How to Make Cloth Diapers

all-in-one cloth diaper

Using cloth diapers is a great way to reduce your footprint on the environment, but purchasing the diapers can be costly. Making your own cloth diapers allows you to save money while you save the planet. All you need is a good pattern and a few tools and supplies.

No-Sew Flat Fold Diaper Instructions

no sew flat fold diaper
Print this free no-sew diaper pattern!

Flat fold diapers are the most basic cloth diapers you can make. In fact, if you have some pinking shears, you don't even need a sewing machine. If you use old flannel sheets and a free pattern, you can make these diapers without purchasing a thing. However, you will need a supply of reusable waterproof covers to control leakage.

If you need help downloading the printable instructions, check out these helpful tips.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 yard of heavy cotton flannel fabric
  • Pinking sheers
  • Permanent fabric marker
  • Ruler
  • Pins

What to Do

  1. Print the pattern and enlarge it as directed. To print the free pattern, download Adobe Reader. Click on the pattern and when the pop-up box opens, select "Open with Adobe Reader." From there, you can download, save, and print the pattern.
  2. Cut out the pattern and pin it to the fabric.
  3. Use pinking sheers to cut out the diaper.
  4. To make optional folding lines for the diaper, use a ruler and fabric marker to draw center fold lines on the diaper as shown on the pattern.

All-in-One Diaper Instructions

all-in-one diaper
Print this free all-in-one diaper pattern!

An all-in-one diaper is a more complicated project, but the result is worth the time and effort you'll put into it. These diapers have an integrated absorbent pad and waterproof layer for keeping baby dry. If you have a little previous sewing experience, you'll be able to create this type of diaper in about an hour. The adjustable hook-and-loop closure means these diapers will fit babies from about six months old to 18 months old.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 yard lightweight cotton flannel in desired color
  • 1/2 yard vinyl or oilcloth
  • 1/2 yard lightweight cotton quilt batting
  • 16 inches hook and loop tape
  • 1 yard elastic
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Pins
  • Scissors

What to Do

  1. Print out the pattern and enlarge as directed. Follow the printing instructions in the first step for the no-sew diaper.
  2. Spread out the flannel fabric and cut out three of the winged diaper pieces, ensuring that you precisely cut the notches. Cut a fourth winged piece out of the vinyl. Cut the diaper pad piece out of the quilt batting.
  3. Fold the diaper pad into thirds. Pin the diaper pad lengthwise in the center of one of the flannel winged diaper pieces, right side up.
  4. Use a zig-zag stitch to sew all the way around the pad.
  5. Lay one flannel winged piece right side down on your work surface. Place the padded winged piece right side down on top of it, lining up the notches. Pin carefully.
  6. Baste the two pieces together, sewing about 1/8th of an inch from the edge. Turn the stack over.
  7. Lay the vinyl winged piece face-up on your work surface. Stack the remaining flannel piece on top right sides together, lining up the notches. Place the basted flannel pieces face down on top, ensuring the right sides are together. Pin carefully.
  8. Starting near one of the front wings (the shorter side), sew almost all the way around the diaper using a ¼-inch seam allowance. Stop about five inches from where you started sewing to allow room for turning.
  9. Turn the diaper right side out. Pin the opening closed and top stitch all the way around the diaper.
  10. Separate the hook and loop tape, and set the rough part aside. Pin the soft side to the outside front of the diaper (shorter end) about an inch from the edge. It should extend across the entire front. Topstitch it in place and trim off any excess.
  11. Cut the rough part of the hook and loop tape into two pieces. Pin these to the inside of the back tabs, cutting off any excess. Topstitch in place.
  12. Stretch the elastic and sew to the inside of the leg holes, as well as the back edge. Trim off any excess.

Tips for Making Your Own Diapers

Keep these tips in mind to ensure your project is a success:

  • If you're buying new fabrics for your diapers, be sure to pre-wash them before you begin. Cotton flannel can shrink significantly, especially when washed in hot water.
  • Re-using old sheets and repurposing used clothes are great ways to be "green," and they can also save you money. Consider checking the selection at your resale store before you invest in new fabric.
  • If you're concerned about chemicals used in fabric production, purchase organic cotton flannel from the fabric store to make your diapers.
  • When you're ready to begin cutting, try to be as precise as possible. Even a quarter inch of excess fabric can interfere with the way your diaper comes out.

Cloth Diaper Advantages

Making your own cloth diapers is a fun and rewarding project that will give your baby a personalized look, save you money, and make you feel good about protecting the natural world. With all these wonderful advantages, there's no reason not to invest a little of your time to make a flat fold or all-in-one diaper for your little one.

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How to Make Cloth Diapers