Step 1: Guide
Since I’m quite the sewing novice and don’t even own a sewing machine, step 1 on the road to making cloth diapers was to get something that would tell me where the hell to even begin. Based on good reviews at Amazon.com, I picked up How to Make (All-in-One, One-Size-Fits-Most) Cloth Diapers by Jennifer C. Berry (Self-Published: Q. Berry Books, 2011). The Kindle version can be purchased for a mere $4.99, but I went ahead and purchased the paperback version for $16.99. I figured, because I’m a sewing dumbass, I would need to have it open on my sewing table and refer back to it frequently, and that’s just easier to do in paper than on a Kindle.
I can’t really review the book until I’ve actually tried following its instructions for making cloth diapers, but so far I think it’s great. I read through it a few times today and feel like I now have a clear picture in my head of just how the heck these diapers are put together. I’ll conduct a fuller review of the book once I’ve actually used it to construct diapers.
I did a lot of reading in the past few weeks on different types of cloth diapers. There are many. I’m not going to go through them here. Suffice it to say that AIOs (all-in-ones) are the cloth equivalent of a disposable diaper and require no special folding, pinning, or pocketing, and they are the kind preferred by most daycares, so that’s what I’m going to make.
Berry advertises that her diapers work for ages 2 months until sometime in baby’s second year. After reading through her pattern, I felt pretty confident that I would be able to sew another AIO pattern. So I’ll be making 30 of the Berry diapers and 15 newborn-sized diapers using this free newborn pattern from DarlingDiapers.com. (Special thanks to RaeO aka Mama Kat for the review of the Darling Diapers free pattern here.) These diapers can be made with an umbilical snap.
Step 1 Total Costs: $16.99 
Step 2: Raw Materials
This is the stuff that the actual diapers will be made of. If I already had the guide and all of the sewing supplies for making my diapers, this would be the only cost for me to make these diapers. The diaper can basically be divided into three parts:
- PUL, the waterproof outer layer and most visible part of the AIO diaper.
- Zorb, the absorbent “middle” of the diaper that cannot be seen once it’s put together.
- Alova suede, the lining of the diaper meant to wick away moisture and leave the baby feeling dry.
So, here is what I purchased and how much it cost:
- 6 yds of 60-inch wide 1 mil PUL (3 different colors, 2 yds each) … $57.70
- 8 yds of Zorb (White. No need for different colors when no one sees it once the diaper is completed) … $55.84
- 6 yds of 60-inch wide alova suede (2 different colors, 4 yds of celery and 2 yds of white) … $29.70
- 6 yds of 1.5-inch wide hook ($0.98 / yd) … $5.88
- 21 yds of 1.5-inch wide loop (Roll of 24 yds) … $18.99
- 24 yds of 3/8-inch braided elastic ($0.37 / yd) … $8.88
- 100 white diaper snap sets (needed 15 for newborn umbilical snaps) … $4.17
- Shipping & Handling ($15.00 @ WAHMSupply / $13.30 @ Diaper Sewing Supplies) … $28.30
- I estimate that I’ll be spending another $20 on thread, but I’m going to wait until my supplies get here so that I can take the fabrics into the store and get a good color match for the thread.
Step 2 Total Estimated Costs: $229.46
My supplies all came from Diaper Sewing Supplies except for the Zorb, which came from WAHM Supply Sewing Store. The Berry book swears that Zorb is better for the filler layer than anything else, and Zorb wasn’t available at DSS. Otherwise, pretty much everything at DSS was a better deal, and they had a much larger and cuter selection of printed PUL.
That is enough materials to make 45 cloth diapers. If that were the only cost of this project—if I’d had all of the other supplies already—that means I would be spending a mere $5.10 per diaper (!). In contrast, ones&twos makes a brand of one-size-fits-most AIO that cost $16.95 each. That’s a savings of $533.29!
Step 3: Sewing Supplies
As I said above, I’m quite the sewing novice. I do not own a sewing machine or most of the supplies that Berry recommends. So I had to order all of the following:
- Metal Yardstick … $4.49
- Fabric Pen … $1.95
- Rotary Cutter … $5.99
- Quilter Pins … $2.49
- Sewing Tools Kit w/ Snips & Seam Ripper … $2.49
- 8″ Dressmaker Shears … $11.00
- Cutting Mat … $15.92
- 2 Pieces of Poster Board (Estimated) … $1.00
- Sewing Machine … $85.00
- Shipping & Handling … $6.95
Step 3 Total Estimated Costs … $137.28
For the sewing machine, I picked up a Brother XL2600I from Amazon.com. I’m worried that it may have a little trouble sewing the Zorb, but other than that, I think it has everything that I need for this project. Most of the supplies came from Joann Fabrics, with a few items from Wal-Mart.
I do not own a press for the umbilical snaps, and didn’t want to invest in one just for that, so I will just ask my local seamstress to snap those on for me.
Once my supplies arrive, all I will need is some thread and I should be all ready to begin sewing my cloth diapers. My estimated total cost for this project, for all three steps, is $383.73. If we count the cost of the guide and the sewing supplies, my 45 cloth diapers cost $8.53 each—close to half of what I would be paying for store-bought cloth diapers. And if I take good care of them and launder them correctly, I should be able to use them for baby #3 as well. The Eco-nomical Baby Guide by Joy Hatch and Rebecca Kelley (New York, N. Y.: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010) estimates that I can wash and dry my diapers for less than $100 a year.
The average family spends ~$800-$1000 a year on disposable diapers, so this should save us considerable money. Plus I was able to buy adorable colors and/or patterns that fit our green theme. I can’t wait to start putting some diapers together.
Bonus: I’m guessing I will also have enough leftover materials to make at least a few nursing pads. Having leftover Zorb will probably be the tricky part.