I made my first cloth baby diaper yesterday! It turned out really well. I spent a lot of time looking at patterns and reading about materials and styles and stuff so by the time I sat down to sew I had a good idea of what I wanted to do. Even so, I'm impressed at how quickly and easily it came together. Also, it's really tiny and cute, I cant wait to have a little baby butt to put in it. :)
Here it is with one of the wing/tabs open, you can see the little scoop in the front - that is to keep the tummy pannel from coming up over the umbilical stub while it's healing. The pattern I used is called "Shar's Newborn with Umbilical Scoop Pocket" and it was a free downloadable pattern.
Here it is completely open, the elastic at the top is the opening for the pocket. For those of you who haven't been obsessibly researching cloth diapers for the last month (and why not? you have something better to do?), a pocket diaper has two layers - an outer water resistant or waterproof one, and an inner wicking one, with an opening so you can stuff an absorbant insert in between the two - aka the pocket. In this case, both the inner layer and the outer layer are polar fleece, but strangely enough some fleece lets water through and other fleece doesnt. I had quite a time going through my fabric bin pouring water on various fleeces to figure out which kind was which, it is not obvious from the thickness or fuzziness of the fleece at all. So, how does it work? In the interest of science, I tested the finished diaper (even though I had already tested the fleece before sewing) by stuffing the pocket with scrap material and placing the whole thing on top of a t-shirt before pouring about a half-cup of H2O onto it.
The result? It worked perfectly. The insert soaked up all the water, the inner wicking layer of fleece felt only slightly damp to the touch, and the outside of the diaper and the T-shirt beneath it were perfectly dry. I'm sure in real life some accidents may happen, but this diaper design really seems to work well!
After my initial diaper-making success, I decided I should try my hand at making the absorbant inserts. It took a bit of trial and error, but once I got a system worked out they went really fast and I made up a baker's dozen of them. The winning combination was two layers of flannel or jersey (from an old t-shirt) and an inner layer made from a retirement-aged bath towel. I top-stitched the edges and the center to (hopefully) keep all the layers in place without any fraying through wash after wash.
I also cut out a bunch more fabric for more diapers, including some PUL (polyurethane laminate - basically plastic-backed fabric) to use for the outer layer on some truly waterproof ones. The PUL is kind of expensive, so I wanted to make sure I did up some fleece ones to practice before I got into it. I figure I'll make about twenty of these newborn-sized ones with the scoop front, and then switch into a slightly larger newborn/small, maybe from a different pattern. This is fun, and it's really going to work! I'm so glad I decided to give sewing my own diapers a try.