By Cassie Johnston
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We’ve been cloth diapering since about a week after JuneBug came home from the hospital. I know cloth diapers aren’t for everyone, but we knew from the beginning it was something we wanted to tackle. When I was pregnant, I spent hours researching different types of diapers, creams, wipes, and wipe solution. All my hours of researching paid off, because we are super happy with our cloth diapering system. One day, I’ll write more about it, but as a quick overview, we use BumGenius Freetime all-in-one diapers exclusively, and we also use flannel cloth wipes. For some reason, for me, cloth wipes seemed like more of a mental roadblock to overcome than the diapers themselves. But I was absolutely sold after using them! They clean better than the disposable wipes we’ve used. They are easy on soft baby bums. They wash up beautifully. And I love that I never have to buy packs of wipes.
There are a lot of different cloth wipes you can use. Some people buy specially made, two-ply, bamboo, gold-plated, hand-sewn, organic wipes for like $10 a pop. I am not one of those people. I went the simple route and made my own single-ply flannel wipes. They are an absolute breeze to make, and a stack of them in a cute flannel print would be an awesome gift for any expecting parent who is going to cloth diaper. If you have a serger, these wipes are even faster to make, but I don’t have one (I wish!), so let me show you how I went about making them.
First up, I picked out some adorable flannel. There are lots of different fabrics that work, but I like flannel because it’s soft and absorbent, but it’s also thin enough that I can easily stack the wipes in our wipe warmer to come out one at a time. I know some folks just use baby washcloths as wipes, but I like having the same one-at-a-time dispensing capability of disposable wipes. If you have other sources of flannel around (like a ton of extra receiving blankets or old flannel sheets), those will work, too. Like with all sewing projects, you’ll want to wash and dry your fabric before you start.
The size of the wipe is up to you, but, again, for easy folding and fitting in containers that are meant for disposable wipes, I went with a standard eight-inch square. Cut out as many wipes as you think you’ll need. We’ve worked with a set of 36 for the past four months, but we could go for having a few more. Especially now that she’s getting older and touching dirty things and dropping stuff on the floor—we’re using wipes for more than just bum-wiping.
You can get about 20 eight-inch square wipes from one yard of 40″ wide flannel.
You could leave the corners as right-angles, or you can do what I did and round the corners. Personally, I find the rounded corners easier to sew (no stopping, pivoting, and starting again). Plus, they look cute. I just took each wipe, folded it into quarters, and used a sharp pair of scissors to round the corners. You could be more precise about it and trace around a small bowl using a fabric marking pen, but I figure these are just bum wipes. They certainly don’t need to be perfect.
Then it’s time finish the edges. Most sewing machines have an overlock stitch (or a few different overlock stitches). Check your manual. If you don’t have an overlock stick, you can also use a standard zig-zag stitch. My machine also comes with an overlock foot, which makes it easier to line up right at the edge of the wipe, but it definitely isn’t a necessity. Our goal here is to get the stitch to wrap right around the edge of the fabric to “seal” it closed.
I stitch all the way around the wipe—making sure to stitch back and forth at the beginning and end to really secure the thread. This whole process takes me about 30 seconds.
And then…it’s done. That’s it! I can make a few dozen of these wipes per hour, no problem. When you go to wash them the first time, the edges will ravel a bit, but it ends up giving the wipes a nice frayed look. Our wipes have gone through the washer a bajillion times (approximately), and we haven’t had a single one unravel. They still look great!
If you want to gift them, just either stack or roll them nicely, and tie them with a pretty ribbon. You could even throw in a bottle of my favorite wipe solution and cloth-diaper friendly rash stick for a really easy, thoughtful, and affordable gift.
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thank you so much for the tutorial! i can’t wait to hear about your love of freetimes… we’ll be first time parents (baby due jan 7th) and those are what i registered for, but the more forums i read, the more stressed i get, lol.
LOVE our Freetimes. No leaks. We’ve never had a “poop explosion” I hear people talking about. They wash up easily, and they are super easy to use (just as easy as disposables, in my opinion). Plus, they are adorable!
Thanks for sharing this. Cloth diapers are awesome! We’ve been using them for over 6 years- at times with two children in them at the same time. We’ve gone through many different types (I’ve reviewed everyone we’ve tried on my blog) and found our favourites a few years ago. We’ve never done the cloth wipes though…. like you said it seems to be a mental block.
Wow! Such a great idea. I made burp cloths & bibs for my last child (#4)out of cloths diapers. I think I will be making these for my first grandbaby due in March. thank you!! :)
oooh can’t wait to hear about the Freetimes. I’m planning on cloth diapering and want the easiest one for my husband to use when baby comes in March. :) Quick question on the wipes. Where can I find adorable flannel like that? I went to Joann’s Fabric’s in my neck of the woods and asked for the flannel and was pointed to a small selection of Paul Bunyan/Al Borlin shirt patterned fabric. That was it. Is flannel hard to fine, or should I be calling it by a different fabric name?
This is a great tutorial! I like the idea of using flannel instead of purchasing diaper cloth material (which I’ve seen on many tutorials)
Sonia – Try asking for nursery flannel prints or solid flannel. Joann’s website also has a section called Snuggle Printed Fabrics. Many other fabric websites have flannel also. :)
I have a question- Ive done cloth wipes, going to do flannel have cotton at moment. What do u soak them in? I have old wipies plastic container and did baby shampoo warm water & coconut oil mix & after maybe 5+ days they started to smell sour & a different stink. What gives? Should I just do plain ol wTer??
A few drops of tea tree oil should solve that. :)
what solution do you use for the wipes? Do you soak in solution and store or spray as you go?
I love this! I included your tutorial in my post about how cloth wipes can save money!! http://babyoab.com/2015/10/07/saving-money-with-cloth-wipes/
You mentioned having them dispense one at a time, how do you do that?
I’m also curious about this. We have a wpe warmer too but wipes only “dispense” if they’re the refill kind.
Yes, I thought I remembered a tutorial of how they “dispense” – we have our wipes but now need a system for getting them out in those crucial seconds with the diaper off!
Yeah can you post how you fill a dispenser with these to single pull them?
Here’s a video that shows the method we use: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bBpbszH7A8
This is my first time to sew with the overcast foot! Do you have any tips? My thread keeps bunching up every time I try to sew the corners!
I don’t have a serger and my machine doesn’t do zig-zag so I guess I will have to make them tw0-ply, sew them together, then turn them right-side out. Saw another pattern for fleece and terry but that seemed to be way too thick. Two pieces of flannel should do it. Thanks for the inspiration!
Just made my first set of cloth wipes with my MIL help and her serger! Thanks for all the advice! My next question is, what kind of solution do you put them in and how do you travel with them?
What a fun project! I really wanted to upcycle fabric so I used a pair of adult large pajamas to make mine! I got 16 wipes out of one pair of pjs. .
I really want to use flannel! Or perhaps cotton? However, I do not have access to a sewing machine (nor do I remember how to use one, lol!). Is there a way I can use these fabrics without sewing? Is there another fabric that may work? I don’t really want to use fleece.
I’m sure you could hand stitch them if you wanted!
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