Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Doing it yourself

Hi, I am Sharni, owner of the Nappy Shoppe. Nappy Shoppe was started with my making my own inserts. And it has since evolved into making my own diaper accessory product line that employs 4 other girls to help me do it. I stock a lot of brands, but I love the fact that when someone buys a product made in my store, it helps to keep several families in my community fed!

If you have the ability to sew, you can make your own diapers. Although I found that if you walk into your local Joanns and ask them for hemp fabric, they will look at you like you are smoking its close relative! So for many of you, the better diaper making resources will need to be found on line. Those local to the Dallas Fort Worth area, can get them from my store in Allen Texas.

There are many free patterns out there to make cloth diapers, but I found a couple of great patterns that really worked for me, and I now sell them because I know that the average sewer will find these patterns easy to follow.

The first is the Jalie diaper pattern. For the price, I think it is great value as it has 4 different kind of diapers that you can make on it. A cover, a fitted, an all in one and a pocket. Here is my son Braden wearing the first pocket I made from this pattern. This pocket was so good, it worked at night on him!

All that pocket took was some PUL, Microchamois, elastic and Aplix. It was very affordable to make. I already had inserts from other diapers, but you could easily buy absorbent fabrics to make your own inserts.

Another great line of patterns is the Little Comet Tail Patterns. I have made several of these and they have fitteds, trainers, covers, diapers and more.

Common Materials

PUL - The common waterproof yet breathable outer layer for diapers, trainers, wet bags and more. Can be tricky to sew with (see my tips below). I believe some fabric stores have started stocking it, but it can still be tough to find locally, so your best source is going to be on line.

Microchamois or microfleece - The stay dry inner layer. Be careful when choosing your fleeces as some fleeces actually are a water proof barrier, and make great diaper covers instead. For instance polar fleeces make great diaper covers.

Aplix/Hook and Loop - The regular velcro brand is going to be too stiff for diapers. I personally have not found this kind at my local big box sewing supplies store. I was only ever able to find it online. I stock by the yard and tabs that I had die cut.

Snaps - There are two common methods for applying resin snaps. A snap press which is a heavy iron press. I have two of these in my store because we apply a lot of snaps, so the cost made sense for us. Snap pliers are great for those who only apply snaps casually. They take up far less room too. Snaps typically used for diapers are size 20 and come in a wide array of colours.

Absorbent fabrics - Cotton, hemp, bamboo and microfiber are common choices. You can pick up microfiber cleaning cloths at walmart. It is rather thin, but it can work. Cotton towels and receiving blankets can be cut up for inserts etc. Organic cottons, hemp and bamboo are easier found on line. Whenever I have sufficient I offer it up for DIY in limited supplies, but another great source is Natures Fabrics.

Elastics - Regular elastic will work. I like polybraid myself, but your pattern may call for a different kind. In generally this is the easiest material to be found in a sewing supply store.

FOE - Fold Over Elastic - This elastic is a binding and elastic combined. It is nice and soft against babies skin. There are some great youtube videos out there on how to apply FOE.

So if you sew, give diaper sewing a try. It can be a lot of fun :)

This picture is newborn Rylan at 5 pounds wearing a pocket diaper made from the Jalie pattern.


  • Be sure when making cloth diapers to use polyester thread and not cotton thread. Cotton thread will wick moisture.
  • Use a finer needle on PUL like an 11 so that you make as small a hole as possible in the PUL.
  • Run your diaper through the dryer after making it, to help seal up the holes.
  • When sewing on PUL, try to put the shiny side down towards the Feed Dogs of your machine. The shiny side will stick to the foot of your sewing machine. If you have no choice but to sew with the shiny side up, use a walking foot or a teflon foot. If you have neither of those available, laying tissue over the top of the PUL will help and you can tear it away afterwards.

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