Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sewing Project: Katrina's Soaker Pattern

About a year ago, AB was just starting to get big enough to fit into her one-size cloth diapers. I started reading more about the other kinds of diapers available and liked the idea of sewing a few of my own. If you check my Pinterest board called Baby-Make This you'll see a ton of tutorials and links on this subject. Cloth diapers need two parts; one part to absorb, and one part for waterproofing. Anything cotton can become the absorbent part, and with the proper care a wool cover can become the waterproof layer. One common way to make inexpensive cloth diapers is to use old t-shirts and wool sweaters.

Soaker upcycled from a merino wool argyle sweater.

The most widely used pattern for covers (which can also be made from fleece instead of wool) is Katrina's Soaker Pattern. It's free, multi-sized, and can be found here. I've made a couple of these for AB. Honestly, soakers are one of the first things I ever sewed on my machine, and they taught me how to sew carefully (in the tiny leg openings) and how to sew cuffs. And any project that doesn't take much fabric is a winner in my book!

Upcycled from a thick wool sweater.

I found wool to be a sort of tricky beast to learn about when I first started out sewing. There are a lot of different weights, blends, and types of wool. It's expensive to buy yardage, so in order to teach myself I went to Goodwill and browsed the sweaters. I highly recommend this process to learn about fabrics in general, not just wool. At first, my hands couldn't tell the difference between acrylic, wool, polyester, cotton, anything! But after a few trips and carefully reading labels, it became easier and easier to tell fiber content just by touch. I'm not perfect by any means, but I surprised myself with how fun it was to learn this way.

But anyway, back to soakers! My Goodwill sells sweaters for around $4.50 each, but of course they have some that are 50% off every week, and the first Saturday of the month the entire store is half off. So for a couple bucks you can score some great wool sweaters to upcycle into soakers. Be sure to check the men's section and the plus size section, since the price is the same whether you buy a small or an XXXL.

I promise I'm going to refashion this someday.

With a decent-sized sweater, you can make a soaker for your little one out of the body, and then use the arms of the sweater to make a pair of longies or shorties (pants, basically!). Once you get the hang of it, it's very easy to make pants from sleeves. I will confess that on my first try, I sewed the waistband closed. Oops. If your sleeves are short, you can cut a different sweater and make a waistband. You can also use fold-over elastic like I did here:

Armhole cuffs make excellent pant leg hems!

As I mentioned, you can also use fleece for this soaker pattern, but there are as many kinds of fleece as there are kinds of wool, and it can be another confusing world to navigate. The downside to fleece covers is that they leak when compressed (such as when a child is sitting or strapped into a car seat) so I don't use my fleece covers that often.

Just make sure your stretch goes around the waistband.

I've barely scratched the surface of the cloth diaper cover conversation. If you want to learn more, check out this group on Baby Center for way more details. But be careful...cloth diapering is addictive (no seriously...just Google it if you don't believe me!). You've been warned!

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