On our 3rd day of the 6th annual Flats & Handwashing Challenge we are hosting an open topic day. This is an excellent opportunity to focus on an aspect of the challenge that interests you most. I love reading the posts our challengers come up with on these days, and seeing the amazing pictures you share.
For my open topic I’ll be sharing some quick overviews of the DIY projects that made my flats stash really special for me while saving some money. If you’ve ever been interested in sewing or you like to play with fabric, creating cloth diapers for your baby is an excellent way to experiment. They are small so they don’t use much fabric, and once you’ve made one or two, they’re pretty easy to do.
If you’re a beginner or like to have every detail fully explained, I HIGHLY recommend the Babyville Boutique sewing books. You can purchase an entire book of patterns and projects or just an individual diaper pattern, and they are available at your local Jo-Ann fabric store or online. I also use Babyville for my PUL, snaps, and fold over elastic (often referred to as FOE in the pattern books). If you’re more experienced you can download a pattern from the web (there are many free patterns if you run a quick search) or you can even just trace one of your existing covers, just be sure to stretch any elastic and leave room for seam allowance.
I chose to create a simple wipeable PUL (so no soft interior lining) cover with gussets but mix it up by adding a pretty cotton fabric exterior. Sometimes this style can result in wicking, but I haven’t had any issues. Just be sure you use polyester thread and when your cover is done, I’ve been told it’s best to run it through the dryer once (which is why I sewed this last week) to help seal the tiny holes in the PUL made by your stitches. For this method, I sandwiched the material together, with the shiny PUL facing the pretty flamingo pattern, stitched all but a few inches on a flat end, then turned it “right side out” and pressed with my fingers before finishing with a close stitch and adding my elastic and gussets. I also decided to only include one line of rise snaps and three columns of waist snaps since Autumn has outgrown the earlier settings, I didn’t feel the need to use extra snaps. I probably could have done only two columns of waist snaps but I wanted to make sure it would still have adjustability for different thicknesses of diaper and if she were to slim down a bit. I’m happy with the finished product, and I made it with materials I already had in my scrap basket.
I also whipped up a wool cover in case we need it for overnights this week. I still need to lanolize it, but it was so quick to sew. First I went to my local thrift shop and ran my hand over the rows of sweaters until I found one that felt soft and wooly. I checked the tag to make sure it was 100% wool, brought it home and put it in an old pillowcase then did a basting stitch to keep the pillowcase closed, and I washed it on hot with a load of laundry (I did this over the weekend, it was just the sewing that I did during the challenge). Once it was washed I tossed it pillowcase and all into the dryer. The pillowcase keeps all your other clothes from getting linty. After it was washed and dry I gave it a good ironing to take it from a tiny wadded up lump into a felted itsy bitsy sweater. I used Autumn’s measurements with her diaper on to decide how to cut my material, but you can use a pattern if you prefer. I originally cut elastic for the waist and legs, but while I was sewing I decided the legs would be snug enough without the elastic, so I just did the waist. If I find I need additional support for her legs, I may use some additional scrap of the sweater to create wider leg bands (just rectangles the length of her thigh’s circumference that have been folded in half for a comfy fit and sewn to the leg holes). I also made sure to cut an extra piece of sweater for the “wet zone” which will help strengthen the cover’s ability to keep moisture in. I used a stretch stitch so the garment has lots of give, important when you’re yanking it over a bulky fitted. I’ll show you how I lanolize another day, but it’s easy and fun.
For my flats I used that cheap ten pack of flour sack towels, but I also grabbed my Shibori dye kit and some random bits and ephemera from my backyard and I wrapped, tied, banded, and knotted those FSTs into all kinds of crazy little bundles. You can get ideas from your kit or online, but I winged it, remembering many tie dye parties from my childhood. Once all the FSTs were bound I soaked them in water, prepared the dye bath, added the pieces, let them sit while I tidied up, then checked on their progress. With indigo you remove the pieces to let them get oxygen, then dip them again, and the more you repeat this step, the darker the dye will be. I think I did it three times total and was happy with the result so I stopped. Then I let them sit for a few hours and came back and hung them on the line overnight. In the morning I washed them as normal and I love the way they look. It’s safe for baby’s skin and they are so fun and pretty no matter which diaper fold I choose.
I hope I’ve inspired you to be adventurous in your diaper stash as well, it makes diaper changes more fun when you love what you have. I look forward to reading your open topics today, and will be back tomorrow with my wash routine (and a bonus glimpse at how I lanolize!).