How to Sew a Cloth Diaper Stash Fast


How to sew cloth diapers in bulk faster for a quick diaper stash. This analyzes the cost and time involved for making each diaper and discusses how to save time by sewing them.

DIY Cloth Diapers: Tips for sewing diapers faster.

How to sew cloth diapers in bulk faster for a quick diaper stash. This analyzes the cost and time involved for making each diaper and discusses how to save time by sewing them.

Sewing cloth diapers is the reason I began sewing in 2011. It's the reason I started my blog. I wanted to be able to create the stash of diapers that I wanted- not just what was commercially available. At the time, there were only a few retailers of cloth diapers and they usually only offered cloth diapers in a few solid colors. When I saw the diapers people were sewing, I said, "I'm going to dust off that sewing machine and learn to sew." And that's what I did.

In 2011 or so when I first wrote this blog post, I was making a diaper "stash" for my oldest son, G, who is now almost 6 years old. I made about 40 or so one size pocket diapers for him, as well as some other types of diapers. When he graduated into a larger size diaper (because he was a big boy and potty trained on the later side), I made a huge stash of those diapers. Both of those sets were worn by my two oldest sons. When we thought we were done with babies and the two boys were potty trained, I sold my stash of one-size diapers.

And then we found out that we were having another baby a few months later. So I made another huge stash of one-size diapers. I wasn't too upset for an opportunity to sew with some newer fabric designs. Because I heart beautiful PUL fabric. 

You'll find tons of posts on this blog about making cloth diapers, and I also wrote a book that is available on Amazon about sewing reusable cloth products, including cloth diapers. That's your in-depth guide and worth picking up if you would like to have a good reference while you sew.

Some people love to sew cloth diapers. I love owning them and I love saving money by making them myself. When it boils down to it, I enjoy the satisfaction of having made them myself, but I am not interested in working from home, selling the perfect cloth diapers.

I want to sew them, I want them to be affordable, and I want them to be functional. And I've invested a lot of time in determining the best way to sew them so they're not too time consuming or expensive for me to complete. I want to share that knowledge with you. 

How to Sew Cloth Diapers Quickly

The type of diaper, the pattern, and your choices while sewing will affect how long your diapers take to sew. I have methods that are easier or faster for me, and that I prefer in order to get as many done as quickly as possible. I like to be finished. 

The fastest way to sew a lot of cloth diapers is to setup an assembly line.

You break your cloth diaper sewing down into small steps so that you can quickly complete each step. You can put some of your supplies away after each step and you don't need to have everything out all at once. It's convenient, although sometimes it's hard to wait to see a diaper completed. Usually I plan out how many diapers that I want to sew, then get started.

Let's say you want to sew 25 diapers. This means that you cut 25 of your exterior fabric first, then you cut 25 of your interior fabric next.

DIY Cloth Diaper Stash: Assembly Style makes sewing faster.

Then you proceed through each cloth diaper sewing step for the entire diaper stash. So you will add your snaps and/or hook and loop to the front for all 25 diapers, take your inner fabric and sew your pocket area, then pin your inner and outer fabrics right sides together, then sew, then flip right sides out, then top stitch, then sew your casings, then add your elastic, then complete your diapers by adding hook tabs and laundry tabs or by adding your snaps to the tabs of the diapers.

Using a Wood Form to Cut Fabric Faster

One thing that has made sewing cloth diapers faster for me is to make a wood form of my pattern. This allows me to cut the exterior and interior fabrics quickly, without worrying about cutting into a paper pattern. I use a rotary cutter instead of scissors with this.

My brother made me my first form, and since then I've made a couple of my own when I switched patterns. The ones he made me have a hinge which make for easy storage, but I've made a couple of thinner ones that aren't hinged. They're fairly easy to make if you have some woodworking tools and I will explain how to make these in my second edition of my book, The Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth. This book will be retitled, "How to Sew, Use, and Clean Cloth Diapers," when it rereleases. Right now it's in the process of being edited and I'm adding a lot more information and better photos!

DIY wood pattern form for sewing cloth diapers.

How Long Does It Take to Sew a Cloth Diaper?

For this analysis, I was completing 10 pocket diapers with a PUL exterior and alova suedecloth inner. I made a welt pocket like the Baabaababy pattern (what I was using at the time, I don't believe this is available anymore) uses and used all snaps. There was also a snap down rise because it's a one-size diaper.

I paused my timer when I made mistakes. This is the time required if you sew perfectly. I paused my timer when I had to stop, when my needle broke and needed to be replaced, when I had to clean my machine, when I needed to rewind my bobbins, etc.

I used little cut squares for my snaps to reinforce them. My other option is to cut larger strips of Pul and glue it down. I find this more time consuming, but some people find it faster. It does LOOK neater. But it's on the inside of the diaper so I don't care. I prefer using the squares because it makes the best use of my scraps of Pul. Less waste, less cost.

For adding snaps, I timed them all individually (I forgot to time some, oops). Then I averaged them to find out approximately how long it takes per diaper. I watch television while I'm adding snaps (not while I'm marking them, just when adding them) so keep that in mind.

  • Cutting PUL for exterior: 3 min per diaper
  • Cutting inner fabric and fabric for the welt pocket: 2.75 min per diaper
  • Marking snap placements: 1.1 minutes per diaper
  • Adding snaps: 24.25 minutes per diaper
  • Adding welt pocket: 4.55 minutes per diaper
  • Pin, sew right sides together, trim edges, flip right sides out: 8 min per diaper
  • Top stitch: 35 minutes: 3.5 minutes per diaper
  • Mark and sew casings: 4 minutes per diaper 
  • Add elastic... 8-9 min per diaper
  • Add last snaps: 4 minutes per diaper
[Grand] Total time per diaper: 63.65 minutes

In my upcoming book release, I'll discuss some additional steps that I take to save time and some short cuts if you don't mind how those short cuts look. I cheat when I do my pocket openings now which saves me a lot of time, and I've found that hook and loop is slightly less time consuming to use for a closure. Some people prefer snaps, but in the end I really liked hook and loop best. 

These were my initial set of cloth diapers that I timed for this post. 

How to sew cloth diapers in bulk: a time and cost analysis.
All of them together!
How to sew cloth diapers in bulk: a time and cost analysis.

Cost Analysis

Part of my consideration for if sewing my own diapers was worth it was the cost per diaper. One way that I've saved money on making cloth diapers is ordering materials through co-ops where a bunch of people get together to buy supplies in bulk for a lower cost. A lot of my costs reflect these savings (but don't always account for co-op costs and shipping so keep that in mind). I'm leaving out typical sewing costs such as the cost of the machine, needles, thread, and other materials.

The cost analysis is for a pocket diaper with a Pul exterior, alova suedecloth inner, 3/8" elastic, and bamboo inserts from Alvababy.

I used the OS Superfit pattern from Baabaababy and this is what my costs (and time analysis) are based on. The pattern allows a small work-at-home-mom business to use the pattern without paying a fee to the owner of the pattern (other patterns may charge and I didn't want to calculate that in). According to other women who sew using this pattern, I might be able to get about 6 diapers of this pattern made from one yard of material, as long as the material is non directional. The waist of a cloth diaper needs to stretch and fabric is made so there's a stretch in one direction, but not in the other. As a result, you need to cut out your pattern to the waist/back of the diaper get the stretch (horizontally). I hope that makes sense.

For the inserts, your standard diaper that you purchase from a big company such as Fuzzibunz or Bumgenius is going to come with a microfiber insert. It absorbs okay, but can't ever be placed against the baby's skin or they'll break out in a rash. I wanted to buy inserts that would be okay for an AI2 (where the insert touches the baby) or a pocket, that has good absorbency, that will dry fast, and that won't have as much of a "stink" factor (microfiber can get stinky). Natural fabrics such as hemp or bamboo are a good option. A coop was running to order bamboo inserts from Alvababy. You need two bamboo inserts (they're thin but absorbent) per diaper for good absorbency. I sewed the top of my two together, then added a couple snaps to use for AI2's. I didn't want to sew them completely together because then it would take longer to dry. Note that I did not calculate the time it took me to sew the inserts together in my time analysis below. I found it to be somewhat negligible. You could make your own inserts and if you upcycled old flannel and other materials, you could save money on the inserts. My thought was that the time commitment would be greater than my savings so I opted to buy the inserts.

  • 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*
Total Cost: $6.64-$9.07 per diaper

*I've noticed that the cost on these has risen quite a bit so it might be more economical to make your own, particularly if you already own a serger.

Just as another reminder, this doesn't take into account other associated costs with diaper making, such as the cost of your sewing machine and the upkeep involved, the cost of needles, the cost of thread, etc.

Why are cloth diapers through work at home moms so expensive?!

A work-at-home mom diaper seems to generally retail through a company like Etsy or Hyenacart for $15-25 per diaper. They get more for specialty diapers, but those require more time and materials.

Based on my calculations in the section above, that means a WAHM would be paying herself between $5.93 and $18.36 per diaper. I'm sure they get slightly better bulk prices on fabrics than I did, but it's still a pretty low wage. If you can make one per hour (less time than it takes me), 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).

Other factors: Hyenacart or Etsy charge a fee to list the diapers, you also have to pay a fee to get LLC status, you need to buy labels and care instructions, government regulations (don't ask me the details, my head starts to explode when this topic is discussed) require careful monitoring and tracking of all materials used in each diaper, and you may want to also pay to advertise.  There's probably more, but that's what I can think of off the top of my head right now.

Is the expense of cloth diapers worth it?

Without a doubt, the expense is worth it- regardless of if you sew them or buy them- if you're committed to cloth diapering.

Resale value is high on them if they're kept in good condition and often they can be used for several children.

Why sew them yourself?

It's fun. It's economical if you already know how to sew. And you can get exactly what you want. It's also pretty satisfying.  If I had a girl, I'd be sewing a ton of these ruffle butt cloth diapers. I've also embroidered cloth diapersserged cloth diapers, and setup these great baskets to organize them all.

Just getting started?

Are you considering switching to cloth products? Do you love cloth diapering? Curious about cloth products such as cloth menstrual pads, wet bags, and unpaper towels? I wrote a fantastic book that is ALL about using, laundering, and sewing reusable cloth products. It even includes instructions on this project! 

Pick up "The Complete Guide to Using, Laundering, and Sewing Reusable Cloth" today and get started saving money and the environment!
Book to learn how to sew cloth diapers

Want even more information? Wait for the updated second edition of this book, coming in Fall 2017. The price will go up slightly, but it will be packed with even more information. 

Love it? Pin it!

Detailed analysis on cloth diaper sewing, costs, and time to sew.

Please feel free to comment if you've ever timed yourself sewing cloth diapers... I'd love to see how my timing compares. 

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.”


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DIY Danielle: How to Sew a Cloth Diaper Stash Fast
How to Sew a Cloth Diaper Stash Fast
How to sew cloth diapers in bulk faster for a quick diaper stash. This analyzes the cost and time involved for making each diaper and discusses how to save time by sewing them.
DIY Danielle
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