[Tutorial] Turn a Men’s T-shirt into a Newborn Cloth Diaper
This is a pretty typical way to make a newborn sized prefold but I’m demonstrating by recycling a Man’s T-shirt because the sizing works so perfectly, making for less fuss w/ measuring & cutting. It’s like they were made to be recycled into just this very thing.
STEP 1: Find a 100% Cotton XL Man’s T-shirt in Need of Upcycling
The only set requirements is the tee be 100% cotton & size XL. Men’s or a gender-neutral tee works best, even though women’s size XL is roughly the same but sometimes the women’s tees are cut to be more form fitting & throws the sizing off a bit.
Since it has a little rip in the upper portion, this was perfect for diaper making, since mostly the lower part of the tee is what’s needed. T-shirts like this end up in my “Fabric Recycling” bin because, obviously , they have no resale value at a consignment shop & I personally won’t donate clothing items that are stained or damaged. Generally, stained clothing w/ rips are tossed out by the charity they’re donated to and I’d rather save them myself from the landfill. (Besides, it’s just bad form to assume that someone in need of clothing wants to wear stained & torn clothes. )These t-shirts find new life in a variety of forms – T-Shirt Yarn, cloth menstrual pads, diapers, rags … pretty much any project that needs 100% cotton.
Step 2: Lay T-shirt Flat & Cut Off Bottom Hem
Yep, just cut it right off.
Step 3: Fold T-Shirt in Half, Making Sure Bottom & Side Edges are Even
After you fold it in half, you’ll notice that the bottom edge measures about 12 inches,perfectly. Nice, because this is the width of a newborn cloth prefold. When you fold the shirt in half, you’ll now have 4 layers of cloth – also the typical number of layers in a cloth prefold.
Step 4: Measure 13″ Up Along the Folded Edge & Cut.
This is what you’ll end up with…. a 12 x 13 rectangle, 4 layers thick.
Step 5: Cut the Inner Soaker Layers
This is the center portion of the prefold, the thickest layer. Here I’m making a 4-8-4 prefold. What these numbers mean is this: The 4s refer to the number of layers on either side of the soaker. The 8 refers to the number of layers total in the center portion. This is what’s considered a diaper service quality prefold & you really don’t want to use anything w/ less layers. For people new to cloth diapering & not aware of the many places to buy nice cloth diapers, they often go to Target or Walmart and pick up what they sell as “cloth diapers”. These are 2-4-2 prefolds that feel like gauze. After a day of using these as a diaper, most are pretty much done with their cloth diapering experience forever – or until they discover the real deal.
You can use upper unused portions of the same T-shirt of choose another 100% cotton source. Shirt sleeves & pants legs from children’s clothing work great for this. If you use sweatshirt sleeves or sweatpants legs, you might choose to only use 2 layers instead of 4 because they are thicker.
Here I used youngest son’s outgrown ( and very stained from playing outside in them) pajama pants.
The width should be about 5 inches wide and again, 13 inches long, just like the outer layers .
Step 6: Make Your Soaker Sandwich
Unfold the t-shirt & insert your soaker layers ,about 3 1/2 inches from the outer edge. Fold outer layer back into place.
I’m sort of a haphazard crafter & never pin anything but it’s probably a good idea to pin at least the top & bottom to hold all the layers in place while you stitch everything.
Step 7: Stitch the Soaker into Place
Straight stitch inner layer into place. Afterward, you may need to trim up the outer edges to make everything even again.
Step 8: Sew Along Outer Edges
If you have a Serger, just serge along all the outside edges. If you don’t have a Serger, it’s not a big deal… you can just zigzag stitch the outer edges and still have the same quality of diaper. Sometimes, I’ll straight stitch the perimeter first and then zigzag for extra integrity but I’ve found that plain zigzag stitching works just fine.
Step 9: Just Add Baby
Here’s the finished diaper. I’ll add the baby soon.
Oh..and save your t-shirt “shavings” for other projects! I plan on making a T-Shirt Shag Rug with my saved bits.
More Diaper Making Tutorials
*How-to-sew-elastic tutorials as Quicktime videos, pocket diaper information, and answers to common diaper-sewing questions from Amber of Diaperkit. If you’re having trouble with elastic and you’re a visual learner, these are great!
*Rita’s Rump Pocket–One-Size-Fits-Most Fitted Pocket Diaper–PDF pattern, as well as a new one-size-fits-most H&L “granny tab” diaper cover! Designed by our own amberthesugarcat!
*Mama Bird Diapers–the very popular Mama Bird diaper patterns–if you get the data transfer limit error from Geocities, try again later! Patterns for Fitted, AIO, and Pocket diapers. This pattern runs small!
*Wee Weka diaper patterns, plus tutorials on how to sew pocket diapers, pocket diapers with gussets, elastic casing, and fitteds
*Patterns for fitted diapers and covers. The entire site is in French. PM me if you need help figuring this one out, I speak some French and would be happy to translate (and the Google apps translator doesn’t do a very good job )
*MatNap fitted diaper pattern for use with a Snappi–looks like you could easily add hook-and-loop or snaps to close, or use with pins–her instructions use a large beach towel & say you can get 3 diapers out of one towel
*How to make a PUL pocket diaper with fleece waistband that fastens in the back
*How to Draft Your Own Fitted Diaper Pattern
*How to Draft Your Own Diaper Cover Pattern
*One-Size Fitted Diaper
*Comfy T-shaped Diaper Pattern (not printable, but very easy to draw yourself!)
*Ottobre Fitted Diaper Pattern–this pattern runs large!
*Ottobre Knitted Wool Diaper Cover Pattern
*Fern and Faerie’s Hand-Knit Soaker Pattern
*Lion Brand “Day-to-Night Felted Soaker” knitting pattern. You will need to register to view the pattern, but it is free!
*Miala Diaper Cover Pattern (size medium only), soft baby shoe pattern, plus links to a variety of other free patterns
*Free Side-Snapping Diaper Cover Pattern from Chloe Toes
*AIO Pattern (size medium only, other sizes available to purchase)
*”No Elastic Fleece Pull-Up Cover”–would probably work with wool too
*Quick sew pull-on soaker (for wool or fleece).
*Side-snapping Waterproof Training Pants
*How to Make Your Own “Bum Sweater”–longies from a wool sweater
*How to Make Your Own “Bum Sweater”–soaker from a wool sweater
*How to Make Your Own “Bum Sweater”–soaker from a wool sweater
*A drawing showing how to cut longies from a sweater sleeve–no sewing instructions, though
*Tutorial for making “baby pants” from the sleeves of a sweater. You have to join the site to view the pics
*Patterns and How-Tos for Flatfold Diapers, Gusseted Diapers, Covers, Knit Soakers, Training Pants and more
*Crochet Longies pattern
*Tiny Birds Free Knit Soaker Pattern
LINKS TO OTHER COLLECTIONS:
*Free patterns list at the WAHM Mall
*Free Knit/Crochet/Sewn diapering patterns
*Collection of Knit/Crochet and recycled wool diaper cover patterns