Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Diaper Cover Tutorial

Finally! I've made a couple diapers and diaper covers, and finally I feel like my skills are good enough to share. :) So here ya go!
What you'll need:
PUL (polyurethane laminate, found in the utility fabric section at Joann's)
FOE (fold over elastic, I can't find it anywhere in stores, but it's about $2 for 10 yards on ebay!)
Outer fabric (this is optional, I chose to just stick with the white PUL as my outside, but I did a cute patterned fabric for the tabs. Here's a picture of a cover I did using pink Minky as an outside)
Diaper pattern (you can always trace a diaper to get your pattern, making sure to stretch it out completely. This takes two people, for obvious reasons. I used the LaDiDa pattern. This one costs money, but there's lots of good, free patterns out there!)
Thread, sewing machine, scissors
Snaps or velcro (I have the KamSnaps, and LOVE them! Only $35 for the pliers and 200 snaps!) If you use velcro, it needs to be a certain kind. Make sure you look this up before buying! I don't know much about velcro, since I don't really like using it. I used some store bought velcro, and it ended up loosing it's stickiness in the washer after only a few washes. This is why I looooove snaps, they never wear out! Plus, they're pretty much baby proof!

You can always use different materials than the ones I listed, but there are a LOT of them out there, so I just listed the ones I usually use. I love the PUL because it's waterproof, but also it's cotton on the outside. Most AIO (all in one), pocket diapers, or covers you buy (Bum Genius, Fuzzi Buns, KatyDids, Rumparoos) use PUL for the outside of their diapers. Since this is a cover, all you need is this ONE layer, so it's very simple. 

Before we start, you should know a couple things about PUL. It can be very difficult to sew with, but doesn't have to be! I learned early on that PUL is very sticky. If you leave it shiny side up, it sticks to the metal foot of your machine as it feeds through, and will feed through unevenly (especially if using more than one layer, the bottom later will feed through faster). I always place my PUL shiny side down, no matter what kind of diaper I'm making. This way it's directly touching the wheels that are feeding it through, and there's no sticking. Alright, on to the diaper!
Cut out your pattern and your tabs. Since you're using FOE for this diaper cover, you don't need to leave a seam allowance. A lot of diaper patterns come with instructions. Some of the free ones don't, but if you pay for it, chances are it does. Make sure you read through the instructions! Each pattern is different and will have tips for how to sew it. The LaDiDa pattern comes with lots of tips and instructions, and it's a great pattern!
The first step you'll want to do it sew on your patterned tabs (if you choose to do tabs). I also have some LaDiDa Homemade tags that I sewed into mine. Fold over the edge of the patterned fabric, tuck in your tag, and sew it on (don't forget to back stitch!) Then sew around the tag to secure it.
Okay, that was easy! Now grab your FOE. Mine came wadded up in a bunch, which is just fine with me! I keep it wadded up in a ball as I sew the diaper, and once I have the entire diaper sewed, then I cut it free. I don't suggest pre-measuring your FOE, since you won't always use the same amount. When sewing with FOE, there's a few things you need to know. Sew as close to the edge of the FOE as you can. If you leave the edge hanging free, it tends to curl up, like this.
It looks much better if you get your stitches nice and close to the edge. Also, as you go, you'll need to repeatedly check to make sure your fabric is still sandwiched between the FOE. It tends to slip out pretty easily, especially if your stitches aren't right on the edge. I've had it happen a few times, and I didn't catch it until it was done. This happens a lot when you're stretching your elastic around the legs and back! Another tip, only stretch the FOE in areas that you want to be stretched (like around the legs and in the back). If you stretch it anywhere else, it'll curl up weird.
Leave a little bit of FOE hanging over the edge, enough to fold under. Leave it hanging for now, you'll fold it under when you're done! You need to use a zigzag stitch when dealing with FOE. I've tried out a few different stitches on my machine, and the wider zig zag stitch works best for me (it's number 4 on my Brother brand machine). It probably doesn't matter much where you start off, but I like to start in the front where all the snaps are. This part is hidden when the baby's wearing the diaper, so it's no biggie if your starting area is a little lumpy. Making sure your fabric is completely inside the FOE, start stitching! 
When you get to your first corner, stop about a centimeter from the end. Making sure your needle is still down in the fabric, lift up the presser foot. Fold your FOE around the corner however is easiest for you. These pictures might not show it too well (click to enlarge), but I tried to show how I fold mine. It gives the corners a nice crisp look. 
Continue to sew forward, and then make your turn. Remember, keep your stitches RIGHT on the edge! You'll need to re-adjust every time you go around a corner to make sure it lines up properly. 
The pattern you have should indicate where your leg elastic begins and ends. Some people like to put light marks on their fabric so they know, I chose not to. For this pattern, you start stretching as soon as the leg curves. Like I said, this part is a little tricky, because the fabric likes to move! Just keep checking every couple of inches to insure that your fabric is still tightly in between the FOE. Wherever your pattern indicates you should begin the elastic, that's where you want to stop your machine, and start stretching your FOE. I like to stretch mine just about as far as it goes. This makes nice tightly fitting leg holes. Only stretch a couple inches at a time, stitch, and stretch a couple more. Do the same thing for the other leg hole and the back.
When you get to the very end, cut your FOE with enough extra hanging over the edge to fold over. Take both ends (your start point and your end point) and fold them under. 
Sew up the last corner, and snip any extra FOE that hangs over. I like to give it a couple extra zig zags over the cut ends to keep it from fraying.
Make your markings for your snaps and apply them.
Check that out! It looks as good as any cover you could have bought! I hope this tutorial helped you! If you have any questions, leave me a comment and I'll get back to you! Also if you have any advice, feel free to share it, and I'll add it in here. 
Once you've done a couple of FOE diapers (you can do just about any kind of diaper with FOE, I LOVE IT!), you should be able to whip one out in less than 45 minutes! They're so quick and easy, and the FOE gives it such a nice, clean look. I hope you like it!
Don't forget to check out my Pocket Diaper Tutorial!


  1. Great idea and tutorial! Thanks for linking it up to Thrilling Thursday!

    ~Lori S.
    Thrilling Thursdays @Paisley Passions

  2. That is awesome! I love your tutorial! I have long wanted to try cloth diapers! I will definitely try them now! Thanks so much for the information!

  3. Nice tute! And I love the little embellishments you added! Very pretty. Thanks for sharing ... I've posted a link.

  4. I wish this tutorial was around when I was cloth diapering my kiddos. It would have been so fun to make my own. Thanks for sharing.


  5. That's the cutest thing. And, GREAT tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

  6. That is such a cute diaper cover, just goes to show that something functional can be lovely to look at too. Thank you for joining us at A Crafty Soiree! I hope you'll come back next week and link up again!

  7. great idea! if only had known about thus a few years ago (-:

  8. My diaper years are long gone, but when I was in my day I sewed more diapers than one baby could ever where!