April 22 is Earth Day and in thinking about what we can do to as a cloth diapering community, our friend BethAnne has some ideas here for "upcycling" apparel, receiving blankets and other items you have  to make into adorable cloth diapers using Babyville Boutique PUL fabrics as the hidden inner layers. Your baby will look as cute as can be and Mother Earth will thank you too!

So you want to cloth diaper your baby, are thinking about the upfront cost to get started? Do you sew? Have you ever thought of sewing your own cloth diapers utilizing materials you may already have? It's time to upcycle!

Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.

Cloth diapers can be made from a variety of fabrics, therefore giving you a wide range of fabrics to choose from with upcycling.  Jersey Knits, Cottons, Wool, Micro-Fleece and Flannels are great choices! Who doesn't have a bunch of old t-shirts, sweaters and baby blankets lying around?

Here is my stash of upcycled diaper making fabrics.  There is everything from knit dresses, nightgowns, knit and flannel baby blankets and an old sweater.  All of these were picked up at yard sales or thrift shops for literally pennies!
Here are a few of the upcycled projects I have made:

One-size fitted cloth diaper made with a vintage Carter's knit baby blanket.

The inside yellow layer was the backside of the baby blanket.  Worked out perfectly and gave my diaper a nice designer look.  I also sewed in a hidden soaker made with ZORB and made a snap in soaker which also consists of an inner layer of ZORB.  Now, ZORB isn't really a fabric you can upcycle, but you can also cut up some of your old flat cloth diapers for soaker pads or even make some using dual layers of flannel.

My little guy in his mom made fitted cloth diaper!
Total cost to make this diaper - $2.75
Most OS fitted diapers run you anywhere between $15-$30!!!

One of my favorite finds for my upcycled diaper making is Gymboree knit blankets.  They are made with high quality jersey knit, have the most adorable prints and are dual sided.  Last summer I snagged two of these babies at a yard sale for 25 cents a piece!  You can get 4-5 diaper cuts out of one of these blankets (depending on the diaper size).  I personally cut out 3 OS diaper cuts and a cloth trainer (soaker) from this one blanket. This included the inner layer and outer layer.

Here is the cloth trainer I made for my 3 year old son. VERY easy to make!  No elastic needed and it gives a great fit!  I added a hidden ZORB shaker pad for extra absorbency, but you can make these without for a great pair of little boy's underwear.

FREE Soaker Pattern can be found here.

I made this trainer/soaker and pair of longies out of an old Merino Wool Sweater I picked up at Goodwill for $4.00.  You can use the soaker over a fitted diaper as a cover.  Same thing goes for the longies.  100% wool works fabulous as a diaper cover as wool is highly absorbent and can hold up to 35% of it's weight in moisture.  It is also very breathable making it a great choice for overnight diapering and for babies who have a tendency to rash.  You will need to lanolize your wool after each wash, but one of the most amazing things about cloth diapering with wool is you will only need to hand wash about once a month (unless poop gets on the diaper covers).  Wool can be saturated with urine, air dried and used again.  Sounds gross, but it dries with NO odor!  Try it for yourself if you don't believe me.  You will fall in love with wool!

Utilizing old t-shirts is one of the easiest and most fun ways to make cloth diapers.  I purchased these two tie dye t-shirts at a thrift shop for $1.00 each.  I was able to get 4 diaper cuts from the two shirts.  Which gives you a pretty cool outer layer for your diaper for only 50 cents! No messing with dye either.  Love it!

Here is a previous upcycled tie dye diaper I made.  This diaper is a one-size AI2 style with a hidden layer of Babyville Boutique white PUL.  No cover required!  I sewed this using both a serger and regular sewing machine.


Besides the inner layer of PUL for waterproofing, this diaper also has a hidden inner soaker I made cutting up an old prefold cloth diaper.  The snap in soaker is also made with a sandwich layer of the prefold fabric.  You can use old white t-shirts for the diaper inside layer.  I used white knit fabric I found for real cheap at a thrift shop.

As you can see cloth diapering can be done on the cheap. With a little creativity your old cast offs can be re-purposed to diaper your baby!  All you need to purchase are your snaps, elastic, and PUL  (if wanting a hidden waterproof layer).  Babyville Boutique's line of diaper making products can cover these things and you can pick them up at your local JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby, and Hancock fabric stores. Don't forget those coupons to make your projects even more affordable!

*Note:  When sewing with knits and wool, please be sure you are using the proper needle.  Failure to use the right needle will result in diapers that come undone and or create holes.  For more information and tips on sewing diapers with a variety of fabrics please read Babyville's Cloth Diapers Made Easy book.

Mama to 4 (almost 5), wife, homeschool teacher and blogger, Beth Hunter is one busy stay at home mom!  She has been cloth diapering for the past 4 years and loves to share about her cloth diaper experiences, her life, and all things homemaking over at Happily Domestic.


24 November 2014

this is a good blog piece for parents trying to save money. I am not very sure whether it would successfully work with babies that are heavy wetters

2 May 2014

I was wondering if PUL is often used as an inner? I can't find much info on that, but I like the idea that it wipes off. Thanks!

12 May 2014

Hi Taylor, No, PUL isn't used as an inner because it's not absorbant. We have a couple articles about inners here on the blog though that could be helpful for you: http://www.babyvilleboutique.com/blog/absorbancy Hope this helps! :)

Jolene Kirk
18 March 2014

I can't wait to try out these patterns!!! Also re-use fabric.

13 March 2014

Thx! I've been looking for different ways to make my own. 

Laura Brewer
13 March 2014

I would love to be able to upcycle clothing/blankets into cloth diapers!!!

Jen H
12 February 2013

Just wanted to add that the cheapest way to buy flannel is buying flannel sheets at Goodwill. They're usually 3.99 for a sheet, and even if you only get a twin sheet, it's much more fabric than you can get at a store for that price! Also, if you want upcycled wool and aren't picky about color, go on a .99 day and look!

15 August 2016

I have to agree with Jen...I've bought flat cotton knit sheets from the Goodwill, prices ranging from $2.99 to $4.99 depending on the size. I've made crib sheets and changing pad covers out of them, but will make diapers now too. I buy used flannel to make burp cloths, and bibs. I love to upcylce fabric! 

12 February 2013

Oh, FAB tip, Jen! Thanks!

19 October 2012

I started making the diapers before  grandson, now 8 weeks old was born, then had to qucikly make much smaller because he is a little one but now almost 8 pounds!   I think the leg openings are okay, but he is soaking thrugh the PUL, up his back, soaking everything he has on.  I am going to try making heavier soakers.  I am making the AI2 wih snap-in soaker, have used cotton quilting batting on inside with flannel on outsides of soaker.  Has anyone tried putting PUL on the bottom layer of the soaker.  And what is ZORB.  Thanks for sharing!

20 October 2012

If using the cotton batting it needs to be washed about 10 times before it becomes fully absorbent. It is not the optimum choice for a heavy wetter. I'll ask Krista, author of Simply Soakers to post here and give you some suggestions. 

19 October 2012

Hi Gail, We posted an article about heavy wetters that might be useful for you : http://www.babyvilleboutique.com/blog/2012/01/challenge-cloth-diapering-heavy-and-fast-wetter Plus I bet our team will also have some great advice for you!

17 October 2012

The first cloth diapers I made myself were upcycled! We have a thrift store where I live, all items in the basement are 5 or 10 cents each. I use pocket diapers, so I also made a TON of inserts as well by upcycling.  Out of my entire stash I have only 7 store bought diapers that I received from our baby registry. 

17 October 2012

WOW! That's fantastic - and inspiring! yes

Obey clothes
17 July 2012

Where did you find the patterns of the training pants?The small question!

15 May 2012

I am so excited to find your blog.  This will be such a help.  New baby on the way in Sept and I am 95% sure I want to cloth diaper, I love to sew (and so does my mom), so I want to try to make most of my stash on my own.  However I am also thinking of just quitting my job now - it is just awful and I want to be home with my daughter and when the little one gets here.  So money is/will be a huge issue.  

3 May 2012

Hi there!  I have been using this method to build my CD stash lately but I have had tons of promblems!  It seems like EVERY diaper I make has a wicking problem and as soon as my son pees it wicks out of the diaper (via leg holes) and into the front fabric (I used the method of sewing the inner layer and the outer layer and the hidden PUL layer on the inside with right sides together, then flipping them right sides out and top stitching. I have also tried the serged method with even worse wicking then the other!)Do you have any tips on how to do this better?  I just finished a diaper that had just the PUL and inner layer (with hidden soaker) and it passed the test through an hour and a half nap...I just really want to dress up the diapers with cute and fun and upcycled outer fabric!!! Thanks!Ashley

Toni Green
25 July 2012

To avoid wicking through the pul, you'll want to make sure you're (1) using polyester thread and a ballpoint needle.  Regular needles can make tiny tears in the pul, making it easier for moisture to pull through.  Also, (2) something most people don't want to hear, using a cotton fabric on the outside can make the moisture pull through more easily.  Using a polyester, wool, or similar fabric keeps wicking from occurring.  I know the cute prints are usually on cotton fabrics, but it is best to save the cottons for fitted diapers.

Beth Hunter
7 May 2012

Ashley-I am kind of new at this too and have had similar problems.  One of the diapers I made for a friend (which had an outer layer of knit, inner layer of knit with built in soaker, and hidden layer of PUL) has been leaking through.  Not sure what happened because the tie dye one I made (the one my son is wearing above) is made the same way and does not leak at all.  I used the same inner PUL too!  The only thing I can think of is maybe you used a defective cut of PUL.  Also, check the thread your using and make sure it is 100% polyester.  Maybe your absorbant layer is not thick enough.  Don't give up.  You can always put a cover over the leaky diapers.~Beth

2 May 2012

What size Katrina's did you use.  I want to make my trim 3 year old some of those out of knit blankets.  They look great!  Did you extend the waist band a tad?

Beth Hunter
7 May 2012

Auh- I am not sure what a Katrina is?  Can you clarify better?  Thanks.  ~Beth

15 May 2012

Katrina's are the pattern for the woolies and longies :)

22 April 2012

Great looking upcycled diapers!  I was drooling over your knit print blankets.  I have a hard time throwing anything away and this is a great way to use those items up.

21 April 2012

Where did you find the patterns of the training pants?

22 April 2012

Kay,It is the same pattern as the soaker.  Pattern can be found by going to the link within this post that says "Free soaker pattern can be found here".  It is such a simple pattern!  I love it!Thanks,BethAnne

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