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How to design a diaper insert

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How to Design a Diaper Insert

Diaper inserts are the absorbent part of a cloth diaper. They can also be called soakers. Cloth diapers have gone through a rapid evolution over the last few years, so there are lot of different words for the same thing. It can be really confusing, but there's good reason for all the changes.

Insert in Diaper Cover

The modern cloth diaper of the mid-1990s was often one piece, with the soaker sewn in to the body (the part that fastens around baby). But a one piece diaper was hard to get clean and took a long time to dry. So the soaker became a separate piece...a flap, a petal - and with the invention of the pocket diaper, now called an insert.

There are lots of different diaper styles today, but no matter what style, it's got to have an absorbent insert. Inserts can lay in, snap in, be tucked under flaps, or stuffed into a pocket opening.

What's the best way to fashion an insert? Here's what I advise:

One: Design your insert so that it is no more than two layers of fabric thick. You can possibly go to three layers thick, but it will take longer to dry. And by fabric, I mean good diaper fabrics like bamboo fleece or hemp fleece. Thin cotton flannel is not going to cut it.

Read more about which fabric to choose here.

Two: You need at least six total layers in baby's wet zone. Go with eight for a heavy wetter and for overnight. Those of you with super-soaker babies might need even more.

Three: Putting one and two together, and still keeping the diaper trim gives you...

  • A two-layer rectangle that you can fold into thirds. Just like the old cotton prefold, but updated with hemp or bamboo. Why not just use a cotton prefold? Prefolds are usually too long for diaper inserts, while inserts are made to fit into a particular diaper shell perfectly.
  • Or, a long "snake" that folds back upon itself. It can be tacked into position, leaving most of the fabric free to get clean and dry.

    Snake Style Diaper Insert

  • Plus, do a separate two-layer booster that you can lay into the diaper for naps and overnight, adding extra soaking power only when you need it.

    Hemp Booster

The edges of the insert can be serged, or just straight stitched and left raw. All of the absorbent fabrics will not ravel. (I do not recommend sewing-and-turning or turn-and-topstitch because that inside seam is going to trap yuckiness and stay damp for a long time.)

If you don't want to draft your own insert, most diaper patterns include an insert pattern. Actually, you really don't even need a pattern. Here is an excellent tutorial that shows you how to make your own inserts. It is easy, economical, and you can customize to your own preferences.

--Dawn, Diaper Sewing Supplies

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