%%file(%%tmplatedir%%head-tags1%%tmplext%%)%% %%file(%%tmplatedir%%header%%tmplext%%)%% Fabric Information

Diaper - Terminology

There are lots of different designs and textiles used for making cloth diapers.   Like most industries, there are secrets, terminologies and a few quirky norms that have evolved over time.  It all may seem overwhelming and confusing but it's really quite simple once you weed through the terminology and myths.  We will cover the following ground:

Chapter 1 - The Various types of diapers
Chapter 2 - Parts of a Diaper
Chapter 3 - Choosing textiles, fibers, notions and patterns
Chapter 4 - Myths and misunderstandings

Various types of Diapers

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.  These are inexpensive and easy to make. 

Flat and prefolds require covers.


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 they 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 doublers 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


Diaper Pins - no explanation needed.
Snaps: These are simple closures that are made with polyacetate (plastic) or nickel  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.

Polyacetate snaps require special laundering instructions -- high heat and commercial detergents may cause these snaps to distort or become brittle.

Snaps are common on home-made designs, not as common for designs sold by retailers.  Note: Snaps  sell diapers with snaps, you should review federal and state regulations for children's garments.   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 (Velcro, Aplix, Touch Tape)
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 side 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.   

  Aplix 800 Velcro Touch Tape no-name tapes
Cost $$$$ $$$ $$ $
Softness √√ √√ √√
Performance √* √√√ √√√
Grip & Peel Strength Low High High High
Pros   High Grip Strength Low Cost
High Grip Strength
Cons *Peel strength degrades quickly
    Require heat sealing at cut edges to prevent unravel.
Gum up quickly 

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.

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, lay flat and folded tape. 

NOTE on Layflat FOE: You can find inexpensive layflat FOE made from polyester and latex or rubber, this is not suitable for diaper for diaper making. This elastic will degrades quickly when used in diapers.  If the rolls/hanks are not content labeled OR the price is <$0.25/yd, it's probably not  worth it.

FOE for diapers should be  80% Nylon and 20% elastane (polyurethane 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. 

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 it, then repeat

Diapers need 12 gauge 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.


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

  • Jersey knits and Interlocks basic knits ommonly used for diaper outers.  Knits are soft, and come in a wide variety of prints and colors.  
  • Sherpa: Sherpa is a loosely knit sweatshirt fleece.  The side that touches baby is soft and fleece like. Sherpa is often used for diaper inners, outers, and soaker pads. This material makes a nice trim diaper.
  • Velour--Soft and plush. Used for both diaper inners and outers. Usually has a bit of Poly in it for durability.
  • Flannel-- Flannel is a woven fabric.
  • Killington flannel is 5.5oz/lyd  standard inner layer in HB diapers. This is a super soft double napped flannel (brushed on both sides). Quilter's flannel is a higher quality flannel that will stay softer longer, and won't fade as quickly as some flannels.
  • Hemp/cotton blend fabrics--these include hemp jersey (thin and stretchy), hemp fleece and French terry (thicker, more like a sweatshirt--the fleece is brushed), Hemp knit terry (soft and stretchy). Hemp is super absorbent. Often used as a soaker fabric, and /or inners and outers. Hemp continues to get softer with each wash.
  • Organic cottons--Many types of organic fabrics are available--jersey, flannel, French terry, French terry fleece.


 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.     


Absorption and dry time for various textiles

16 x 8 soaker        
diaper flanell        
french terry, 18 oz        
sherpa fleece, 18oz        
terry cloth        
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

Diaper Industry Name Generic name (what's its called in the textile industry) Product Description,
Killington Flannel Flanellette, 5.25oz per 45" linear yard This is a heavy weight flannel.  The 'mart' and chain stores opt for lighter weights because of the cost, most on-line retailers sell this grade in solid colored flannels. 
WindPro Wind blocking polar fleece.  This is the type of polar fleece designed to provide wind protection for outerwear.  Early diaper makers embraced Malden Mills Windpro brand, more for the consistent quality of that mill.  Today there are plenty of suppliers of good quality polar fleece, anything 12.5oz (400g)weights will perform the same as Windblocking fleeces. 
Sherpa Jogging fleece, Sherpa Fleece This is the heavier end of jogging fleeces, the stuff sweats are made of.  Sherpa has a chunky napped back that is often used as the face in diaper making. 
Burly Knit Terry 3 end fleece, French terry This is the heavier end of jogging fleeces, the stuff sweats are made of -- just not napped. 
Fabric Description Pros Cons
PUL - Polyurethane Laminate Laminate of a polyurethane membrane to a polyester interlock knit. Originally designed as a light duty splash barrier for hospitals.  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.    
Flannels Diapers all use a basic double napped flannel.  You might see the name 'Killington flannel' used in some advertising.  Killington is a diaper term for heavyweight solid flannel.     
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.    

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. 


Hemp -- is it really a wonder fiber?
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

Hemp marketers as a wonder cloth to 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 cloth durable enough for clothing. 
  • Hemp absorbs the same volume and at the same rate as cotton.  It is often percieved to be more absorbant than cotton because it is difficult to dry.
  • Hemp cloth has no anti-microbial properties.  Hemp plants standing in a farmers field are naturally resistant to many crop moulds, bacteria and viruses.  These characteristics are great for farmers however they are not something that is inherited by cloth made from hemp.    
  • 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.


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.

top of page

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.

Looking for info on covers?

Needle Selection:


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



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

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

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. 


Absorbency is a science in disposables, and larkely an art in understood by most diaper makers.  rate and absorbent capacity are the two most important performance factors.   The absorbent capacity is mainly determined by the space between the fibers, the absorbing and swelling characteristics of the material and the resiliency of the textiles web in the wet state. The absorbency rate is governed the forces exerted by capillary action and the frictional drag offered by the fiber surfaces. For non-swelling materials, these properties are largely controlled by the capillary absorption of fluid into the structure until saturation is reached. The absorbency rate and absorbent capacity are affected by fiber mechanical and surface properties, structure of the fabric (i.e., the size and the orientation of flow channels), the nature of fluids imbibed, and the manner in which the web or the product is  used [2-7]. Among those factors, the surface wetting characteristics (contact angle) of the fibers in the web and the structure of the web, such as the size, shape, orientation of capillaries, and the extent of bonding, are most important.

Fig. 1: Anatomy of Diaper [10]

The polymer type of the fibers in the fabrics, hydrophilic or hydrophobic, influences the inherent absorbent properties of the fabrics. A hydrophilic fiber provides the capacity to absorb liquid via fiber imbibitions, giving rise to fiber swelling. It also attracts and holds liquid external to the fiber, in the capillaries, and structure voids. On the other hand, a hydrophobic fiber has only the latter mechanism available to it normally [7]. The effect of the small amount of fiber finish (generally 0.1 to 0.5% by weight) is also important since it is on the fiber surface. The particular finish applied on the fiber can significantly change surface wetting property of the fiber.

Fiber linear density and its cross-section area affect void volume, capillary dimensions and the total number of capillaries per unit mass in the fabrics. Fiber surface morphology, surface ruggedness, and core uniformity can influence the absorbency performance to some extent. Fiber crimps influence the packing density of the fabrics and further affect the thickness per unit mass that affects the absorbency of the nonwoven fabrics. The nature of the crimps, whether it is two-dimensional or three-dimensional, also has some effect.

The size of capillaries is affected by the thickness per unit mass and the resiliency of the web, and the size, shape and the mechanical properties of the fibers. The resiliency of the web is influenced by the nature and level of bonding of the fabrics as well as the size, shape, and mechanical properties of the constituent fibers [6].


Models have been built to characterize the two parameters, absorbent capacity (C) and absorbency rate (Q). C (cc/g fluid/g) is given by the volume/mass of fluid absorbed at equilibrium divided by the dry mass of the specimen, while Q is given by the slope of the absorbency curve divided by the dry mass of the specimen. The model to calculate C is based on determining the total interstitial space available for holding fluid per unit dry mass of fiber. The equation is shown as follow [5,6]:





Where, A is the area of the web

T is the thickness of the web

Wf is the mass of the dry web

rf is the density of the dry fiber
Vd is the amount of fluid diffused into the structure of the fibers
a is the ratio of increase in volume of a fiber upon wetting to the volume of fluid diffused into the fiber.

In the above equation, "the second term is negligible compared to the first term, and the third term is nearly zero if a fiber is assumed to swell strictly by replacement of fiber volume with fluid volume" [6]. Thus, the dominant factor that controls the fabric absorbent capacity is the web thickness per unit mass on dry basis (T/Wf).

For absorbency rate, the Washburn-Lucas's equation [8,9] is applied.




Where, S is the distance through which the fluid penetrated in time t

r is the mean pore radius of the capillary

gl is the surface tension of the fluid

q is the contact angle of the fiber

h is the viscosity of the fluid

t is the fluid penetrated time

Modifications are given to Washburn-Lucas's equation when applied to the nonwoven webs in which the fluid spreads radially outward from a point in the center. The modified equation is shown as follow:


...... (3)


Where, r is the mean pore radius of the capillary

gl is the surface tension of the fluid

q is the contact angle of the fiber

h is the viscosity of the fluid

T is the thickness of the web

Wf is the mass of the dry web

A is the area of the web

rf is the density of the dry fiber

In a given web and fluid system, only mean pore radius r and thickness per unit mass (T/Wf) in above equation are not constant. Predicted the value of r by the following equation based on the assumption that a capillary was bound by three fibers, oriented parallel or randomly, and the specific volume of the capillary unit cell equaled that of the parent web [3].


for ,


Where the subscripts 1 and 2 represent different fiber types and

x is a constant with a value of 9x105

d is fiber denier

r is fiber density (g/cc)

f is mass fraction of a fiber in blend (f1 + f2 = 1)


  1. L. F. Fryer, B. S. Gupta, Determination of Pore Size Distribution in Fibrous Webs and Its Impact on Absorbency, "Proceedings of 1996 Nonwovens Conference," 1996, pp. 321-327.
  2. Chatterjee, P. K., "Absorbency," Elsevier, New York, 1985.
  3. Gupta, B. S., The Effect of Structural Factors on Absorbent Characteristics of Nonwovens, Tappi J. 71, 147-152 (1988).
  4. Gupta, B. S., and Crews, A. L., Nonwoven: An Advanced Tutorial, "The Effect of Fluid Characteristics in Nonwovens," TAPPI Press, Atlanta, GA, 1989
  5. Gupta, B. S., and Hong, C. J., Changes in Dimensions of Web During Fluid Uptake and its Impact on Absorbency, Tappi J. 77, 181-188 (1994).
  6. Gupta, B. S., Whang, H. S., Capillary Absorption Behaviors of Hydroentangled and Needlepunched Webs of Cellulosic Fibers, "Proceedings of INDA-TEC 96: International nonwovens conference," September 11-13, 1996, Hyatt Regency Crystal City, Crystal City, Virginia, USA.
  7. Gupta, B.S., and Smith, D. K., Nonwovens in Absorbent Materials, Textile Sci. and Technol. 13, 349-388 (2002).
  8. Lucas, R., Kolloid Z., "Ueber das Zeitgesetz des Kapillaren Aufstiegs von Flussigkeiten," 23, 15 (1918).
  9. Washburn, E.W., The Dynamics of Capillary Flow, Phys. Rev. 17(3), 273 (1921).
  10. Gupta, B. S. and L. C. Wadsworth, "Differentially Absorbent Cotton-Surfaced Spunbond Copoplyester and Spunbond PP with Wetting Agent," Proceedings , Seventh Nonwovens Conference at 2004 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, San Antonio , TX , January 5-9, 2004 .


Back to Table of Contents