articles / DIY projects / Family life / Frugal living

Making good quality, cheap cloth diapers

If you missed my last post:

Our family has decided to use cloth diapers with our soon-to-be-here bundle of joy. Instead of paying $10 per diaper (which is STILL cheaper than disposable), I’ve decided to make my own. In being smart about my choices, I’ve managed to spend less than $2 a diaper and $.50 per cover (just guesstimates, it could actually be a little bit less or more depending on what I buy).

wpid-20131004_000517.jpgNow that everyone is caught up, on to the important stuff:

So how am I making diapers so cheap? First of all, my sister-in-law has helped tremendously in giving me tips about making the diapers (she’s made diapers for three and is now making diapers for a fourth).

When it comes time to make diapers and covers, you need to know what materials you need. Diapers will typically be made out of cotton (I have a few that I made out of flannel just for the fun of it). Covers can be made out of fleece or wool or any water-resistant, water-proof material. My sister-in-law works a lot with wool, but I prefer the fleece.

Other things you need in order to make the diapers/covers:

  • Velcro, buttons, snaps, something to hold it all together once you put it on baby’s bottom. My sister-in-law has a snap press (not sure that that’s the technical term) so her’s mostly have snaps. I’ve been using Velcro because that is what has worked easier for me during assembly. Buttons are a pain according to the SIL, but I’m guessing that they would still work if you wanted to use them.
  • Elastic. This is super important. 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch works really well. I prefer 1/4 inch because it is easier to sew for me, but that’s more about preference. They both work well with the diapers.

The Velcro and elastic are really cheap when you buy them at Walmart. This is a small expense compared to the entire cost of the diaper making process. There’s really no way around buying this stuff new — hey everything can’t be second hand can it?

The cotton and fleece are the bulk of the diaper materials needed and they can be costly if you’re not careful. Buying new cotton fabric at Walmart is going to run you a lot of money if you’re not careful. What’s the easiest and most money savvy way to do it?


Yes, T-shirts. The outer part of the diaper and the thicker inside can all be made from T-shirts and you’ll save a ton of money and have some cute diapers.20131019_140820

Here locally we have a Fishnet Ministries store and another thrift store which has a $5 sale all the time. Basically you fill up a plastic or paper shopping bag up with whatever you want and it’s $5. Do you know how many T-shirts I can stuff into one of those sacks? A $5 bag of large, x-large and even bigger T-shirts can make 5-10 diapers depending on how you cut and if you’re making pre-folds or complete diapers. I’ve done this three times and I have more T-shirts than I may know what to do with — it’s surprising just how far some of that stuff goes when you’re conserving material. Yard sales are good for getting cheap T-shirts too.

The neat thing about T-shirts is you can use the neat colors and designs on the shirts to make your diapers unique. Also, because they’ve been worn before the cotton is softer on the baby’s bottom.

When it comes to the fleece, I’ve actually just been going to Walmart and buying  fleece for $2.50 a yard. I’ve mostly gotten solid colors, but they’ve got clearance material and I take advantage of that too. I normally buy one yard at a time. I’ve learned, depending on how you cut it, a yard of fleece will make 2-4 covers.

One of the cutest diapers I have at this point is the plaid diaper. I found a couple of flannel pillow cases at a yard sale for $.50. They were just the right size to make a diaper and a cover (I added fleece to the cover to make it water-resistant).

The point is, material is material. Who cares if it was originally made into a T-shirt, blanket (fleece blankets are good finds for covers), pillow case or sheet? The material is still good and it can save you a TON of money. Cotton material at Walmart can range from $1.50 a yard (if on clearance) to $6 or more a yard. Who has money for that? You’re going to use a ton of fabric, especially in the beginning when you’re trying to learn. Some diapers are going to turn out good, some aren’t. I’m sure one or two may get left somewhere or accidentally thrown away (I’ve had that happen before).  I’d much rather know I lost a $2 diaper than a $5-10 diaper.

This is going on longer than I expected, so I’ll wait to actually explain how I’ve put my diapers together until the next post.


One thought on “Making good quality, cheap cloth diapers

  1. Pingback: Easy cloth diapers | Be Organic and Healthy

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