Friday, January 30, 2009

Making my own cloth nappies

The cloth nappy adventure continues ...

The turning point came when I searched on Etsy for cloth nappies. Unfortunately they weren't any cheaper, but now I really knew I could make my own.

When I spent a little more time searching I came across a pattern for fitted nappies.

Great stuff. I now just had to make some choices about what fabric to use. Bamboo would have been first prize, but I didn't know how to get it aside from ordering online. Then I had to decide whether to make AIO or buy some waterproofs. I decided to try out an AIO and managed to find something called 'incontinence fabric' (used for making matress protectors) at the market - I was looking for PUL, but this was the closest I could get. Most importantly it is washable in high temperatures and is also breathable.

Cutting out the pieces is what took me the longest - the soaker pad took quite a number of layers. In total,
- 6 x soaker pad out of cloth nappy fabric
- 2 x soaker pad out of cotton quilters batting
- 1 x nappy out of cute penquins flannel
- 1 x nappy out of waterproof fabric
- velcro strips as explained in the pattern (4cm and 19cm)
- elastic, much shorter than in the pattern (12 cm for the back & 11 for the leg). I think my elastic needed to be much tighter because my nappy had to be waterproof and had to stop moisture leaking out the leg hole.

The construction was also fairly pedestrian - nothing complicated at all. I followed the instructions on the pattern, except I tried to be a little creative with the soaker pad.

- pin and sew velcro and velcro pocket covers (for washing to protect fabric from the hook side of the velcro because it must be washed undone) onto outside and inside nappy panels

- pin and sew elastic onto inside nappy panel. make soaker pad

The most important piece of the puzzle is the soaker pad. I tried a creative option of keeping it separate. This, I thought, could improve drying times and mean it could be possible to use a dryer. An advantage I didn't think of was that the soaker pads could be re-used in the bigger sized nappies. If you decide to go with this option, remember to give yourself extra seam allowance.

To make the pad, stack in a sandwich with 2 pieces of cloth then 1 piece of cotton padding and so on. If you are going to make it separate I suggest sew inside out as a tube - take two of the top layers and turn face down. sew down the long edges and then turn inside out so the two layers are now the right way). Finally serge the top and bottom edges (with an overlocker). If you make as the pattern says, cut one piece larger than the rest, serge the edges (with an overlocker), then place the soaker pad sandwich on the right side of the inner panel with the larger piece on top. Sew around the edges.

- sew inner and outer together and then serge.

- sew over the elastics with a zig zag stitch through the outside panel.


  1. I wanted to make a cloth daiper for as a baby shower gift, but like you I just couldnt find anything to substitute the PUL, and I was not willing to ship it in.

    Did the waterproofing material you used to make your penguin daiper work or did it leak? I found that sewing with some waterproofing fabric like rip stop was tricky as the punctures made from the needle would cause leaking, so that idea was scratched.

  2. Hi There,

    I wanted to make a cloth diaper as a baby shower gift but ran into some difficulties, one being that we dont get PUL in Namibia or South Africa and two, sewing with waterproofing fabrick is tricky, as it leaks there where your needle punctures the material (I used rip stop).

    Did the waterproofing fabric which you used for your fitted cloth diaper work? Dit it hold up or did it also leak where you sewed it?

  3. The nappies were OK, but cloth nappies do tend to leak more than their plastic/disposable counterparts anyway, so I wouldn't worry about perfection.

    I'd suggest, after having my 2nd child and more success with cloth nappies, that you actually make the nappies separate. I would use ordinary towelling fabric to make the inner and then purchase a waterproof outer. In South Africa, they are cheap + easy to find at stores like Pep.

    The separates dry better, last longer, and if your child has problems with thrush, you can leave the waterproof part off.

    I hope that helps.

  4. How did you manage to make one out of the toweling then? Please share as I am also on a mission to get PUL and bamboo towelling and microfibre fleece but such a hassle as I also realise SA does not have. So badly want to make my babies own nappies.

  5. Hi. There is a link in the blog to a pattern. I used that but I never added any waterproof layer. Take a look at the pattern and if you have specific questions I am happy to take another look.

    This actually works much better in my opinion as the nappies dry quicker on the line and if you're struggling with nappy rash it allows baby's bum to breath. I then went to Pep Stores and bought some cheap waterproof covers which I just put over the towelling nappies I sewed. I hope that makes sense now?

    I must confess I eventually ended up buying some Mother Nature Nappies which are great because they aren't a specific size - instead they used different press studs which allows you to get a good fit as your baby grows. I managed to find a deal on Gumtree - I bought from a mom who had good intentions and spent a fortune on the nappies but never followed through. They were nearly half price and unused except for one nappy.

    Good luck on your nappy adventure.