The Thrift Store Cloth Diaper Project…by Tara Dukaczewicz
I am not a thrifty person.
I aspire to frugality and I love to read about frugal people.
I admire their ability to buy groceries with a folder full of coupons and save fifty dollars on their bill.
But that’s not me, and when I bought my diaper stash I did not look for ways to save money. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a good chunk of money on my cloth diapers (thank you little old lady, for running that stop sign. Your insurance company paid for my stash!)
And I shopped with reckless abandon.
So, when I tell people about all the amazing money saving qualities of cloth diapering, I’m talking out of my hat, because I really don’t know how to buy cheaply.
But, all that recently changed when my friend approached me. She wants to go cloth with her new baby but lacks the funds to buy enough diapers to start out.
I hear this so many times, how it’s difficult to pay twenty dollars for one diaper.
I know of a few sales and seconds and I always recommend gently used, but I started researching how it might be possible to cloth diaper a baby for next-to-no start up money.
My search lead me to youtube, and a variety of tutorials ranging from truly bizarre to innovative genius.
I made a ten minute trip to the thrift store, gathered some possible material and closed myself up in my sweat shop to see what I could make.
First, I wanted to find a way to manufacture a diaper without a sewing machine and found a way to fold an old t-shirt into thirds and pin it on the baby. No cutting, no stitching, and no sewing skill required.
The snappi stayed in well and it was trim and the fit easily customizable. The t-shirt was beyond soft and my little guy looked really cute in it! Of course, a cover would be required, but the shirt offered many layers of absorbency. It did have a tendancy to come apart but underneath a cover this wouldn’t present a problem.
So, I decided to take it a step further, since I do have a sewing machine. I never realised how easy it was to make a prefold diaper from a t-shirt and the simple genius of it blew me away. It’s white and pristine, free from dye and 100% cotton. And so easy to clean. The thrift store I went to had a sale, buy one get one free. That’s two prefolds for a dollar(you can go even cheaper by stealing t-shirts from your man’s closet, but you didn’t hear that from me!)
But, not everyone likes prefolds and truthfully I was a little intimidated by them at first, so I went online, found a free diaper pattern and made this adorable and super soft fitted diaper. I also bought a couple of flannel receiving blankets.
Again youtube was my inspiration and I learned how to fold a square into many different shapes.
It’s brilliant! Some were even gender specific! The possibilities are endless, from folding simple rectangles and tucking it into a water-proof cover to sewing fitted diapers. One can put as little or as much work into it as desired. How simple and elegant.
My theory is that one can buy twenty-four t-shirts or flannel receiving blankets, spending twelve to twenty-four dollars and either make prefolds, fitted diapers or just fold them. Covers would still be necessary, but PUL covers can be wiped and re-used multiple times so I’m estimating that a minimum of six would do the job. I’ve found covers for as little as ten or eleven dollars. So the start-up cost could be as cheap as twenty-four dollars for t-shirts and flannel blankets and I’ll say sixty-eighty dollars for covers.
It is more than possible to cloth diaper many children for less than one hundred dollars!!!
I decided I wanted to go a step further and find a way to make covers as cheaply as the prefolds, flats and fitteds. I bought two fleece blankets and a wool sweater, found two more free patterns online and went to work.
For the first cover I used the fitted diaper pattern. It looked like this. It is super soft and cute and fits my baby perfectly.
But most people don’t have access to a snap press and I want to find solutions that don’t require specialized equipment.
So I used a pattern for a soaker that was beyond easy, and came up with this.
No snaps or elastic necessary and cute as can be! One can customize sizes for their baby as he grows.
I admit to a little trepidation when it came to the wool sweater. It seemed almost wrong to hack into it with my scissors.
But when I saw my little dude in the longies that I made I felt I did justice to the sweater.
I plan to use the soaker pattern on the leftover wool. I think I can make at least three more soakers and several more covers with the rest of the fleece.
With the other fleece blanket I made some stay-dry liners, just by cutting out shapes.No sewing required.
I spent two dollars for each blanket and one dollar for the wool sweater. That brings our estimated costs to twelve to twenty-four dollars for the prefolds, fitteds and flats and five dollars for the covers. That’s less than thirty dollars to make twenty four diapers and I’m guessing about ten covers!
Considering it costs upwards of fifteen hundred to diaper a baby from birth to potty training with disposables and most cloth diaper stashes are around two to three hundred, the savings is unbeatable! And the effect on the environment is an added benefit.
So the next time I hear someone agonizing about how to afford cloth diapers for their baby, I have some practical advice to give them on how to help the environment, protect their baby from dangerous chemicals, and not spend all their disposable income doing it!
And since I really don’t need any more diapers for my child, I’m giving everything I made to a friend who is going to cloth diaper twin boys! Good luck to all parents out there that take inspiration from this, I wish you many happy, cloth diapering years!