23.5.13

Prefold-to-Fitted Diaper DIY



I'd been working on this tutorial for a while, and then I deleted all my pictures and had to start over from the beginning! You can't imagine how frustrated I was. But I have some great friends who were willing to loan me some of their diapers to work with....So here is the finished product.

First lets look at the diapers.


There are are several different types of fitted diapers out there. In this picture above you can see that mine varies a bit from the one on the left. I suspect that the factory made fitted uses fabric from bolts because there is no possible way to get the middle soaker pad as big as that from a traditional prefold. If you have enough prefolds to use half for the middle soaker, that's great! It will add more absorbency and also a faster drying time if you only attach one end to the inside. 
In this tutorial, however, I use the cuts from the legs for the absorbent layers in the middle. We're trying to cut costs and just alter what we have to work with so that you have less bulk.

There are lots of free diaper patterns that can be found online to print for free, or you could even use a disposable laid out flat to accomplish the same thing. Basically you want a diaper shape to your diaper when you cut it. I used my pattern as a guide to show just a basic idea of where the legs should start and the wings should stop.
Make a small cut where you want your wings to be.
Using those first cuts as a guide cut over to the middle soaking layers, leaving about a 1/4 inch on the outside. That means don't cut all the way over to the middle seam! If you do that you won't have space to insert your leg elastic.

Next, on one side of your diaper you may have noticed when cutting that there were extra layers of fabric the closer you got to the middle seam. You are going to leave two layers of fabric on top and bottom. That means that you will trim out the middle 4 layers.
Next I surged the legs/wings. The threads I folded over one side of the wings and tacked them in place, trimming any loose threads. I should add here that if you don't have a serger, it's possible to use a zig-zag stitch all the way around as well. If you are to use the zig-zag, I personally would suggest going over it a few times. I'm paranoid and would want to make certain that the stitching would have a good hold on the fabric.
It will look similarly to how the factory serged threads were tacked down. This is just to keep threads from unraveling.
Now we're going to put together the inner soaker layers. From the material you trimmed to make the contoured legs, make a small pad to go down in the middle of your diaper. I trimmed a little to make it a uniform shape. Pin it down to the middle of your diaper. You can also see in this picture below where the serged edges formed a pocket for the elastic to be. We'll get to that after the soaker is sewn down.
Using a zig-zag stitch sew over the edges of the soaker layers to hold them down and reduce fraying.

Ok, now the leg elastic! This is the hardest part of the whole thing. And once you've done a few it's not really that difficult.
For this part we are working on the outside of the diaper near the serged edges. You are going to make a small hole using your seam ripper or scissors to insert your elastic. I did this to both ends near each end of the soaker pad, but on the outside edge where you trimmed the inner fabric layers. This is going to form a tube for the elastic to stretch through.
Attach a safety pin to the end of your elastic, (I didn't measure! I used the uncut elastic length and just fed it through. I trimmed after I sewed it down.)
Feed the pin/elastic through the tube until your reach the hole at the other end of the leg.
Pin it in place. You are going to sew this end that is pinned down first. Using a zig-zag stitch.
I sewed over the end of the elastic and the hole that I ripped at the same time, so that it close the hole and held the elastic in place all at once. Next tug the loose end of the elastic making it ruffle up. Give it a good stretch to make sure it won't be too tight on chubby baby legs. I would guestimate that the length of the elastic that is sewn in is somewhere between 5 and 6 inches. Zig-zag over this loose end/hole to hold the elastic in place. Trim off the extra! Repeat this step with the other side of the diaper for the other leg. When it's all sewn up it should look like this, below, with even tension in the legs from the elastic.
Elastic in the waist is optional. It has it's up sides, and down sides. The elastic in the factory made fitted extends beyond the boundaries of the middle soaker seams. I'm not quite sure how they did that, and I didn't want to take apart my friends lovely diaper. However, it is still possible and fairly easy with the homemade version. In much the same manner that you put elastic in the legs, you will rip/cut some holes along the upper back of the diaper between the two middle seams, insert elastic and sew it in place. 

The finished diaper will look something like this!

It can be closed with a Snappi, pins, or if you are feeling enthusiastic you could also add snaps.
Have you tried make your prefolds into fitted diapers?

I didn't use prefolds with my kids, but I did make fitted diapers! I'm tempted to borrow a friends baby for the day just to have the experience :)


If you try this out, let me know how it works for you!



 



homework


34 comments:

  1. I am so excited to find this tutorial! Thank you! I love my fitted diapers and have been wanting instructions on how to convert a prefold to a fitted without all the extra fabric (flannel, cotton, etc.) that most patterns use. I just want a plain ol' fitted! :) I just ordered a bunch of used prefolds online (I can't cut up mine because I need them all!) so when they arrive I am going to try out your tutorial! Great pics, very clear even for this novice sewer.

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  2. Question. Couldn't you just add the elastic BEFORE you serge the sides closed? If you're working between the edge and the middle seam then there should be no difference in putting the elastic in, tacking it down on both sides, then serging closed right?

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    1. Absolutely, Juli! I cut my elastic a few times trying it that way, but if you are skilled enough to avoid doing that then it saves you an extra few steps!

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  3. How would you add a microfleece layer inside to make the entire top layer "stay dry"?

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    1. You would need to rip one of the seams to insert the microfleece, and sew it down. And then resew the ripped seam.

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  4. Oh, ok! Thanks! I'm a beginner, but have taken on the task of transforming my prefolds to fitteds (trying cut down on time diapering the 1 year old lol). I like your design out of all of the DIY's I've seen :)

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    1. If you do add the microfleece, I'd love to hear how it works out for you!

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  5. I love all the little newborn fitteds, but I'm way too poor to pay the $20+ for one! Especially since I just bought a dozen prefolds on sale for $14... hahaha but I saw another tutorial that sewed a fabric layer to the outside that made it look cute and then put the elastic in between the two layers. I think I am going to mix the two and see what I can come up with... going to try it out on one of my old gerber prefolds just to see how it turns out before I mess with my nice new ones. :)

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    1. How did you like the gerber prefolds with this?

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  6. I can't wait to try this. Do you think these could be made a one size fits all instead of sized? How long did it take, also?

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    1. I don't see why you couldn't have them be One Size if you used a large prefold. When my daughter was in the newborn side, they were still quite big on her so I folded the front down and it fit just fine. You could just fold the front down and they would be extra absorbent!

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  7. Isn't there already 8 layers in the middle of the prefold? So the new food diaper will have 10 layers in the middle?

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  8. Haha I meant fitted not food :) that'll teach me to proofread lol
    Can't wait to make these :) Thank you for replying so quick.
    I got a little confused abt the elastic on the waist?

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  9. I've been replacing the elastic in my bgs, and I've been using a crochet hook to pull the elastic through. It has been working well for me.

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  10. I've been converting my own prefolds to fitteds in the same manner for some time. I do all my converting before I ever wash the prefold, I find that it's easier to cut and see before it gets all fluffy. I think my side flaps are slightly thinner than yours (I just converted my large prefolds and the back side flaps were 3"), but I've had no problems getting the inside flap the size that they are in a store bought fitted. Have you tried opening the folds on the sides you cut out and laying them on top of each other? That's how I get them the size they need to be. I also add my elastic before serging, I just add in a line of stitching to make a casing to keep the serger blades and stitches away from my elastic

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    1. Do your diapers have significant shrinkage if you do this prior to prewashing? Thanks!

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  11. Thanks for making this - what an excellent idea
    If you add a pul layer on the outside you would have a complete nappy

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  12. Question: I just washed my first of two that I made from this tutorial and when I pulled it from the washing machine to put in the dryer, I noticed that part of the soaker pad had ripped/torn away at the zig zag stitch. Has this happened to anyone else? Is there a way to keep this from happening? Would a coverstitch work better for this? My only thought as to why is I'm wondernig if I got too close to the edge of the soaker when I was sewing around it and therefore the entire zig zag didn't catch the soaker panel? It was only ONE layer of it. seemed strange so I thought I'd ask. I'd love to convert the rest of my stash since I think my husband would like these so much better than the prefolds. Please let me know your thoughts or suggestions! ;)

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    1. I was thinking it might be nice to only stick the extra soaker at the top or bottom so they dry faster too. I've made my ownfitteds out of flannel swaddlers and used the center of a prefold aewn inside as the soaker, but that was my issue. Long drying time :(

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  13. What a great idea! Wish I could sew... :-)

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  14. Wonderfully done. It's very neat! <3
    I love my prefolds but DD is just too wiggly to snappi. I'd love to convert them into fitted your way..with additional 1 or 2 layers of trim bamboo to be worn under wool soaker. I wonder if this diaper soaker is high enough at the front? DD really like to be on her tummy.

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  15. This is amazing but how long does it take to dry? The soaker part must be very thick. Is it possible to line dry this way?

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    1. Stephanie FrancoMay 31, 2015 at 1:25 AM

      I love this tutorial! I'm still in the cutting stage as finding time to sew with a newborn is difficult, but I plan to sew the insert separately. I'm going to zig-zag around the edges and only sew the back of the insert to the diaper to create a flap insert. (Like the model photo) Flaps cut down on drying time.

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  16. I made fitted diapers from pre-folds for my girls...24 years ago now! They were so easy to use and wash. Not too many options then, I just used nylon pull on pants with them. My pattern was very similar to this. No Pinterest to help me out. lol

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  17. Could you create a soaker pad out of the outsides, then just zig-zag one of the short edges to the diaper, so that it could dry more easily? My dryer isn't great, and I'd worry about dry time. Fantastic tutorial, looking forward to trying this out!

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    1. Yes! I actually did that with a few and loved how quickly they dried.

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  18. I'm not sure what you mean Miriam and Celeste, do you mean you created flaps that attach at the legs and fold over the centre (and then flop/hang out when washing)?

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  19. Oh, you mean you sew the two layers together and then only zigzag on one side instead of AROUND the centre pad!

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  20. Best tutorial for prefolds I have seen to date!

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  21. How do you know what size they are?

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    Replies
    1. It would depend on what size prefold you would use. This is pretty transferable to any size.

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