Smart Mama

Sharing my passions to promote my Passion



Confessions of a Diaper Fanatic

Or How we diapered Brad for FREE

It was over nine years ago when I made my first cloth diaper.
No one I knew on the central coast of California used cloth diapers. Well, there was one mother of three, but she was from Canada, and when she gave birth to her first child it was the "in thing in Canada". She was surprised when she moved here and found everyone used disposables. Anyway, by then her youngest was just potty trained so like I said, no one I knew on the central coast of California used cloth diapers.

So why did my daughter decide to use cloth diapers? Well, she is her mother's daughter and we believe that if you can save a dime, do it. And if you can save several hundred dollars, well, go for it! Her husband was supportive as well. He's pretty frugal too.

I love to shop garage sales and when I found out my first daughter was pregnant, I couldn't wait to hit the garage sales in search of treasures for my grandchild. I found literally mounds of clothes, toys and equipment in great condition. I also, on occasion found cloth diapers in brand new condition. (Because nobody around here actually used cloth diapers.) Somebody would give cloth as a gift. Then the diapers would sit around a while before they ended up in the garage sales--to my delight. Same with Diaper wraps and other covers.

One day in the Dollar Stretcher Newsletter I saw an article on cloth diapering and an invitation to the diapering board at Parent's Place. I lurked and learned so much about diapers and I passed it all on to my daughter. One thing I learned is that there were "crazy" women out there who were obsessed with cloth diapers for their babies. I became one of them.

The defining moment when I crossed the line into diaper fanaticism came when I found my first king size unbleached flannel sheet set at a garage sale for $3.00 (including pillowcases!). From information I learned on the diapering board, I made up a couple dozen infant prefolds and then graduated to contours. I was hooked. After a few email conversations with other diaper sewing enthusiast, who so kindly gave me valuable tips, I designed a fitted diaper for Brad.

I kept sewing diapers until the little guy had more diapers than he could wear in two weeks. I decided that I had to either give up my diaper addiction or find another outlet for its expression. Creating a website about sewing diapers became the other outlet. I wanted to share some of the tips that I have learned from the Internet. This is a new updated site based on my orginal site from nine years ago.

So the question you've been waiting to have answered?
How did we diaper Brad for FREE?

  • Well I found 30 various diapers at garage sales for a total of $9
  • We received 1 dozen Gerber DSQ prefolds as gifts
  • I found 14 covers at garage and rummage sales for $3
  • I found 13 covers at a second hand children's clothing store for $11
  • I made 24 infant prefolds and 18 contours from the sheet set for $3
  • I made 6 butt sweaters from thrift store sweaters for about $6
  • I made 4 fleece covers for $8 (for fleece and velcro)
  • I made another 30 fitted diapers from any flannel I could find around the house. (Old pajamas, shirts, receiving blankets, sheets, printed flannel fabric left from when my girls were babies, etc) I used old towels for the center padding. Thread and elastic cost $4.
  • We did buy 4 prowrap seconds for $3 each plus shipping. (Total $15) These proved to be my daughter's favorite followed closely by the fleece Velcro wraps I made.
  • For liners we used old cotton tee shirts cut in strips about 5X9 inches.
  • Later I sold some of the garage sale diapers, a fleece cover, a butt sweater and 5 too small covers online for a total of $59.

WOW! I just added that all up and guess what? We diapered Brad for FREE!

Am I telling you this to make your feel envious? No, I'm telling you this because you can do the same thing. And I'm going to tell you how!


How to make prefold diapers
Infant prefolds (11 X 14 inches is a standard newborn size)

Prefold diapers are valuable for newborns because you can fold them to adjust the length and width as the baby quickly grows. When the baby grows out of the prefold diaper, it may be used as a liner (doubler) in larger diapers or as a burp cloth.

Cut a piece of flannel 23 X 15 inches. Cut a strip of terry towel 5 X 14 inches (I cut the terry a little shorter than the flannel because it can get too bulky if sewn into the end seam.) Finish the edges of the terry cloth with serging or a close zig-zag stitch.

Bring the two 15 inch edges of flannel together with the right sides of the flannel together. (The outside of the diaper is turned in.) Place one 14-inch edge of the terry strip on the flannel edges centering it from top to bottom.


Sew through all three layers. A serger is great for sewing diapers and especially finishing terry cloth edges, but not necessary. Continue with directions for either the enclosed method or the overcast method below.

Enclosed edge method:
Fold the flannel so the terry strip is flat in the center of the diaper. Sew a seam about ½ inch from the top edge. Sew a seam about ½ inch from the bottom edge leaving a 3 inch opening to turn the diaper to the right side.

Fold under the seam where you left the opening and top stitch it closed. This method encloses all edges and gives a neat appearance.

On the outside of the diaper sew a line of stitching on both sides of the terry. One line should be in the seam line of the flannel. Just eyeball the other line of stitching making sure you are sewing through the terry.

Overcast edge method:
Turn the diaper to the outside.
Fold the flannel so the terry strip is flat in the center of the diaper.
On the outside of the diaper sew a line of stitching on both sides of the terry.
One line should be in the seam line of the flannel. Just eyeball the other line of stitching making sure you are sewing through the terry.
Make sure the edges of the diaper are even and lined up. Trim a little bit if necessary to make sure all edges are even.
Using a wide zig zag stitch, overcast both edges of the diaper. This method gives less bulk in the ends.
A serger is perfect for this job but a wide close ziz zag stitch can work as well.

Newborn Prefold

Prefold diaper sizes:
You can use these same directions to make prefolds any size you want.
The typical sizes for fully shrunk prefolds measure:
11 X 14 inches for newborn (cut flannel 23 X15 inches)
13 X 19 inches for regular diapers (cut flannel 27 X 20)
17 X19 inches for toddler diapers. (cut flannel 35 X 20)

4-6-4 Flannel Prefold Diapers:

Cut a piece of flannel 15 inches by 54 inches.
Fold the strip of fabric so that the 15 inches edges meet, keeping the right sides to the outside.
Stitch the raw edges together with a ½ inch seam.
Fold the raw edges over 11 inches from the folded edge.
Fold the other edge, overlapping the raw edges to 3 inches from the opposite end.
This should make a 6 layer pad in the center with three inches of 4 layers on each side.
Sew two lines of stitching down the edges of the center pad making sure you sew through the all the layers.
If necessary, lightly trim the raw end edges so they are even.
Pin the raw edges of the diaper and overcast with a zig zag stitch.





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