Homemade Cloth Diapers

It never occurred to me to create my own diapers–partially due to the fact that I have a complete lack of sewing skills and also because it seemed so complicated.  Imagine my surprise when my friend Kara casually handed me a bag of home-sewn hemp diapers saying only, “I made this for you since I had some extra time and fabric.” I had to know how it was possible to whip out a batch of diapers in just a few hours so interviewed Kara to get the nitty-gritty details.

GBG: Where did you get the idea/inspiration to make your own cloth diapers?

Before I was even pregnant with my first son, I was researching ways to be green, more healthy and frugal and found many sources for cloth diapers online. There were a few brands that had what they called “contours” and I was intrigued… they looked much more simple as compared to pre-folds and also much less expensive than “fitteds.” Plus, they also looked VERY simple to make.

I went to a local family owned fabric shop (not a large chain one) and they happened to carry hemp/cotton fleece and jersey fabric for $7.00 per yard. I had found a few sources online… but paying for shipping could be a bit more prohibitive – so I was thrilled to have found the fabric. I also experimented with old towels, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and polar fleece and regular flannel from a chain fabric store.

I found the hemp/cotton fleece to be my favorite for durability and absorbency. I was also able to invest in a serger sewing machine, which made the process MUCH easier. In my first attempts, before the serger, I made a few different styles of diapers trying to find one I thought would work (including some fitted ones, with elastic and velcro – the works) and when it all came down to it and the baby was finally here, we loved the simplicity of the contours.

Plus they’re SUPER easy to make. I did buy a few name brand contours to make my own basic pattern from, mostly to get the measurements to work with my Bummi’s covers. Overall probably not the least expensive way to go – but in the long run, still much less $$$ than buying them at $10+ a pop… and now I can use my serger for all kinds of fun toddler clothes and projects. I’m working on recycling my husband’s old t-shirts into yoga pants and shorts for the boys right now. 😉

GBG: What resources would you recommend for people just starting?

For buying fabric online check hemptraders.com. At around $10 a yard, they seem more reasonable than a lot of places I looked at. There are many patterns available from patterns at the fabric store to free ones online if you need more specific help.

GBG: Is it possible to make the diapers if you don’t have a serger?

There are ways to make diapers without a serger… but if you can beg and/or borrow one – I’d highly recommend it. Without a serger, you could make the diapers mostly inside out, similar to making a pillowcase, then turn them right side out and sew up the opening and then sew on a “doubler” if you like.

GBG: What are the advantages of the hourglass diaper over prefolds?

The “hourglass” or “contour” shape diaper is much less bulky than a prefold, takes much less fabric and is easier to customize, ie. double them up for night-time or naps without a crazy amount of bulk. We also made and use “doublers” which are just a couple layers of absorbent fabric with fleece on one side which wicks moisture away from baby butts, boosts your absorbency and keeps your diapers from staining as much. I think they’d also dry much faster than bulkier prefolds.


  1. Oh, how I wish I had learned to sew.

  2. that’s so cool!!!

  3. Most are more creative then I. I thought I would mention that Kara should link this story over at SortaCrunchy.com to win in a contest about cloth diapers on a budget. My favorite part of cloth is the lack of stink……

  4. Thanks Kelli – I’ll check it out. 🙂

  5. Looks like I am going to have to break out the old sewing machine!

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