Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Necessary Nappy

And so it came to pass that Sarah, who had borne David three sons, found herself again with child. Being weary of the country she had sojourned in the past six years, a land flowing with urine and feces known as The Disposable Diaper, she lifted up her voice and cried unto her husband,

"My lord, the day draweth nigh for me to deliver thy child. I beg of thee to give unto thy maidservant a goodly sum, with which I may purchase goods of linen and woolen cloth to wrap the bum of the child that I will bear unto thee. The customs of the people of this land are loath to me and the thing they call The Disposable Diaper hast irritated the bums of thy sons and would you have it irritate the bum of thy daughter also?"

And her husband pitied the woman and said unto her;

"Let not thy countenance fall, woman, for the request you have asked of me has found favor in my sight and I give unto thee this sum to purchase cloths of linen and wool. Go with a cheerful heart and do this thing which you have asked. Only do not burden thy husband with intricate sayings of the construction and designs of these garments you will make, for such words burn in my ears and befuddle my mind and is like the talk of foolish men unto me for I understand it not."

And so Sarah went and took the sum and purchased the cloths of linen and wool and made diapers for her child.

Okay, seriously, I am *completely* sick of disposable diapers! I have no idea why I did not try using cloth diapers with the boys but I think it is because I was so young, and everyone I had ever known used disposable diapers. My mom had hinted in the past of a Dark and Terrible experience she had once had using cloth diapers on me and I had become terrified of the dim unknown world of cloth diapering. I envisioned a pee soaked mass of fabric and baby every time I changed a diaper.

One by one the boys came in quick succession. I didn't really have time or the resources on hand to look into cloth diapering more. We were on a tight budget and the few cloth diapering sites I did look up boasted what seemed to me to be very high prices - definitely out of our price range since we could not afford all that up front. But after Malachi, we had a three year break. In that time, I had educated myself. And so when I found out I was pregnant last winter I knew for sure I would try cloth diapering this time.

It took me forever, however, to decide on what style of diaper and cover and what materials to use. There is so much information out there it is literally overwhelming! I came to rely most heavily on the personal experiences and recommendations of friends who have used or are currently using cloth diapers and balanced that against my personal preference for simplicity and historic significance.

In the end, I decided to make prefold diapers and use wool covers. I decided to use linen for the prefolds since in my experience, linen is highly absorbant and incredibly soft once it is washed enough. I liked the idea of wool covers since wool is my go-to "miracle fabric" and has natural properties that make it exactly suited to cover a diaper. And wool and linen happen to be two of my favorite fabrics, ever!

I used the prefold diaper sewing instructions from this site: DIY Prefold Daiapers and made them with linen from For the soaker pad, I ended up going with hemp fleece (which is really a blend of hemp and organic cotton) and used only 4 layers of fleece instead of the 6 layers called for in the pattern.

For the soakers, I used the sewing pattern and instructions here: Katrina's Quick Sew Soaker Pattern. I purchased a gorgeous 100% lambswool sweater from the thrift store and washed it several times in hot water to shrink it up a bit. I also dyed it with a packet of green dye to get a more deep blue-green color instead of the light blue and gray it originally was (it was a mans sweater). The finished soakers are not girly at all, but they are nicely gender neutral which is fine with me since I really do hope to have one or two more babies before I am done for good. (who wants to be done with having darling sweet little babies at age 26? Not me!) I really loved this soaker pattern. It was so quick and easy to make. The only part I didn't like was sewing the tiny leg cuffs into the leg openings but beyond that, a piece of cake!

In the end, the linen diapers ended up costing me around $3.50 each to make. The soakers, since I was able to get four of them from the one sweater, cost about 50 cents apiece. Not bad! I detest math but I did some calculations and assuming 10 diaper changes per day and use of these diapers and soakers for approximately 8 weeks, it is actually much less expensive to use the cloth diapers instead of the cheapest-of-the-cheap Wal-Mart Parent's Choice brand of disposables (which is what we mainly used for the boys). I presented my findings to my husband and I think he was happy. He is not at all sure about using cloth diapers but he tolerates the idea and indulges me, which is all I ask. I guess we'll see how these work once Anne gets here.



  1. hahaha! I LOVE your story. Very well done.

    Of 4 girls, I have cloth-diapered the latest 2. Totally doable. I admit to using disposables this past almost-year or so, but they both only use them at night, and this has worked better for us.

    I haven't heard or known of anyone using linen, so be sure to share your experience of that in the future!

    Good job, Mama.

  2. It is way cheaper! We used disposable on our oldest daughter, but have used all cloth with our son who's 15 months, and would NEVER go back. I am 30 weeks pregnant with son #2 and have no plans to use paper diapers ever again. Both our kids have had sensitive skin and our daughter had numerous diaper rashes and even a yeast infection (girls are very likely to get them in disposable diapers) caused by her diapers. I only wish I had used cloth with her. I've also been told that kids who've had cloth diapers potty train earlier and faster (here's hoping that's true). The washing is the worst part, an extra load every other day, and we use a clothes line in good weather and hang the covers over the tub other days. We also use cloth wipes and make our own wipe solution. It's pretty easy and I think it's easier to be able to throw it all in the wash. Just make sure you sew some wet bags for traveling ;)

  3. Okay, the first half of this post had me rolling with laughter! Well done :-D

    I love your wool soakers - I never would have thought to make them out of an old sweater (my mind running more to the hand-knitted, which would be fun but also much more expensive!) Well done again :-) My siblings and I were all cloth-diapered; Mum bought cotton prefolds, but the ones she bought for my older brother lasted through three of us until they were replaced for my youngest sister. The old ones still serve as cleaning rags!

  4. Your story was wonderful. Love it!

    I've used that same soaker pattern. One thing I found, is that it is a little low. You may find it hard to pull up over the top of the pre fold once Little Miss gets bigger.

    Make sure you lanolize those babies. They will work so much better! If you google "lanolizing wool diaper covers" you can find instructions.

    Your prefolds are beautiful. I love the idea of linen diapers.

    If you feel like doing a little knitting, I like Paton's 100% wool yarn and this soaker pattern:

    I hope your diapers work well for you! I'd be happy to do my best at answering any questions you have, too. I'm getting excited for you-you're almost there, Mama!

  5. You need to get a Snappi. It secures the prefolds...Y shaped piece of elastic with grippers on the end like for an elastic bandage. It is super easy to use and keeps the diapers on nice and secure.

  6. Brilliant post! I've had a long, weary day and your words were just what I needed for a fabulous pick me up! You should write a book someday!

    And congratulations on the nappies, they look fabulous! I'd never heard of 'soakers', so please update and let us know how they are working out.

  7. You completely crack me up! I love your words!
    I think you are wonderfully wise to make such a purchase and make such a plan! What a lucky little gal!

  8. Hello! I'm a new blogger.. (over at )and i've found your blog quite inspiring for historical sewing!
    I just had to mention that a few of my friends have been using disposable diapers for quite some time now and with the wool soaker's she found it worked to add lanolin back into the wool (helps with the natural water retention) you only have to add it back every few washes.
    She also sad she had some trouble with them being to warm for her baby in the hottest part of summer (we are in the deep south here, might not be that big of a problem for you) so for summer she made diaper covers with a water resistant cloth she got at wal-mart. And she says that works really well also..
    Hope that was helpful in some way :) Just though i'd mention it. Happy Diapering!

  9. :0)
    So funny and creative how you wrote this post! It made a slightly disgusting subject light.

  10. hah you're so funny!! Congrats on making the switch to cloth diapers!! The first investment for material and everything may seem big, but if you calculate how much it costs to buy some new disposables every week for 2 years you'll realise that the most economic way is cloth diapering!! Haven't got kids yet but when I do I'll definetly go for the mommy-made cloth diapers!

  11. Absolutely LOVED your story :-) And your diapers/soakers look wonderful. I tried cloth...once, but had no working washer/dryer but the coin-op. So I gave up. I pray that you have a splendid experience with it! And Anne will look darling I'm sure :-)

  12. What a great idea to use linen for the prefolds! I plan to cloth diaper once I have kids. What weight linen from did you use?

    God bless,
    Sarah Grace

  13. Sarah Grace, I am so sorry I didn't see your question til now! I used the medium weight linen from The lightweight is lovely, but I thought medium would absorb better. The heavy stuff is more canvasy.


Thank you for your lovely thoughts!