How to Turn a Prefold into a Fitted Diaper - Lux Edition
Tutorial provided by Nicole
To start, get your materials together: prefolds, elastic, decorative print (anything goes here ie: flannel, cotton weave, knits--and if you use poly fleece you will essentially end up with an AIO), velour, your pattern. If using snaps, you'll also need a snap press or pliers and size 20 KAM snaps.
Just a tip: wash all your fabrics (I even wash my elastic!) before cutting to avoid shrinkage issues and to remove any yukky residues left behind from dying, manufacturing and shipping.
Disclaimer: Yep, the prefold I'm using here is stained.. I'm not a stickler for stain removal in dipes, they all eventually come out in the wash and this one has already gone through 2 kids so it's old to boot. And yes, I'm still using my grams ironing board complete with the ratty old stained cover I can't seem to part with - it's clean, just looks crappy.. nevermind it. :)
First, iron your prefold (and the rest of your fabric) - they are so much easier to work with once ironed. Then cut the serged edges off - OR you could seam rip the edges. Any prefold will work, even gerbers, but here I'm using a premium unbleached chinese one.
Lay your pattern down over the ironed prefold and trace it out with a washable marker. Make sure to mark your elastic. Trace it out on your decorative print as well and cut both out. I'm using the final edition of the one-size pattern I drafted.
When I draft patterns, I don't add seam allowances. Instead I trace it out and cut a quarter inch or so outside the line. This way I can just sew down the line for perfect edges. If you are using or have drafted a pattern with seam allowances, cut right on the line.
Just a tip: when cutting apart an old prefold you may find lint buildup stuck along seams and in corners. Sweep it all out to maximize bulk reduction.
The excess will make the soaker. Let's start here.
Open it up on the fold and press.
Depending on your pattern, you may have more or less than I do here. Define an even rectangular shape out of the scraps, stack them together and stitch down one of the short ends.
Open it up, lay flat and press. Here's your soaker panel.
Time to break out the velour! Or whatever fabric you have handy, but let's face it - velour is softest and squishously yummiest to use - hence the Lux! Cut out 2 rectangles the same size as the soaker panel.
Place the velour right sides together and top with the soaker panel, pin three sides together and sew.
Trim off the excess (anytime you are going to turn and topstitch you wanna reduce the bulk as much as possible). Turn it right side out.
I like to do a 3-step zig-zag stitch down the center of the pad to avoid shifting during washing, then topstitch.
Center the soaker panel where you want it on the right side (or the side without the pattern lines) of the prefold.
Attach it with a tight zig-zag stitch twice over.
Depending on your pattern and the size/brand of your prefold, you may want or need to extend the wings. Since I am using my one-size fitted I want the wings to match so I'm adding some velour and you can do the same. Just lay the prefold over the decorative diaper cut and cut the excess out of velour, making sure to account for seam allowance.
Pin them on and stitch right sides together.
Press the seams toward the velour and stitch down for added strength.
You can use straight stitch, but I think a zig-zag stitch will prevent fraying better.
Next you'll want to trim away some excess bulk at the back of the prefold where the elastic will go.
Just separate the layers in the center, clip about 3/4 of an inch on each side and trim away.
Center your decorative print over the prefold and pin. I've used a snuggle flannel here with an awesome print that was graciously sent to me by my friend Suzie!
You are not going to stitch down the front, instead leave the entire length open for turning. I always pin to prevent shifting while sewing, especially with knits. Stitch down the line, unless you used a pattern with a seam allowance. In that case, use whatever seam allowance the pattern calls for.
When you are done stitching, trim away the excess outside the marks you made for the elastic. This will leave seam allowance only where the elastic will go.
Separate the layers of the remaining seam allowance leaving only 2 or 3 layers of the prefold and trim away the rest. This will remove the bulk and allow the elastic to stretch and relax to its full extent when tacked down. I find 2 layers is sufficient, but if you are using something very old and worn you may want to use 3.
ETA: After some thought, I decided clipping away the outer layer of the remaining seam allowance could cause some fraying - NOT that I had any, I'm just always thinking of how to improve things - so instead clip away everything BUT the outer and inner layer.. just in case!
Here is what it should look like when done trimming.
I like to tack elastic down the seam allowance using the 3-step zig-zag stitch. Tack the end down by going back and forth a few times then stretch it pulling tightly to the end of the exposed seam allowance. Be sure to go back and forth over the opposite end as well.
Here is what it should look like with both the leg and back elastic in place. This is also what it looks like when my cat refuses to get off the ironing board. :)
Turn it out, press if you like (and I do like to because I find I end up with crisper edges) and topstitch around the front and back wings. I do not topstitch around the leg elastic in this particular design because the bulk of the prefold will end up hindering full usage of it.
To finish, lay the front opening flat, press and trim any uneven edges. Then just close it up with a tight zig-zag stitch twice over.
Here is the inside, you may end up with a shorter or longer soaker panel depending on your pattern. I find longer is better because you can fold it up in front for boys or in half for girls!
Here is the outside laid flat.
Just a tip: Never wash using a heavy duty spin cycle. Diapers can fray and get ruined. (Found that one out the hard way!)
All pinned up in front.
If you notice, one of the benefits to not topstitching around the elastic is that the decorative print ends up rolling in, creating a softer leg casing in most cases!
A few snap tips!
First tip: if you are using a premium-quality prefold it is going to be thick! Sometimes that initial ironing has worn off by the time you are finished and the prefold has quilted back up again! And sometimes ironing it doesn't seem to get it squished down enough, so my tip here is to wet it! You can even use your iron. Just squirt the front where the snaps will go, stretch it out and flatten with your hand. If it's still stubbornly quilty, add a bit more water and run the hot iron over it again. THIS is crucial. If you just add the snaps, weather with a press or pliers, the likelihood of them popping out over that thick area is high. I wasted quite a few snaps when I first snapped them! (KAMsnaps: You can also just use our long-prong snaps.)
And the second tip is for perfect snap placement. Sure, you can use a template and mark out where you want your snaps with a washable marker but I've had mixed results with that method and I decidedly don't like it. I like to use 2 snaps on each wing (I know some of the expensive fitteds use 3 but I've really found that to be excessive). I fold the back of the diaper in half and line up the wings. Then with my awl (or in this case, one of my professional cuticle pushers.. haha) I poke 2 holes straight through both wings.
This gives me perfect and even snap placement on the wings. They are generally 2 inches apart, but depending on how you do the wings (ie; if you have to extend them) you may not be able to put them exactly 2 inches apart (since you wont be able to get a snap through the extension seam).
Next I fold the front (that I've flattened out as much as possible) in half to find the center and poke a hole straight through about half an inch in.
This puts the center snaps about an inch apart. Next I attach the first wing snap to the center snap closest to it and line the wing up along the diaper. Then I flip the diaper over, locate where the second wing snap is with the 'awl' and push it through.
Then I place a snap between those 2 and continue in that fashion to the end. You could also fold the front down and add snaps to make it a true snapped one-size.
Also, I do not snap the soakers. If you have ever tried to replace elastic in a turned and topstiched diaper with a snapped in soaker, you know exactly why! It's no fun at all.
Onto the fluff n' action shots!
A Spongebob cotton weave and a Hello Kitty cotton knit!
Shown here with a Zorb core soaker sandwiched between hemp terry and microfleece.
Shown here with a Zorb core soaker sandwiched between aqua velour.
And another Hello Kitty cotton knit!