Friday, August 24, 2012

Cloth Diaper Inserts Tutorial

The Tutorial

You will need
1 yd fleece
1 pack of microfiber towels (find them in the automotive dept at Walmart)

You will use
rotary cutter & cutting mat (trust me, it will make your life easier)
sewing machine or serger

Instructions, simplified
1) Cut fabric
2) Layer fabric: two pieces of fleece with two pieces of microfiber in between. Total of 4-5 layers.
3) Stitch ends to secure them
4) Stitch/serge around edges. 
5) Wash on hot & tumble dry

Detailed Instructions

1) Cut fabric
This depends on the size of diaper you are making these for.
gDiaper TinyG's: 4" x 10.5"
gDiaper Size Small: 4.5" x 11.5"
gDiaper Size Med/L/XL: 5.5" x 13.5"

Cutting Diagram for Tiny G Inserts
For my TinyG's, out of the 1 pack of microfiber towels and a yard of fleece (had some fleece left over even), I got 16 diaper inserts. For larger inserts you won't get quite as many. I paid $5 for the towels and $6.97 for a yard of fleece at Walmart. I decided not to go with the cheap, white fleece there, because it wasn't as soft. There was some there for $3-something per yard, that was white. Even so, however, I paid less than $0.75 per insert... whereas the gDiaper inserts will run you about $5 a piece at full price.

If you are using a serger, add about a half-inch when you're cutting, to allow for what the serger will trim off. Alas, I do not have a serger (poor me.) and used a regular sewing machine, and cut it the size I wanted the finished product.
The microfiber towels kindof lie, however... they say they are 14x14, but that's stretching the truth just a bit. Plan on them being more like 13.5" or so. Since I am making inserts for the TinyG's, I fit 4 per towel; three across and one along the bottom. They weren't quite as big as 10.5x4. More like 10x4 except for the one the went lengthwise.

2) Layer fabric pieces
Two layers of fleece with two layers of microfiber between them... like a sandwich... total of 4 layers. If you are making inserts for larger diapers or an older child, you may consider adding more microfiber layers- just a guess. My newborn is great with just the 4, but he is still just little.

EDIT 5/2013 when my baby grew into the next size up, I went ahead and made the inserts with three inner layers.  These have been working beautifully. He is 10 months old and they are still absorbing all they need to. For these, I went with the orange/green/yellow microfiber towels at Walmart- they are a bit larger. I got 3 out of each towel, so one towel=one insert. 

TIP: Microfiber is super absorbent... great for the inner linings of the diaper insert, but do not let it rest against baby's skin. It is so absorbent that it will dry baby's skin out. Fleece is a good choice, as it is absorbent and keeps baby feeling dry.

3) Stitch ends to secure them (Skip if you didn't skimp on your microfiber like I did) 
I put a tiny stitch on each end of the microfiber, securing it to one layer of the fleece. I didn't want to stitch to all the layers, as I wasn't sure what any stitching/quilting would do to the absorbency of the diaper. This held it in place, and will ensure it stays in place through washings as well, even if the ends are not sewn into the outer seam. I chose to do this anyway, even on the ones I made where there was plenty of microfiber, just because it helped it not to slip as I sewed it. (I was too lazy to pin it... besides I was trying to tell my OCD self that these don't have to be pretty. They are going to get pooped on.)

4) Stitch/Serge around the edges
Fleece does not ravel, so there's no need to turn it and a tight zig-zag is just fine... it just maybe doesn't look as pretty. Make sure you're catching all 4 layers, at least on the long seams. If you do that, you should have no trouble with it bunching up inside when you wash it. Especially if you've secured the ends also.

5) Wash on hot and tumble dry before use
Just like when you buy new towels or new washcloths, these won't be very absorbent til after they've been washed. Other diaper insert brands suggest pre-washing something like 5 times. When I changed the first diaper using these inserts I wasn't sure if he was even wet- since it still felt pretty dry to the touch. I decided it was maybe just a bit damp to the touch, and definitely heavier than a dry one. 
Wet diaper that feels dry = success!

The Story

Part One of my story: (disclaimer: not very exciting, but helps give background for part two)
My husband has always planned on cloth-diapering his children. I have always adamantly planned on NOT using cloth diapers. Ask my sister how adamant we were on this point... "No way am I washing out poopy diapers!" 

When I got pregnant, however, I decided I would make my husband happy and at least consider cloth diapers. And upon looking, I found a happy compromise called gDiapers! Part disposable (even flushable, which goes away faster... no waiting for the trash pickup to get rid of the stink.) and part washable and reusable.

diaper liners
Uno problemo. Price. Yes, in the long run, it would still probably save money (oh yes and the environment and all that) but its still a chunk of change to go laying out there.  The more disposable option is actually more expensive than regular disposable diapers, basically your only benefit with those is the convenience and earth-friendly value. The option I decided to try was called gCloth, and is the part that absorbs the wet, and is washable. You line it with a diaper liner, which is like $9 for a box of 105 of the things. That is the only part we will have to re-purchase. The rest is simply an investment for all our future children's diapering. HUGE diaper deal in my opinion, compared to regular disposables.

The little gPants (diaper covers) I got on Ebay, some new, some used, and saved at least 50% on retail cost on all of those. Same with the gCloth inserts. I didn't get a boatload of the med/large gCloth- I figured I'd start with the size small, and purchase more M/L later when we were closer to needing it. I went ahead and got a half-pack of their newborn size gpants, called Tiny gPants. When I looked for the gCloth to fit those however, there wasn't one. I searched online and the best answer I found was that they were designed to use the flushable inserts only, and they did not make a gCloth insert for this size. (I could be wrong, but I didn't find them anywhere.) 

I figured if we ended up needing this size, we would figure out what to do then.... I'm actually not sure what I had planned on doing for sure. We were fully expecting a bigger baby- 8-9 pounds at least, simply because that's what both our moms had. My husband is one of 7, and I'm one of 10. With most of the babies being 8, 9, or 10 lb. in both families, we were pretty sure that's what we'd have too. The size small gDiapers start at 8 lb, so the tiny G's were "just in case" anyway.

Baby Ivan, 12 hours old
Part Two of my story is a bit more exciting:
 Our baby surprised us and came 6 weeks early!
Now what? "Now what" is right! We still had a lot on our list of things to get done in the last few weeks before he was born! He was in the hospital for 3 weeks, which helped/didn't help... They supplied the diapers at least, but didn't give me time to do anything at home, as I stayed there with him 24/7 so I could nurse. We live just far enough away from the hospital for it to not be easy to go home in between feedings.

When we did finally get to come home, we still had a few preemie diapers, as he wasn't big enough yet for even the tinyG's, and did have a bag and a box (so I thought) of newborn-size diapers. When he hit 6 lb, I was ready to try the TinyG's. I wasn't sure what to use for an insert, so I tried a couple things. First I tried folding up an old washcloth that I had, which worked okay, except that it was a bit labor-intensive for each diaper change to get it folded right, and stuff it in there without unfolding it. They also crunched up in his diaper as soon as they got wet, and so the gPants got messier than they should have. They also didn't keep him very dry, so I was worried about him getting a rash or something. They were also bulky.

My little man keeping himself entertained while I sew
Plan B was to try the size small gCloth inserts. Again, these worked okay, but because they were a bit big, they crinkled inside the pant, and let poo get around it into the gPants (which are supposed to stay relatively clean, so you don't have to wash them each time.). 

While we were figuring this out, we used mainly the disposable newborn size diapers that were given to us. Like I said, we had a bag and a whole box, right? He might be 8 lb before he gets through them all anyway. Wrong. Mainly wrong, because what I thought was a box of newborn diapers was actually a box of size 1... which starts at 8 lb. He was only 6 lb, and has skinny little legs. Those were not going to work, so we went strictly to the tinyG's by default.

The washcloths and size small inserts were not working. I knew I was going to need to just make some inserts that would actually fit. So that's what I did, and I wish I had done it sooner! They work amazing, and are so much less bulky than the too-big inserts or the washcloths. 
His little diaper butt is actually cuddly again. (Don't laugh at me--you moms know what I'm talking about.)

Happy mom, stay-dry feel diapers, easy diapering, money saved... Happy ending!


  1. You can also get Jessica Alba Diapers to get soft designed baby care products where you can get various options, choices and selections. These are reliable and best in use.

    1. Thanks- I haven't tried those yet, mainly because of price. I liked the concept and the cute designs, but they are just not in our budget at this point

  2. the fleece you use on these, is it the cheaper blizzard fleece, or the more expensive no-pill fleece?

    1. Great question. This was just from Walmart, and I'm pretty sure it is just blizzard fleece. It was not very expensive. Either would work.

      For the M-L-XL inserts, because the insert size stays the same, they've gotten a lot more use, and don't have that smooth fleece look any more, but they have never seemed too rough for my baby. In fact when we have put a paper-diaper on him for whatever reason, he has started crying and asking for the cloth ones. Hope that helps

  3. When using fleece make sure it IS absorbent. Some repel water which would not work so well :)

  4. Thanks! Yes, that's very important. I think most of them are absorbent. But even so, that's why it's crucial to wash and dry on HOT about 5 times before ever using.

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  6. Nice inserts. I also made fleece liners. I chose the fabric from a fabric store. It was arctic no pill fleece. It was expensive like $14/ metre but high quality and super soft. I got it on 60% discount, at around $6/ metre. I checked if it is wicking the water there itself in the store. To my surprise, the different patterns of exactly the same material varied in their wicking capability. Some were wicking more, some were even repelling. So, its better to test the wicking ability in the store itself. I buyed the one with the maximum wicking capability. Later, I just cut the fabric using the size of my inserts and I could make 28 inserts for $6 (23 cents each ). I am so happy to have them. They are high quality, super soft, superwickers and so cheap...