Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wool Diaper Covers

I decided to try my hand at making some wool diaper covers (out of old sweaters) after seeing some wrap-style wool covers on clearance at one of my favourite online cloth diaper stores. While I love the pull-on soaker style wool covers, they don't work all that well with the flannel flat diapers my daughter is wearing right now (I'm afraid that the Snappi will pop open and the diaper will sag and therefore leak under the cover). A wrap-style wool cover, however, would be just the thing - same style as the PUL covers I have, but, of course, made of wonderful, breathable wool. How hard could it be? Little did I know...

My first step was to look up 'felted wool diaper cover pattern' on Google and I got a great site that told me not only how to felt the sweaters, but also included links to a number of patterns (wrap style, soaker and longies). Then I ran over to Goodwill and picked up a sweater. Luckily I was able to find a sweater dress that was mostly wool (96% wool, 4% nylon if memory serves) - not a bad find for only $6.

This is the dress after felting; I was surprised at how much it didn't shrink. I was expecting to get something almost as short as an actual sweater, but even after I ran it through the washer and dryer twice it remained dress-length. Bonus.

close-up of the felted wool
The wool was nice and thick and still a bit stretchy, and really nice to cut. Okay, so I've got the wool, now I need a pattern. The website didn't have an actual pattern for the wrap cover, it was just one of those 'choose a cover you already have and trace it' deals. So with the help of Hubby I stretched out and traced a bummis Super Whisper Wrap and got a basic pattern:

And then I had to decide how to construct the wrap. I had a few choices - I could do a turn & topstitch and cut out two of the pattern (with a small seam allowance) but I thought it would use up too much fabric (basically the whole dress). Alternately I could cut one piece from the pattern and use a binding around the edging to hide the elastics and keep the edges from fraying. But I don't have any wool binding and using a strip of the sweater would create an edge that was just too thick, and besides, it would be too much work.

I decided to copy the way another bummis wrap was constructed - the Super Lite:
It's kind of a T&T-binding hybrid.

So I had my fabric, my pattern, and I knew how I wanted to construct it. Time to start. I cut out the main body from the top of the front (I think) of the sweater, and then used one of the sleeves for the sides, and then part of the remaining bit for a 2nd layer in the centre and that front flap that covers the back of the velcro. I had everything cut and pinned together Thursday night, ready for Friday.

Friday morning my daughter and I scooted back to Goodwill briefly to take advantage of another 50%-off sale. I was smart and got there shortly before their  9 am opening  -- and can you believe it, there was a line up! Since I'd been there the day before and set aside the wool sweaters I wanted to get I was able to go right to the sweater section and grab the 4 sweaters, and then spent a few short minutes picking some t-shirts in the mens section. I was first in line when the 2nd cash register opened, and we were in and out in maybe 15 minutes. Then we popped into Dollarama to grab some braided elastic.

We came back home and I started on the cover... and I almost gave up about 5 times while I was making it. It was MUCH more difficult that I'd expected, and it didn't help that I broke 2 needles on the sewing machine in the process. Plus I missed a bit of the edge here and there of the soaker layer I'd sewn in first, and had to go over the bits again (that's when I broke the needles). Also, the elastic I'd bought was too wide - about twice as wide as I needed it to be (I don't know why I didn't see it at the store) - so I had to cut it. And then I couldn't get it to attach properly at the legs (though the back elastic went on fine). So then I spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to do an elastic in a casing, and then ended up sewing the elastic to the seam allowance on the side pieces. And then I couldn't get any of the velcro to go on right on the first or second or even third try. To top it all off, my sewing machine was giving me grief throughout the whole process. Needless to say I was in a pretty foul mood.

Finally I got it all together... and then I realised the velcro strip at the front was too high. Oy. But once it was done I breathed a sigh of relief... and then went online and ordered the two wrap-style wool covers that were on clearance because I'm NEVER making one of these covers again. Ever.

I've since fixed that and lanolized it (it's drying in the sun outside) but I have my doubts that it will fit my little girl, or that it will be functional.

Today I decided to try another wool cover pattern (from , a much easier one. Basically you cut an equilateral triangle from the sweater, sew the edges together (leaving holes for the legs) and then sew the sleeve cuffs around the leg holes and voila, a short-style wool cover.

I took the other side of the sweater dress, measured and cut out a (reasonably) equilateral triange, sewed it together and used the extra-large collar to make the leg cuffs.

It was actually pretty easy, and I estimate it took an hour to make; I'm sure the next one will go faster. The most difficult part will be getting the front to be even (mine's kinda wonky) but then I don't think my triangle was totally straight. You're also supposed to take some wool yarn and do a single line of crochet and then weave that in for a waistband... I'll do that for a cover that will actually be worn. I don't know if it will fit my little girl, but it was fun to make. The only other issue I see going forward will be sewing the leg cuffs on; these were wide enough that I could slide it onto my sewing machine and sew around, but if it's smaller (i.e. for a newborn or small infant) I can't do it that way and I'd have to do it the regular way.

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