Cloth Diaper Cover Tutorial

It was craft day while my mom was here a few weeks ago and here is what we made.  Cloth diaper covers.  My mom was not at all excited about this project.  She was not thrilled about making a pattern for the diaper and I admit that it wasn’t easy.  But I needed her help, because whether she admits it or not she’s the real pro.  Besides I always work better with someone else, then I can ask ridiculously simple questions.  Poor mom whenever she visits she ends up working her butt off.  Last summer we canned everyday until my sister arrived and put a stop to that nonsense, work I mean.

Update:  After my first diaper I was able to complete one diaper in 1 hour.  I have 3 infant size and 1 large toddler now to add to my collection.  I still have enough fabric left to make at least 2 infant diaper, maybe 3.

Here is what you need:

1 yard vinyl coated fabric, (white preferably)

1 package double wide bias tape (white preferably)

Coordinating thread

1 package Velcro brand  Sew-On Tape, 2 ” x 3‘   Do not use sticky back style, you cannot sew through this to put on your bias tape.  If you plan on making multiple diapers I would buy this larger package but in white.  Each Extra-large sized diaper will need about 12″, smaller sizes will use about 8″.

1 package 1/4″braided elastic.  Can’t go wrong with purchasing a 8 yard roll like this.

Tools needed: Sewing machine, scissors, pattern paper (wax, parchment, butcher, or brown paper bag), pins, pen, pencil and patience

Creating the pattern from an existing diaper

This will definitely be the hardest part because you will need an existing cloth diaper to trace.

  • Get a large enough piece of pattern paper (note it is impossible to tape together parchment paper so only use if you are doing a small diaper or you have a giant sheet)
  • Recruit a helper
  • Trace using a pen or pencil, whichever marks well on your paper
  • Have helper stretch out the diaper and hold tight as you trace around the edge.  When tracing near the gussets (the gussets are the extra pieces of fabric on either side of the lower portion of the diaper, their role is to catch the poop from falling out), trace along the interior line, or the line of diaper itself.
  • Now trace one gusset.   Each side is identical so you only need to trace one.  This is hard to trace so mainly note the length and then make a freehand drawing.  It should be a symmetrical convex shape.
  • Next trace the rectangular front piece, for lack of a better name.  This piece is at the front of the diaper behind the velcro and serves as a double layer of protection for leaks and is soft against baby’s skin if the diaper cover rides up too high.
  • Measure the length of elastic needed.  In total you will need 5 pieces.  One for the back top, one for each side of the diaper, and one on the outside edge of each gusset.
  • To measure the elastic, let the diaper sit loose and hold a piece up next to the diaper and make a cut to match the length

Cutting the Fabric

  • First cut out your pattern
  • Pin pattern to fabric.  Look to see if you can position your fabric so that you can get another diaper out of the same piece of fabric.
  • Cut out diaper, 2 gussets, 2 rectangular piece (mentioned above)
  • Cut 5 elastic pieces (see above).
  • Don’t cut the bias tape.  Take it out of the package and leave it all in one piece.  As you sew it can dangle in your lap and you can cut it off as you sew.
  • Cut velcro.  Measure size of velcro needed using the actual cut diaper as a guide.  Velcro will extend all the way across the front of the diaper.  This allows the diaper to grow with the baby.

Assembly and Sewing

1.  Gussets first.   Sew the elastic to each side of each gusset.  Don’t worry about seam allowances just make sure to run down the middle of the elastic.  A zig-zag stitch is best when sewing on elastic.

  • Make a few stitches to hold the elastic in place, then grasp end of elastic and pull it tight.  You don’t want it super tight but  you do want to have some.  You want the fabric to ruffle up when it’s sewn on.  While holding tight, sew all the way to the end.

I have the elastic pulled tight, but it’s hard to tell from the picture.

2.  Now sew the bias tape over the top of the elastic on only one side of the gusset (either side is fine cause they should be symmetrical).

  • Open your bias tape and fold it in half around the edge of the diaper
  • Close the bias tape around the elastic so that it is not showing.
  • Try to stay near the edge of the bias tape about 1/4″ seam allowance with a straight stitch or zig zag stitch, it’s up to you.  Zig-zag stitches will be more forgiving and easier to guarantee you sew the bottom in place.  Remember that you need to be able to sew the bias tape on the other side of the sandwich you made.  If you go too close to the edge and you don’t have the sandwich folded exactly in half you won’t sew the bottom side closed.  Easy to fix (I did this like a million times) but even better to avoid in the first place.

Okay so this isn’t a picture of the gusset but it’s a great shot of wrapping the bias tape around the elastic.

Here’s what they gusset looks like finished.

3.  Sew elastic on the top back of the diaper (using zig-zag stich).

4.  Sew rectangular piece of fabric to inside front of diaper.  Sew wrong sides together.  (I didn’t do this for the infant diapers.)

5.  Sew large piece of velcro to outside front of diaper on the right side of the fabric.

6.  Now you will need to make the tabs that will catch on the velcro.  Cut two small pieces that fit on either side of the top back of the diaper.  Sew the velcro on the wrong side of the fabric.  Instead of a square piece try rounding the corners so they are less likely to snag baby.

6.  Sew bias tape to diaper starting on the sides because we still need to attach those gussets.  I will describe this in painful detail.

  • Lay the diaper with the wrong side up.
  • To get the correct orientation place the diaper so that the elastic is at the top and the velcro (if you could see it, it shoud be facing the table) is at the bottom
  • We are going to put the right hand side gusset on first.
  • Position the gusset so the wrong sides are together and the elastic side is lined up with the right hand side of the diaper.
  •  Pin in place about 5 inches down from the top.
  • Fold bias tape in half and make a sandwich around the edge of the diaper like you did before.
  • Start sewing anywhere but preferable not on a turn (cause turns are tricky, work your way up to those)
  • As you come to the gusset, match the edges and pull the elastic taught, sandwich it between the bias tape and sew.  Give a few extras stitches to secure the top and bottom of the gusset.
  • You will need to pull the elastic tight as you sew on the gusset.  This is important so everything matches up correctly and so it bunches nicely when you are finished sewing.

7.  Continue all the way around the diaper.  When you get to the corners just do you best edging it around and take extra stitches to secure it in place.  When you get to the other gusset put it on the same way as you did the other side.  If you want to cut the bias tape and turn it around on the machine that’s fine.  Just fold under 1/4″ on the end when you start sewing again so it makes a finished edge.

The original infant diaper – Imse Vimse

Here it is unfolded, you can easily see the cutout for the umbilical cord

And the backside, here you can see the elastic at the top back

Update:  I have used and washed the diaper cover a couple of times and it works great.  It didn’t even bleed or fade in the wash even though a used a tiny bit of bleach.  I have also made 2 infant sized diapers.  Those only took me 1 hour each, start to finish, because I already had the hang of it.

Things I will do differently next time:  The diaper was much bigger than the pattern.  This was easy to fix, I just cut my pattern down in all the areas where it fit big.  I did this right away because I knew I would forget the next time I pulled the pattern out.

Thanks,  Courtney


4 responses to “Cloth Diaper Cover Tutorial

  1. Nice job! I like the pink trim. And I don’t mind working with you, it is a labor of LOVE. I actually like all the projects you come up with….I’m still trying to get started on my bag. You inspire me to get out there and create!

  2. Why are you making pink diaper covers??? 🙂

  3. Pingback: Cloth Diapers  |  Your Everyday Healthy Life…

  4. Chantana Boyer

    I wish you had a free printable cloth diaper with side gussets pattern

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