Sunday, July 20, 2008

Canadian cloth diaper tutorial

I've had lots of requests from people wanting to buy my Canadian cloth diapers (featured on the photo at the top of the blog). Unfortunately I am not making them to sell. Believe me, you probably couldn't afford them anyway.* Good news is they are not too hard to make yourself, if you are reasonably handy with a sewing machine.

Here is a tutorial on how to make the maple leaf diaper or cover.

1 mil white and red PUL
white and red polyester thread (Gutermann's, not the cheap stuff)
white and red 1" matte FOE (fold-over-elastic)
glue stick
ballpoint 14-gauge sewing machine needle
snaps or hook-and-loop tape
Chloe Toes diaper pattern (or you can use her free side-snapping diaper cover pattern!) or your own favorite diaper pattern

I made hemp fleece AIOs using the Chloe Toes pattern, which I modified for a hook-and-loop closure. (I haven't written this tutorial yet, but I will. Hold tight!) I didn't want to pay the big bucks for a snap press, and I like the adjustability of the H&L. I used 1 1/2" Aplix for the loop and 1 1/2" TouchTape for the hook.

If you can't find red FOE, you can dye it. I used the Jacquard acid dye from Dharma Trading in Fire Red. I think Bright Scarlet or Cherry Red might be a better match, actually. Follow their instructions for vat dyeing and you'll have beautiful red FOE!

Optional step for AIO or pocket diaper: Cut out body pieces and assemble the body and soaker out of the absorbent material, as indicated on the Chloe Toes instructions. If you're doing a H&L closure, this is where you'll sew on the fold-over hook tabs.

Next, cut out a body piece of PUL and one maple leaf in the contrasting color. Mark the edges on the fabric side of the PUL with a disappearing fabric marker. I used this pattern. Click to see the full-size image. You can reduce or enlarge it until it looks like the right size on the bum of the diaper.

Attach the applique to the PUL body piece with a glue stick. Press firmly and let dry for at least a few minutes. Zig-zag stitch around the entire applique piece with a small, narrow zig-zag stitch. This is a slow process, since you want the outside "zag" to just barely overlap the applique piece. If it's too far in or too far out, it won't hold the applique on very well.

Optional step for H&L closure: zig-zag the hook pieces to the front of the diaper (yes, this is also part of another upcoming totorial!)

Cut another piece of white PUL the entire size of the main diaper piece. This is to overlap the applique & H&L stitches with another layer, otherwise the needle holes will let water seep through the PUL.

Optional step for AIO or pocket diaper: glue the fabric and the PUL together.

Next, attach the FOE as indicated on the Chloe Toes instructions. For H&L closure: sew on hook tabs (tutorial in the works). For snap closure: attach snaps.

You're done!

The finished hemp fleece AIO diaper, with hook & loop closure. I did a sewn-in soaker flap for the newborn and small sizes, which helped cut down on drying time. For more mobile babies, I found that the soaker flap tended to scrunch up. When I made size M diapers, I swiched over to a soaker sandwiched between the full-size layers of hemp. 

* This sentence does not mean, as one anonymous commentor suggested, that I am super-rich and snotty and full of myself because I can afford very expensive diapers. In fact I made my own diapers myself (primarily to save money). They were fairly time-intensive, which is why I don't sell them, even though I've had requests from people wanting to buy them. I would have to charge too much in order to make a decent wage.


  1. I didn't realize you cut out the maple leaf yourself! How clever. Also, I've heard you can dye FOE with Kool-Aid since it is nylon...never tried it though since I suck at sewing with FOE.

  2. I have heard that about Kool-Aid, although I would guess you'd have problems with the dyes coming out in the wash? Maybe not...I've never tried it. You could get some wild colors with Kool-Aid.

  3. I died nylon taffeta diaper covers with Kool-aid. I hand wash it in cold, and it does run a bit. It's fine for cheapo dappi covers but I probably wouldn't risk it as part of a serious sewing project...

  4. What a bitch you are to assume that people couldn't afford your diapers. What, are you made out of money?

  5. Anonymous, that comment was totally out of line. I almost deleted it, but I wanted to keep it in so I could respond to it, as ridiculous as it was.

    Honestly, you probably couldn't afford to buy the diapers if I wanted to sell them. If I charged a reasonable rate for my labor they would be too expensive for all but the uber-rich. That's why I created this tutorial, so people could make them themselves.

    And, if you actually took the time to read this post, and the blog in general, you would know that I made these diapers *myself*. In other words, I was being FRUGAL.

  6. i didn't realize you cut out the maple leaf either, wow. all those straight lines would be the death of me.

    and clearly rixa, you are a horrible person! how dare you give the masses all this great, well-researched information on your blog that you don't get paid to write. shame on you.

  7. Rixa, I posted my previous comment after typing in, and then later editing out, a little remark about the cost of your (obviously labor intensive) diapers. It was along the lines that you might be surprised to know (unless you already do) that some diapers on the WAHM market sell for over $35 each. Why anyone would think it's an insult to presume your readers don't want to spend that kind of money is beyond me though. But as the Once-ler said to the Lorax: "You poor stupid guy! You never can tell what some people will buy!"

  8. $35 is more than I've seen--wow. But even if I charged that much, I don't think it would be worth my time. However, if I made diaper covers, perhaps I could sell them for a rate that I feel is doing myself justice.

  9. oh oh! diaper covers, good idea. i don't even have babies yet and i'd buy some. you're very talented with the sewing that's for sure. i just about died when i saw the red riding hood cape you made zari, it's gorgeous.

  10. Gorgeous! I came across your site by way of MDC. I'm going to attempt these, but as a cover. Why do you use PUL for the red & white if you then line the dipe with another layer of PUL? Do you think I could use another fabric for the leaf, and then line with PUL? Thanks!

  11. Jen--good point. You could use a different outer fabric for the red & white designs, rather than PUL.

    One reason you might want to use PUL for the outside is that it wears incredibly well, since it's made out of polyester. It doesn't pick up stains like natural fibers sometimes do, and it doesn't pill or fray. But I am sure you could find some other fabric that holds up well. A silk twill, for example, would be gorgeous (since silk takes dyes very well), very lightweight, and very tough.

  12. I dunno. I am very jaded with AIOs that have the PUL sewn in under a non-waterproof fabric like cotton. The cotton outer always wicks. And I do change very frequently, at least hourly...

  13. i would really love to use your picture from google with the baby laying facedown with the canadian diaper on for my facebook canadian cloth diaper group...please email me at if i could pretty please have the permission as it is adorable and perfect for the group pic!! thanks


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