want.  I love bamboo fleece for the inside layer.  It’s crazy absorbent.  It is also soft and lightweight (not like synthetic fleece at all) and I’ve used it as a lining as well.  For the outside layer I like either velour or a knit print. 
diaper 099 
My favorite fabric source is Nature’s Fabrics.  In fact, I emailed the owner, Jeanne, to let her know that I was going to refer my readers to her site.  She generously offered a coupon code pr15 for 15% off your purchase, excluding rolls of fabric, through June 19th.  So now your diapers are even cheaper!  I love Nature’s Fabrics because they have high quality material for the best prices.  Simple as that.  The customer service is also amazing.  Jeanne makes cloth diapers for sale (The Covered Caboose) and is always readily available for questions and help.  She’s just amazing and I like to support people like her. 
I buy my snaps from The Snap Store.  They have a huge variety, quick shipping and good service.  Also, they keep track of what you’ve purchased in the past so you can match colors and whatnot.  It’s just a really nice, comprehensive source for snaps.  If you’re using some proprietary diaper patterns, they also sell packages of snaps based on those, so you get exactly the amount and types of snaps you’ll need.  They also offer really nice snap press/snap packages with free shipping.
snap store  
So, let’s make a diaper.  I didn’t have a whole lot of the materials I’d normally use on hand.  Normally I do three layers for each diaper (usually two bamboo layers with a knit outer), and then another three layers for each diaper soaker (usually all bamboo).  Bamboo and hemp both come in 60” width cuts.  Out of one yard, using the Rita Rump pattern, you can get six actual diaper cuts and four soaker cuts.  So, you can get almost 2 full diapers out of one yard.  Or if you want to just have a two-layer soaker instead of a 3-layer, you can get the full two diapers out of one yard.  
Below is how I cut out my diaper and soaker cuts, as shown on a 60” by one yard cut of calico, for demonstration purposes
So, now you have three cuts for each diaper, and three cuts for each soaker.  Again, due to my limited supplies, here I’m using a cotton knit for the outside layer, a bamboo velour for the middle, and a cotton velour for the outside.  The soakers are all three bamboo: two fleece and a velour.
If using snaps, the first thing you want to do is transfer your Front snap placement markings onto the inside layer of fabric, following the template.   Layer that inside onto what will be the outside layer, wrong sides together.  You want to do these snaps now so that when you add the inside layer, they snaps are “hidden” and not directly against the baby’s skin
Now set your snaps.  I like to use all socket snaps across the front top, as per the template  I’ve attached

Your going to set the snaps so that the cap is on the middle layer side, and the socket is on the outer fabric.
After the top front socket snaps have been set, set the four sockets for the rise adjustment.
Now you need to set a couple of the studs.
Just the two at the top of the rise adjustment

With those hidden snaps in place, it’s time to sew in the elastic.  I use 1/4 inch braided elastic.
The pattern has markings on it where the elastic needs to go.  Transfer the markings onto your middle diaper cut.
To get the length of the elastic needed, I take an uncut end and stretch it from one mark to the other. 
But here are the measurements I came up with to make it easier on you.  Don’t say I never gave you anything :)
Legs: 6.25 inches
Back: 8.25 inches
I also like to add elastic at the back of the diaper.  I’ve also added back elastic markings to the wing snap template.
Starting at one elastic mark, do a tight zig zag with backstitch to tack the elastic in place. 
Now, stretch the elastic to the other mark, and zig zag stitch it’s length.  Once you get to the other elastic mark, tack it in place as you did at the first mark
It will look like this on the inside
And this on the outside
Repeat for all three elastic strips
Now grab your lining diaper cut. 
If you don’t have a serger, you are going to put right sides together, sew in place, then turn and top stitch.
I use my serger, and this is how I do it:
Place your lining correct side up on the elasticized diaper
Now sew (or serge) the lining to the rest of the diaper.  Because the other pieces have elastic in them, and the lining does not, you need to pull the other pieces taut as you go, matching all raw edges as best you can.  It would probably help to pin first.
 IMG_6292 IMG_6294
Go all the way around the diaper, stretching where the elastic is
Now you need to add snaps or Velcro. If you are using Velcro, sew a long strip of hooks along the front of the diaper and two tabs of the loop side to the wings of the diaper.
For Snaps, follow my template 
I like to add some sockets facing out on the right wing, so that I can overlap the wings for smaller babies
Add two more snaps, following the template, facing the inside of the diaper, top middle
 IMG_6309 IMG_6311
The diaper is finished. 
Now for the soaker.
Take two of your three layers, the middle and the back layer, place on top of each other.
Set snaps according to template, snaps on the back fabric, caps on the middle
Now take your top layer of fabric and place over the cap side of the snaps/middle layer
sew/serge all together
 IMG_6313 IMG_6314
Snap in place in the diaper
(or you can add Velcro to the middle back of the diaper and to the soaker to keep in place.  Or even just sew across the top of the soaker into the diaper)
IMG_6329 IMG_6317
To adjust down in the rise for shorter/smaller babies, snap the down the lower snaps.  As the baby grows, go up to the next snap, and then finally no snaps at all in the rise.
 IMG_6318 IMG_6323
I love one size diapers because not only do you get a longer life out of them, but because you can get a better fit on your child, since they adjust in so many ways.
 IMG_6331 IMG_6332 
If you have an baby with especially chunky thighs, you can add three inches to the middle length of the Rita’s Rump Pattern and it will still be adjustable, but give you more room through the legs.  I have included the soaker template I use when doing the fitteds this way.  Note: It will increase how much total material you need.  This is why I love to make my own diapers, you can get something that will fit and work perfectly for your child, save money, plus crazy cute. Win win win!
 diaper 032
**if anyone in the greater SLC, UT area needs snaps set, I would be more than happy to do it for you.  Just email me and we’ll work something out**


Robin said...

You really are my hero.

Christie said...

You are amazing Sabra.

saskia said...

I've made fitted diapers before- and they are really easy- but mine don't look all that great- I love them- I love the natural materials as well. I'm excited to see the cute diapers you are making for Robin.

Lisa Marie said...

Oh my crap those are some cute diapers! And the little'n in them there diapers is pretty cute too!
I have a really good friend that makes her own diapers, so I've given her your linky winky to check this out!

Funk Family said...

Thanks so much Sabra for the tutorial and the little bit extra help (wink, wink ;), nudge, nudge) you gave me in advance. Your diapers are so cute.

Megan said...

Do these need a cover, or are they good to go as is? These are fabulous!

Sabra said...

Megan, yes, these need a cover. I go over covers in the previous post. but if you need any more information or have more questions, feel free to email me:


Caroline said...

Wow. So much information and just when I needed it. Thanks!

Katie @ Hippos and Dinosaurs said...

Okay, this is seriously so amazing of you to share this with the rest of us. Thank you!!

The Cheap Chic Momma said...

Wow, this awesome! I really big part of me wants to try this at home..and the other half is super afraid that I'll spend a lot on materials and mess it all up! I love the thought of being able to choose some great prints!

Cyndie said...

LOVE IT! I use the RRP pattern as well and it was lacking in a few things. I'm glad you posted this because now I have more options. THANK YOU!!

LuLu said...

Now with these you would still use a diaper cover of some sort. Do you have any suggestions for patterns for diaper covers?

Sabra said...

Yes, these types of diapers still require a cover: wool, fleece, PUL.

I've actually never made my own covers. But I know there are some highly recommended patterns out there. Babyville has patterns people seem to like, and they have books available at JoAnn and Hancocks. If you do a search for free diaper covers, I know there are many available. I've just never used them.

Devon said...

Hi, I know this post is a little older, but I was wondering something. the original pattern said that you needed to add an extra seem allowance. Did you do that with your templates or do I still need to do that. I do not have a serger. Thanks in advance!!

Sabra said...

Devon, if you don't have a serger, you are probably going to need to turn and top stitch. So yeah, go with the seam allowance. I add a small seam allowance, since I serge. But you probably want at least 5/8 or so if you are using a sewing machine. Good luck!

Lynn said...

This is amazing! I started using cloth with my son but only have pockets and AIO's. Your post has convinced me that I need to make fitteds for the next baby (if there's a next baby). I may make a few for my son even though he's 1 and doesn't need more! Quick question - what do you do with the soaker for newborns and when the diapers are on the smaller settings? Do you just tuck it in or fold it down in the front or do you make a separate newborn soaker so it's not bulky/hanging out the front? Thanks!!

Sabra said...

Lynn- I use another pattern for my newborns. I like the Darling Diaper newborn pattern. It's free. All of my newborns have been much too small for OS diapers for the first few months. Our Darling Diapers have easily seen us through until they grow into the OS, though. After the newborn stage, the OS have seen us through to potty training. If you still want to use the OS on a newborn, you may be able to skip the soaker all together, since the bulk of the diaper set at it's lowest settings should compensate for lack of a soaker. But it still may be bulky. Good luck!

Sarah Link said...

Thank you for posting this :)
What fabric would you say to get for the soaked? From the fabric store you linked above.
Use the same fabric to sandwich for the soaked as you use to line the diaper?

Sarah Link said...


lkesews2 said...

thank you thank you thank you. my sis/law just asked me to sew her some fitted diapers. this makes it so easy!

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