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Thread: Anybody else sewing their own cloth diapers?

  1. #1

    Default Anybody else sewing their own cloth diapers?

    I have been wanting to sew my own diapers for more than twenty years. Finally got around to it. Turns out I was using the wrong machine. A regular sewing machine was the wrong way to go. A Brother 1034D Serger is what I needed and now it is very easy to sew flat diapers.

    I have tried using single layer cotton and muslin, but they don't have the right feel. Flannel feels better, but it is not quite right, either. I recently bought a yard of 500 gsm bamboo/cotton, but it is way too heavy for a diaper of itself. I ended up cutting it into soaker pads and it works great in that capacity.

    Right now, I'm waiting for an order of double gauze to arrive. It seems the good quality flat gauze diapers from adultclothdiaper is double gauze.

    Just curious what other home-sew diaper fabrics others have used and how they liked it?

  2. #2

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    I'm not sure anyone will answer you because probably no one sews their own diapers, but there might be one or two. I didn't want you to think that no one would respond to you. I do wear gauze, night weight diapers and I'm sure there's a different material in between the layers which helps wick the liquid from the surface into the center. You might investigate that as it would give you a more genuine feel. I buy mine from Amazon and they're Leakmaster brand. They're pre-folds however.

  3. #3

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    I have done my own cloth nappy sewing before.
    I made all in one and pocket nappies. Both with waterproof exterior. Also some as just the nappy and I bought waterproof pants.
    I'm now looking at using the pattern to make just waterproof pants.
    Some worked well some didn't.
    I still have them and use them on the odd occasion.
    I got the pattern from www.kaylasclothkits.com
    Very nice pattern, easy to understand even for a man like myself which doesn't find sewing easy.
    I hope this helps.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by DyperDave View Post
    Just curious what other home-sew diaper fabrics others have used and how they liked it?
    i just use terry-towelling towels, but i sometimes very bulk up with lightweight fleece, only for effect. it's the same stuff as used to pad out jackets, sleeping-bags, etc. aside from the bulking effect, it also acts as a quick-dispersion layer.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by DyperDave View Post
    I have been wanting to sew my own diapers for more than twenty years. Finally got around to it. Turns out I was using the wrong machine. A regular sewing machine was the wrong way to go. A Brother 1034D Serger is what I needed and now it is very easy to sew flat diapers.

    I have tried using single layer cotton and muslin, but they don't have the right feel. Flannel feels better, but it is not quite right, either. I recently bought a yard of 500 gsm bamboo/cotton, but it is way too heavy for a diaper of itself. I ended up cutting it into soaker pads and it works great in that capacity.

    Right now, I'm waiting for an order of double gauze to arrive. It seems the good quality flat gauze diapers from adultclothdiaper is double gauze.

    Just curious what other home-sew diaper fabrics others have used and how they liked it?
    Well, first off, there's this 39-member ADISC group: Cloth Diaper Designers and Hobbyists

    I'm a member, but have only done a bit of hand-sewing, mostly sewing together old cloth baby diapers and making extenders for disposable baby diapers. Nothing too awesome--yet!

    Diaper fabrics are tricky, especially if you're a texture fanatic like me. Here are my own opinions, based mainly on ready-made cloth diapers:

    Gauze: Awesome, at least if it's the vintage stuff. Just don't use Snappis or Boingos with it, as many gauzes are too delicate for those. Modern gauze fabrics are also quite various, each with its own pros and cons. Here are some of the gauzes I've tried:

    • AdultClothDiaper.com/All Together Diaper Co. gauze: A very open weave that tends to pill a bit and, unlike most other gauzes, doesn't quilt much. I'm not a huge fan, mainly because of the lack of quilting. They are fine, functional diapers, though.
    • Angel Fluff Diaper Co. gauze: Angel Fluff admits that they use whatever gauze is available cheap, so who knows what you'll get. The stuff I got had a very odd, micro-quilted texture (once washed) and was extremely stretchy. Like, once the diapers were washed and shrunk, they could almost be stretched back to the pre-shrunk size, which was...interesting. Not a huge fan, though. The micro-quilting makes it feel kind of "rough". (Not to mention that these are by far the thinnest prefolds in my stash, and Angel Fluff has the nerve to call them "night time weight". Hmmm...)
    • Baby Pants gauze: This stuff pills like crazy! Nooo!!! Of these first three, it's by far my favorite because it quilts a lot, but the pilling does make it feel a bit rough. At the same time, it manages to feel a bit squishy, which is nice... To be fair, though, I haven't had my Baby Pants gauze diapers for long, so perhaps they simply haven't gotten past the pilling phase.
    • Vintage Curity prefold gauze: This is the best stuff by far, IMO--negligible pilling, gentle quilting, and very soft. Unfortunately, to make adult diapers out of it, you'd have to carefully deconstruct some prefolds. I once thought that the softness of these was a function of age, as my stash contained only some very used Curity prefolds. I then managed to find a brand new box on eBay, and nope! They're soft right from the get-go. Damn! Why can't they still make this stuff?!
    • Vintage Curity flat diaper gauze: Soft and pill-free, but doesn't quilt much. I really prefer quilting. If you want to use a vintage gauze, though, these vintage Curity flats are available brand new on eBay all the time, and the fact that they're flat certainly eases reuse.

    Flannel: Cute-looking (if printed), but flat, not as absorbent, and not very baby-authentic either. Not many actual baby diapers are made of flannel, at least not where the flannel makes up the bulk of the diaper. Some do use it as a cover. Occasionally, you'll find flannel baby prefolds, but these are almost universally sold as "burp cloths", and not as diapers. Babykins and LL Medico both sell flannel adult prefolds. (The LL Medico ones are made by Gary Mfg.) I have some of the former. They're flat, relatively thin, and just don't give me that baby feeling at all. Also, like gauze, you don't use Snappis or Boingos with these. In this case, you'll be lucky to get the teeth through the fabric! So you'd better have snaps, Velcro, or pins. (I like pins the best anyway.)

    Diaper Twill (100% Cotton):
    Wonderfully quilted and fairly soft. Seems to go through a "pilling phase" that varies in duration according to the make of the fabric. I have some cotton twill baby diapers from Green Mountain Diapers, Nicki's Diapers, and Bummis that were virtually pill-free after about two dozen washes, some from Diaper Rite that are moderately pilly, and then I have some no-name baby prefolds that are very pilly, and yet quite used. Who knows? But, in general, I like the cotton diaper twill, and we AB/DLs are fortunate to have Changing Times Diaper Co., whose cotton twill prefolds are made by the exact same factory in Pakistan who makes the Green Mountain baby diapers, and using the same exact construction. So--maximum babyness! The Baby Pants twill diapers are pretty good also, and the sizing is actually a bit better for me, but the rounded corners and all-around stitching are a departure from typical baby diaper construction, so they fail on authenticity.

    • Side-note: There are lots of other cotton diaper twills out there, including unbleached and organic cottons. These latter two are universally less quilted, and also tan in color, so I'm less excited about them. I sort of prefer my diapers to be white--when I put them on.

    Diaper Twill (Cotton/Bamboo Blend): Much softer than the all-cotton twills, but doesn't quilt as much, which for me is a downside. But I like it! It seems to be more absorbent, too, and certainly takes longer to dry than the all-cotton twills. It's unfortunately only available in baby diapers, and I have some cotton/bamboo prefolds from Nicki's and Green Mountain. The Green Mountain ones are a bit softer, but unfortunately no longer made. I would love to see Changing Times do a cotton/bamboo twill diaper at some point, but I'm not holding my breath. It would be even cooler if the fabric was available bleached.

    Birdseye:
    Like gauze, it's hard to generalize. There are many different diaper fabrics called "Birdseye", and they vary quite a bit. Here are some I've tried:

    • Baby Pants Birdseye: Very heavy and rough-textured, but quite absorbent! I'm not a big fan. These are probably the least-used prefolds in my stash.
    • Nicki's Diapers Birdseye: They actually sell flat baby diapers made using a bamboo/cotton blend Birdseye, which is kind of unique. Of the modern Birdseyes I've tried, this material is probably my favorite. It's a very tight weave, but still soft. And, gloriously, I can simply stack a few of these diapers and pin them right on, although that's really nothing to do with the fabric.
    • Gerber Birdseye: Very soft. I actually like their Birdseye baby prefolds for stuffers. I think the magic is that this Birdseye uses larger threads and a looser weave than some others.
    • Vintage Soft Care Birdseye: By Kendall/Curity, and identical to the Gerber prefolds. I have some of these, too.

    So, to really distill from all that: If I was to sew my own prefolds from scratch, I'd try to find a bamboo/cotton-blend twill that used bleached/non-organic fabrics, both because of the white color, and also because the non-organic and bleached cotton twills tend to quilt up a lot more. Hopefully that wouldn't diminish the bamboo softness. This might be a mythical fabric, though.
    Last edited by Cottontail; 05-Jul-2016 at 01:33.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cottontail View Post
    Well, first off, there's this 39-member ADISC group: Cloth Diaper Designers and Hobbyists
    Thanks, I'll check it out.

    Thanks also for your detailed response. That is going to be a classic!

    Our printed double gauze came in this week and we finally sewed up several flat diapers.

    My favorite over the years has been Curity stretch weave diapers. They had the right texture, weight, and feel. When I moved to Vermont in the 1970s, I lived just over the border from the Curity diaper manufacturing plant. If I had known they were going out of business when Mr. Kendall passed away, I would have stocked up.

    Since then I have tried numerous prefolds and flat diapers (I wear cloth exclusively). The best I found post-Curity is the AdultClothDiaper Purity brand, which was the closest I could find. Most of my stash is Purity, up until now.

    It took me a while to realize that the Purity diaper is a double gauze, which is quite different from even the stretch weave gauze by Kendall. The double gauze I purchased has excellent quilting and I love the patterns that are available. I usually stick to white diapers, and there was a time I dyed them purple when I had to wash them at the laundry mat for a while. However, when I was much younger I would spend the extra bucks to get the printed diapers and still prefer them.

    The double gauze also has a great feel to it. There is slight stretching to make a snug fit, but not over stretching like jersey, which makes it feel like there is a rubber band around the waste. The fabric is light, but absorbent. It gets better with each washing, but I'm only three washing cycles in, so far.

    We have been experimenting with other fabrics. Like you, I like the cotton/bamboo blend. The 500 gsm weight is very absorbent. We cut this fabric into an 8" by 30" soaker pad. Today, I have to go to a public meeting, but I can wear a new double gauze 30" x 45" diaper with a soaker pad and it is thin enough to pass for underwear, even with Gary PUL pants over it. It is also absorbent enough to deal with minor incontinence.

    Home sewing is really a fun hobby. Trying different fabrics is kind of like culinary adventures.

    Glad to see there are others who take their diapers seriously.

  7. #7

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    Expect I’m the only one doesn’t know, but in reference to diaper fabrics what is “quilting”?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by WBxx View Post
    Expect I’m the only one doesn’t know, but in reference to diaper fabrics what is “quilting”?
    Quilting! It's not a universal term, I'm sure, so you're excused. It just means that the fabric puckers and becomes permanently rippled-looking once it's been washed a few times:

    (That's a look into my dryer on laundry day.)

    Those are mostly modern all-cotton twill diapers, in both baby and adult sizes. Here are some of my vintage Curity "gauze" prefolds from the 70's and 80's with quilted soaker panels.


    My Angel Fluff prefolds, on the other hand, have this sort of micro-wrinkling/quilting thing going on. They're light and stretchy, but not really "soft" by any definition of the term:


    Many other prefolds, such as the AdultClothDiaper.com gauze prefolds and the Baby Pants Birdseye prefolds, remain relatively flat once washed. (No pictures handy, and I'm feeling lazy.) They shrink, of course, and feel considerably thicker than they do when new, but they don't "quilt up" much if at all. I've heard that the quilting helps the fabric to absorb more quickly, and I can sort of get how that would be true. The quilting gives the fabric a lot more surface area than a flat diaper would have, and makes it harder for wetness to simply roll off the diaper. But that doesn't much matter to me. For me, the quilting just fulfills my fetishy desire for something similar in texture and appearance to the Curity diapers I grew up wearing.

  9. #9

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    Years ago I cornered the market on birdseye diaper fabric from a number of local fabric places and my wife sewed them into a couple of dozen prefolds for me. They worked well.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cottontail View Post
    Quilting! It's not a universal term, I'm sure, so you're excused. It just means that the fabric puckers and becomes permanently rippled-looking once it's been washed a few times:
    Got it. From my youth (50’s) I recall seeing diapers with that pattern. I’m thinking it was in the center section of prefolds? However, my personal memories (nights into my eighth year) are of flats. There was no quilting. So my “fetishy desire” is a bit different than yours.

    Thanks for the explanation.

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