Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Caution: the following post may be quite boring. Feel free to skip it.

I am quite excited. After a rather dismal failure, I found two diaper patterns that I think will work quite nicely. In case you are wondering, I vetoed Rita's Rump Pattern, and am going full-steam ahead with the Mamabird Newborn Pattern and the Wee Weeka one size pattern. These are all free patterns. I like to use a pattern until I am a little more sure about what to do, but I don't guarantee I will follow them. After all, a pattern is just a recipe, and we all know how well I do with following recipes. =)

I really liked the Rita's pattern at first because it said it would fit the whole time from birth to potty training. Obviously, I can't try any diapers on yet, but after cutting out some fabric (note: do not start with your favorite fabric when using a brand new untested pattern), it just looked way too big. Then our friends with children vetoed them, as also looking way too big. So I dismissed the "I want to use just one size of diapers the whole time" idea. Sure, if I buy BumGenius or Mommy's Touch One Size diapers, they will theoretically work. But they are expensive- almost $20 a pop. I have checked for used ones, and haven't had any luck in our area. Not enough hippies using cloth I guess. =)

So I went searching. I found the Mamabird and Wee Weka patterns. (Note, the wee weka pattern is in metric units. Not difficult, just different.) The Newborn size Mamabird makes an adjustable diaper that is, at it's smallest, roughly the same size as the Newborn size disposable sample that I have, but gets quite a bit bigger also. I am quite proud of it personally. It looks like a diaper. My plan is to use mostly pocket diapers.

Here is the finished Newborn Mamabird diaper. Isn't it cute?
Here it is open. The flash was blinding, so I took the pic without the flash and now it looks dark. Oh well. The white parts on the wings are the hook part of the velcro, (ok, it's actually Aplix, which is a diaper-standard hook and loop tape, but whatever) and I even got fancy and added washing tabs, which are little pieces of loop next to the hook so that you don't catch other stuff in the wash. (I'll wait for you to finish oohing and aaahing.)

Now, for all you non-cloth folks, and I know there are a lot, there are many different styles of cloth diapers out there. Here is a crash course.
1) There are prefolds and covers, which is probably the first thing you think of when you think cloth diapers. Basically, you fold a cloth, pin it on, then put a cover on. These are inexpensive and easy to wash, but have a bit of a learning curve with trying to get the folds right.
2) There are all-in-ones, which are basically disposables made out of cloth. When it is dirty, you toss the whole thing in the wash. These are convenient, expensive, and slow-drying.
3) There are fitted diapers, which are like all-in-ones, but are not waterproof. They need a cover, but otherwise go on like a disposable.
4) There are contours, which are basically prefolds in a disposable or contoured shape but with no elastic. These also need a cover. They are slightly less expensive than fitteds, but more so than prefolds.
5) And then there are pockets. These are my personal favorites right now. Pocket diapers can be waterproof or not. They have a pocket that you stuff with a liner or soaker or insert (they are called all three). When the diaper is dirty, you take the stuffing out, wash the pocket and the stuffing, and then when it is dry, restuff. The waterproof ones are basically the same convenience-wise as an all-in-one, but dry a lot faster (meaning less energy and cost). Plus you can adjust the stuffing based on need. If baby pees a whole lot, put another insert in. These are usually $15 or so per diaper. I am going to be making mine for $2-$3 each. Exciting, no?

So, the plan. From the Mamabird Newborn pattern, I am going to make 12 waterproof pockets, and 12 fitted pockets (pocket diapers without a waterproof lining). I am also going to make 6 "wipe-clean" covers. The covers only need to be washed every few wears, so they will go the distance until laundry time. We will also buy 3 dozen infant prefolds. These will be the stuffing. Why not just make 24 or 36 waterproof pockets? Price. The waterproof material is expensive. The price pretty much doubles per diaper if I add waterproof material in. (What do you use that is waterproof? PUL- basically, laminated fabric or barrier fabric.) This way, we can have the waterproof pockets for naptime and bed time (and daddy-changing time. He is slowly being converted, but I am sure will prefer these). Then we have the fitteds as a convenient backup. And as a backup to all that, we will have plain old prefolds, which also go in the covers. So we will have 36 diapers in rotation. That should give us 2.5-3 days between washes. This is all in the newborn size, which should fit until she is about 15 pounds. I won't place any bets on how long that will be. Maybe she will surprise us and be tiny, but I was large and Alann was a chunky kid. So we will see.

After she outgrows the newborn size diapers, we move to phase two of the plan. This is the Wee Weka pattern. I am planning on making 12 waterproof pockets and 12 fitted pockets and 4 waterproof covers. (As older children need less changing, I'm not planning as many covers. I may make more if I have the fabric.) This gives us 24 diapers in rotation. We may need to buy some larger size prefolds if we find we are running out of diapers a lot, but this should last us 3 days or so. (I wouldn't go longer than that anyway without washing.) What will we stuff them with? The same infant-size prefolds. These diapers should fit her until she potty trains, I hope. And as long as the integrity of the sewing and cloth holds up, this should see our next few children to the toilet as well. Depending on the actual cutting of fabric, I just might end up with more diapers than this. But this is the bare minimum I will get.

Here are the two finished diapers side by side. The left one is the newborn Mamabird and the right one is the all-else Wee Weka. Ok, I didn't finish the Puppy dog one. I screwed it up something royally. I had the barrier fabric on the wrong side of the feed dogs (on the sewing machine) and so it was sticking and folding and it took me almost halfway through to realize the problem. But I had already ripped the stitches out once and I didn't want to do it again, so I just ignored it and flipped the diaper over and finished the rest of it the right way. Then I put the elastic in and it isn't in quite right. So I was about to topstitch the diaper to finish it, but I realized that it really sucked and I would hate using it. I got it done enough to know it will work. That was good enough for me. I will probably end up pulling the elastic and velcro off so I can use it for another more useful diaper. This is my favorite pattern by far though. And there was none left at Joann's last night. Oh well. I'll post some more pics when I get them all done.

So what is the projected cost of all this? About $250. Shocking, I know. But think about this- I won't have to rush to the store to buy diapers in the middle of the night. I don't have to worry about the chemicals on her sensitive parts. And, I don't have the ongoing cost of diapers to budget for. If I were to buy the diapers premade, I could buy covers and prefolds for about this much, a little less. Or I could buy just 12 one-size diapers (not enough to see me through 3 days). I see it as an investment in our future. These should last us. Sure, I might have to make a few more as our favorites get worn time and again. But overall, I am excited about this project. And, if it all goes downhill, I can always sell them.
Size comparison on the newborn pattern with my hand. It's just so cute!
As a treat to those who read all the way down, here is another baby bump:

She is getting so big. Last night, she was kung-fu fighting or something. She was kicking and punching and rolling around for almost 5 minutes straight. Of course this was as I was laying down to go to sleep. It kind of tickled when she rolled from one side to the other. It was fun.

Also, I went to Joann's to get some more fabric so that I have everything I need and I can just sew to my heart's content. I found some really fun fabric for slings. I found one for Alann that he is going to really like, but I'm not showing it to him until I finish it. It's awesome though.


Shannon said...

The teeny one is seriously adorable. I am so impressed with your sewing skills. Also, I have a 40% off coupon to Joann's if you want it.

teene said...

If it DOESN'T go downhill (and I'm sure it won't!) I will be so happy for you and I will definitely be hiring you to make some for me whenever I get around to having kids - which will probably be at least 5 years out so I hope you don't get rusty in your sewing skills :) Great job - and yes very super cute! Can't wait to see you in a few weeks!

MomKAS said...

Hooray for the diapers! Having done both cloth and disposables, the cloth are definitely better on the skin and faaaarrrr more cost effective in the long run.