I’ve been sewing like mad. I actually wore through my machines, they both gave up and decided to go on strike resulting in a trip to the repair shop. I’ve also been researching like crazy as well, you know…that futile pursuit of the “best cloth diaper solution”. Well, I couldn’t find one, so I decided to put together a starter stash so I could tell which diaper worked best on the Newbs once he arrived.
So what were the results?
A stash worth $1288 retail value including 323 diapers + 34 organic bamboo diaper wipes, 2 diaper pail liners, 2 changing pads, 2 travel changing pads, 2 small wet bags. 9 wool dryer balls, 53 microfleece stay dry liners, and 65 extra doublers/inserts/soakers.
I know what you are thinking: how the hell is $1288 a budget? Because that was retail, not what I spent. That there stash only cost me $380 for 264 items and I’ll probably be able to sell a lot of the items in it for about $315 conservatively, assuming baby monster doesn’t beat it up too badly.
So how did I do it?
1.Invest in a serger.
Seriously, it pays for itself instantly. We pilled up some Amazon points from other baby purchases of things I couldn’t DIY (like the baby bath seat, crib, mattress, etc.) and ended up with a decent Brother 1034D for about $99. Considering I saved about $908 from retail costs for the stash, it was worth it. Things like inserts, fleece liners and washclothes are simple projects for someone starting out.
I started stocking up early on things I knew I would need: flannel sheets for the wipes, 100% wool sweaters for the dryer balls and wool covers, towels for the terry cloth (ok, so I bought a lot of fabric new, but could have saved even more if I had thrifted for the terry cloth and such), microfiber blankets or snuggies for the liners, plus normal fabric and vintage sheets for projects down the road later. A lot of this was found around the house, I raided the linens my husband had before we got married. A good overview of fabrics to familiarize yourself with before you hit the stores can be found here.
3. Test your fabrics.
Depending on what project that you are making, test your fabrics out prior to making them. Is that snuggie you picked up the best choice for the stay dry liners? Which combination of fabrics will lead to the best prefolds or inserts? Will two layers of this fabric be too thick? Will this 80% wool 20% other sweater repel water correctly? Will that piece of cotton or that piece of terry absorb liquid faster? A simple test: try it out with 4 tbsps of water which is about average for a baby tinkle. Remember that the diaper will have some pressure on it from the baby’s body which may effect the way the fabric responds (like microfleece, which will help the water seep in faster.
4. Start Early
I’m 34 weeks now and I have about 5 adjustable PUL diaper covers left to sew…thankfully everything is cut out for me because I couldn’t lean over the floor very long if I wanted to. Also sitting in front of the machine is brutal. And I’m exhausted. /rant. I’m down to one a day. I couldn’t imagine trying to sew the stash if I started now.
5. Resell value.
There were a few splurges in our set (we spent about $80 on AOI and AI2 that we couldn’t really pass up on…including $22 on a Mr. Roboto Charlie Banana Diaper) but for the most part, we kept our cool. But even our splurges have a silver lining: in the land of cloth diaper resell those $80 splurges have a $75.50 resell value. The best way to check resell value of cloth diapers? Ebay. Head over to ebay, click on “Advanced” at the end of your search bar, type in your search and be sure to check “completed”. Once the results come up, be sure to click on “used” under condition in the side bar. Look for the green listings, those will tell you what people are actually spending on used (insert brand name) diapers, not just what they are TRYING to get out of them.
6. Make it interchangeable.
I have two sizes of inserts/doublers/soakers both using the dimensions from this tutorial: a small and a large. Not only will they fit the different sizes of gDiapers, but the larges will fit the Flip covers and a bunch of my AI2 pockets and the smalls and larges can both be used as doublers for at night and in prefolds. Additionally, I sewed 10 pillowcase prefolds to fit the large inserts (instead of 4x6x4, think 2x2x2, then slip the insert in the center).
I have to tell you a secret: I went on for four months NOT wanting to spend $2 a piece or more on cloth prefold diapers. I really, really, really couldn’t justify spending $30 on a dozen prefolds. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. There had to be a cheaper way. I also didn’t want to sew my own considering it takes about a yard and an 1/8th to make one 4x8x4 (that is the layer count, btw), so if I am spending $3+ on the fabric alone at this point…bah. I didn’t trust using old t-shirts, they didn’t get as poofay.
So here is what I found: retired diaper service rags. Many Diaper Services sell their rags per pound (10-14 diapers per pound) for around $5 or so. I had no idea what to expect, but I took the plunge and ordered 40 diapers for about $25 including shipping. Worse case scenario, I make mop covers out of them. But when the box came, it was best case scenario. Sure, a lot of them were stained or had holes, but here is a secret: the baby is only going to poop on them resulting in more stains and holes. You aren’t going to impress anyone with the quality of your prefolds…no one cares. But I set to work anyway, because I am a neurotic mother who does care. So I stripped the diapers in a nice DAWN boil, then washed them once. I sorted out the stained ones, covered them in oxyclean gel stick and set them outside to sun bleach while I dried the rest in the dryer. Afterwards, I washed them 3 more times as if they were new. I was left with only 3 diapers out of 40 that had some visible stains…and they were so light it didn’t matter.
Now for holes. Most of the holes weren’t that bad, but I had three diapers that were. We’re talking well loved to the point the top layer was shredded. It needed some TLC. I set about to refurbishing and came back with a diaper that was brand new. Luckily I took pics and will post the tutorial for you all in the next week or so.
Additionally, things like elastic and aplix or velcro can be easily replaced. CottonBabies sells Bumgenius Refresher kits (new elastic and aplix) for $1, or you can find someone like AlfordDesigns on Etsy who will change out the velcro entirely for snaps (which are less likely to come off when baby gets big enough to…pull them off) for a lot less than buying a resin snap kit yourself. You can also replace worn elastic with buttonhole elastic, like the Fuzzibuns systems. More on that in #9.
8. Know a good deal
Familiarize yourself with diaper prices and which brands resell the highest, that way, when you come across a good deal…you will be good to go. Stalk craigslist, ebay (buy it now is best…moms get into a bidding war on the auctions) and some of diaper forums.
9. Make it adjustable
I fell in love with Fuzzibunz from first “adjust”. The nifty little buttonhole elastic system was awesome. In fact, all of the one size diapers were pretty sweet (for sizes 15 lbs and up) with their little snaps and softness. But the buttonhole elastic, that was swoon. I noticed that you couldn’t find that in any other style of diaper, specifically PUL covers. So I set about to creating an adjustable PUL Diaper Cover that I will be posting later on. But that brings me to the next point: adjustable is good. Sure, most one-size diapers are more expensive than the single size diapers, but if you divide that number over the various sizes they cover: small, medium and large…it ends up being a better deal. So when purchasing or making, make it as adjustable as possible.
Additionally, places like AlfordDesigns on Etsy offer diaper extenders which can help let out the waistbands of cloth diapers, helping to keep baby in that size a few weeks longer.
AIO and AI2s are super cute, but honestly, the idea of having 60-80 full AIO/AI2 diapers hanging around our minimalist abode is a bit nerve wracking. They are cute, but I don’t want to be swimming in them. Which brings about the multi-taskers: PUL and Wool.
PUL diaper covers can be alternated with another PUL cover and washed or spot cleaned at the end of the day or when they are dirty and because of the anti-bacterial properties of wool…you can go days with only a spot cleaning on these bad boys (or so the rumor goes). I’ve heard mixed reviews about the gDiaper, but in theory this brand can be rotated out (and their inner waterproof lining changed) a few times before retiring to the diaper pail as well.
This is how only with 32 AIO, AI2 and diaper covers…I can go theoretically 323 diaper changes without having to do the laundry. I won’t of course. I’m just saying that the option is there.
I’m in the middle of making woolies for the baby to be. I thrifted a really awesome striped sweater that would make excellent longies, but when I came home and tried to felt it in the tried and true heat felting method…it laughed at me. I pulled it out of the dryer as soft and luxurious as it went in. After throwing a mild fit and begging with the thing, I decided to try: stripping. Not me, silly. I used the stripping method of prepping cloth baby diapers, threw the sweater back on the torment cycle of the wash and after an hour…I emerged victoriously!
Now all this talk of “methods” is rubbish, it’s a really simple process made to sound more difficult than it actually is. Here is the two step process of felting treated wool:
1. Strip the Pretreatment
Problem wool is treated with a ton of chemicals that keep it soft and shapely when it ends up in the wash. So what’s a girl to do? Turn to her trusted friend Dawn.
Put the offending sweater, yarn, coat or other piece of wool in a large pot, cover with water and add a tablespoon or so of Dawn. Boil. Boil for 15 minutes, then dump it all out and do it again. And again. 3 times.
2. Heat Felt the Wool
Rinse out as much of the dawn as possible. I used cool water and just rinsed until I could ring the sweater out without burning myself. Then dump it in the washer. Set it to the hot/cold setting and select the longest agitation time, this is what is known as the “Torment” cycle. Torment your sweater. Be sure only to fill the washer with as much water needed to cover the sweater. You want to keep it down low in the basin where all the agitation and anger happens. Then just let it run. When it is done, throw it in the dryer on the hottest setting as well. Soon, you will have a great piece of stubborn wool felt and an amazing sense of conquest.
So being 23 weeks prego…with what my husband calls a “super mango” (as opposed to the regular mango that Babycenter says he should be) I’m a big ball of energy. That is until about 3 pm, you know…around the time that I should be starting dinner. The last thing I have been wanting to do is stand in the kitchen and cook at this point in the day. That and living in an area of Florida known as a destination for tourists, snowbird season makes the idea of dealing with the grocery store on a weekly basis is even less appealing. So I went looking for options.
Last month I did meal planning for the next month (thanks to an awesome web/ipad/iphone app called pepperplate). No longer meal planning and shopping on a weekly basis, I was still cooking. This month I decided to bust out the slow cooker…a piece of equipment I’ve always associated with my grandmother’s vintage 60′s style beast and have only used myself on a few encaustic projects a few years back (different slow cooker, of course).
So far, so good. I’ve been trying out new recipes, some failing miserably, some are amazing. Good is one thing, but they also need to be easy. I don’t want to stand around cutting and chopping more than 5-6 things per bag. They also need to be inexpensive. Luckily the slow cooker makes using cheaper cuts of meat acceptable. Everything just falls apart!
1. Make it a weekend affair.
- Friday. Friday morning I plan the meals for the upcoming week and do the shopping on Friday evening. Shopping can run over to Saturday morning since most Farmer’s Markets are Saturday morning.
- Saturday. Saturday is chopping day. Create your bags, cut your veggies and fill your bags as you go.
- Sunday. Sunday is meat, broth (see below) and spice day. THen just seal them up and freeze them flat.
2. Make your own broth.
Why pay for canned broth or bouillon when you have everything you need right there and it is easy?
- Boil eggs to add calcium. I eat salad at lunch, so my protein is usually a handful of nuts, seeds or eggs. I throw a giant pot of water on the stove and hardboil enough eggs for the upcoming week. After they finish cooking DO NOT THROW THE WATER OUT. Cooking the eggs releases calcium into the water. Calcium is good anyway you can get it.
- Simmer your veggie scraps. Now I just drop the ends and skins of whatever veggies I cut up on chopping day (day 2 above) and let it simmer during the day.
- Coll and strain. I let it cool overnight on the stove (unless you aren’t comfortable with the whole “food out overnight” thing, the just let the whole thing cool until you can handle it. The strain out the ends and toss them into the compost (or trash).
- Make cubes. Freeze the broth in ice cube trays. Once they are solid move them to a bag marked with the date. I usually use last month’s cubes for this month’s cooking.
- Use the cubes in your recipes.Most trays make cubes equal to a tablespoon. 16 tablespoons = 1 cup, but this broth seems to be super concentrated, so I usually use a 1:2 ratio. 16 cubes = 2 cups of broth. So I add half of the broth needed as cubes to the bag, then when I go to put it all in the slow cooker, I add the rest in water.
3. Chicken and Beans.
Cheaper proteins are awesome, so things like chicken thighs (cheaper then chicken breasts and there isn’t that much bone in trade off) and dried beans are great. Most beef recipes can use chicken as a substitute.
I LOVE the little one’s eyes in this photo, and the softy blanket is so sweet. Get the tutorial to make your own car seat friendly baby blanket here.
Skill level: Basic
Estimated Lowest Cost: $5
This is too cute and definitely on my must make list: the Mooshy Belly Bunny Baby Toy Pattern & Tutorialvia Chez Peeper Baby
Skill level: Basic
Estimated Lowest Cost: $1 (upcycling an old t-shirt)
This is a free woodworking plan to build a crib from American Woodworker Magazine. The magazine was from May-Jun 1990, so some of the measurements may need to be updated to fit current crib safety specs (like spacing between the slats).
Skill level: Moderate
Estimated Lowest Cost: $75
Super cute (and not to mention simple!) polka dot baby mobile tutorial from Sew She Sews.
Skill level: Basic
Estimated Lowest Cost: $1
This awesome maxi skirt is a must have for any mom-to-be. Plus it is simple to make and can follow you into your post-prego wardrobe. Swoon. Tutorial by Elle Apparel.
Skill level: Moderate
Estimated Lowest Cost: $3
Give an old high chair a new facelift with Smile and Wave’s adorable high chair seat cover tutorial.
Skill level: Moderate
Estimated Lowest Cost: $3
This is a super adorable onesie tutorial and pattern (for size 6 months) from Omi Creates.
Skill level: Advanced, but the directions are super detailed and easy to follow even if you aren’t an advanced sewer.
Estimated Lowest Cost: $3