I recently made some cloth diapers without spending a dime. After much research on the topic, I decided to open up my fabric stash, find suitably absorbent fabrics, and use up even small fabric scraps to make cloth diaper inserts. These inserts aren’t pretty, but they are cheap, easy, and get the job done.
If you have explored making cloth diapers yourself, you know that the subject is deep and wide with tons of opinions and “I’m right” ways to do things and “don’t do THAT” advice. It took me weeks of research to even figure out HOW to make a cloth diaper because the info out there is so confusing. I find this whole scenario rather ridiculous because when I was a baby, my mom used a padded flat diaper that she folded to fit me, changing the fold to fit me as I grew. The cloth diapering scene is a crazy confusopoly, and when I’m confused and overwhelmed, I just can’t buy into any specific radical philosophy. I finally decided to jump in and try a free pattern and discover my own radical philosophy.
I used the free cloth diaper pattern from Ottubre for my first foray into sewing cloth diapers. Download the PDF here.
I want to talk about materials for making diapers. Again, this is an extremely confusing topic with lots of wild variation in advice, from “just use an old t-shirt” to “you MUST buy this special fabric that is $64 a yard.” After agonizing over my fabric choice, my frugality won over and I decided to just bust into my stash and see how it went. And I’m here to tell you: you CAN use scraps to make diapers. I mean, literal scraps. I sewed strips of off-cut fabric together to create a sheet of fabric large enough to make a diaper.
See here? I sewed several strips together to make a piece of flannel big enough to make a diaper.
The main thing that a diaper has to do is be absorbent. The other main thing it should do is stay on. The rest of the details are just preference.
Three different diaper inserts made of scrap fabric.
For cloth diaper inserts (which are sewn inside the diaper), I used small scraps sewn together to add absorbency. This is a great way to use up off-cuts! Let me tell you how to do it.
Step 1: Cut two long rectangles of intact fabric. These will be the outer layers of fabric, and will keep the smaller scraps together. I used cotton flannel.
Step 2: Layer 4-6 layers of overlapping scrap fabric over the bottom rectangle. It doesn’t matter if parts of the scraps hang over the edge (as shown above). Just try to get pretty even layering across the whole rectangle. Place top fabric rectangle over the whole lot, and pin together if necessary.
Step 3: Sew around edge of rectangles with a straight stitch. It’s not necessary to zig-zag or serge the edges, but you can if you want. It’s going to be inside the diaper, never to be seen again.
Step 4: “Quilt” the insert, by sewing down its length one or two times to secure all the small scraps inside.
Step 5: Trim off any overhanging pieces.
Behold, your clever reuse of scraps that were destined for the trash (or worse, a bag of scraps in your stash).
p.s. Feel free to weigh in with your cloth diapering opinions and experiences here, including whether or not you think my scrap fabric inserts are crazy!