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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Diaper pictures

Adventures in cloth diapers

My friend Robin, this one is for you.

Busy week, that included DD making the decision to go on mat leave early (we have 12 months in Canada) because the 12 hour night shifts are bringing on a lot of contractions. Things have settled down as she has slowed down. BTW did you know that many European countries have legislation that says pregnant women are not allowed to work nights?

Things are better for her now but we were busy there for a while and of course I figured that I should focus on the diapers.

Now here is my disclaimer. Cloth diapers are really big around here for environmental as well as economic reasons, but some of this movement (for those of us who cloth diapered as a matter of course years ago - gauze rectangles you bought at the grocery and drug stores) has like so many other things it seems has become very self-conscious and another reason for advanced consumption. I have spent a lot of time online and I can tell you the range of fabric and pattern choices is enough to make your head hurt. Hemp, bamboo, non-bleached, organic, chlorine free, birdseye cotton, sustainable, bio-degradable. diaper liners, diaper "soaker" pads as add ons, wrap diapers with snaps, with velcro, one-size (24 snaps), many variant sizes, all-in ones (meaning the diaper has a waterproof cover and the diaper fabric also inside), wrap around diapers with separate diaper covers and of course 47 different variations of diaper covers.

My neighbour called me over to see her niece's baby's bum and as I think I have mentioned earlier I calculated $45 worth of stuff on that infant's rear. Multiply that by numerous changes.

So you can imagine my relief when DD announced that the consensus on the pregnancy chat boards was that "pre-folds" - double layer flat diapers with a few extra layers of fabric stitched in the middle third - were the way to go because they are best way to get a "custom fit" was with a diaper you wrapped around and pinned. (Although there are a huge variety of ways to put these things on - I can't even describe the "bow tie").

The idea of "pre-folds" is that you are stitching the folds in so the diapers do not have to be folded every time. Makes sense to me, although you do need several sizes from 0-toilet training.

As part of our research we bought a very pricey set of 6 pre-folds at one of those baby boutiques and like all pre-folds they are marketed as "shrinking down to something soft and more absorbent" as if this is a huge breakthrough.

O.K. I know my sewer-fabricaholic snobbery is showing through here big time.

Looks to me like el-cheapo cotton that of course is going to shrink enormously and I know cheap fabric folded up and serged when I see it - whatever price you put on it. This IMO could only be marketed to a generation that had no idea of how to sew.

Oh my god, I have transformed into someone's old grandmother already haven't I?

Moving on.

I decided to make our diapers from diaper flannel. They still make it and it is nice quality - much like quilter's flannel. I bought a bolt when I was visiting my mom at $1.80 a meter 26" wide. Washed and pre-shrunk in hot water and Ivory Snow (gee I had forgotten that smell - I should use it more often.)

After a bit more online research this is how I decided to make them, in the small size first (figure I will make more as this baby grows and needs them - we have heard that the small ones can be folded as overnight inserts when the baby is bigger.)

I think it is best to explain this conceptually in words and then hope that my awful photography helps.

1. Figure out what the size the finished diaper needs to be. I narrowed it down to three basic sizes small 11"-14"; medium 13"-18"; and large 15"-21". Now I think that for a real newborn 11"-12" might be better. You might want to have a look at these sizes and decide what you think.

2. Once you have the final size in your head figure that it is going to be made by folding one larger rectangle into a tube and sewing, or serging, it along the long edge. Add a bit for a seam allowance. This meant that for my small ones I cut pieces 23" (two 1/2" seam allowances) wide and 14" long (I knew I was going to serge the ends of the tubes and didn't add seam allowances).

3. Also realize that you are going to need a sort of pad of extra layers to be sewn into the middle 1/3 of the diaper - some instructions suggested 6-8 layers but I found that in the flannel this was way too thick - almost like putting a rolled up newspaper between the baby legs and I didn't want to do that - so I cut only 4 layers (two pieces folded over) to do this - finished size of the pad about 11" X 4" so there would be  little extra to be caught in the stitching.

4. While the tube, with the long edge now serged, was still right sides together I pinned the pag right up against the seamed edge, with only a pin through one layer of the diaper fabric, to hold it into position while I turned the tube inside out. I had decided to put the seam a third of the way in so there would not be any seam bulk at the edge of the diapers. Once it was turned inside out I removed these pins and re-positioned them on the right side.

5. Serge the ends of the diaper tube closed, catching in the ends of the pads.

6. This is the fun part. The last step was to stitch through all layers on both sides of the pad to secure. Really this is like quilting (I even considered channel quilting these diapers but decided that would be too bulky). To do this I used those strange decorative stitches on my machine that I never use. In this case hearts and flowers. In a few I sewed down the middle of the pad too. I used up the ends of many pastel spools to do this.

That's it and I hope this makes sense. Of course being a multiple sewer I ended up making 38. And that is just smalls. My mom is bringing more flannel when she does the baby visit.

No fitting and pretty fun project.Oh and I also made a few extra pads to be put in for over night.