Old-style flat/terry diapers

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Heya! I was just curious, being a child of the modern era that was born squarely in the days of the disposable diaper...I have always been somewhat interested to see what the fuss was about in regards to the old folded cloth diaper/plastic pants combo.But, thus far I haven't had much luck in researching how to go about such a think for adult/teen sized stuff!

Does anyone know of any solid sources on where to buy actual traditional 'adult' terry diapers and plastic pants, that would (hopefully) be good enough to use for nighttime? And also...coming from someone that knows zilch about this, is there a guide anywhere explaining how to actually set things up/fold the diapers...? Is there such a thing as a terry fold that's made to suit non-infant wearers?

Much appreciated for any and all info anyone may have! And apologies for the cluelessness! :D

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There is a lot out there. Just search for adult cloth diapers.
I don't like spending a lot of money, so I just bought normal flatfold infant diapers that are 27"x27". I then stack several together to get the thickness that I want and fold the middle ones in thirds for the center panel. Looks like a prefold except the layers are not sewn together. The best price I've found for vinyl pants is from NationalIncontinence.com. Message me if you have questions.


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Hi Dan09

nice to see someone younger interested in flat cloth nappies! You'll probably find UK or Aussie sites best for terry nappies because that's where we used to wear them!

Baby terry nappies were nearly always 24" x 24" and were actually too big for newborns, my mum used to use what she called 'curities' on my younger brothers and sisters when they were very young. These were a more flat cloth, with serrated edges, I think actually made by Curity (is this what US folks call flannel? birdseye?)

There isn't really a certain fold needed for adults, as with actual babies / children, different folds were used for different ages / sizes of kids. You can get various sizes of adult terries, often on ebay + some UK ABDL sites. The sizes are in stages of 6 inch from 36" square upwards - I think 48" sq is a good medium size for a medium adult so you can try most of the folds. Obviously if you want to simulate the effect of a newborn fold, get a bigger size eg 54" sq then it is realistically too big for you. Vice versa if you want to imitate a fold for older babies.

Plastic pants are available everywhere ,as besides flat terries wearers, people who wear other flats (eg US flannel / birdseye wearers) and disposables also use them. Any plastic pants would do although traditional baby ones had relatively small leg and waist holes compared to the overall size / amount of plastic in the pant, they were worn 'poofy' and oversized.


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Hi Dan09
nice to see someone younger interested in flat cloth nappies! You'll probably find UK or Aussie sites best for terry nappies because that's where we used to wear them!

seconded. but no need to spend a lot on importing stuff, especially as the dedicated 'incontinence' supplies of nappies are so poor in their quality and so overpriced at that.
more choice, better quality and lower priced 'nappies' can be had simply as towels. UK Asda, US Walmart owned, sell decent quality towels, in various colours, at reasonable prices. as well as sourcing your nappies in the US, the current best maker of plastic-pants is Gary Manufacturing, in the US. Gary pants are also sold under the brandname of Leakmaster.

to what, and why:
terry-towelling towels, henceforth herein 'nappies', come in various grades and qualities, but, for practical purposes, you need only look for their 'gsm' (grammes per meter). around 800gsm is good for absorbancy and thickness.
but, thickness is only half of the sum and the area of the nappy also adds to the total volume.
the area covered, the coverage, is important as it not only adds the to the absorbancy, but also prevents leaks by providing a greater catchment. this is where skimpy disposables fail ;)
many people make the mistake of concentrating most of the nappy to within a similar area as covered by disposables, but you don't want a thick bulk wedged into your crotch when your trying to sleep.
it may all sound a lot, but a good total volume, by way of thickness and area, will keep the skin reasonably dry and healthy.

Asda Walmart bathsheet as two types of nappy:
View attachment 26243
simply folded in half to give an oblong of 1m by 0.75m. this works as daytime nappy, but also for night (just lacks coverage around the hips and is a bit too thick between the legs for side-sleeping)

View attachment 26244
folded to wear. this is a fold as used for toddlers and older children (more pics to show the details, further down.)

View attachment 26245
bathsheet, again, trimed to 1m by 1m and with the offcut used as a booster.

View attachment 26246
folded to wear. you can tell that it's a bit wider than the first nappy and the extra width wraps around the hips nicely.

View attachment 26247
the fold itself. you can see how the booster makes for a handy guide. the same fold is also used for certain bedmats and was originally, to the best of my knowledge, used by the original Pampers (before they had elasticated legs).
fitting is just a case of fanning out the front and back of the nappy to wrap around you. of course, you need not even use any fold, it's just a matter of preference and occasion.

onto fixing the nappy:
View attachment 26248
from left: kilt pin, adult nappy pin and baby nappy pin.
avoid kilt pins if you can, as they're too thick to easily slip through the weave of the material; and you can trust me that you do not want to be forcing sharp, metal pins through your nappy.
the adult pins are okay, but they lack a locking cap and at the end of the day, they're only as thick a metal as the baby pins, which you can see have been deformed by use; this lessens their fastness within the cap by shortening the pin length. the result is that they will pop open. being woken up by a stray nappy pin sticking in your lower abdomen isn't fun.
with that, i have moved onto mini-bungees:
View attachment 26249

on the left, the sharpened and ready to use one. never had any problems with these and they work out cheaper than any other option (i've explored the options, trust me) and more so when you consider that they aren't limited to just keeping your nappy on.

optional wear (but preferable): nappy liners.
a basic liner can be had as 'frost protection fleece' from gardening shops and the like. wash before use, to soften.
more advanced, is my own invention of the quick-away/stay-dry liner (i'm giving the finger to Pampers, here, btw. i did this years ago, long before them.) which is actually just another form of the aforesaid fleece (yeah, the same stuff gets made into alsorts, but they're usually just different thicknesses. it's also made into air-filters) and can be found in a basic form as polyester padding. a convenient form is often found in bargain-bucket shops as 'drip towels' and is usually within a microfiber outer. when positioned in the nappy, at the crotch and around the buttocks, the padding allows the fluid to flow through, be dispersed and to then be absorbed the nappy, even when sat. it also prevents the fluid squishing back onto the skin when sitting down in a sodden nappy.

plastic pants: always an issue because of poor design [and because we're at the wrong end of a culture/mindset of pant and pad], you should source and size your pants by the diameter of your thigh. bigger is always better and you can reduce any excess with a bit of sewing:
View attachment 26250

i've reduced the leg diameter by about two inches, there.
as a rule of thumb, the elastications shouldn't be so tight as to leave a mark on the skin. the elastics are there to wrap the plastic around the nappy and to follow the contours of the body, not to form a watertight seal; it's the nappy's job to hold the fluid. if the nappy leaks under normal use, it's because it's too small to do it's job.

the net result should be a happy nappy:
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