Tutorial: How to Sew a Faux gDiaper from an Upcycled Shirt
Today I’m going to show you how I make my upcycled mock gDiapers. This tutorial features a size medium.
For this project you will need:
- A large knit shirt (or knit/cotton interlock fabric)
- 1-1/4” sport knit elastic- for waistbands
- 3/8” braided elastic- for leg elastics
- Snap tape- these are compatible with the brand name liners and can be purchased here (the evenly spaced tape with 1 1/8” between each snap)
- 11” of hook and 5” of loop touchtape or velcro (I used Babyville from Joann’s)
First, go to Crystal Pinkley’s site, My World of Cloth Diapering here, and scroll down to the bottom of the page. Print her PDF pattern, cut out the pieces for the body and elastic casings, and tape them together. I don’t make the nylon liners, so if you don’t intend to make your own PUL liners, you don’t need to cut that part of the pattern out. If you want to learn how to make the liners, she includes it in her instructions.
You’ll need a knit shirt- preferably with 96%-100% cotton content, though any quality knit fabric could work if your baby isn’t sensitive to synthetic materials. I found a large cotton Old Navy shirt for half off at Goodwill. If you are able to snag a long sleeved shirt, that’s even better. The sleeves provide extra fabric for elastic casings. If you are hoping to make more than one diaper out of your shirt, remember that the bigger the size, the more fabric you’ll be getting, so start your fabric search in the plus size department and go down from there.
After washing and ironing your thrifty find, lay it out on your work surface. I like to place my pattern down on it in a couple of different ways, to see how I can maximize my fabric (though for the body pieces, you do want the stretch of the fabric to be horizontal, not from front to back). Here’s a comparison of my small pattern and the medium pattern on the shirt.
Next you need to take your shirt apart. I cut as close as I can to the side seam, remove the sleeves, and collar if needed.
I kept one of the side seams attaching the body together before tracing and cutting my pattern pieces. You need to cut two of the body fabric, two leg casings, and a front and back elastic casing.
Here are your cut pieces, plus the elastic, touch tape (velcro), and female snaps.
In the pattern, the author mentions that her baby is on the larger side, so I took an inch off her leg elastic measurements and cut them to 9” instead of 10”.
Now that the cutting is done, it’s time to get sewing!
First, sew your leg elastic casings together. Fold them in half right side facing out (you won’t need to flip these) and sew them together as close to the edge as you can.
Do this with both casings. Next, lay out your body pieces. You will be sandwiching the leg elastic casing between the top and bottom body pieces, and sewing them all together at the same time. Before you do this, you need to make 4 marks on each of your body pieces. Measure approx. 1 3/4” down from the top and bottom edges of your body with a fabric marker. This is where you will start and stop sewing the sandwiched fabrics.
Lay your bottom body piece facing up, next place your leg elastic casing with the cut side facing out and line it up with the edge of the body fabric, and then add your second body piece facing down.
Begin sewing at the mark you made about 1 3/4” from the top. Be sure that all three layers are being sewn together, using a 1/4” seam allowance. I tend to be lazy and skip pinning wherever I can. You can skip pins in this step if you check as you go that you are catching all of your layers. Stop sewing when you reach your bottom mark.
Repeat the above steps with the other leg elastic casing. The body of your diaper is beginning to take shape.
Flip the diaper right side out. Mark your leg elastic casings about 3/4” from the top and bottom. This will be where you tack down your elastic.
Thread your elastic through the casing using your preferred method. I love the plastic flippy tool you can get at fabric stores that is designed for just this purpose. Make sure your elastic is as far over to the folded end as you can and isn’t twisted, and tack it down at your markings.
Flip the diaper inside out again. Now you will be tapering the leg elastic casings out so when the body attaches to the waistbands, you won’t need to contend with the extra width and bulk of the leg elastics.
Put your needle into your 3 layers of fabric about an inch away from where you stopped sewing before. Make sure your layers are nice and flat.
With your needle in the fabric, you will want to pull your elastic casing to the side while keeping the body fabric straight. Leave about 1/4 of an inch that won’t be sewn together at the end of the body. The point of this is to taper the leg elastic away before it reaches where you will attach the waistband.
Do this for all four edges. Trim the excess so your seam allowance is even for the whole diaper. Flip the diaper right side out. Hooray! You’ve attached your leg elastics, and the body of your diaper is sewn together!
Next we need to cover the waistband elastics. Fold your elastic casings in half with the wrong side facing out.
Take a straight edge, measure how wide your elastic is (in this case I used a 1 1/4” elastic) and mark a line down the casing where you will be sewing.
Set your sewing machine to the widest possible zig zag stitch, and zig zag the casing together. Trim the excess as close to the seam as you can without clipping it.
Flip your casing right-side out, and thread your elastic through. Make sure there is an equal amount of excess fabric over the elastic on each side. You will fold this excess in a triangle and sew it down to close the casing.
I used a zig zag stitch to sew it down, but you could use a straight stitch if you prefer. This seam will show on the outside of the diaper so it’s up to personal preference.
After you have done this for the front and back waistbands, we are ready to put the whole thing together! Lay out your front waistband and the body of your diaper. The narrower end of the diaper attaches to the larger waistband- this is the front.
Fold the two body layers of the diaper under themselves about 1/4” and pin the middle of the diaper to the middle of the waistband. Your raw edges will be hidden under the waistband in the front, giving it a polished, finished look even on the inside of the diaper.
Double check that you are not folding it too much by flipping it over once you have put in a few pins-if the raw edges are peeking out from under the waistband in the front, unpin it and fold them less. Work from the middle out to the ends. Once you get to the end, you will want to fold the corner under, and then fold the point under itself, so all of the raw edges are folded and pinned under the waistband.
Straight stitch slowly and carefully as close to your folded seam as you can. At the beginning and the end, be sure to turn and top stitch your side folds too, so they stay down.
Once you have sewn the whole seam, you can remove your pins. Next, flip the diaper to the front and set your zig zag to the widest setting. Sew along the bottom edge of the waistband, permanently enclosing your raw edge under the band.
You can do a mini happy dance at this point, because we are in the home stretch! Now, for the finishing touches- velcro and snaps.
Trim down your velcro pieces so they fit nicely on your waistbands and round the corners so they won’t poke your little one. They won’t be perfect, so don’t stress over it too much.
The scratchy pieces always go on the outside edge, and the soft pieces on the inside. On the front waistband, the velcro faces inside the diaper and on the back waistband the velcro faces outside the diaper.
I don’t want to admit how many times I have happily finished sewing my diaper when I realize that I sewed all of the velcro on the inside, and have to seam rip it off the back and re-sew it. It’s a buzzkill- so remember, velcro is sewn on the outside of the back waistband.
Sew your pieces as close to the edge of the velcro as you can. On the front, you can use the velcro seam to also attach your pieces of snap tape.
This is the front all sewn with the snap attached.
When attaching the snap tape to the back side, I like to line up my seam with the seam that attached the body to the waistband. The velcro pieces on the back won’t attach your snap tape, so you just need to sew them on individually. I find it helpful to pin down the snap tape so they don’t get caught by accident as you sew on the velcro.
Ta da! You are all done! Here is what the inside should look like:
And all closed up!
Happy upcycling and sewing!