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Diaper Maker's FAQ

This FAQ deals with common questions that face new diaper makers.  Some of the answers you read here might be contrary to what you have read elsewhere, but these are the facts!  Our goal is to provide our consumers with all the information they need to make an informed selections.

Faqs for home sewers, end users
Faqs for diaper makers selling 

Marketing Questions for those trying to sell their diapers:
Q
: Are disposables really that bad?

You can find a lot of scary things written about disposables.  Most of these articles are created to promote the author's perspective -- we have yet to find any that are substantiated with research. 

None the less, disposables are an easy target as the disposable manufacturers are hesitant to joust with small businesses over marketing claims.

A: Are there any good studies to compare the two?  None that we have found, and it's for good reasons.  First, there are no conglomerates making cloth diapers so the cost of scientific studies are a little out of reach for most diaper makers.  Secondly, there is a wide array of designs and textiles used, so doing the science would prove quite tricky. 

Q. Will I reduce the number of diaper rashes if I change to cloth?
A. It possible.  The main factors linking diapers to rashes are 1) the length of time spent in a diaper before changing, 2) sanitization of the reusable diaper.  Cloth diaper users tend to change diapers more frequently than disposable users which itself improves the sanitarily condition for the child.  This will aid in reducing rashes.

It's also possible for the opposite to be true.  If you do not properly sanitize cloth diapers, rash germs will recurrently be a problem for your child

Q: Do cloth diapers stink?
A: Of course they do -- all dirty diapers stink!  Since your dirty diapers are going to hang around for a bit, get a good diaper pail.  You can also unload solids into a toilet, then give a quick rinse in a laundry sink.  Get a good diaper pail. 

Special note on diapers that contain hemp:  Unless you live in a desert climate (<8% RH), hemp diapers must be machine dried to completely sanitize the diaper.  If you hemp diapers are smelly, it's because moulds and bacteria are staying active due to incomplete drying. 

Q:  I read conflicting stories about how much money I can save using cloth diapers, how much are the savings?
A: Cloth Diapers can be more economical, particularly if you make them yourself.   Most comparisons are done with a 'proving the point' perspective that shows big economies for cloth diapers.  When you factor all things into the equation, thernets out as follows:

Make your cloth diapers - you save
Buy your cloth diapers - lifetime costs are about the same

To get the greatest economies, make them yourself, choose durable easy care fabrics, wash carefully.

 

Disposables: No explanation required.  We can however thank the disposable makers for inspiring some great cloth diaper designs!  While these are a lot more eco-friendly than their predecessors, they still generate a lot of waste and landfill.  While they are recyclable, the facilities to do so are non existent.
chinese prefolds, prefolds, hemp prefoldsFlatfolds, Prefolds:  are large rectangles, usually made from layers flannel or gauze.   These diapers have been used since the beginnings of cloth.  Tried and true, these diaper types are still popular.    They are simple to sew and can be closed with diaper pins, hook/loop or snaps.  AThese are extremely inexpensive and easy to make. 
Contour or Shaped Diapers, are manufactured to a shape that wraps nicely around your baby.  These do require a little skill to fit and they are not as fool proof as fully fitted diapers.  They are inexpensive and do not require a great deal of sewing skill to assemble.   They can be pinned however most are closed with hook and loop or snaps. 

 

Fitted Diapers are made from absorbent fabrics are hourglass shape to eliminate folding like contour diapers but they have elastic in the waist and leg holes.  They generally close with snaps or hook & loop.

Fitted diapers are the best in terms of performance, they are more difficult to make and their overall performance over the live of the diaper is lower than the more basic designs.  An absorbent soaker is usually placed into the crotch of the diaper and secured with fastener or  slipped into a pocket.


All-In-Ones (AIO) diapers are basically the same as fitted diapers except thy have a barrier fabric used on the the other layer.  The barrier is usually ProCare, PUL or fleece. They are the easiest to use and care for as there is only one part -- rinse, wash, wear.  They do require more drying time.   An absorbent soaker and/or doubler is usually fitted to the bottom or in a pocket.

These are the most popular diapers made and sold (usually under really cute names) by WAHM’s (work-at-home-moms).  They are also the most expensive and least durable of all diaper types. Forget the marketing hype, expect these diapers to last for 1 child only.


Diaper Parts:

Cover - a semi or fully waterproof cover that serves as the last line of defense for the stuff a diaper is supposed to contain.  This may be a cover for a cloth diaper, or the outer layer of an all in one diaper.   This could be as simple as a pair of plastic pants, or an elaborate garment made with high tech textiles. 

Inner - the inside diaper, or the inside of an all in one.

Soakers (AKA Doubler, Inserts) are removable or fixed pads designed to absorb fluids and separate them from the baby's skin. Soakers are usually rectangular or hourglass shaped wadded pads.  They can be made from any assortment material.  and always made with an absorbent material  as simple as a few layers of cotton sewn together.  There are lots of construction options for soakers, they will be explained later.  Extra thirsty soakers or thin extra layers are sometimes called doublers.

Notions used in diaper making

Closures

 

Diaper Pins - no explanation needed.
 
Snaps: These are simple closures that are made with polyacetate (plastic) or chrome plated brass.  While snap closures are convenient and don't gum up like hook and loop.  They are available in fun cheerful colors and sizes, so if you're creative you can use them the same way a clever designer uses buttons. They are also inexpensive.

Snaps are common on home-made designs, not as common for designs sold by retailers.  This is largely due to legal and safety liabilities -- snaps occasionally break off and present a potential choking hazard.  If you plan to retail your diapers, make sure your application of snaps conforms to child safety standards in your country or state.

You will need special tools to install snaps, either a snap setter, snap pliers or a hammer-die set. 

Hook and Loop: Generic name for Velcro.  Hook and loop is probably the best in terms of simplicity and safety.  There are 2 types of hook and loop, nap finished and unfinished.  Most brands are nap finished, meaning the loop sid has been brush napped to increase holding strength and reduce the effect of gumming.  Velcro, Touch Tape and most generic tapes are nap finished.  Unfinished tapes, the most popular being Aplix 800, do not go through the final napping process.  The resulting loop side is a little softer, the down side is low grip (most babies can open Aplix tabs) and a shorter life.   

If you chose Aplix 800, add a little loop tab to close the tabs for laundering.  This will prolong the life of your closures.

This author prefers the price/performance of generic hook and loop tapes over Aplix -- longer life, less maintenance and the full grip of a napped tape makes it harder for baby to remove!

Snappi - This neat little fastener replace the diaper pin -- no pointy parts.  It's a simple way to fastening cloth diapers. The Snappi is shaped like a T.  It's stretchable plastic arms ate tipped with grips that can hold terry cloth and gauze diapers.  It's not great at gripping tight knits or wovens or like fleece and flannel.

They cost about $2.50each.  Like pins, you probably want a fe extras.  Half a dozen is usually enough for most babies.
 
 

Elastics:

FOE, Fold Over Elastic.  This is an elastic tape with a permanent fold or a center line crease that makes folding easier.  Permanent fold elastics are easier to apply, the flat FOE tapes a little tougher.  There are 2 basic types, they look exactly the same but differ greatly in performance.  The least expensive FOE is poly/elastic blend that uses latex or rubber for stretch -- don't use it -- this is for fancy ladies underwear and will not last in diapers.  If the vendor doesn't list the content, then check the price -- wholesale/coop prices on underwear FOE are $0.10-$0.15/yd at the time this document was written.

FOE for diapers should be  80% Nylon and 20% elastane (spandex or lycra).  This blend is soft, durable and resists pilling.  It costs $0.25 to $0.35/yard wholesale but the extra few pennies are really worth it. 

Foe is packaged in hanks or on rolls.

Lastin/Mobilon/SwimSuit elastic/Polyurethane tape:  Lastin and Mobilon are trade names for polyurethane tape elastic.  These elastic tapes come in 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" tapes and a few different thicknesses.  It's important to use at least 10 gauge in diapers.  These elastic tapes must be pre-stretched before sewn, to pre stretch, simply stretch out the elastic as far as you can, releax ir, then repeat

Diapers need 12 guage is usually packaged festooned in bags. 

Woven/Knitted: these are the regular polyester / rubber (or elastane) elastic tapes.  In diapers, the only place that used these elastic are waistbands and side gussets -- it's not suitable for leg openings.  Packaged in hanks or on rolls.

Textiles

There are lots of different textiles used in the diaper making business.  In a diaper, there are 3 basic jobs for textiles:

1) Absorption: soak up and store released fluids
2) Next to skin separation: a layer that separates a saturated absorbent layer from the child's skin.  
3) Containment: make sure all released fluids stay contained inside the diaper system.

Absorbing Textiles

The absorption capabilities of a textile are dependant on 2 basic factors 1) the fiber type, and 2) the type of textile made from that fiber. 

Hydrating fibers, like cotton, hemp, ramie absorb moisture into cell openings within the fiber itself. These fibers will absorb 10-20 times their own weight in water, so practically any product manufactured from them will be absorbent. 

Hydrophobic fibers, like nylon and polyester, do not allow moisture into the fiber core, however they are sticky to water so moisture clings to the surface of the fiber. Creating absorbent textiles from these fibers is a little more complicated, but its also possible to engineer textiles that outperform natural fibers.     

Table:

Absorption and dry time for various textiles

16 x 8 soaker        
diaper flanell        
french terry, 18 oz        
sherpa fleece, 18oz        
terry cloth        
microfleece        
14oz polar fleece (200wt)        
         
         




Terry cloth is usually made with looped pile because the loops act like very small sponges. Looped pile is also better able to withstand the strain of rubbing, pulling twisting and tugging by the user. Loosely twisted loops are softer and more absorbent than tightly twisted loops, which produce a rougher fabric. Long pile is more absorbent than short pile. Terry cloth is most absorbent when it has loops on both sides. Cotton can absorb up to 27 times its own weight in water.

 

  It's a little more complex with synthetics.  Synthetics can be treated to repel or to be sticly to mositure.  While they don't have a cellular structure to trap moisture, they can be very finely to create cells that trap moisture between cells.

Terry cloth is usually made with looped pile because the loops act like very small sponges. Looped pile is also better able to withstand the strain of rubbing, pulling twisting and tugging by the user. Loosely twisted loops are softer and more absorbent than tightly twisted loops, which produce a rougher fabric. Long pile is more absorbent than short pile. Terry cloth is most absorbent when it has loops on both sides. Cotton can absorb up to 27 times its own weight in water. 

between let moisture into their  To make matters even more confusing, both hydrating and hydrophobic fibers can be converted into highly absorbent textiles. For example, compare a cotton flannel wipe to a polyester kitchen wipe -- pound for pound the poly wipe is more absorbent -- not because of the fiber, but because of the fabric's construction.

 

 (like those polyester kitchen wipes and J-cloths that are made from polyester). 

Barrier Textiles

This grouping of fabrics is used to prevent fluids from escaping the diaper system. 

Windblocking and Polar type fleeces are not barrier fabrics but they can be used as a last line of defence as covers for really good diapers.  These fleeces are no

Fabric Description Pros Cons
PUL - Polyurethane Laminate These fabrics are made by laminating a polyurethane membrane to the back of a polyester interlock knit. PUL was originally designed as a light duty medical barrier used for splash protection.  It is the most common barrier fabric for children's diapers.  Available in a wide range of colors and some prints

Relatively inexpensive

Seam must be sealed against wicking

 

ProCare This is a fine tricot knit that is extrusion laminated to a soft polymer.  The face of the fabric is    
Vinyls Frosted and nylon backed vinyl are used in commercially produced 'plastic pants'.  These are textiles are generally welded as opposed to sewn, so they  are not generally used by small scale diaper makers.    
Latex or wet polyurethane coated wovens These products fall under names like GoreTex, and DermoFlex.  They are excellent quality barriers however they are not designed well suited to repeated launderings.     
Windblocking fleeces
(pseudo barriers)
These fleeces are not really barrier fabrics. Their tightly knitted core will retain solids but they are fully permeable to liquids.  They are most often used in covers. They do not perform well in AIO designs.      



 

A diaper should sufficiently absorb standard secretion of a child .  sufficient amount of absorption materis

Flannel/Flannelette: A basic cotton woven that has been napped or woven with napped yarns.  Used in inners, preforld, flat folds, and soakers. 

Myths:

Hemp is a wonder fiber:  False
Aplix is the hook/loop tape for diapers.  False
You need a license to make a pocket diaper: False

Hemp is a wonder fiber:  False

 Advocates promote hemp as a wonder cloth in the home diapering market.  Big claims are made about absorbency, durability, eco-friendliness, anti-bacterial properties... Unfortunately hemp advocates use the same marketing principles as disposable diaper makers -- overstate the upside and forget to mention the downside.  Promoters lead us to believe the US government and the US cotton lobby have conspired to stop hemp production -- the bottom line is hemp is neither  environmentally or economically viable as a textile fiber.   Here's what they don't tell you:

  • Hemp must be mixed with 40% or more cotton or other stable fibers before knitting or weaving into fine cloth. 
  • Hemp absorbs the same volume and at the same rate as cotton, its is perceived to be more absorbant because it is difficult to fully dry.
  • Hemp used in textiles is not anti-microbial.  In most places you will need to dry hemp with a dryer.  Line drying will not get below 8% moisture content, so you hemp harbor moisture and bacteria that causes  'hemp stink'.
  • Hemp requires the same pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer loading as cotton when farmed commercially
  • Hemp presents real environmental challenges: farmers kill hemp weeds in adjacent farmlands and wetlands with herbicides; chaff and byproducts are often burned as rubbish; rhetting poisons local water supplies (for the peasants who farm hemp)
  • Hemp harvesting and processing is usually done by peasant farm laborers who make less than $1/day.  That means commercial viability limits hemp cultivation to places that aren't rich enough to attract a Nike shoe factory. 
  • Hemp's closed cell fiber is very difficult to dry - needs 2x the energy of cotton and 5x the energy of polyester to fully dry

 Be educated, don't be fooled.  The bottom line is that hemp importers promote is simply marketing poof dust.

Myths

Aplix is the hook/loop tape for diapers.  False

Aplix is one of many good choices.  When loop tapes are produced, the final step is napping the soft loop tape this involves napping the loops to expose more gripping points for the mating hook tape --  makes the tapes grippier.  Aplix 800 is removed from production before the final napping, this makes the tapes less grippier -- ideal for merchandising.  Early diaper makers discovered Aplix and liked the softer unnapped loop.  Unfortunately they picked Aplix for it's softness and not it's performance and after some time and experience had to add a laundering protection tab to their designs to . 

The bottom line: Aplix, Velcro, Touch Tape and most generic tapes are fine.  If you choose Aplix, make sure you have a way to close the hook side during laundering. 

a low grip hook and loop system that was originally designed for the tradeshow and  merchandising industries.  .   and other good quality tapes is that Aplix loop tape is un-napped, that is the loops are not roughed up to increase grip.  While this makes the tape feel a little softer, it  tapes require apelifespan of the closure best for diapers. 

You need a license to make a pocket diaper: False

Tereson Dupuy of New Iberia, LA, secured a patent covering a design she invented for a reusable diaper.  Her design includes a pocket, PUL, micro fleece, polar fleece, and a number of other common elements -- non of which are specifically the designer's invention.  Because the pocket is a popular component of many cloth diaper designs, the inventor approaches companies that make  pocket diapers and asserts her patent covers their designs.  Se then looks for a license fee from those designers.   Unfortunately her design and patent are not on the pocket -- they are on the whole shebang, meaning you are not able to create a diaper that is entirely copied from her disclosures in the patent.  Pocket have been used to hold absorbent layers in a variety of inventions over time, citing prior art is a simple defense against a patent claim.  The patent holder asserts claims knowing it's easier for most small businesses will pay her a small fee rather than spend their time and money researching her claims.  To date, the patent holder has neither challenged or won an injunction against a pocket diaper maker -- you be the judge!

That said, the owner of patent
6,579,273 has created a marketing seal and some promotional vehicles that might be worth the license fee.  But remember, you only need to license the that may be worth seal and marketing

 

All-In-Ones (AIO) diapers are made of an absorbent layers of thick cotton or hemp, sewn to a water-resistant material, usually PUL or fleece, that acts as an attached wrap. They are the most like a disposable diaper in ease of use and ease of diapering but because of their thickness, they take a long time to dry. They come in either Apliz or snap closures.

We have yet to find an AIO that meets our standards.  Most AIO’s available for resale do not wash up well, they are prone to leaks and they do they last. There are many WAHM’s (work-at-home-moms) that make and sell wonderful AIO’s.

Average $12-$15

It's difficult to discuss diapers and not cover doublers, inserts, soakers and liners. Some of these terms

 

All In One (AIO)
are interchangeable while others are complete opposites. And depending on who you talk to, you may get different lingo. But from what we have found and what we sell, here is how we've come to understand things:

Doubler: A rectangular or hourglass shaped pad of absorbent fabrics meant to double the absorbency of your diaper. Doublers can be used as inserts in pocket diapers or cloth mama pads. Sometimes, doublers are topped with polyester micro fleece which does not absorb much moisture, instead it allows it to pass through and keeps Baby feeling drier.

Soakers: If you are speaking in terms of soakers inside of diapers, they are the same as doublers. But if you are referring to soakers as an outer moisture barrier, then they are knit or crocheted wool shorts or pants, the latter are know as 'longies'. Soaker shorts and longies are meant to be used as diaper covers that also keep Baby nice and cozy warm!

Inserts: When you use a pocket diaper, you will need an insert to do the absorbing. Made from absorbent fabrics, typically cotton or hemp, they are designed very similarly to doublers. Inserts can be anything that is absorbent: from a specially designed product to a dish towel!

Liners: Liners are one of three different functioning products:

  1. Woolly liners are meant to help absorb the urine and maximize the effectiveness of your doublers.
  2. Disposable rice paper liners are supposed to keep the poop off of the diapers making washing easier. We bought some of these liners to try out and honestly, never could bring ourselves to use them. They are stiff and scratchy, much like a disable diaper.
  3. Fleece liners are made from one layer of polyester micro fleece, similar to what is used to make pocket diapers. These can be used over any absorbent diaper to keep Baby feeling drier. The fleece does not absorb much moisture, instead it allows it to pass through and keeps Baby feeling drier.

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Cloth Diapering Fabrics

Another thing you've probably noticed in your journey to master cloth diapering is the number of fabric choices! It can be very confusing since some fabrics with totally different names function exactly the same, while some with almost identical name have complete opposite properties!

Hemp fabric is very popular for making cloth diapers. Usually French Terry, fleece or jersey. Jersey is similar to the weight and feel of t-shirt material and 100% cotton jersey; hemp/cotton jersey is not nearly as stretchy though. The fleece and the terry are exactly the same fabrics only the fleece is brushed to make it soft like the inside of a sweatshirt. All three are highly absorbent enabling diaper makers to use less layers of fabric to achieve the same absorbency as with 100% cotton. Less fabric layers means trimmer diapers and shorter drying times.

Hemp is antimicrobial which means that it inhibits the growth of bacteria and fungi- a wonderful property to aid in the prevention of diaper rash. While hemp is grown without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers it is not certified organic at this time.

Some people stay far away from hemp because of it's reputation for stinking. Hemp can smell but so can cotton and so can micro fleece- any fabric that is not properly washed and care for can stink. Hemp, because it is so absorbent, is just more likely to retain odor.

more on hemp
more on washing stinky hemp

Cottons come in so many choices! There is jersey, twill, birdseye, flannel, fleece, knits, wovens and so on and so on! There are even cotton velours that are amazing! When choosing your cotton fabrics quality is essential. You can purchase a very soft flannel, wash it a few times and find it is pilly mess and not very soft at all. If you are in doubt about the quality of a fabric you are purchasing whether it is to make your own diaper or if it is a pre-made diaper, ask for fabric samples.

Organic cotton is very popular. Often referred to as OC, organic cotton is super soft and very high quality- hence the price! Organic cotton is grown and milled without the use of chemicals but beyond that, all involved in its production are taking care to preserve the environment. Even if you are not concerned with the residue of chemicals in your fabrics, supporting the organic cotton industry is a good enough reason to by OC!

Micro fleece, polar fleece & WindPro Fleece
These are all synthetic fabrics whose purpose is to keep baby dry. This type of fleece is completely the opposite of a cotton or hemp cotton fleece. They are meant to absorb where the synthetic fleeces are meant not to. If the fleece is on the inside of the diaper is is because it does not absorb much moisture, instead it allows it to pass through and keeps Baby feeling drier. If the fleece is on the outside of the diaper or used for covers, it is because it has the ability to keep the moisture contained. Micro fleece is also the fabric of choice for the inner lining of pocket diapers, like Fuzzi Bunz. Fleece is not completely water proof so it is possible to get some 'sweating' or dampness. This typically only happens when the diaper inside is soaked.

One important thing to remember about fleece is that you should never use fabric softeners when it is used as a topper in a diaper. You want the moisture to pass through it at this point. If fabric softener is allowed to build up on the inside of the diaper, the urine will be repelled and roll right out of the diaper.

But if the fleece is used to make a cover, you will actually want to use fabric softeners occasionally as it will help the cover retain it's moisture resistant properties. Do not wash AIO's with fleece outers using fabric softeners since it will also coat the absorbent fabrics used in the diaper.

More on washing diapers
Shop fleece diaper covers
Shop fleece topped doublers
Shop pocket diapers

Wool is another very popular fabric for diaper making. It it used to make diaper covers and is a wonderful alternative to synthetic PUL and micro fleece. Wool is fire resistant, water resistant and comes from a renewable natural resource: sheep! Wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight without feeling wet! Covers made from wool can 'sweat' or feel damp, but this is typically only when the diaper inside is saturated. Wool covers are actually very economical since they require washing only every 2 weeks unless soiled.

Wool comes in many different weaves, the most popular are flannel, interlock and jersey. Jersey is the thinnest of the three make still makes wonderful day time cover. Interlock and flannel are slightly thicker and are for day/night covers. Any of the three make very effective lap pads, mattress pads and changing pads. Again, a nice alternative to the synthetics.

Wool yarn is used to make woolly liners, wool soakers and longies. Longies are knitted or crocheted pants, longer versions of soaker shorts.

Shop wool diaper covers
Shop woolly liners

Polyurethane Laminate, known as PUL, is a water resistant fabric used on many diaper covers. Like most fabrics, it comes in different thicknesses, weaves, colors and prints. Some PUL is soft, like that used to make Fuzzi Bunz, while others are a bit stiffer. PUL can either be sewn in between layers of cotton for hidden protection or on the outside. PUL is a great fabric but is not natural and does need to be washed more frequently than wool.

Shop for PUL covers

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For the most part, there are 2 types of knits -- doubleknits interlock and ribknit, and single knits -- jerseys and fleeces. 

Identifying the type of Knit.

If you can't tell the difference, don't feel bad -- many clerks in fabric stores cant' tell the difference either!  The best way to familiarize yourself is to look in your closet.  An expensive knit top ($20 or more) will probably be interlock, everyday tees will probably be jersey, and girls leggings or mens/boys fitted briefs will be rib knit.

The face looks more or less the same on all 3 fabrics -- they all have have small vertical ribs.  Go to the back of the fabric and and gently pull the across the stretch.  Interlock will look more or less the same on the face and back,  jersey has a wavy perl pattern that runs perpendicular to the face rib.   If you're still not sure, cut a piece from selvedge to selvedge, if it's jersey the cut edge will curl on itself, interlock and rib will lay flat.

Side Interlock Rib knit Jersey
Face
Back

 

  Jersey Interlock RibKnit
Softness Soft Softest Soft
Durability Excellent Good Good
Drape Good Best Good
Uses Everyday Tees, shorts, dresses, lining, sleepwear Elegant Tees, shorts, dresses, lining, sleepwear Tight tees, skirts,  dresses, leggings, underwear, collars and cuffs
Stability Unstable, curls when cut, can  run (like nylon stockings) from cut edges. Stable, cut ends will lay flat, will not run. Stable, cut ends will lay flat, will not run.
Pros Durable, less pilling, easy washing Soft, elegant drape Soft, elegant drape
Cons Not as soft as interlock, not as warm.

Seams curl, before and after sewing, C/L blends especially tricky.

Requires more care in laundering (to keep pilling down) Ribknits with no lycra may stretch out over time.

Requires more care in laundering (to keep pilling down)
Needle Selection:

BE SURE TO USE BALLPOINT NEEDLES FOR KNITS- SHARP, MICROTEX AND UNIVERSAL NEEDLES WILL CAUSE SEAMS TO FAIL OVER TIME.  THIS IS PARTICULARLY IMPORTANT FOR SINGLE KNITS LIKE JERSEY AND JOGGING FLEECE & ALL KNITS WITH A HIGH NATURAL FIBER CONTENT (COTTON, RAYON, LYOCELL, CONTENT...)

Flannels  [top]   

Flannels are woven fabrics, usually made from 100% cotton.  They are used for sleepwear, bedding, jacket linings and occasionally as outers for jackets.

Special note on dark prints: Dark prints are the most difficult to produce, and also the most difficult to maintain.  Darks often come stiff due to the heavy application of inks and sizing that prevent print running.  Some will hold up well, others will bleed in the wash, or fade quickly. 

Flannels may be napped on one side, or both.  There are several types of flannels:

Diaper Flannel

This is a tight weave flannel that is made 27" wide specifically for economies in diaper making.  It is the same as any double-napped 42-45" flannel. It is more or less obsolete today since the cost of standard width goods (42-45") are so affordable.

Double Napped Flannel, Super Flannel

Flannel that is heavily napped on both sides.  This is available in a wide range of solid colors, and not usually available in prints as the prints look very fuzzy on this type of flannel.

Yarn Dyed

This is a flannel made from dyed yarns.  It's the best for shirts, pants and linings since it pills less, has a softer hand than solids and prints.  Yarn dyeds are available in square plaid patterns.

PUL - Polyurethane Laminate

"pee-u-l" is a phrase coined diaper makers.   It refers to any fabric that has a polyurethane laminated to a base fabric.  The primary application for PUL is hospital curtains and fluid barriers however it has also found a market with small scale diapers makers.

Polar Fleece

Polar fleece is polyester fleece

  • MICRO FLEECE is any polar fleece made with microfiber yarns.  

Weight Conversions
 

Trade name g/yd oz/yd
100 250-300 7.5-9
200 350-400 10-13.5
300 400-500 14-18

 

Threads  

Thread, comes in polyester,  cotton, and poly/cotton blends.  Polyester thread is the universal standard. 

  • Serger Thread
  • Wooly Nylon
  • Embroidery Thread
  • Jeans Thread
Elastics  

Swimsuit or Swimwear Elastic This is a cotton/rubber or cotton/lycra woven elastic that is soft and durable. It will break down in when subject to chlorine (swimming pools, laundry bleach).  This has all but been replaced by polyurethane elastic. 

Fold-Over Elastic (FOE) Use it in place of bias tape around the edges of arm and leg openings.  

Polyurethane elastic (Lastin / Mobilon) This is a durable clear sew through elastic that is used on swimsuits, lingerie, and diapers. You should pre-stretch this elastic by fully extending it 3 times before sewing. 

Machine Needles  

There are a lots of different machine needles available.  You project will finish better if you use use the correct needle type for fabric you are sewing.

Knits generally need ball point needles.  Ball point needles will not break the yarns so you can all but eliminate pinholes and runs in the fabric.

Woven's generally need sharp/universal needles. 

 

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