Which fabric is best for diaper inserts?
One of the most frequent questions we get asked is...which fabric is best for diaper inserts?
Organic cotton - Cotton is durable and the long-time standard for cloth diapers. It's easy to get clean, and it can be bleached if needed. Average time to absorb wetness, average time to dry.
Bamboo - Usually blended with organic cotton, bamboo is a delicate fabric. It's virtues are that it absorbs wetness more quickly than cotton. After washing, bamboo is quicker to dry than all-cotton. On the downside, bamboo will show wear more quickly.
Hemp - Looks the least refined, but can really soak. Hemp is slower to absorb than cotton or bamboo but can hold more wetness. It also takes the longest to dry.
We have a lot of different absorbent fabrics, so you can choose what you like best. There is no one perfect fabric!
What would I use?
If I wanted to make a premium diaper, I would use bamboo fleece (sewn smooth sides out), possibly topped with bamboo velour. For an extra-trim diaper, I would go with bamboo french terry. And for an ultra-premium diaper I would choose double loop terry because it doesn't shrink and stays soft even when lined dried. I would know that my inserts might not last several kids if washed a lot, but my bamboo inserts would perform beautifully.
If I needed inserts that would last through several kids, and cost was a factor, I would go with organic cotton. I would not have to be picky about rinsing out all the detergent (important for bamboo!) every washing. I could hang the inserts to dry and then finish with a quick fluff in the dryer.
The fantastic thing about sewing for yourself is that you can try different combinations of fabrics.
For those who want to choose by the numbers:
Our absorbent fabric weights in gsm (grams per square meter), from heaviest to lightest are listed below. This is a measure of how heavy a fabric is, NOT how thick it is - Bamboo French Terry is thinner than Bamboo Fleece for instance. This does give a rough absorbency comparison.
500 gsm Bamboo Super Heavy Fleece
400 gsm Bamboo Heavy Fleece, Cotton Sherpa
340 gsm Bamboo Hemp OC Fleece
330 gsm Hemp French Terry
320 gsm Hemp Fleece
300 gsm Bamboo Double Loop Terry, Cotton Fleece
280 gsm Bamboo Stretch Fleece, Bamboo Fleece, Bamboo French Terry, Organic Cotton French Terry
260 gsm Bamboo Velour
200 gsm Diaper Flannel