How to Make a Pocket Diaper

Since my diaper making post was so popular I’ll share how I made my son’s diapers.  I was inspired to make them after reading this blog.  It was my first attempt ever at making a cloth diaper much less anything else.  Little did I know that they would still be going strong after over three years of use.  My original post documenting all this can be found here.

Now these instructions can be adapted in number of ways.  I realize that people just starting out may need more concrete instructions so I’ll share how to make the pocket version.  I’ll also use my sewing machine to demonstrate since I know that not everyone who sews owns a serger.  To make it more fun, I’ll give the finished product away to the first person who comments saying they want it!  🙂

Keep in mind that it may take a few attempts to get all the kinks worked out.  Even being the diaper sewer I am now, I had to get used to using the sewing machine in this way again.  Needless to say, the diaper is a little rough around the edges.  Still very functional though!

To make a pocket diaper you’ll need:

Equipment & Supplies
A sewing machine or serger
A pattern (make one yourself, here)
Polyester thread (cotton may encourage wicking)
Hair clips or pins
1/4 – 1/2” wide elastic  (I use a 3/8” braided diaper making variety)
1”-1 1/2” wide Aplix or Touch Tape
Fabric marking pen (I just used a regular pen)

Fabric
Outer layer – cotton blend (you can get fancy or use materials you find around the house)
Middle layer – PUL (polyurethane laminate – waterproof fabric)
Inner layer – Polyester Fleece
Microfiber dish towels or flats/prefolds (for stuffing the diaper with)

**Just a warning for those first starting out.  Understanding and choosing the right fabric is half the battle.  There are other options than the ones listed above.  Taking the time to brush up on the various types of fabrics and why they are used in diaper making will help greatly.
Finding the right materials can also be a struggle at first.  I most often buy my supplies from Fabric.com, Wazoodle, and Very Baby

Instructions:

1. First and foremost, find or create your own pattern.  If you make your own, try and make both sides symmetrical so the fabric will match up correctly when put together.  You can do this by folding the pattern together length-wise and trimming as necessary.  For this project, I used the pattern I made three years ago.


2. Use the pattern to cut out the diaper layers; one from each of the fabrics designated for the outer, middle and inner part of the diaper.  Add the elastic markings on the fabric side of the PUL layer.  I use a sharpie to mark the spots so I can see them better while putting everything together.  The marks will be hidden once the diaper is constructed.

3. Cut out a segment of loop Aplix or Touch Tape to attach to the outer layer.  You’ll want to cut enough so that it goes across most of the front.  Leave some room by the edges.  Make sure it is centered, and leave at least 1/2” from the top.  

Attach it to the fabric using a zig zag stitch so that the needle pierces both the velcro and fabric as you sew.  When you come to a corner, stop the needle when it is on the fabric (not the velcro), lift pressure foot, turn 90 degrees, and continue on.  Keep going until you reach your starting point.  Sew slightly beyond, and back stitch to secure.

4. Now put the outer and middle layer together.  This diaper will be used as is (no turning and top stitching) so layer accordingly.  Put the outer layer, print side down, on the table.  Then put the PUL on top of that layer, with the shiny side up.  When in use, the soaker will rest against the laminated part.

5. Next, cut out three segments of elastic.  Two for the leg areas and one for the back.  How much you’ll need will depend on your diaper pattern.  I usually try and cut enough to cover 75% of the distance between the marks.  Once I mark the length, I stretch the elastic out to make sure it will be enough.

  
6. Now position each elastic piece so that the edge aligns with the appropriate marking on the PUL.  I position the long edge of the elastic about 1/2” from the edge of the fabric layers to account for the stitching I’ll do when I serge them together.  Adjust according to your sewing machine settings and comfort level.  Tack on by sewing 1/2” from the elastic’s short edge forwards and backwards, a few times each way.

*This is a slight variation from the instructions that are linked above.  I prefer to encase the elastic after everything is put together.  I’ve found that it’s easier to attach the elastic and serge the edges (for me) when done this way. 

7. Next, line up the final fleece layer, with the soft side out (if applicable), to the first two layers.  Pin/clip everything together, starting at the tummy panel, and working around the edges until all layers are lined up properly.  You may need to shift the elastic a bit as you do this.  Try not to stretch the fabric (the fleece particularly).  Any irregularities will be most obvious as you near each wing and tummy corner.

Now if you are like me, you may question whether pinning/clipping is necessary.  Trust me, it is in this case.  Depending on the fabrics you use, certain layers may be more stretchy than others which can cause the layers to shift.  Any shifting will be easier to manage and adjust if the diaper is clipped in sections.

 
8. If you have a serger, then simply serge the edges together, paying attention not to catch the elastic as you go.

If you are using your sewing machine, set the zig zag stitch so that the stitch is wide and very close together.   Starting at the tummy panel, sew along the edge so that the needle hits both the fabric and very edge of the layers.  Don’t stress too much about this part as you’ll be trimming the edges.  You can even go around the edges a second time, as I did (pictured). 

Now I’m not going to lie, this part is tricky.  Be sure to use a quality thread like Gutermann otherwise you may experience more skipped stitches than you can handle.  Believe me, I started this diaper thinking I could get away with using a lower quality thread I had on hand.  Wrong!

Once you are done faux serging the diaper, trim the edges.  Be careful not to cut the stitching!

9. Next, encase the elastic.  Do this by starting with the needle at the edge where the elastic is tacked.  Sew in, over the tack line, about 1/4” beyond it.

Then lift the pressure foot, turn, and sew down to the other tacked end, being sure not to sew over the elastic.  As you do this, stretch the diaper’s side by pulling the other tacked end (as pictured below) to bring the elastic closer to the serged edge.

As you go, increase the distance from the elastic if you feel yourself getting too close.  Use your fingers as a guide (as pictured below) to feel as you go.  If you mess up, you can always remove the stitching and start over.  This method, in my opinion, is more forgiving than the encasing method I originally used.  If you try the other encasing method you’ll know what I mean.

10. Now you’re ready to attach the hook Aplix/Touch Tape and dryer tabs to the wings.  Cut out two square sets of both hook and loop.  I curve the edges.

Position the hook side to the edge of the inner part of the wings, and place the loop sides next to them.  Sew on as you did with the tummy velcro panel.

11. The last step is to cut a hole in the fleece so that the diapers can be stuffed.  Don’t worry, the fleece will not fray during washes.  This can probably be done at either end.  I chose the back end since that is what I’m used to.  Do whatever works best for you.  Just make sure not to pierce the other layers of fabric. 

If you are hesitant to cut the precious diaper you just made, you can also use it as an AI2.  Simply fold the micro terry towel and lay it in inside the diaper against the fleece.  Make sure the folded towel does not touch the edges or leaking may occur.  You can also make your own soakers if you want to get fancy.  As I said above, the possibilities are endless!

Now who wants this diaper?  It’s a large and will fit most older babies & toddlers between 25-35lbs.   

**Soaker not included.

4 thoughts on “How to Make a Pocket Diaper

  • March 14, 2012 at 12:54 am
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    how many hours roughly do you think it takes you to make one diaper?
    thanks!

    Reply
  • March 14, 2012 at 1:40 am
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    It really depends on your knowledge and experience with sewing. When I was very inexperienced it took me quite a bit of time to prepare, and figure out how to do it the first time. With practice, I got quicker at it.
    This particular diaper took me about an hour. It's a quick diaper to make since it doesn't require a special soaker. That said, I did have some set backs so I'm sure I could have improved that time if I had more diapers to practice on.

    Reply

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