Sunday, 26 August 2012

Sustainable Nappies

When one of my significantly environmentally sustainable friends recently shared her frustrations with me at not being able to find a washable nappy made from natural fibre, I realised this is a huge gap in the New Zealand market landscape. All these shiny sweaty synthetic numbers lining the shelves, and not a modern fitted cotton nappy in sight. Never one to say no to a challenge and wanting to find a solution for my heavily pregnant friend, I got my scissors out.

A few minutes browsing at the fabric store surrendered a suitable pattern (KwikSew 3690)and some lovely fluffy 100% cotton towelling. Some brushed cotton fabric from my stash, plastic snaps and a bit of elastic later and I'm ready to get sewing.

I chose the plastic snaps because I did not want the trouble of getting the Velcro stuck on all those lovely new baby woollen knits.

The pattern comes with multiple sizes. I chose the X-small to start with.
Four layers of towelling to catch the wee

I zig-zagged the four layers of towelling insert together and sewed it to the towelling nappy liner.


Then put the right sides of the towelling and brushed cotton together and sew around using an approximately 8mm seam. Leave a gap at the front. 
I zig-zagged around the edges of the nappy to stop it from fraying. Then turn it in to the correct way.

Attach the elastic to the notches at back of the nappy and the legs using a zig-zag stitch.

Turn the nappy in the right way and pin the elastic into the channel that will hold it in place.
Its important not to sew the elastic, as it should float independently in the channel.

Top stitch right around the nappy; stitching out and around the elastic channels as you get to them. Be sure to stitch over the ends of the elastic to strengthen the nappy, so it doesn't go pop after its been washed a few times.

Using a zipper foot made it easier to get in close and sew a neat channel without sewing onto the elastic.
That's the hardest part over!

Now attach the snaps by cutting off six holes for the front and two plugs for each side. Pin and stitch, taking care to fold the cut edge of the snap tape over.

And your done!

I would definitely recommend making one nappy prototype to begin with; then once you have the hang of it make the rest production line style - doing one step at a time on each nappy.
I used 2m of towelling, 2m of brushed cotton and about 3m of 1cm wide elastic to make 12 nappies. I counted up the snaps and used 2 sets of 3 snaps for each nappy.
The towelling bits go everywhere when you cut the fabric out, so just be prepared for a cotton fluff invasion.

My friend has told me that these nappies are a far superior fit to the commercially available washable nappy, and that they dry quite quickly overnight when the heating is on. The natural cotton fibre absorbs wetness, allows the skin to breath, wont clog with nappy rash cream and is more comfortable than synthetics.


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