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Monday, September 29, 2008

Wool Sweater Diaper Cover

See my logic on why I use cloth diapers and why I make them this way here.

All right, the hardest part is the diaper cover. I looked up the best diaper covers online and all the reviews said that wool was the best. But the prices are way too much for me! $20+ each. Thankfully, I stumbled upon the Frugal Baby Tips site that taught me how to make "Baby Bum Sweaters." Here is how I have adapted my diaper cover making.

First you have to find a wool sweater! I was pretty unsuccessful when I first went out. This is what I have learned from making a numerous amount of these. One, look for 100% wool, but a high % of wool is ok. If the other materials are natural wools like angora, mohair, camel hair, or cashmere all the better! Merino wool and lambswool tend to be the softer of the sheep wool. If one of the ingredients is nylon and in a small percentage, it probably means the decoration on the sweater. Check out where the decoration falls. If it is in the way of where you will cut your diaper, it will probably not shrink the same as the wool, so if you aren't paying pennies for it, you might want to skip it. Try to go with the thinnest, softest wool. You won't want to put really scratchy wool on your baby, and really thick wool tends to get thicker in the felting process and you won't enjoy putting it on the baby. Thick wool will work if you can't find anything else, but it isn't as nice. Now, if at the thrift store you come across a sweater you think is wool, but the tag is ripped out, there is a way you can test it. Hopefully there is a bathroom at the store or a sippee full of water in your purse. Sprinkle a few water droplets on the sweater. If the water beads up and doesn't soak in right away, it's most likely wool. If the sweater sucks up your water, pass on the sweater. If you make a cover with one of these mystery sweaters, if it gets stinky right away it probably didn't have a majority of wool fibers in it. Sweaters with holes are just as good; don't pass on them especially if they are a large size, thin and soft. Here is my treasure of sweaters I got at the $1 a bag sale at the thrift store yesterday. Eleven sweaters for $1.

Next, you have to prepare them. You have to felt them (aka shrink). In a hot/cold wash cycle, wash the sweaters with a wool soap. (Not Woolite. Buy online or at a health food place that sells wool soaps that have lanolin in them to keep up the wool's natural water wicking qualities. I use the Wool Wash with Lanolin by Imse Vimse) Now, shrink them some more by throwing them in the dryer. Don't trust your dryer; take them out as soon as they are dry.

So now you are ready to make the cover. Some sweaters don't shrink nicely. They are no longer supple or they shrink so much that you can only make newborn diapers from them. If I get a sweater that stays fairly large, I make the largest diaper cover out of it I can because it is rare to get one that can make a big baby or toddler diaper cover. This one I'm demonstrating with stayed large and I could make a 25 incher. You need to cut an equilateral triangle. Mine was able to make a 25"x25"x25" triangle, which is big enough for a three year old or generous for my now two year old. First, I cut the sweater down the middle of the back to help give me room to make the triangle since it went further around than just the front of the sweater. (This picture shows my unorthodox way of skipping making a pattern for cutting.)

The smallest I would go is 12 inches. 12, 16, 20 and 24 inches is a pretty good assortment.

Cut out your triangle and then cut off the cuffs. If my cuffs are rather large I cut them in half and keep the other set for diaper covers I make out of vests that have no cuffs.

Then you fold up your triangle inside out, so that all the tips are touching the tip that does not have the sweater band on it which is in the middle for you are using the sweater band as a waist band. Insert the cuffs right side out into the end of the seams made by the cover. Stick the cut side of the cuff in line with the seam that you will be sewing. Start sewing from the tip down toward the leg holes. I hand sew these.

Then when you get to the leg holes, start sewing around the cuff. The part where the top seam meets up with the leg hole can be a weak seam area so make sure you sew tight there and double stitch over it. Do the same for the other side.

When you are done sewing, put in pins to mark where you are going to sew button holes (I make buttonholes for a drawstring, but if you are better at sewing than I, you probably could put in elastic). I have found that 10 buttonholes are a good amount; here is the configuration. One on each side edge, four on the front, four on the back.

Then sew your button holes where the pins are. If your machine is not fancy enough to cut the buttonhole after you sew it, use a seam ripper to cut an opening.

Lastly, make a drawstring. I just braid three strands of yarn and tie it off at the ends. You could use a crocheted string or ribbon if you wanted to.
And there you have a beautiful non-leaking wool diaper cover for pennies.
I also have directions if you would like to make a winter diaper cover called "longies."

Here is my little one wearing a wool cover and demonstrating how to clean dirty diapers as well when she was a year old. The second is her as a sleepy two year old.


Susan Marie said...

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