How to sew cloth diapers in bulk. This analyzes the cost and time involved for making each diaper and discusses how to save time by sewing them in steps. This specifically addresses the time and cost for snap diapers, but I've found hook and loop diapers are a bit faster. This is something to keep in mind when deciding which you'd like to sew.
|This is what 11 diapers cut out looks like.|
- Pul fabric (assuming a cute print): $10-15/yard.... $1.67-$2.50 per diaper
- Alova suedecloth: $5-6/yard... $1 per diaper
- Snaps: 34 caps, 8 studs, 26 sockets... $1.30 per diaper
- 3/8" Elastic: 20" per diaper approximately... $0.27 per diaper
- 2 Bamboo Inserts... $2.40-$4.00 per diaper
|2. Cut alova suedecloth and pocket rectangles: 27.5 minutes... 2.75 min per diaper|
3. Mark Pul for snap placement: 11 minutes... 1.1 min per diaper
|4. Add snaps (26, 23, 21, 27 min per diaper)... 24.25 min per diaper|
|5. Add welt pocket: 45.5 minutes... 4.55 min per diaper|
UPDATE: Some diaper patterns don't use a welt pocket and instead open along the back. These save a bit of time, but the welt pocket is just gorgeous and very professional looking.
|6. Pin, sew right sides together, trim edges, flip right sides out: 1 hr 20 min... 8 min per diaper|
7. Top stitch: 35 minutes... 3.5 minutes per diaper
8. Mark and sew casings... 4 minutes per diaper
|9. Add elastic... 8-9 min per diaper|
10. Add last snaps: 40 minutes... 4 minutes per diaper
|All of them together!|
|One more closer up because I love this print.|
If you want to call it an hour, with the balance from materials cost being between $5.93 and $18.36, you're probably earning roughly $10/hour (estimated- I'm guessing low seeing I didn't calculate in some other costs).
Update, January 29, 2016: I wanted to take a few minutes to update this post. These diapers lasted us through two children and around three years. They're still in pretty good shape, for the most part. The pattern didn't work perfectly for my sons so if I could do it again I would try several patterns, see which worked best, and then make more of the pattern that worked well.
I've found hook and loop diapers are MUCH faster to sew- I find snaps very time consuming to put on. However, you may find that hook and loop wears out more over time. I've tried adding snap on hook tabs which works well for wear from the washer- but I don't love how they work when they're on my child. So I think I'd rather just worry about replacing the hook and loop on the sewn in tabs instead.
Because I've sewn them and seen how time consuming they are, I tend to wonder about what the environmental and labor costs are of $5 diapers made in China. I can see where a cloth diaper, particularly one sewn by a work at home mom, should be selling for $25+. It's just something I appreciate more now that I've seen the work involved.
The nice thing about sewing them yourself is that you can save a bit of money (at the expense of your time) and pick out EXACTLY the right fabrics. For those of you who sew, I'm sure you "get it"... we LOVE pretty fabrics. If I had a girl, I'd be sewing a ton of these ruffle butt cloth diapers. I've also embroidered cloth diapers, serged cloth diapers, and setup these great baskets to organize them all.
Please feel free to comment if you've ever timed yourself... I'd love to see how my timing compares. I know I'm a little OCD about how I do my diapers.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”