Sunday, May 22, 2016

Flats and Handwashing Challenge Day 6: Upcycled Rectangular Wool Trainer (How To)

Open topic today on the Flats and Handwashing Challenge, so I'm going to show you how to make a wool trainer.

In my--admittedly limited--experience sewing wool diaper covers, fit and sizing is pretty forgiving.

What isn't forgiving, if you intend to pad fold your diaper in the cover, is the waistband elastic.

Many upcycled wool longies and shorties make use of the ribbing on the cuffs, neck, or waistband of the sweater to make the waistband and cuffs of the diaper cover.  I love the look this produces, and it saves the cost and hassle of buying elastic.  If you are diapering with a fitted or a snappied flat, and adding the cover over top, the diaper will hold the cover up.  But if you pad fold, then you have the weight and bulk of diaper (which may increase up to 4x once it is peed in) that the wool cover needs to hold up on your toddler's skinny little hips.  This takes some serious elastic.  Some wool ribbing is probably up to this task, but my experience says, what you find on most of your upcycled sweaters will not be.

So the secret to a wool trainer is the elastic.  Joann's sells 3/4 inch elastic specifically for Underwear & Pajamas, and this is what I like to use.


Wool: Rectangle of knit wool fabric from an old sweater, approximately 9x16 for my 18 month old.  Maximum stretch should go around baby's waist, which is in the short direction.  I would not size down more than a couple inches for a younger baby.  (With virgin fabric, maximum stretch is normally "up and down" on the bolt, so you'd need to buy 1/2 yard of fabric, not just 1/4--sorry to disappoint.)

Elastic: Waistband length (15 inches for my 18 month old) plus a little for overlap (about 1/2 inch for no side snaps).  I'm going to try side snaps this time, so I'm doing 2x 8.5 inch pieces of elastic.  This will allow a 1 inch overlap on each side for snaps.

Snaps: You can do side snapping or not.  I used 4 snaps because I'm kind of lazy.  It might be a bit nicer with 6 snaps.

Here's a picture of my wool.  I disassembled a trainer I already had and will be putting it back together to show you in pictures.  As you can see, my wool is no longer a rectangle at all.  It has formed to baby's shape over time.  Going back to the sweater I cut it out of, I confirmed that it was originally a 9 inch by 16 inch rectangle.  Of course, if the shape of the sweater you are upcycling lends itself to altering the shape a little, take this as permission to run with it.  As you can see, the stretchy wool is very forgiving.  Just make sure you have maximum stretch going around baby's waist! (Up and down in this picture, along the short direction.)

No Snap Version

For the non-side-snapping version, I folded it right sides together and stitched about 3 inches at the top of each side, see where I'm pointing in the picture.  Then folded down and hand stitched the casing around the loop of elastic.

Side Snapping

For the side-snapping one I am making today, next I folded over a casing around the elastic on each short side.  I secured the elastic firmly at each end and closed up the casing over the elastic.  I did it all by hand, because I felt like it.  Make sure, whether stitching by hand or machine, to use a stretch stitch so the stitching doesn't bust out the first time you flex the elastic.

Finally, I added the snaps.  I used stitch-on snaps because this is a first go at this design, and I don't own a snap remover.  Plus, I didn't have any of the plastic diaper snaps in a color that went with this wool.  That's the one trouble with upcycling wool: the colors stylish for wool sweaters don't always go so well with the colors stylish for baby clothing, especially baby girl clothing.  I'm hoping I can get away with just the 2 snaps on each side but there is space to add a 3rd if needed once I can try it on the bum.

On The Bum

Side snapping version

Non snap version


I'm only using one layer of wool here, so this trainer will not be very waterproof.  Add a second or even a third layer of wool in the wet zone if you want more protection.  Almost any woolie tutorial will show you how to do this, so I'm not going to.

Leg Elastic

You'll notice I'm using no elastic or ripping at the legs.  I'm not really counting on this cover to contain poop that well, because it's a trainer and my child is already pretty reliable about pooping in the potty.  You could stitch a little elastic into the long sides of the rectangle for better containment, but I didn't want to do that because I'm trying to keep this from feeling like a diaper to my child.

To Side Snap or Not

My goal with doing side snaps is two fold.  First, obviously, in case of poop.  Second, someday I will likely have another child, and I want to be able to use these as flip down trainers for a younger baby, with the plan being to snap to the additional elastic I will need to use them like Flaparaps or these early fleece flip down EC covers I used over this past winter.  

However, short of a major poo regression, I don't think I will make any more side snappers for this baby.  It's a good bit more work, and it just doesn't look as nice on the bum as the non-snap version.

Today's Stats

Overnight: Changed her overnight when she wouldn't go back to sleep, hoping the diaper was the culprit.  Didn't seem to be as it was only a little wet and she still wouldn't settle after being changed.  Wet by morning: 3 Gerber flats and a pocket (stuffed pocket was the only thing handy in the dark).

Daytime: 2 pee misses producing 2 Gerber flats to wash.

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