Thursday, May 08, 2008

How to Draft a Cloth Diaper Pattern

These are the supplies that you need to draft a diaper pattern:
Paper grocery bag, ruler/yard stick, pencil, eraser, sharpie marker,
and several Tupperware lids and containers.

Cut open the paper grocery bag and fold out all the seams so that it lays flat.

Take your child's measurements over a diaper. The waist measurement is taken at the belly button. The rise measurement is taken from the belly button, down through the legs, and up the back to where the belly button would be if it was on the back.

Now reference lines need to be drawn. I line up my ruler along the vertical seam in the bag and make a line 16 inch long. This is the crotch. At the top of the line I make another line perpendicular to it. I measure out 9 inches each way. This is the waist measurement (9+9=18 inches). On the other end of the vertical line, I mark the tummy panel line, which is 1/2 the size of the waist measurement or 9 inches.

All reference lines are made and the measurement notations are made on the grocery sack: Waist = 18"/ Rise = 16"/ Tummy = 9"; **NOTE: I used a sharpie marker so that you could see the lines in the photos, but I would recommend using a pencil first and when the entire pattern is drafted, go over it with a sharpie.**

Divide the rise reference line measurement by 2 (8") and make a small tick mark.

Then measure down 1 1/2 - 2 inches down from that mark and make another tick mark. This is the crotch line. The back part of the diaper needs to be loner to accommodate the baby's tushy. If you have a boy, you might want to place the crotch line right in the middle of the rise reference line to accommodate his "equipment".

Draw your crotch line. I like my diaper's to be quite trim through the crotch, so I made it 5 inches. A nice reference list of diaper measurements can be found here.

Take a medium sized Tupperware bowl or lid and draw the front panel to crotch curves. I used the same lid for both convex and concave curves. You can take another small Tupperware lid or bowl and curve the front panel line so that it isn't square, but I like to keep my pattern like this. It makes it easier to adapt to a pocket diaper.

Use a small Tupperware lid or bowl (I think the snack cup works perfectly) to draw the wasit tabs. You can either line up the cup with the end of the line and draw the curve . . . . OR

. . . Line up the cup so that the curve merges with the end of the line and draw. This application is best suited if you want to have cross-over tabs.

Take a large Tupperware lid or bowl and draw lines to connect the crotch line to the tabs.

Now your pattern is done! Almost . . .

If you are using knit fabrics for your diaper, cut out the pattern as is. If you are using wovens, you need to add a seam allowance. Rubber band 2 pencils together and run them along the outside lines of your diaper. This will give you a perfect 1/4 inch seam allowance. =)

Cut out your diaper pattern - this pattern is for knits.

Fold in half to make sure all curves are symmetrical.
My tabs weren't so I trimmed them to be the same.

The elastic placement needs to be marked next. Fold up the tummy panel to line up with the crotch line. Make little marks at these folds close to the edge of the pattern.

I like to use a hole punch to mark my elastic placements.
Then I can just dot the fabric with a wash-away pen.

I find the waist elastic measurement by taking 1/2 of the waist measurement, divide it by 3, and measure in that amount from the back tabs. Make a mark with a pen or by punching a hole.

Take the ruler and measure straight down to the bottom of the waist tab and make a mark with a pen or by punching a hole.

Here is the diaper pattern with all elastic measurements marked and cut out.
Remember your measurements may be different then mine.
Good luck on drafting your own pattern and happy sewing!

God Bless,



yul'ka said...

ROCK ON! Thank you so much. I have been looking at my cloth diapers thinking "These can't be that hard to make," but am not a huge sewer, so I wasn't brave enough to guess at how to do it. Your tutorial is a great walk through how to do it. I will save money, and feel proud that I could make them myself!

The Morris Family said...

Thank you for the well done tutorial! I was disapointed that the link for diaper measurements is not working. Could you repost that?

Christen Morrow said...

I am a missionary living in Lima, Peru. I work with kids with disabilities throughout Latin America. I work with an orphanage of all kids with disabilities. Diapers are THE MOST expensive thing and for kids who are up to 19 using diapers its pretty tough. Its gotten to where they could only put on one diaper/kid/day and so everyone has rashes. I am going to see if we can do some cloth diapers to save money. Any special instructions for "adult" or school aged kid diapers?

Materials... going to start looking here for what kind of material to use.



theruhls said...

those were great instructions! but can you take it a step further? what material would you suggest? And also, don't I need a"soaker" or something? thanks!!

Ross said...

Thanks, this is great. I'm expecting my first and want to go the cloth way so I'm excited to try to make a few of my own. I was just wondering, what are the elastic lines for? How do those six dots actually guide your sewing? Thanks again!!

Erin said...


This is just a tutorial on how to draft a pattern. If you need help figuring out how to sew a cloth diaper or what materials to use, I sugguest you google "Diaper Sewing Divas." It's a forum and you can ask all your construction questions there. =)

God Bless,


The Domestic Engineer said...

I have been reading your blog for a while, and I would just like to thank you for posting this, it is really helpful! And the pictures make it so much easier!

Donica Ben said...

Thank you. I am tired of wasting money on Pull-ups because my four year old is too big for size 6 diapers and is no where near willing to potty train. I've heard that more kids are willing to use a toilet when they cloth diaper...*fingers crossed*

Gwenny said...

God bless you, Erin! You are amazing! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with me!

In Christ,


Gwenny said...

God bless you, Erin! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with me!

In Christ,


Erin said...

Your very welcome, Gwenny! My daughter for whom I so lovingly sewed many CDs just turned 5 on Wednesday. =)

Venus Baby said...

Do you have any pics of completed diapers with this draft?



Erin said...


Yes I do ... you'll need to C&P this link:


Venus Baby said...

They're adorable!

I do have trouble with the curves though from the wing tabs to the crotch line...any tips?


Heather said...

This is the post that brought me over - GREAT WORK!

jessica said...

Thanks so much- I am a newbie still trying to convert to cloth, but the initial expense is daunting. Sewing them myself cut the cost dramatically plus I get designs and colors I really want! I had difficulty with symmetry so I made the pattern for one side and cut it on a fold- worked perfectly.

Linsay said...

thanks so much for this tutorial. it was really informative and pritty simple. we've recently decided to go green and so im trying to find ways to do as much here as possible to save us from all the garbage around this planet. i wanted to make my own diapers but i couldn't figure out exactly how i should design them. and this is perfect. i started following you and im trying to build my followers so if you dont mind it would be nice to have you as a follower.

Sarah Faith said...

BRILLIANT tip about the pencils and 1/4" seam allowance!! Perfect.

@Home-Mom said...

so glad i found this, the link didn't work coming from so i did some digging and gotcha!
I will def be hanging around with all the soapmaking, knitting, and sewing. Maybe I can soak it all up by osmosis

Jessica said...

Thanks so much for this :D I've used it to make a few fitted diapers for my 10 month old, and modified it to make some pocket trainers for my 3 year old!

Jen said...

This is brilliantly detailed... I'd love to give making my own cloth nappies a go, and now I know how! Thank you!


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