the ultimate guide to making your own nappies

Photo by sewingdork

When I plunged into the cloth nappy world I was totally overwhelmed. Flat, fitted, pre-fold, pocket, covers, liners..? Which nappy is best? What to buy? OMG look at the price!

Making your own, especially from recycled materials is the cheapest option if you want to go with the modern fitted nappy style. Below is a list of tutorials that I hope will make sense of the whole diaper / nappy world.

Of course, if you decide to practice elimination communication(I’m going to give it a go) then the whole nappy conundrum will be in part at least, moot.

There is some overlap in these tutorials as different tutorials explain things in different ways, and if one part doesn’t make sense, it can help to look at a another tutorial for a better idea. You can also pick and choose or adjust patterns, sewing techniques and materials to suit your needs. For example, you may like make an all-in-one, one-size pocket nappy by combining tutorials.

Common Materials

Cotton – is the most popular nappy material and is either flannel, terry, jersey (T-shirt fabric) and fleece (sweatshirt fabric).

Bamboo and Hemp – both have become very popular materials and are more absorbent than cotton, and antimicrobial. Often mixed with cotton.

Microfiber – super absorbent, this synthetic fibre is often used to fill pocket nappies or as an inner layer to the nappy as it can loose its absorbency after repeated washing.

Polyester fleece – soft, breathable and water-resistant. Can leak if nappy is compressed or not changed in time.

Wool - soft, breathable, anti-microbial, water-resistant and absorbent at the same time, used for nappy covers as they can be worn, left out to air and worn again. They do need to be washed properly to keep the lanolin in the wool, but can be washed far less frequently than regular covers.

PUL -stands for Polyurethane Laminate. This is fabric that is coated in a soft laminate. It is durable and is often used in covers (water-proof type) or in all in one nappies (more breathable type).

Vinyl and Nylon – waterproof material usually for the covers.

The  Diaper / Nappy Tutorials


These nappies are usually made out of terry cloth (between 50 and 75cm square), but can also be made out of thinner cotton or flannel. The thinner the nappy the more need for boosters and heavy liners and effective covers.

Who would have believed that folding flat terry nappies would be an art form?! My knowledge was limited to standard nappy folds. Here are some more advanced fold techniques.

diaperware.com1. The origami fold

2. Birdseye flats

3. Ice-cream cone fold

4. Newspaper fold



Pre-folds are like flats but with a thicker sewn in liner or padding down the middle to boost absorbency. 1. Sew pre-fold diapers the “real” way

2. Pre-folds from old t-shirts

3. Pre-folds from recycled flannel



These are like disposable nappies, they have elastic around the legs to prevent leakage. They’re still usually used with covers though. The disadvantage of these is that you will need different sizes as your bub grows, although there are one-size adjustable ones. 1. Fitted from old t-shirts

2. Fitted nappy Pattern (pdf)

3. Quick and easy fitted

4. Fitted from an old t-shirt

5. Cheap fitted nappy

6. Quick cloth fitted

7. Make a fitted diaper from a pre-fold


All-in-ones are basically fitted nappies with a waterproof layer so no need for a separate cover. As you’re washing the ‘cover’ with the nappy at the same time, they can take longer to dry.

thriftymamma.com1. Fitted using PUL

2. Fitted PUL with leg gussets

3. Another all in one


Pocket Nappies

These usually (but not always) have an outer waterproof layer (like PUL) and an inner layer with an opening that you can stuff with absorbent liners like microfiber hemp or pre-fold nappies. These are popular and convenient because you can increase the absorbency as you need, depending on how much you stuff the pocket, they can be “all-in-one” if they are made with a waterproof outer, but dry much quicker as you was the liner separately. 1. One size pocket diaper with snap in liner

2. Pocket nappy without Velcro (fasteners needed)

3. How to sew a pocket diaper



Covers can be the old style vinyl pilchers, or wraps with elasticised legs not unlike the fitted nappies.

boiseclothdiapers.com1. Felted wool wrap from old clothes

2. Soaker from an old woollen jumper

3. PUL wrap style cover with leg gussets

4. Felted wool wrap with appliqué

5. Wool butt sweater

6. Recycled wool longies with open leg bottom

7. Making your own longies pattern

8. Side snapping diaper cover


Liners boost the absorbency of the nappy and reduce leakage and as they are separate from the nappy, can make nappy laundering easier with messy nappies.

1. Knitted liner

2. Diaper Inserts

3. Diaper Liners

4. Cloth diaper insert sock


I love the idea of the “little squirt” a commercial  attachment that goes on your toilet to wash your dirty nappies off. Well I found a DIY solution instead.

gidgetgoeshome.com1. Make your own diaper sprayer

2. Cloth Wipes

3. Diaper stacker tutorial

4. Diaper clutch

5. Diaper clutch and changing pad in one

6. Travel diaper change pad with pocket for wipes / nappies

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  1. Astrid says

    Good luck with mcn’s. Tried these myself with my first and then tried again with my 2nd. Certainly if you buy ready made there is very little saving, so from a frugal point of view making your own is sensible. Really though they are not all that they are cracked up to be use wise and with some I have doubts about how “green” they really are when they are made from imported, dyed flannel from Spotlight.

    • says

      Hi Astrid,
      I went to Spotlight all motivated and came home with nothing – too pricey. So I went to our rag bag instead. We have old towels and t-shirts that can be repurposed, but my old flanny pjs won’t cut it so I’m planning a trip to the Sally’s for some second hand flannelette pjs. I agree with your comment on the not so ‘green’ thing but I guess it’s a matter of choosing the best option. I’ve heard that bamboo – the latest ‘green’ fabric goes through huge amounts of chemical processing. Our local area is almost out of landfill space and I’m conscious of that when it comes to disposables.
      Thanks for your comment!