Friday, September 12, 2008

Cloth Diapers

***Warning*** This is a long post on a topic that probably does not have wide interest. Feel free to skip, but I've had a number of requests for a post along these lines.

I used disposable diapers with Hans for the first four weeks, while I adjusted to motherhood and recouped from giving birth. Since then I've mainly been using cloth, with an occasional disposable here and there. Now that I'm getting more of an idea of what absorbency I need for cloth, though, I haven't used disposables for almost a month, and I actually get fewer leaks with cloth!

I'm sewing my cloth diaper stash for the most part, with an occasional prefold or bought cover here and there, for variety and ease. My newborn stash consists of a dozen infant Chinese prefolds, 6 fitted diapers, 10 pocket fitted diapers, 2 pocket diapers, and 7 covers. I'm working on my small stash now.

Here is a pocket fitted. "Pocket" meaning it's a stuffable 2-layer diaper, "fitted" meaning it requires a cover and has elastic at the legs to help contain messes. This particular diaper is a sized down Rita's Rump Pocket - printed at 85% to fit a newborn. I recycled a queen size flannel sheet set that I found at a thrift store. The purpose of a pocket-style is to allow customization of absorbency and even more importantly, to allow the main absorbency to be removed for washing and drying, making for cleaner diapers that dry way faster than otherwise.

Here is the Rita's Rump Pocket opened with a suedecloth liner in it, to prevent rashes due to wetness. Suedecloth lining is also good once babies hit the solid food stage and need to have poo removed before laundering. Supposedly poo will fall off suede or microfleece relatively easily - no dunking required.

A note: not all suede is created equal. Alova suede (sold at JoAnn and sometimes Wal-mart) or butter suede (Hancock's) is the stuff that will wick away moisture by letting pee pass through. Fashion suede and microsuede are evil and will repel. Crushed panne velour will also work. Or microfleece. The next size up in diapers that I'm making will be automatically lined with a wicking or "stay-dry" inner, so I don't have to add a liner each time.

And here is the diaper on a really cute baby. I love this flannel print on Hans :-). It's such a "little man" diaper, and the pin is adorable :-).Rita's Rump Pockets close with a single pin, as shown, but most pocket fitteds close with hook and loop or snaps.

Below is a regular fitted, made from recycled t-shirts. It also has a touchtape closure. Velcro is not good enough to withstand substantial use and many washings, so the preferred hook and loop options are either touchtape or aplix, both available online. Alas, I don't have a snap press, but hook and loop is doing fine.

I used the Darling Diapers Unlimited pattern for this fitted. I love that pattern! Great fit, a ton of options, and good directions.

Another thing: serging makes sewing cloth diapers go SO much faster, if you have access to a serger. And I love the way the finished product looks.

The inside of the fitted has an external sewn-on soaker. which basically means it's attached (as opposed to lay-in absorption) but it's not all sewn into the inside, which can take a LONG time to dry!

Here is a diaper cover, also made from the Darling Diaper pattern. Any diaper that is not waterproof will require a cover. This cover is made with polyurethane laminate (PUL for short), the waterproof material of choice for diaper making, and bound with fold-over elastic, aka FOE. FOE is wonderful for containing messes and getting a great fit.

This cover is my favorite so far. I tried gussets and I love the way they fit! This is a nighttime cover for Hans, and it contains blowouts really well, even when he's lying on his side. This is also a Darling Diapers cover.

Here is a cover I didn't make. It's a pull-on nylon cover. This is more like the "plastic pants" of yesteryear, but gentler on baby's legs (softer elastic) and more durable. Baby Best Buy sells 2-packs for only $3.99. These are Dappi brand.

Here are some pictures of pocket diapers, which are by far the easiest to use. These are genuine pockets, meaning they have a waterproof outer, unlike pocket fitteds. These diapers do not require a cover, so they make for really easy changes, especially while out and about. I made these with the Rita's Rump Cover pattern (see sidebar of above Rita's Rump Pocket link).

The first two pics were accidentally taken on the B&W setting. Oops! And look how tiny Hans was! This was almost two months ago.

I stuffed this diaper with two washrags, folded together into thirds. Most of my pockets or pocket fitteds, though, I stuff with a 16"x16" microfiber towel that is folded to fit inside. Microfiber towels can be found in the automotive section of most stores. Microfiber should never touch a baby's skin directly, though, as it will dry it out! It makes great stuffers, though, and holds a lot.

Other equipment I'm using: cloth wipes. This is seriously the easiest thing! If you're already using cloth diapers, washing wipes with the diapers is actually easier than having to separately throw away disposable wipes. It's the easiest $8-10 I save each month. For breastfed poo, all I have to do is moisten them with a spray bottle. I took a bunch of flannel and t-shirt knit scraps and serged 2-layer wipes together, out of odd shapes and sizes. 8"x8" is probably ideal, but I've got all sorts of geometric shapes ;-). I also made 2 diaper pail liners out of PUL, and those just get dumped in the wash with everything else. That way I don't have to scrub out my bucket; I just rinse it really quickly with hot water. And I made 2 small wet bags out of PUL, to keep in the diaper bag, so I have something to keep dirty diapers in while I'm out and about.

Washing with exclusively breastfed poo is easy. No dunking or swishing. Just dump in the washer, along with the PUL bag. Do a cold pre-rinse. Then a hot wash with very little detergent (about 1/4 cap). Then dry on high heat in the dryer.

Okay, that's all for now. I hope someone found that helpful. Sorry it was so long! Pictures made it more exciting, though, right? :-)


Meg G said...

Fascinating. ;-) Honest! And I can attest to the whole "fewer leaks"....for the 5 days I was there with you, there was nary a leak. And they fit so much better than the cloth diapers and covers I used with you guys. Though I do wonder how Hans feels about modeling diapers.... :-) ....I bet you lose Ben after the first paragraph of this post.

Samara said...

Even if this wasn't one of my favorite topics, I would have read the post just for the photos of Hans :)

Your diapers are amazing! Serged, even. I'm impressed. It's good to hear from you (see from you?) and see how big little Hans is getting! Hope all is well with your little family.

Brown Family Blog said...

Thanks Susan! You gave me a lot to look at and think about! :o) They look great by the way and Hans is just too cute!

Mark and Erin said...

Ooooh, I really like cloth diapers! I am starting up again after not doing it for a while due to moving and such. I'm diapering a 2 year old, but I do prefolds and Dappi covers. I just switched to bamboo prefolds...they are quite a bit more expensive, but they work really well with my super-soaker. And I just switched to Dappi covers after using Thirsties for a while. I like Dappis so much better, since they are stretchier around a baby tummy...not so restrictive or bulky with the aplix. I *loved* seeing your diapers...they look so professional with the serging! :-) I thought they all looked just as nice (if not a lot nicer) than the ones I've seen for sale. Very beautiful (diapers AND baby :-))

Lindsy said...

Great post idea! No babies here (nor husbands), but I will have to keep this in mind. May I print a copy to store away for future reference?

If you ever need to make money on the side, maybe you should sell cloth diapers! Cloth diapers and wedding dresses, now that I think of it! :-)

Jessie said...

I liked that post! : ) You've made some really nice-looking diapers! (and of course it's really the model that makes clothing look so good...)
I have a snap setter, and if only you'd come down to visit, I'd let you borrow it...

Sherrin said...

Of course I am now very interested in this topic . . . although Dave is not as interested :). He thinks we should buy environmentally friendly disposeables.

Jason and Kim Vinson said...

Hi, this is Kim from Ivy Creek. Bethany and your mom told me about your diapers. Great job on them and congratulations on Hans! I'm glad to her and read that motherhood is going so well. I use prefolds, g diapers, disposables, and Fuzzi Bunz (I just bought some for $1/each at a consignment sale). But, I am in need of some smallish diaper covers for my daughter Rachel. I only have two covers that she can wear right now, but have tons of cloth prefold diapers. I think I will check out those Darling Diapers you mentioned. Too bad I can't buy a cover from you unless you are taking orders ;) Let me know, Kim Vinson

Ashleigh (Heart and Home) said...

This is one of the best how-to posts I've read on cloth. I've bought most of my stash, but now I'm inspired to try my hand at making some diapers. I get quite a few emails from people wanting info on cloth... I hope you don't mind if I link to this post when giving info!

Caroline said...

How about an update?

My Boaz's Ruth said...

I'm just getting started with diapers (I've bought some pocket diapers from a WAHM in the local area because I'm not that great a sewer) but she told me I had to wash the hemp innards 4 or 5 times before I can use them, to build up absorbency. ACK! Does the microfleece have to be washed first?

Susan said...

I've heard that about hemp (never used it myself). Not sure if you mean microfleece or microfiber. . . two very different fabrics.

Microfiber is used for an inner absorbent layer (which is why I was thinking you might have meant that), and it doesn't have to be prepped, though I would warn you that the Sam's microfiber towels I got bleed dye forever! I've heard the similar ones from Costco don't do that. I don't know about Wal-mart. The dye from the towels (I have yellow) just turns all my aplix and touchtape yellowish, so it's not a huge deal, but still sort of annoying.

Microfleece doesn't have to be washed first; it's polyester so it won't shrink being washed and dried on hot, but I went ahead and washed and dried mine on hot once before sewing with it, to remove any crud picked up at the store, etc.

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