So you want to make the simplest cloth diaper possible, or maybe you fell in love with stretchy bamboo flats but not their price? Here’s the thing: stretchy flats are one of the simplest DIY projects you could possibly undertake. Really.
Stretchy flats are versatile and easy. You can fold them in a hundred different ways from the diaper bag fold to the happy anteater to neat little kite fold. They are a single piece of fabric, so they wash and dry better than any other diaper out there. And they stretchiness means they fit with just the right amount of tightness around little legs.
First, you need fabric. I prefer natural fibers, but stretchy bamboo flats were the first stretchy flats to really make a splash on the cloth diaper market. Ask a Sweet Iris Designs fan about their flats and you may not be able to escape for an hour or two. Bamboo is absorbent and squishy soft and makes a great diaper. Turning bamboo into fabric, however, is a chemically intensive process.
If you want a natural fiber, hemp is probably your go to fabric, though cotton is also an option. Hemp is slow to absorb, but it holds more than almost anything. You usually buy it in a hemp-cotton or hemp-bamboo blend. Truly Charis is one of the best known stretchy hemp flat makers out there, and I’ll do a review as soon as I get my hands on my set from their Kickstarter (ends March 6th, 2017).
I linked to the natural colored versions of these fabrics, but you can buy them in colors, too. Some people find that dyed fabric is slightly less absorbent, though I have never noticed this in any of my dyed diy flats. The fabric I use to demonstrate is Everglade Hemp Stretch Jersey.
Once you’ve decided on a fabric, decide how many flats you want. A yard will give you two toddle size (29.5″ x 29.5″) flats. I only do toddler and newborn (20″ x 20″) size, but the sky is the limit here, so pick a size that makes you happy.
To make a toddler flat, first wash your fabric on hot. It’s going to shrink and you want your flats to be as square as possible. Once washed, simple fold your fabric in half, and cut down the middle. One side of each piece should now be approximately 29.5″ long. If you have one, you can use a rotary cutter to create a smoother edge. I cut on a self healing cutting mat.
Now you have two rectangles. Simply flip up one side to create a triangle. There will be a small rectangle of fabric left over on one side. Cut this part off (I do this part with the rotary cutter, but scissors work, too).
Voila, you now have a toddler sized stretchy flat! You can serge the edges, which prevents rolling, but since these knit fabric don’t fray, you don’t have to. You can use them immediately, and they gain their full absorbency in three or four washes. Happy diapering!
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