Friday, December 30, 2016

Simple EC Diaper Cover & Pattern

I'm trying to design a better diaper cover for elimination communication before I have another baby.  Of course, better is in the eye of the beholder, but I'm aiming to combine all my favorite features for EC.  Below are my goals, photos, video demo, and pattern.

It will be economical:
  • Either wool or wipeable PUL so that the cover can be reused without laundering after a pee miss.
  • Work with a variety of readily available inserts, flats, prefolds, etc.
  • Be simple and quick to sew.
  • Use minimal PUL with minimal waste, allowing many covers from a short cut of fabric and less cutting.  Ideally also fitting nicely on standard "diaper cuts" of PUL.  21 x 24 inches is typical sizing at Joann's.
It will grow with baby:
  • Meets typical EC sizing needs from newborn to around 2T.  (Most EC toddlers "graduate" to underpants between 1-2 years old, so size 2T should get most of them to graduation.  For the late graduates and large babies, there are lots of mainstream potty training products available mostly starting at size 2T.)  
  • Supports typical EC pottying phases: EC hold for newborns (flip down in front), sitting with help on a potty for older babies (flip down in back), and pushing down pants for toddlers (or parents modeling).
It will be easy to use:
  • Inserts shouldn't fall out or shift badly while offering the potty.
  • Minimal steps to remove and replace diaper when pottying.
  • Avoid removing the diaper all the way when possible.
For a newborn, the back is fixed around the waist and the front flips down for pottying in traditional "Newborn EC Hold".
When done offering the potty, a separate strap runs around baby's back and attaches to both sides of the front.

Sitting Baby

Once baby is sitting on a mini potty or reducer ring, you may find it helpful for the diaper to drop in the back instead of in the front, so the diaper is less likely to fall into the pot.
The back portion of the diaper can be tucked under the strap, similar to a diaper belt.

Or the second strap can be used to connect the two wings of the diaper in the front.

When the toddler is ready to start learning to push pants down, the elastic can be configured to make the diaper push up and down like underpants.

Video Demonstration with Baby Doll

Newborn/Small pattern should fit around 6-15 lbs, maybe more like 6-18 lbs if you use nice small flats with it.  It's size (although not it's shape) is very similar to the Thirsties Size 1 Duo covers, which is officially rated 6-18 lbs.  Babies grow quickly at around this size, so it might be grown out of at 5 months or at 15 months old.  One size/Large pattern is sized for babies 10-30 lbs, but with extra snaps, may fit a newborn baby too (not sure how well that will work).

Supplies (Newborn/Small)
  • Printable PDF Pattern
  • PUL: At least a 19 inch cut, but 24 inches is more efficient (should be able to cut around 8 from a 24 x 64 inch single cut of PUL, or 6 from a 3 pack of 21 x 24 inch diaper cuts, as you would find in the Babyville section at Joann)
  • Buttonhole Elastic: 1 foot to 18 inches per diaper, typically sold in 3 foot (1 yard) packages.  In theory, you probably don't need as many elastics as diapers, since typically they wouldn't get dirty.  If you choose a wider/stiffer elastic, you might need longer pieces.
  • 1/4 Braided Elastic: About 18 inches, but I don't actually measure.
  • 4 buttons: 5/8 inch round buttons work well.  You can buy cute shaped buttons, but be warned, they don't un-button or re-button as easily.
  • Optional: 2 sets of snaps or alternate rise adjustment.
Supplies (One Size/Large)
Same as above, except:
  • PUL: At least a 24 inch cut, or 29 inches to fit 8 across the width.  You will only be able to get one per diaper cut.  (If you want to make 2 One Size/Large covers from one diaper cut, check out My Space Saver EC Diaper Cover Pattern instead.)
  • Buttonhole Elastic: 18-24 inches per diaper
  • Required: Snaps or alternate rise adjustment, 4 sets of snaps for size 10-30 lbs, add two half-sets (either sex for an average of 5 sets/diaper) for newborn size.
Budget (Newborn/Small)
  • PUL is generally $15/yard, so for $10 you can get 24 inches and 8 diapers.  The packs of 3 diaper cuts cost $15 and can make 6 covers, but you get more variety that way.
  • Buttonhole Elastic is generally $3 at Joann, or $1.79 as an Amazon add-on item.  1 pack = 1 yard = 3 diapers.
  • 1/4 Braded Elastic cost around $2.50 for 3 yards (maybe 4-6 diapers?).
  • Buttons cost is all over the place, depending on what you choose.
If you were really efficient and used some coupons and made a bunch, I figure you could make these for less than $3 each.

With a diaper cut pack for more variety, you could make 6 covers in 3 prints for less than $30 without using any coupons.

One Size/Large will be more expensive mainly because you will need snaps and snap pliers.  Snap pliers are a one-time expense of $20 and the smallest package of snaps (enough for 12 diapers) is $8.  You'll also need a bit more PUL.


Print PDF Pattern

Cut out the diaper. (This example shows with contrasting prints how you might fit two covers into one 21x24 inch diaper cut of PUL.  And if you don't mind piecing, you'll have enough fabric left for a 3rd cover.)

Fold the front back at 2.5 inches with right sides together and pin sides of pocket.  (Note how I've pinned very close to the edge of the fabric so the pin holes will be on the seam allowance and not compromise.  Some people use clips instead of pins to avoid holes.)

Notice how the inside of the pocket is a bit smaller than the outside?  This is on purpose.

Stitch those little side seams of the front pocket.  (Again notice how the pins are in the seam allowance, not compromising the waterproofness of the diaper.)

Fold, pin, and stitch the back pocket over, right sides together.  Notice that the back pocket stops 1/2 inch short of the corners.  I've marked with chalk where I plan to stitch, but normally free hand these stitching lines.

Switch to a zipper foot if you have one for your machine.  This makes sewing the elastic very easy.

Place the elastic just inside the front pocket.  Notice how the side seam of the pocket sits on top of the elastic.

I don't pin this, just hold it in place.  Don't cut or stretch the elastic as you go, just set it in the front pocket and tack it in place by stitching it back and forth a few times.  

Turn the corner and stitch the elastic into a casing.  Don't stretch the elastic. Again see how the pocket side seam is ABOVE the elastic, not to the side.

Stitching the elastic will be easy most of the way.

It gets a little more challenging as you turn the corner, but you can do it!  Notice that here I also put the diagonal seam from the pocket on top of the elastic, rather than right at the side. 

Stitch just a bit onto the back pocket, then back stitch to secure your thread and cut your thread.

Pull the elastic to the tightness you want.

Tack the elastic in place by stitching back and forth across the end a few times.

Cut off the excess elastic.

Reverse your zipper foot and repeat the above for the other leg elastic, against starting from the front pocket and going to the back pocket.

Now do a similar run of elastic along the back, tacking the elastic in place 2-3 inches in from the tip of the wing.

Encase the elastic along the back, without stretching or cutting it.

Pull elastic to the desired tightness and tack the other end.  Then cut the excess elastic.

Finally, sew your 4 buttons onto the finished diaper.

Cut two pieces of buttonhole elastic for the long and short closures. I use 8 inches and 4 inches in my examples. You can finish the buttonhole elastic by melting it slightly on the stove.  Alternately you could sew the ends or glue them with clear nail polish.

Happy pottying!


These are designed to be used with Gerber flat diapers as inserts, which can be found in many big box stores.  Typical cost is $12.50 for 10 diapers.

Plan to use one cover all day or until you miss a poop.  Plan to change the insert every time you miss a pee.

Alternate Rise Adjustment
(Options coming soon...)

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I've been having trouble coming up with something suitable but this looks great, thanks for a) creating this drop flap system and b) sharing it with us. If my baby ever lets me, I can’t wait to try it. I imagine this gives a much better fit that a pul rectangle (no elastic) + prefold belt.