Sew Your Own Cloth Nappies: Soft & Sustainable DIY Adventure

Sew Your Own Cloth Nappies: Soft & Sustainable DIY Adventure

My venture into modern cloth diapers began when my third child reached 9 months old. My first attempt with cloth diapers was with my eldest daughter, using traditional cotton terry towels and PVC covers, which was messy and inconvenient.

Five years later, at a baby and toddler expo while introducing my first workbook, I discovered modern cloth diapers imported from Australia.  Intrigued by their simplicity, I bought three to start out with.  I also reused my old terry towels alongside them (without the sterri-nappy of course).

Driven by my creative and thrifty spirit, I began crafting my cloth diapers using old towels and fleece fabric. When I became pregnant with my fourth child, I created a stash of newborn cloth diapers, inspiring me to start my business, Boegoe Bugz. I designed my pattern, the Boegoe Bugz cloth nappy pattern.

Today, I’m excited to share step-by-step instructions for making your own cloth diaper, whether it’s an SIO, AI2, or cover. You can choose any pattern you like or purchase mine here. The process is similar for sewing an SIO or cover, with the difference being the omission of inserts.

Let’s get started!

Sewing supplies needed:

● Sewing machine
● Walking Foot
(optional, but great for sewing
with PUL & stretchy fabric)
● Overlocker/Serger (Optional)
● Paper scissors
● Pattern (Boegoe Bugz pattern here)
● Tape (selotape)
● Fabric Scissors
● Rotary cutter & mat (Optional)
● Erasable/Washable fabric pen
● (Optional) Washable glue
stick/basting spray
● Safety pin or bodkin (threading
● Sewing pins or clips
● Ballpoint or stretch sewing machine
needle 75/11 or 80/12
● Polyester thread
● 3/8 inch (8mm or 10mm) poly braid
● Snaps
● Snap pliers or press
● Outer Fabric (PUL or poly fabric)
● Hidden Waterproof fabric (if using a
PUL for outer no hidden fabric is
● Inner Fabric (Stay-dry/Wicking)
● Absorbent fabric for the insert
● Insert topper fabric (Stay-dry/Wicking)

Snap amounts needed:
Snap set = 2x Caps, 1x stud (male) + 1x socket (female)
44x Caps
25x Sockets (female)
19x studs (male)

Recommended Fabrics

Outer Layer: (AIO, SIO, AI2, Pocket)
Poly Lycra, PUL, Softshell

Outer Layer: Fitted
Cotton Fleece, Hemp, Bamboo Fleece,
Cotton/Bamboo velour, Cotton knit/woven/lycra,

Inner Layer:
Minky, Bamboo/Cotton velour, AWJ
(athletic wicking jersey), microfleece,
cotton fleece, hemp, bamboo fleece

Hidden/middle layer:
For an AIO, AI2, SIO & pocket you need a
waterproof layer. If your waterproof layer is the
outer layer, no middle layer is needed, but if you
intend to use a poly lycra or something as the
outer layer you will need a hidden waterproof
layer like:
PUL or Waterproof Softshell.

For a hybrid (water resistant nappy/diaper) you
can use polyester/anti-pill fleece, blizzard fleece
or water resistant softshell.

Absorbent Fabrics: Inserts
Cotton Fleece, Hemp, Bamboo Fleece, Flannel,
Cotton French Terry, Micro Fibre (not against
skin), Zorb

To start you will need:

* 1x outer layer (poly lycra works great because it won’t wick, you can however use other fabrics, but natural fibres like cotton might wick wetness).
* 1x Waterproof layer (I am using waterproof softshell)
* 1x Inner layer (I am using AWJ (athletic wicking jersey)

* For a fitted use 3x absorbent layers, natural fibres.
* For a AI2, use PUL as your inner to make it wipeable.

Sewing instructions for a SIO, Ai2 and Fitted

For this instructions we will be making a SIO (Snap-In-One), but the same method applies for making a fitted and a AI2.  If you are using your waterproof layer as your outside layer just omit the hidden layer. You will however need to back your snaps with small squares of fabric or scrap piece of fabric.

1. Lay diaper/nappy pattern on top of your outer fabric.  Trace pattern and mark your snaps and elastic markings.

If using a directional print fabric, use the half/half piecing to get a front & back right side up placement. Can also be used for decorative diapers

Sewing instructions for a SIO, Ai2 and Fitted

2. Cut the fabric out. (stitch the front & back together if you did the half/half piecing with a 1cm (3/8 inch) seam allowance).

3. Trace the pattern onto your hidden/middle layer (no need to mark snaps) and onto your inner layer. Cut the fabric out.

(Omit the hidden layer if your outer layer is Waterproof fabric.)

4. Using your “Top insert” pattern, trace onto your topper fabric. (I’m using AWJ again.) Cut out leaving a 1cm (3/8 inch) seam allowance for serging.

5. Trace both your “top, bottom insert” and “booster” pattern onto your absorbent fabric. (I am using 4 layers, 280gsm cotton fleece in each
insert and booster. Adjust according to fabric gsm.)

Tip: If serging on the line, cut of green line/seam allowance line on the insert/booster pattern and cut about 1cm around your tracing line. If serging with seam allowance or if sewing inserts,
leave green line on the pattern and trace onto fabric.

6. Cut out your inserts leaving a 1cm (3/8 inch) seam allowance for serging.  Pin the layers together and transfer the snap markings to the top layer of the inserts.

(for a hidden snap on the “Top insert” fold the top layer down and mark the second layer.)

7. You should now have the following cut, 1x outer layer, 1x hidden layer, 1x inner layer, a top insert, a bottom insert and a booster.

8. Now baste or pin your outer and hidden layer
together, they will now be seen as 1 layer. 

(skip this step if you are not using a hidden layer and add backing for your snaps.)

9. We will now add the
tummy and snap-down
snaps. Using your AWL poke
a hole through both your
outer and hidden/backing
fabric. (Use the snap markings)

10. Add cap from the back and a stud/socket on the front. (refer to the pattern to see where sockets and studs go.)

11. Using your snap plier or snap press, fasten your snap by pressing down.

12. Continue with both the two tummy snap rows as well as the snap-down-rise snaps.

(refer to the pattern to see where sockets and studs go.)

13. With right sides together, pin the outer and inner layers together.

14. Starting at your turning hole, sew all around your diaper using a 1cm (3/8 inch) seam allowance.

(I prefer sewing with the waterproof/PUL side up, but you can also sew with the inner layer up.)

15. Don’t sew your turning
hole closed.

16. Use your pattern to mark all your elastic markings.

17. Snip all your elastic markings. Be careful to not cut through your thread.

18. Cut all the corners on the diaper.

19. We also need to cut the curves and seam allowance shorter. Don’t cut between your elastic markings, leave the full seam allowance between the elastic markings. You can use pinking shears or fabric scissors. If using scissors, snip the curves.

20. Your diaper should now look like this.

21. Using the turning hole, turn your diaper right side out. Use a blunt object (like a thin crochet hook) to poke out the corners.

22. Feel where the elastic markings start and pin the start and the end. If you have clips, clip the entire area where the elastics will be.  Roll the fabric between your fingers as you pin to make it neat and flat. (You don’t want your outer to roll in and your inner to roll out.)

23. Starting from one side of an elastic mark sew to the other side. Sew about 1.5cm (5/8 inch) from the edge.  This will form a casing for your elastics. Do this with both leg sides and the rear side elastic markings.

24. Now take a bodkin or safety pin and fasten it to one side of your elastic (with this method you don’t cut the elastic beforehand, but use it on the roll). Put your hands inside the diaper through the turning hole and thread the elastic through the back casing.

25. With about 1cm (3/8inch) elastic sticking out the one side of the casing, tack down the elastic by sewing 3-4 times back and forth over the elastic.

26. Pull elastic as tight as possible, now let it ease as you straighten the elastic casing. Hold onto your elastic and tack it down. Cut your elastic and take out the bodkin. Repeat with both the leg elastic casings.

If you prefer to cut a pre measured piece of elastic, hold your elastic on your pattern between your elastic markings, pull from one side to the other and give a little bit of ease add 1cm (3/8inch) on both sides and cut.

27. Diaper with one back and two leg elastics in.

28. We will now top stitch the diaper.  I use my clips to keep my sewing areas neat and flat.

29. Starting with one of the wings. Start at the elastic, sew forward and backward to secure your stitch, top stitch to the next elastic piece, finish again with a forward and backward stitch. You can use your preferred top stitch width, I just use the width of my sewing foot.

30. Top stitch both the wings and the tummy piece. Make sure to close your turning hole.

31. We are almost done with the shell of the diaper! The entire diaper has been topstitched. (Turning hole has been sewn shut while topstitched.)

32. You can now add your label to the diaper.

33. To serge (overlock) your inserts, aim your knife at your tracing line. Move slow around the curves and cut of the seam allowance. Go around the entire insert and finish of with your preferred serging/overlocking method.  Repeat with the other insert as well as the booster.

Using your sewing machine:
If you don’t have a serger/overlocker you can finish your inserts with your sewing machine using two methods. 

1. Sew a straight stitch on the sewing line all around. On the outside of the line sew a zig-zag stitch all around and cut of the excess fabric.
2. Using the insert pattern with the seam allowance line, sew your inserts together, right sides facing each other with a 1cm (3/8 inch) seam allowance. Leave a turning hole. Cut the seam allowance smaller, except at the turning hole. Turn your insert right side out, press and top stitch all around.

34. For the final step we will put in the wing snaps and the 2x snaps at the bum, as well as the snaps on the inserts and booster.

*There are two extra snaps on the wings these are cross-over snaps, their caps are on the inside of the shell. The other six wing snaps, snap into the tummy snaps and their caps are on the outside of the diaper.

**Regarding the two bum snaps (the inserts snap into them) their caps are on the outside of the shell with the female parts on the inside of the shell. 

Refer to the pattern to see where studs and sockets go. 

Now you can snap the inserts and booster together and snap it into the diaper.

***The booster snaps into the bottom insert, the top insert snaps into the bottom insert and the bottom insert snaps into the shell.

Well done! Your cloth diaper/nappy is all done!

As we wrap up this journey, remember that every stitch you sew is a part of your creative process.  Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting, savor the simplicity of crafting your own cloth nappies.
Follow me for more tutorials and videos.  And if you wish to purchase my cloth diaper pattern, click here.
For a video tutorial click here.
With a smile and stitches, 

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