My biggest baby-sewing project, that is: the diapers. I really doubt this is the sort of thing most people reading this would be sewing, so feel free to skip this post if you think it’ll bore you. But given that this was a 2-person, 4-month job, the end is definitely worth celebrating!
Also, I’d like to give a shoutout to my mom–I know she reads this blog when she can, and I literally could not have done this and finished with this much time to spare without all of her help. My sanity would not be very intact either, for that matter. So thanks, Mom!!!
So…this is what 72 cloth diapers plus inserts look like, at least as far as I could fit them into the picture. There’s 24 apiece of three different sizes: newborn, small and medium, because according to the pattern, these three sizes should fit him all the way from 8.5 to 35 pounds. Worst case scenario, if Hobbit is a fast grower, I may have to make a batch of larges sometime, but now that I know the process, hopefully one set would go fast. I also went for prints/colors that I considered to be fun-but-gender-neutral, since we started this process before I knew he’s a boy, and ideally, these will hold up well enough that I can use them again for any sibling he might get down the road. But even if they don’t, I think the money savings on using them with one child will make this effort worthwhile!
The pattern we used is called Darling Diapers Unlimited. The nice thing about this pattern is that you can use it to make pretty much any type of fitted cloth diaper that you want. The not-so-nice thing about this pattern is that it makes the directions ridiculously confusing to follow. I ended up making two different styles, and literally went through the directions to re-write out a step-by-step guide for Mom and I to follow, only using the printed directions as a reference point after that.
For all of the diapers, I used poly-urethane laminate for the outside, a softer athletic mesh for the inside layer, and cotton fleece for the “soaker” layers. I was able to get the mesh from Joann’s, but I got everything else from Diaper Sewing Supplies. The quality of their snaps and elastic sounded a lot better than the Babyville Boutique stuff I could get at Joann’s, and I liked that the company aims to supply quality American-made products in an eco-friendly manner (including their PUL manufacturing). Also, frankly, they have a much bigger variety of prints and they’re way more fun!
A little more detail on the two styles…
|Left side: Unfolded. Right side: Folded and velcroed closed.|
The newborns are basically what you’d consider an “all-in-one” diaper. I did have to wing it a bit on the padding, because I’d already cut everything as rectangles to fold into thirds before I realized that the stuff-the-pocket type wasn’t even listed as an option for this size, due to how tiny they are. So I added a layer of the athletic mesh on one third of the soaker for softness, and then sewed them into the back. Since they’re still mostly detached, I’m hoping this will help them dry faster. I also ended up stitching a little extra fleece underneath in the backside region–hopefully it’s not too TMI to say that the soaker ended up being narrow enough that I was nervous about things being contained back there without a little extra width. Ahem. I used velcro for the closure, to make it easier to handle the diaper changes while we’re first learning to do this, and did the scooped front option so that it wouldn’t rub against his belly button while that’s still healing over.
|Clockwise from top left: Unstuffed, the liner, and stuffed.|
For the small and medium sizes, I did more of a “pocket diaper” for ease of cleaning and especially speed of drying. So all of the soaker layers are the tri-fold rectangles, and can be pulled out for washing. I also decided to do snaps instead of velcro for these two sizes–I figured those would stay on a little better once he starts getting mobile, and also be less likely to pick up all of the dog hair that seems to accumulate around here. That, and since these heavy-duty plastic snaps don’t separate quite as easily as the usual metal sewing ones I’ve used in the past, hopefully that will keep him from succeeding in taking them off himself! Here’s hoping that I can keep the two sizes straight, since the solid blue/green and the TARDIS print were used for both of them, and I figured I was spending enough and therefore didn’t get size labels.
The stashbusting total: a whopping 31.25 yards! Granted, I did buy all of these fabrics specifically for this project. I did have to buy an extra yard of the athletic mesh, though that got used up. I bought a little extra plain PUL from Joann’s to help reinforce snaps once I ran out of scraps, and still have maybe a yard of that left, but I purposely bought extra so I can make a changing pad for the diaper bag. (Hopefully that will happen soon.) And since the rectangular soakers took less fabric than I thought, I have nearly 2 yards of the cotton fleece left over. It’s got a pretty rough texture on the outside, so I don’t think it’ll make a good sweatshirt or anything like that. But I have some ideas for non-clothes things I can use it for, if I don’t end up needing to make a set of large-sized diapers.
And since the whole point of this undertaking was to save us money long-term, here’s the breakdown: I ended up paying a total of around $350 for all of the supplies, which translates to less than $5 per diaper. It looks like the absolute best I can do buying the cloth ones new is around $6.67 apiece. I got this price off of a 6-pack on Amazon, and those are ones that have a bajillion snaps so you can try to make the same diaper fit the kid as he/she grows. Definitely cheaper, but I wasn’t sure how well they’d hold up from all of the washing. If I was getting the more sized ones like I made, it would be at least around $18 apiece. Which means I would have only gotten about 19 diapers for the same cost.
On the flip side, I did a little googling, and according to Mint.com, the average cost of 1 year of disposables is around $800. I know I’ll have to occasionally use the disposables for instances like church nursery/if Doug’s mom is babysitting for us, since I really can’t see her wanting to deal with these. (My mom is totally on board, though.) Even so, aside from the cost of detergent and my time in carting the laundry around/getting loads started and put away, using these as my primary means of diapering should pay for itself in less than 6 months. Which means more money for fabric, right?