DIY Wool Diaper Soakers

I have been busy scouring the net for diapering ideas for the new baby (just four weeks to go). I have come across some stumbling blocks as far as size goes for a newborn and hate to make a bunch of diapers that aren’t going to fit him right away. Or for that matter, make too many that do and he will out grow them too quickly. I’m really interested in the One Size diapers but after making one, I’m still unsure if it’s going to fit a little skinny 7 or 8 pounder. So, I have decided to wait until the little one arrives so I will have a diaper model to try them out on.

Woolie Diaper Covers

In the meantime I have discovered wool diaper soakers. I can use regular newborn prefold diapers and then use the soakers as a cover. Later on I can use the newborn prefolds as soakers in the diapers I am going to make. I had a few old (shrunken) wool sweaters lying around so I cut them up and tried a pattern I found on Katrina’s Sew Quick Soaker Pattern blog. I had looked at several others, but not one of them compared to this one. The other’s looked old-fashioned, even amateur, but this one is trendy and you can mix it up a little to make it your own style. The most important thing to me was that you can sew them up pretty quickly. I cut out the patterns one evening and whipped them up the next day. It took me a little while because I didn’t see any instructions other than a video tutorial, and to be honest, the video had me a little confused. Once I got the first two done, I had figured out an easy way to sew it up and it started going pretty quick. I also added in a ‘longie’ out of leftover sleeves, and I added fishie appliques, so that did take a bit of time too. Keep in mind that this is my first attempt at making any type of diaper soakers…other than the things you stuff in a pocket diaper…so flaws are to be expected. ;)

HINT: You can find used (often already felted-washed, dried, shrunken) wool sweaters at your local thrift stores. Just look on the tags for sheep’s wool, cashmere, angora, alpaca, or a mix of these types of wool. 100% is best, but I have used 80% wool and seems to work just fine. Some are softer than others, which is great for baby.

So, with no further ado, here is my little tute:

Used Felted Wool Sweater

Start out with an old wool sweater. I prefered to felt mine (okay, okay, they were already ‘felted’) But I did want them felted, just because #1. To me it seems they wouldn’t be as leaky and #2. I would have ended up ‘felting’ them by accident later, I’m sure, and then would be too small. So, I just decided that, for me, felted wool is best.

Traced pattern.

Trace the pattern onto the sweater and cut it out…while you ignore my fondness of sharpie markers that don’t wash out—hmm, here’s a thought, maybe I’ll try the kids washable markers next time. If it works, it will be the last time I ruin perfectly good fabric because I read the instructions wrong. Oh, my wandering mind…back on topic now…..

Cut all the peices according to the pattern.

Ready to sew.

What you can get out of two sweaters.

Here’s what I got out of two sweaters. 2 Newborn soakers, 2 size 1 soakers, and hopefully enough for a longie….we’ll see. With a bunch of scraps left over… nursing pads maybe?

Adding on leg cuffs

Sewing the leg cuffs. Line up the edge of the cuff material (the ribbed edges–cuffs, waist, collar— of the sweater works best for this. when I ran out I used strips of fabric and folded them in half for the cuffs which is a little harder when you are using a thick felted wool.) The actual cuff may be shorter than the fabric that you are sewing it onto. The best way to make it fit is to pin the end of the cuff to the starting point where you will sew it to, then pin the other end of the cuff to the other side, where you will stop sewing. Fold it in half with the shorter fabric in the middle and pin right in the middle, then place a few more pins just to make sewing easier. Sew on your cuffs pulling the stretchy (if you use the ribbed part of the sweater) fabric to be even with the not so stretchy part. Just keep it pulled tight between the pins so that it sews even, until you get to the end…don’t forget your reinforcement stitches at the ends.

Finished leg cuffs

Leg cuffs are on. I sewed using a straight stitch and then reinforced with a zig zag. Not sure if this is necessary with wool since it doesn’t fray, but I didn’t want to take my chances of anything coming apart and it worked out pretty well.

The waist band.

Pin on your waist band, and sew it onto the diaper cover. I later realized an even easier way to do this if you have a long piece of waist band. First you would sew up the one side of cuff and side of diaper cover, then you can sew one long piece of waistband to the diaper cover all around the waist band in one piece. and then just finish the second cuff/side. Either way it works, it’s easy, and it looks good.

Stretching 'band' and sewing.

Make sure you stretch as you sew, when necessary.

Pinning the other side.

Pin each side of the soaker, and sew from bottom of cuff to top of waistband.

Finished. Inside out.

Inside out view of finished soaker.

Finished soaker.

Turn the soaker right side out and you are finished!

My finished products….It probably took me as long to do this tute as it did to sew the four regular soakers. (The longie took quite a bit longer because I had to keep piecing it together to make it work. And then of course those fishie appliques. And I bet it won’t even fit him till he’s about 9 months to a year.–Oh well, just in time for next winter.)

There was only one thing I didn’t really like about how I sewed these together, and that was that the leg cuff seams were located on the outer thigh rather than the inner thigh. You could do this differently so that the seam would be on the inner thigh and probably look a little better, but it just seemed like it would be too time consuming (making the pattern more difficult to sew) and really wasn’t that bad-looking. I then reasoned that if the seams were on the inside they would be more likely to irritate the baby’s legs than if they were on the outside, and that settled it for me. Easy, practical and they do look pretty good. Can’t wait to try them out!!!

Ooops, how did my baby belly get in the bottom of that picture? ;)

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial and I hope you find it useful in making your own diaper soakers. Thank you so much Katrina for your wonderful pattern. You can find Katrina’s pattern on her blog page at Katrina’s Sew Quick Soaker Pattern HERE. FYI, I did not use her longie patterns for my longie, If I had I’m sure I wouldn’t have had to peice it together. ;) But if you want to do longies the right way, you’ll find Katrina’s longie patterns HERE.

In addition; you will also need to lanolize your soakers if you make them out of wool. This will enhance their ability to keep the wetness in and it keeps the wool in tip-top shape. I found a great tutorial by Understanding Laura over on Blogspot. I love the way she takes something that could be time consuming and difficult and makes it quick and easy, not to mention she’ll just make you smile. :D

And last but not least, Zany Zebra has some other information on washing wool that might not be mentioned in the tute above. This includes information on how to wash wool in the sink or in the washing machine, and tips especially for those using unfelted wool and how to keep it that way.

Feel free to leave your questions, comments or suggestions below. I’d love to hear your ideas and even improvements. I’m sure I will be sewing several more of these in the near future. Happy Sewing!

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16 thoughts on “DIY Wool Diaper Soakers

  1. This is wonderful! I have an ecoposh cover & it’s worked well. I’m a very novice sewer, but also thought I wanted to give it a go. This is the best diy I’ve come across. I looked previously, but didn’t like anything I saw. These are very cute & actually seem doable. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  2. Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this website before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!

  3. Pingback: Homegrown – 3rd Annual Flats and Handwashing challenge | Confessions of a Malkavian

  4. IMPORTANT – when you felt sweaters in your washer, be sure to tie them in a pillow case, especially if they are very fuzzy or thick. The washer repair man is at my house because I washed 5 thrift shop sweaters at once and the wool clogged my pump!

    • Yikes! Thanks for the tip. I felted in my old front-load washer without a pillow case, the washer eventually went out but not because of the sweater (but do to power serge damaging the computer). I don’t want to ruin my new washer though, so I will be sure to use a pillow case next time.

  5. Pingback: Wool Soakers « Lv04's Blog

  6. Pingback: Katrina's Wool Diaper Cover Soaker Sewing Pattern | Right Side Wrong Side Sewing Blog

  7. OK did you use her waistband and leg cuffs from the pattern? I “winged it on making my own waistband and ended up with it being way too loose……..

    • I did, but as you can see I sewed them on before sewing up the side seams, it worked much easier and if it was a little long you could stretch it as you go and cut it even at the end.

  8. I’m a new grandma; made two soakers from a merino wool sweater BUT have questions. My daughter has onesies plus cute little one piece baby clothes. These seem to pressure the crotch and wick urine onto clothes. What outer clothes work best?? It’s cold here in Steamobat Springs!

    • Kathleen, as far as it putting pressure on the clothes, I can only suggest that maybe you go a size up on the clothes, or look for brands that have a longer torso length. As far as the wicking, I never had this problem. Did you lanolize it following the tutorial at “Understanding Laura’s” blog? If not, this must be done to prevent wicking. Also, you need to make sure that none of the cloth diaper is sticking out the back or the legs of the wool cover. I have only ever noticed a light ‘sweat’ coming through the diaper and since the wool/lanolin change the composition of the pee, it is just sweat and nothing else. It was never a dampness or wetness though. I think this goes without saying, but just in case anyone is confused, the onsie gets snapped OVER the wool cover, not between the cloth diaper and the cover.

  9. OH MY GOSH! yay for this tutorial! I saw these on etsy selling for $20 a piece and thought “I can make that” but all I could find were patterns for the ugly, primitive-looking ones… I almost gave up and luckily found your tute before I did! thank you thank you THANK YOU!

  10. I made my own. Im really new to sewing but they sure do the job. I use them with a prefold (pinned) and Gerber plastic pants over. (because Im paranoid of leaks) they work wonderfully. And so far I have found I can use any sweater really. it matters not the wool content. For me that is super because I am only using things out of my own closet. Thank you so much for sharing! Im so glad i found this. You did a prefect job at explaining.

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