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Here are my instructions on sewing a fitted cloth diaper. It's so easy!! Learn how to here

Aren't you tired of paying an arm and a leg for some nice diapers? I was too, and with a few tips from people, figured out how to sew my own.

I have a basic sewing machine. It cost like $130 when it was new. You just need straight stitches and zigzag stitches for this.

Any cotton fabric will work. You can use old clothing, old flannel sheets, old towels, old receiving blankets, if you want "free" fabric. You can check out the $1/yard table at Walmart for some cotton fabric. You can purchase flannel fairly inexpensively; at Walmart it's about $2.50/yard for some prints, and you can look at JoAnn Fabrics and see if you can find some on clearance. Any flannel will do, there's quilter's flannel, diaper flannel, and "cuddly" flannel.

You'll need thread, sew-on velcro (1.5" preferably), and elastic (3/8").

Whenever you stitch, make sure to backstitch at the beginning and at the end of your stitching. (That means, stitch forward, then backwards, then forward again). This will prevent your stitches from coming undone.

Step 1:
First, get your pattern. I traced a diaper I already had, and altered it some. It's not hard, just get the general shape, and with subsequent diapers, you can lengthen or shorten whatever doesn't seem to fit right.

If you're making your own pattern, I suggest tracing half the diaper, then folding the pattern in half to get the rest so the diaper is identical on either side.

Step 2:
Cut 2 pieces of your good fabric. This is flannel I bought at Walmart for $2.50/yard.

Step 3:
Cut 1 or 2 pieces of your inside fabric, using the same pattern. This particular fabric is a cotton knit (kind of like t-shirt material), that I bought from Walmart's $1/yard table. Isn't it ugly? I like to use 2 inner pieces for a thicker diaper, but you can use only 1 if you prefer.

Step 4:
Get your soaker pad. You can use fabric scraps (like the one on the right), or a washcloth, part of a terry towel, etc. I like the soaker to be about the length of a washcloth. On the right is a microfiber towel I bought for $1.10 on clearance at Meijer's. It's the same size as a washcloth. If I was using it, I would fold it in thirds, and stitch around it to hold it in place. Walmart also has cheap washcloths for like 12 for $4, and those work fine too. The microfiber towels hold a LOT of liquid, and with one of those as a pad, the diaper will easily go all night.

This time, I'm using the fabric scraps. They don't all quite fit evenly in the rectangle, but that's ok. I stitched a straight stitch all the way around it, and evened out the edges with a scissors.

Step 5:
Sew the soaker pad to one of the center pieces. Make sure it's in the very center of the diaper. I did a zig zag stitch at the very edges of the soaker pad, all the way around it.

Step 6:
Pin all 4 layers together. You want the outer fabric's right sides facing each other, at the very center. You notice I've got the black checks facing outwards, so that the whiter side is towards the outer layers. This is so the black checks don't show through to the outside of the diaper.

So at the very bottom, there's the black check fabric, black checks facing downwards. On top of it, there's the blue fabric, right side facing upwards. On top of that one, there's another blue fabric, right side facing downwards. On top of that one, there's the one you see, which has the black checks facing upwards.

Make sure to get all the edges as even as you can with each other when you pin it together.

Step 7:
Sew a straight stitch all the way around the diaper, leaving the front part (that's towards the bottom in the picture) open. Cut with a scissors all the way around where you've stitched, fairly close to the hem. Make sure not to cut too close that you cut your stitching!! Clip (cut towards your seam WITHOUT nicking it) around the curves a little bit.

Step 8:
Fold the diaper lengthwise in half, and mark where you want your elastic to go. I used a pink highlighter, use whatever works. You fold it in half to do it so the elastic is evenly spaced. I usually do it an inch or two away from the end. Do the same thing for the leg elastic. Start near the tab and end near the front somewhere. (it doesn't matter that much where it goes, just make both sides even).

Step 9:
Take the elastic and hold or pin it where your first mark is. You'll want to sew it along the seam, in line with the straight stitch that's on there. With the sewing machine, you'll use a very small straight stitch, going forwards and backwards over and over a few times to tack it down. Then switch the machine to a large zig zag stitch, without taking the diaper off the machine. While stretching the elastic with one hand, and pulling the diaper through the machine with the other, zig zag the elastic down to where the 2nd mark is. Tack down that end of the elastic, then cut it off. Do the same thing with both legs, along with the back.

This is what it'll look like with the back done:

This is what it'll look like with the back and the leg elastics done:

Step 10:
Turn the diaper right side out. It'll look like this, then:

Step 11:
Fold the front flap in, and pin it shut.

Step 12:
Sew closely to the edge of the front, to securely close the gap.

Step 13:
This step is optional (I've made a few diapers without it), but it makes for a really nice finish to it, and keeps everything inside better. This creates a kind of "cuff" at the waist, and legs.

You can iron the seams, so they stay open better, or pull them out all the way and pin along them. You'll pull the elastic to stretch it, and pin along side it (not on it).

While stretching the elastic, sew a straight stitch next to it (where you pinned), keeping the seam as flat as you can.

This is what the waist will look like after you do that:

This is what it will look like after you do the waist and legs:

Step 14:
Time for the velcro! Pin a length of the loop part to the front, exterior of the diaper.

Step 15:
Sew a zig zag stitch all the way around the velcro to secure it. For the tabs, cut a piece of hook, and zig zag it all the way around. It's best to place it as close to the end of the tab as you can. This is what it will look like with all the velcro on it.

And this is what it'll look like, completed, and closed. That was easy, wasn't it?


ADDED UPDATE 2/26/2008

To answer questions in comments, yes a fitted diaper needs a cover of some sort. Gerber plastic pants, or whatever, just something for over top, because the flannel will wick onto clothing. If you make the outer layer out of PUL (so make it an AIO), it will take forever to dry in the dryer, and will wick out of the legs if it gets wet enough.

Personally, I think this particular pattern isn't a very good one... what I would use these instructions for are to understand the sewing concepts of making a diaper, rather than totally copying the pattern (although you can if you want, of course). When I first started out sewing diapers, it took a lot of figuring out what they meant by "put in the leg elastic" without good pictures, and that's what this tutorial will hopefully help you all with.

My daughter that I originally learned about cloth diapers on is now 5 years old and will be in kindergarten in the fall. :-D She's obviously out of diapers!


( 297 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 7th, 2003 10:34 pm (UTC)
Wow. It looks really hard actually.
Apr. 7th, 2003 10:54 pm (UTC)
It's not... I don't sew that well and I can do it. You haven't tried to do hard things like zippers, buttons, pleats, and with hard to work with fabrics apparently... THOSE are hard. :-)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Jan. 5th, 2009 03:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - scarlete - Mar. 3rd, 2006 04:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Help!! - (Anonymous) - Sep. 23rd, 2009 01:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Help!! - mayna - Sep. 23rd, 2009 02:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Help!! - - Oct. 26th, 2009 03:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 8th, 2003 05:31 am (UTC)
thanks for the directions! can you put this in your memories so i can find it later??
Apr. 8th, 2003 10:26 am (UTC)
yup it's already there. :-) And if you need help with any of it, you know where i live. :-)
Apr. 8th, 2003 09:34 am (UTC)
hmmmm I should buy a serger then I can get you to teach me how to make the diapers and you can let me use your sewing machine and you can use my serger ;) I actually just need to buy both!
Apr. 8th, 2003 11:59 am (UTC)
I'd actually start out with a sewing machine, it's much more versatile. Sewing machines are pretty cheap, I got mine for like $130.
hello - (Anonymous) - Jan. 16th, 2011 12:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 29th, 2003 10:10 am (UTC)
I don't see why not, but be careful of what thread you use, because the thread can wick through and cause leaks. Maybe a 100% polyester thread?
May. 31st, 2003 09:12 am (UTC)
Found them! Now I will go make some for myself using your directions!
May. 31st, 2003 10:34 am (UTC)
For my baby! Not me!
(no subject) - mayna - May. 31st, 2003 12:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 20th, 2004 01:48 pm (UTC)
Awesome directions. I've been reading about these wonderful cloth diapers todays mommy's are making and am so jealous! These are NOT the diapers I used so many years ago.

I will now try to create some for my soon to be born grandson.

Thanks Mayna!
May. 20th, 2004 02:48 pm (UTC)
Wow, I wrote that a LONG time ago. :-)
Good luck on the sewing!
(no subject) - phatsheep - Aug. 25th, 2004 06:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mayna - Aug. 25th, 2004 09:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Aug. 26th, 2005 07:44 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mayna - Aug. 26th, 2005 08:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 26th, 2004 12:32 pm (UTC)
Hi I was wondering if you had a paper copy of this pattern as I am having trouble winging it.
Aug. 26th, 2004 03:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Pattern
No... in fact I threw it out. Measure your baby's waist and make sure the wings go all the way around with enough room to spare, and measure your baby from the back waist to the front waist, and add a little bit of material there too.
Re: Pattern - aussie_gran - Sep. 8th, 2004 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Pattern - sweetpea3842 - Oct. 1st, 2004 12:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Pattern - obsessivedrmer - Dec. 20th, 2007 06:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 2nd, 2004 07:58 pm (UTC)
Hi! I know this was written a long time ago but I just found it in a web search. Thank you so much for posting it! My daughter is due in March and this time I want to try cloth diapers and want to make my own. :D
Jan. 27th, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC)
Just out of curiosity, what dimensions did you use for your baby?
I'm just trying to get an idea because I'm going to be using this pattern, lol. (I found this through EC yahoo group)
Jan. 28th, 2005 02:36 pm (UTC)
I honestly don't remember. Maylie was 3 mos old when I did that and she is 2 yrs old now and an EC grad!

You can measure your baby around the waist. Add 5/8" on either side for the seam allowance. Measure your baby's rise, back waist through the legs up to the belly button. Add 5/8" on both the front and back for the seam allowance. Maybe add 1/2" to the rise for any bulk or growth. Your first one probably won't be the best but you can see where you want to alter it once the first one is done and make the 2nd one looking good.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 26th, 2005 12:17 pm (UTC)
Yah, basically you just have to sit down and try it, it's really hard to mess up a diaper... the fit might be off but as long as it absorbs pee, that's what matters, right? :-)

And yeah this page is pretty old, my daughter was maybe 4 mos old at the time and now she's over 2. :-D
Jun. 1st, 2005 02:07 pm (UTC)
What a great post! Thanks so much for posting it.

I have a bunch of old flannel sheets I bought at a garage sale for a song with the idea that I would make diapers....but I've been too nervous to and they've just been clogging up my dining room instead! =D

I was thinking of buying a Poo Pockets pattern but your post has inspired me to try making a diaper by myself. Thanks so much! =)

I don't suppose you know how to add those nifty gussets like the poo pockets, do you?
Jun. 1st, 2005 02:18 pm (UTC)
I think you cut out a sort of half-circle shape. I think that probably has instructions on doing gussets. I personally haven't done them though.
Poo Pockets pattern - (Anonymous) - Sep. 22nd, 2005 05:59 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Poo Pockets pattern - madiantin - Sep. 26th, 2005 07:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Flats are the unsung hero of diapers! - (Anonymous) - Sep. 30th, 2005 04:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Flats are the unsung hero of diapers! - madiantin - Oct. 3rd, 2005 05:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 14th, 2005 11:56 pm (UTC)
I just got redirected here from a tutorial site, and this is the easiest cloth diaper pattern I've seen. I'm definitely going to start working on mine soon. :)
Aug. 26th, 2005 11:52 am (UTC)
I have tried one other cloth diaper pattern. It was dificult and it looked terrile when I was done. I used yours last night and it turned out great. I am so proud. Cant wait to make more. PLUS it only took me about an hour.

(no subject) - calienteyfria - Aug. 26th, 2005 02:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mayna - Aug. 26th, 2005 02:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - calienteyfria - Aug. 26th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mayna - Aug. 26th, 2005 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 9th, 2005 07:26 pm (UTC)
New Mom-to-Be
I have been looking for ever online for cloth diapers and or their patterns. So far i have been confused by almost everything i see.

Your instructions dont seem to be hard considering the last time i actually used a sewing machine was in Highschool to make a pair of boxers, (one leg turned out to be slightly wider than the other), I think your directions i perfectly do-able, i will give them a try, Hopefully they will save me loads of money that this Cloth Diaper industries seem to catch unsuspecting new moms in.
Thanks you really Thanks
Sep. 18th, 2005 05:09 am (UTC)
I know that this is SO old.. but I just found it and it's an awesome tutorial!! I can actually understand it! lol
Thanks!! I just bought a sewing machine so here I go lol
Sep. 18th, 2005 07:36 pm (UTC)
I keep it up for that reason, seems a lot of people find it and like it!
Sep. 26th, 2005 06:27 am (UTC)
little bit of help plz
hello just wanna say finaly i have found excellient page to help me make me son a nappy as i have just been converted to cloth. but my question is what is flannel i'm from the uk is it brushed cotton???
Sep. 26th, 2005 11:55 am (UTC)
Re: little bit of help plz
That might be the same. Flannel is kind of soft, and it doesn't stretch. It's what you'd probably want to make pyjamas out of (but there are some treated flannels that you don't want to use for diapers, that are cotton but are treated so they won't absorb water). You can buy diaper flannel (or whatever it would be called in the UK) which is perfect. Terry also works well, you can make one side terry and the other side be a cute print.
Re: little bit of help plz - (Anonymous) - Oct. 10th, 2005 11:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: little bit of help plz - (Anonymous) - Oct. 10th, 2005 11:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 25th, 2005 07:02 pm (UTC)
first time mom
Thank you so much for this very clear tutorial. This is the first time I actually 'get it' how the whole thing works.
I am still a bit fuzzy on the elastic part, but I think it will work out.
Now at least I know how many layers in a cloth diaper! lol
Nov. 10th, 2005 12:28 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I have all the materials I need, but didn't quite know how to start. This was very helpful!
Nov. 28th, 2005 10:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much\
I have made 6 diapers so far from these directions. It's SO easy!!Thank you so much for posting it.
Feb. 5th, 2006 07:37 pm (UTC)
HA! I was googling 'free fitted diaper patter' and I found a website which had a link to your directions! SMALL, SMALL WORLD!
Feb. 5th, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah somehow this page has made its rounds, which is strange beccause I only ever posted about it in clothdiapering. I even had someone who I know on the EC list, she's not even on LJ... she discovered this was my page and said that was weird beccause this is the page she sends people to all the time for a tutorial on sewing cloth diapers.
(no subject) - livemockingbird - Feb. 5th, 2006 09:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mayna - Feb. 5th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 23rd, 2006 03:44 am (UTC)
ahhh!! All of the pictures are gone. =o( And I JUST got a sewing machine yesterday.
Feb. 23rd, 2006 03:56 am (UTC)
go to

I have it re-posted there. I don't have access to the account that I originally put those pics up at. I don't know if that server closed my account or if it is just temporarily down. What I need to do is put links to Scrapbook but I haven't done that yet. All the instructions and pictures are up on my Scrapbook though.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Feb. 24th, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 2nd, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC)
Do you have any measurements for the diapers? I do not own any diapers yet to trace? I am looking for newborn size.
Mar. 2nd, 2006 05:43 pm (UTC)
Re: sizing
Re: sizing - (Anonymous) - Mar. 3rd, 2006 03:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Mar. 18th, 2006 03:42 am (UTC)
Where is the water proof layer...I didn't see you mention one. Is there one? If not that means you need a cover...
Mar. 18th, 2006 03:43 am (UTC)
Re: Waterproof
Never mind it is fitted.....
Mar. 24th, 2006 02:33 pm (UTC)
just found your fab site !!- have made first proto-type !!, so east to do - just need to make version 2 with a few adjustments now --- if i wanted to make it waterproof could i add a layer of PUL to it ?, never used PUL before ,would i just sew in as another layer - preume it would go under the final outside layer ? many many thanks from a uk crafter
Mar. 24th, 2006 03:15 pm (UTC)
Re: waterproofing
I wouldn't, and especially wouldn't put it under the outer layer. It'll just wick. This is just supposed to be a simple way to make a fitted. There are ways online on how to make AIOs (the instructions aren't as easy to follow which is why I made these instructions) but once you have the general idea, those instructiosn become easier to follow.
Apr. 4th, 2006 09:42 pm (UTC)
material for soaker
I have made several cloth diapers for my first grandchild. They are so cute and fun to make. Since I am new to this I am wondering about the soaker part. What different things have you used? I used 1 layer of thick terry and 2 layers of flannel. I also have a wool bat from a very old quilt. I was wondering about using it between flannel.
Any thoughts on this?
Your photographs are great.
Apr. 5th, 2006 01:41 am (UTC)
Re: material for soaker
Wool might work, I dunno. Cotton batting would definitely work. I've used hemp terry and hemp fleece, flannel, and terry for soakers.
Re: material for soaker - fieldsofjoy - Jul. 22nd, 2008 11:19 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 7th, 2006 06:42 pm (UTC)
at what point do you add snaps if you wanted to use snap instead?
Apr. 7th, 2006 06:43 pm (UTC)
snaps are always the last things to add unless you want hidden snaps, in which case you put them on before you sew it together.
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