How to sew elastic into a cloth diaper

April 26, 2011 § 8 Comments

A visitor to my blog asked me to further illustrate how I added the elastic into a handmade diaper. I wrote up a tutorial a couple of years ago titled Fitted diaper tutorial which shows you how to convert a flat diaper into a fitted diaper. This tutorial left out some of the photos from when I added the leg elastic. So, I have to thank the commenter that inspired this additional tutorial, and I hope you find it helpful.

For the leg elastic, you will need a strip of elastic about 7″ long. If you’re making a newborn diaper, use a strip of elastic 6″ long. I recommend either a 1/4″ or 1/2″ wide elastic with rubber in it, which is found in elastic meant for swimwear. Just check the back of the packaging.

Size 12/80 needles work fine as does all-purpose thread.

I’m assuming you’ve already started making your diaper so I won’t go into those details. This tutorial, by the way, can also work for those who want to replace the elastic from a purchased (and of course, a handmade of your own) cloth diaper. If you’re replacing elastic, you’ll need to rip out the seams to get to the elastic and then rip out the stitching on the elastic to remove the old elastic, if it was zig zagged onto the seam allowance of the diaper, like you see in the photo below:

This tutorial will show you how to attach the elastic in two ways. One way is by zig zagging the whole strip of elastic to the seam allowance. The other is by tacking down the ends of the elastic and then encasing it on the right side. I’ll explain.

1. Pin one end of your elastic strip 3-4 inches from the end of the diaper, at the raw edge. In the photo you can see the white serging.

2. Measure and pin the other end of the elastic strip.

3. Measure and pin the other strip of elastic, as seen below, and double check that the two strips of elastic are even.

4A. While holding the elastic and diaper with both hands (one at each end of the elastic), and holding the elastic taut but not at the full extension of the elastic, start to zig-zag. Reverse to tack down the elastic, and zig zag all the way to the other end of the elastic. Reverse to tack down other end.

Repeat for the other leg elastic.

Here’s the elastic zig zagged for one of the legs.

4B. If you only want to tack down the ends and don’t like zig-zagging the entire strip of elastic, like me, just do a little zig zag at each end, leaving the elastic in between free of stitching. I usually go across the short end of the elastic with a zig zag stitch.

5. Regardless of which method you’ve used, at this point, turn your diaper right side out. It’ll look something like this:

6. Again, holding the two ends of the diaper taut, you’ll be sewing a straight line of stitching to the left of the elastic. Be careful that you don’t actually stitch over the elastic.

I’ve been known to add pins so that the inner lining (microfleece, for instance- the white that is creeping around the yellow PUL) stays facing the inside of the diaper.

You want it to look like the photo below:

When you’re done, it should look like this:

If you look closely, you can see the old stitching (about an inch below my new stitching) because I was replacing the leg elastic on this diaper.

Please let me know if this was helpful or whether more details would be appreciated.

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