Thursday, May 08, 2014

{tutorial} Newborn Sized Pocket Cloth Diaper with Adjustable Elastic

This tutorial will show you how to sew your own newborn pocket diaper using adjustable elastic. 

These diapers are equivalent in size to a disposable diaper size 1 and with the adjustable elastic they can be adjusted down a little smaller than the equivalent of a disposable size newborn. The cloth diaper has a snap to adjust for the umbilical cord as well. I like using the adjustable elastic so you can get a perfect fit for your baby. I hate it when I buy a cloth diaper and the legs are too big, which causes leaks, or too small, which just looks uncomfortable.  The adjustable elastic prevents this and you can also adjust it as your child grows. I also love using the adjustable elastic because I hate sewing regular elastic into diapers!

Materials and Fabric Needed:
1. PUL
2. Stay dry lining fabric (I used wicking jersey and microfleece. But you could also use suedecloth, minky, etc)
3. Size 20 plastic snaps (or you can adjust the pattern and use hook and loop) – 9 sets of snaps per diaper.
4. Absorbent material (I used baby loop terry that I received as a sample, but if you don’t have any laying around, I would recommend up-cycling old fabric here – use fabric made with 80% or more cotton such as t-shirts, sheets, etc).
5. Button hole elastic - I purchase mine from
6. Buttons - About 6/16 inch is the prefect size but they can be a bit smaller or larger and it will be fine. We found cheap ones at Walmart or upcycle them from old worn out clothing.
7. Thread – Use 100% polyester thread. Do NOT use cotton thread OR polyester coated thread or you increase the chance of wicking leaks.
8. Fabric glue stick (I just used a regular glue stick and used very little glue).
9. Snap pliers if using snaps.
10. Sewing machine. You can use a serger to finish the edges if you want. However, I have a serger and didn't finish my edges with it. 

You will also need inserts to put into the finished pocket diaper. Here is our tutorial on making newborn inserts.

Sewing the Diapers:

1. Print out the pattern, tape it together, and cut it out. 
2. Cut out the fabric – You will have (1) one PUL full sized diaper piece, (2) one PUL tummy flap reinforcement piece, (3) one PUL reinforcement piece for each wing, (4) one full sized lining piece, and  (5) one full sized absorbent piece. (Your total pieces will be 6). 
3. Using fabric glue, glue the reinforcement PUL piece to the PUL diaper piece on the tummy panel. Use as little glue as possible; it only needs to be held in place while you put the snaps on. The reinforcement piece makes the fabric have more structure for  when you pull on the snaps to remove the diaper from baby.
4. Apply snaps to the tummy panel of the PUL using snap pliers. Follow the snap placement shown on pattern.

5.  Pin the lining material and the absorbent material together. Make sure the right side of the lining material is facing out.

6.  Sew the buttons on the absorbent layer using the button placement marks shown on the pattern. Make sure to sew through both layers of fabric as the double layer will help reinforce the button stitching.

7. Next, you’ll make the pocket opening - on the PUL diaper piece, draw a line a little less than ½ an inch on the edge of the tummy panel even with the outside edge of the third snap (see picture). Cut down this edge. Fold down and pin.

 8. Continue with the pocket opening - On the inner layers of fabric – lay the fabric on top of the PUL diaper piece so that the absorbent layer is facing up and the wicking layer is facing down towards the PUL. Line up the edges and cut the layers about ½ inch down using the PUL as a template. (see pictures).  Then cut the absorbent layer across (see pictures). Then fold down the lining layer and pin (see pictures).

9. Sew this flap down so it stays in place. I like to zig zag stitch this, however use a longer stitch length than I did so that the stitches don’t pull the fabric and stretch it out.

10. Lay the PUL diaper piece with the right side up. Put the inner fabric layers on top of it, with the inner layer down (the buttons should be visible). Line up the sides and pin in place.

 11. Using a ½ inch seam allowance sew around the diaper. Do not sew where the pocket opening is that you created in steps 7-9.

 12. (optional) serge around the edges. I don’t know if I will do this again. I’m not very good at serging and its really hard to go around that many curves!

13. If you do not serge around the edges, trim the edges around the curve to a little less than ¼ inch and trim the edges by the leg and back elastic to about ¼ of an inch.

14.  Turn diaper right side out.

15. Top stitch. (I forgot to take a picture of this step before the diaper was finished. Sorry) 

 16. Sew the elastic casings.

 17. Apply wing snaps.

 18. Cut elastic. I cut my back elastic about 8 inches and my leg elastic about 10 inches. It is a little longer than I need, but I wanted extra adjustability. Fold over the edge of the elastic about ¼ of an inch and then fold it over again another ¼ of an inch. Zig zag stitch in place.

19. Thread the elastic through the elastic casings. This is easiest to do with a large safety pin. 

20. Make newborn inserts! See our tutorial here.

You are finished! How did yours turn out? If you have any questions let me know!


  1. Oh man! I don't know if I'm brave enough to attempt a diaper! I find PUL to be so aggravating to sew with, just getting a zipper on a wet bag is a challenge for me! Pinned though, I may brave up at some point!

  2. I don't recall diapers ever being this cute when our boys were that small! :-)

  3. I had no idea that it was fairly simple (relatively speaking) to create your own cloth diapers. I wonder what the savings are.

  4. Thanks for the tutorial. I've pinned this!

  5. Wow these actually do not look too hard to make, but still I have no sewing skills what-so-ever! So it might be interesting...

  6. Absolutely love the prints on these cute diapers! how chic!

  7. I wish I'd had this tutorial when my boys were little. I bought some of the fabric to make my own pocket dollars, but didn't actually do it.

  8. These look so cute!! I love the designs. Great job. Right now we are in the potty training phase, hopefully my diaper days are behind me, but if not, I'm glad to know I can break out my machine and make some like these!

  9. These are awesome! I don't know if I could make them, but yours look great!

  10. Awesome tutorial! It's such a great idea to try making your own cloth diapers to avoid the cost of some of the bigger cloth diaper brands out there. They can get so expensive!

  11. I used to sew my son's cloth diapers. I have so much fabric and pul to make more but that was years ago and now 3 children later I just bought them and now I use disposables because of al the laundry. After reading this post makes me miss cloth diapers, I am going to pull them out and start using them on my baby!

  12. I am so glad we are out of diapers, but i know some people who could use this.. I will email it out to them

  13. I am so glad we are out of diapers.. But i will email this some people who i know could use it.

  14. Oh what a great tutorial! My little sister just had a baby and she's trying to learn to sew everything for the baby. She's been making burp cloths and clothes and I'm going to show her this so maybe she can make diapers as well!

  15. Cloth diapering saves you so much money! I wanted to do it with my son but did not have the right washer for it.

  16. wow! you made it look so easy to make.. I hope I can make a few

  17. You made it look so easy make. I hope I can make a few

  18. I love that there is so much room for size changes! Excellent tutorial on making them.

  19. Thanks for the tutorial. I wish I had it when my girl was a baby!

  20. Great tutorial! I love that it has an adjustable elastic!

  21. Wonderful instructions! I love how cute these diapers are!

  22. Cloth diapering saves you so much money! I wanted to do it with my son but didn't do it!

  23. This is a very well explained tutorial, and all the pictures are great!

  24. Is each side 10 inches of elastic? So it would 28 inches of elastic (back- 8, leg 10, leg 10)? or 18 inches (back-8, leg-5, leg-5)?

    1. My total was 28 inches (the back was 8 inches, and each leg was 10 inches). The legs are longer than the back :) You could make them shorter though, mine were a little longer than I needed.