How to Sew Double-sided Cloth Wipes From “Upcycled” Materials

During the nesting phase of my pregnancy, I went bonkers sewing cloth wipes to go along with the cloth diapers we were planning to use. A visit to the local thrift store provided me with plenty of material to work with for under $3. I purchased gently used receiving blankets and baby bath towels to cut into squares to sew into the wipes. You may already have excess flannel blankets (or even a flannel sheet) and some baby towels handy to use. Another material that works well is soft, old t-shirts. When considering whether a material would be good for a wipe, imagine whether or not you’d like to have your private parts rubbed clean with them on a daily basis. If you think not, pass that item up and choose something softer.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Material that can be re-purposed into a soft wipe. This can be a receiving blanket, flannel pajama pants, a flannel sheet, or an old t-shirt. The sky’s the limit. (Generally one receiving blanket will yield about 4 double sided wipes.)
  • A rotary cutter and a good pair of sharp scissors
  • A self healing cutting board to use with your rotary cutter
  • A clear ruler to use with your rotary cutter
  • Thread to match or complement the colors in your wipes
  • Pins
  • A sewing machine

Some additional notes:

  • Pre-wash and dry any materials that you plan to use so that they get their shrinking out of the way.
  • If you use terry cloth, place it on the bottom when sewing. I found that if I had it on the top, it stretched and folded.

 

Here’s the instructions:

  1. Fold the receiving blanket in half length-wise across your self healing cutting board. 
  2. Measure 8 inches across and use your rotary cutter to slice upwards. Continue measuring and cutting every 8 inches across. (You can save the odd shaped scraps to sew into cloth diaper liners.)
  3. Open up each strip that you cut and lay it length-wise across the cutting mat. Measure 8 inches across and use your rotary cutter to slice 8 in squares. Repeat for the remaining strips. You will now have your 8 inch squares to sew together!
  4. For the purpose of this demonstration, I have also cut a baby towel into 8 inch squares so that one side of my cloth wipe is flannel and the other is terry cloth.
  5. Place the pieces with the print side/ terry cloth side together and pin around the edges leaving a 4 inch gap between pins on one of the sides. You will not sew between these pins.

    Place the pieces with print/terry cloth on the inside.

    Note the gap between the pins on the left side of the wipe. I will not sew between those pins.

  6. Starting with the top pin on the left (the top one that marks the gap where you don’t sew) back-stitch a few stitches and then sew a straight stitch along the edge of the wipe leaving a 1/4 inch seam. Don’t forget to remove your pins as you sew or they may ruin your machine’s needle. When you reach a corner, make sure that your needle is in the down position before you lift the foot and turn the piece. Once the piece has been turned, lower the foot and continue with your straight stitch all the way around the wipe until you meet the bottom pin that marks where you stop sewing. Back-stitch to reinforce your stitches and then cut your thread.

    Begin by back-stitching and the sewing a straight stitch from the pin that marks the top of where you will not sew.

    Sew until you meet the pin that marks where to stop. Back-stitch and then cut your thread.

    This is what your piece should look like. You will have a seam all the way around the wipe except for the open spot on one side.

  7. Before you turn your piece right-side out, you will need to trim the corners so that they lay nice and flat. Take your scissors and make a diagonal cut near each corner. Be sure that you don’t cut through the stitches!

    Your trimmed corners should look like this.

  8. Now you are ready to turn the piece right-side out. Starting with one of the nearest corners, put your finger inside of the wipe and guide the corner out. Continue with every corner until the piece is turned right-side out where the print is facing you.

    Use your fingers to pull each corner out.

    The piece will look like this after is has been turned right-side out.

  9. Fold the open piece under to make a smooth edge and pin. 
  10. Starting in the corner closest to the pinned area, back-stitch and then sew a straight stitch seam across the edge of the wipe. I usually sew this seam very close to the edge to ensure that the opening has been sewn together. Continue with the straight stitch around the edge of the wipe to create a nice, finished edge. Be sure to back-stitch at the end of the seam to reinforce it. 

Trim up any excess strings and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. The double-sided wipe is complete!

This double-sided wipe has one side of flannel and another of terry cloth.

Hooray! Your wipe is finished!

Some additional notes:

  • Pre-wash and dry any materials that you plan to use so that they get their shrinking out of the way.
  • If you use terry cloth, place it on the bottom when sewing. I found that if I had it on the top, it stretched and folded.
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Posted in Cloth Diapering, Crafts, Frugal Living, Sewing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Just Another Normal Night

Wrapped up in a feather comforter and snuggled up with the cat and husband (in that order), I sweetly pass from dream to dream in content bliss. But something in me stirs and my maternal instincts reach out from my slumber to realize, Oh SHIT! WHERE’S THE BABY?!

In a frantic daze I throw off the cat and the covers and rifle through the sheets. She’s not there. I crawl on the floor and worm underneath the bed only to find a couple of bewildered dogs. She’s not there. I break out into a cold sweat and feel a wail rising in my chest. OH GOD, WHERE’S MY BABY?

By this time my clawing and whimpering have awakened my husband who grabs me by the shoulders, gives me a loving shake and reminds me that our sweet little Birdie is asleep in her crib in the other room where we put her to bed each and every night. But in my sleepy haze I don’t believe him. “No!” I cry. “I can’t find her! She’s not here in the bed.” By this time tears are beginning to roll steadily down my face in warm, fat drops. In order to make me understand, The Cubs Fan has to hand me the video baby monitor so that I can see for myself that she’s safely sleeping in her crib in the nursery. And it is about this time that I become fully aware of the situation and slip out of my dream state back into reality.

Ah yes, just another night in the crunchy household.

You see, I’ve always been a sleepwalker. My mom told me that she would find me asleep in the oddest places when I was a kid, like the hallway or living room floor. When I was in junior high I would crawl around the house on hands and knees searching for my retainers which were always in my mouth. In high school I drove (yes, drove) across town in the wee hours of the morning to pick somebody up for swim practice only to wake up in my car and realize what time it really was. (I then had to drive home and explain to my father why I was out driving at 3am. Fortunately the fact that I was wearing my swim suit and crying hysterically helped convince him that I wasn’t lying about the sleep driving. Needless to say my keys were confiscated every evening before bed.) And in college, well, my freakish sleep behavior became a staple of late-night comedy for my fellow co-ed dormers who enjoyed watching me chase invisible dogs up and down the hallway in my pajamas.

Before Birdie arrived, I could deal with the sleepwalking as it was more of a nuisance than anything else. But now, the almost nightly nightmare of the missing baby has me on edge. I can’t emotionally handle night after night of searching for Birdie, especially on the nights when The Cubs Fan is sleeping at the fire station. Since he works 48 hour shifts, I spent many of my nights alone, meaning a longer time between the awful search and the moment of realization that she’s in her crib. But what do I do about this?

Here’s the kicker. I don’t sleepwalk when we co-sleep.

This seems like a no-brainer right? Why would I dream of a missing baby when she’s actually in the bed and not missing? But I think that the reason for a peaceful night’s sleep when co-sleeping goes deeper than that. I’m a mammal, and mammals nurse their babies and, if you humor me here, co-sleep. It’s natural and normal to do so in the animal kingdom.

We don’t question a mama cat who nurses and sleeps with her kittens. Or a gorilla who cuddles her baby in her arms.

It’s just maternal instinct to want to have your baby sleep close enough to breastfeed and protect from predators throughout the night. And so, I have come to the conclusion that my inner mammalian mothering instinct has decided to revolt against my decision not to co-sleep by invading my subconscious dream-state and forcing me to look for the baby.

After almost 4 months of picking up the physical and emotional wreckage of my nightly search, I’m ready to listen. It’s time to give co-sleeping another chance.

Now to just get The Cubs Fan on board…

Posted in Breastfeeding, Co-sleeping, Sleepwalking | 4 Comments

How to Sew a Fitted Pocket T-Shirt Diaper

In our humble home, t-shirts are stockpiled from years of fraternity parties, sports teams and military functions. The majority of these shirts were worn for the party, game or event and then shoved into the nether regions of the dresser not to be seen or thought of again until the drawer is stuffed so full that it won’t close. Thankfully, there’s a use for these t-shirts that will save cloth diapering families a bundle of money as long as they have a sewing machine handy. (Scratch that. Even families without a sewing machine can put old t-shirts to use. They just need to watch this video to see how.)

You can make a cute cloth diaper out of a t-shirt!

Here are the instructions on how to sew a t-shirt into a pocket style cloth diaper. Before I started, I watched this video on how to cut and sew the diaper. I’m a visual learner, so this helped greatly. After attempting my own diapers based on the video’s instructions, I made a few tweaks of my own to fit my own personal (and aesthetic) needs.

Here’s what you’ll need in order to sew your own cloth diaper out of a t-shirt:

  • A t-shirt (size large or greater)
  • A spool of thread in a matching color (or not if you don’t really care)
  • Pins
  • Size 3/8″ elastic (you’ll need about 22 in for one diaper)
  • A cut out of the diaper pattern (choose 0-6mo or 6-18mo)
  • A sewing machine
  • A couple of safety pins
  • Scissors

And now, the instructions:

  1. Wash and dry the t-shirt, especially if you purchased it from a thrift store. Iron it nice and flat, then fold it length wise and iron along the seam to ensure that there aren’t any ripples in the fabric. Place your ironed shirt onto the table or workspace. 
  2. Place your pattern along the seam of your t-shirt ensuring that the design on the shirt (if there is one that you like) will be covered by the largest part of the pattern. This will ensure that the design is on the rear of the diaper.

    Place diaper pattern over the t-shirt with the length of the pattern running along the seam.

  3. Pin the pattern into place and then use your scissors to cut the material around the pattern.
  4. Remove the pattern from the material, open up the pieces, and turn them so that the design doesn’t show. Match up the two pieces and pin them together leaving an 8 inch opening along the top of the diaper (the longest edge). By putting the design on the inside so you can’t see it, you will ensure that it will show when you turn the material right-side out after sewing.

    Open up and separate the two pieces.

    Match the two pieces together with the design on the inside and pin along the edge.

  5. Sew a straight stitch along the seam of your diaper, removing pins as you come to them. I like to leave a 1/4 inch seam. Remember to back-stitch at the beginning and end of your piece. Do not sew across the top of the diaper if you want it to be a pocket diaper!

    Sew along the edge of the diaper leaving a 1/4 inch seam.

  6. Your diaper should now be sewn together with the top left open. If you don’t want your diaper to be stuffable, you can stitch across the top and close it off. If you do want it to be stuffable, you will need to leave it open. I like my seams to be nice and finished, so this is where my instructions vary from those in the video. Look inside of the diaper and note which piece has the design. You will attach a piece of elastic to this piece of fabric. Fold down that piece of material about 1/2 inch and pin. Be sure that you are folding and pinning to the wrong side of the material rather than on the side with your design. Pin the other side of the diaper down so that it doesn’t get sewn to your elastic piece.

    Find the piece of fabric with the design and fold down the edge on the side without the design.

    Pin down the edge to create a tube through which the elastic will be drawn.

  7. Sew along the edge of the length of the piece creating a tube through which the elastic can be pulled. Be sure not to close off the ends of the tube. If you do this, you can’t slip the elastic through.
  8. Now take the other piece of fabric and pin down about 1/2 inch on that side (don’t pin towards the inside of the diaper because you don’t want the hem to show). Pin the other piece of fabric (the one with the design that you will slip the elastic through) down and away from the piece you are about to sew. You don’t want it to accidentally be sewn to your current piece. Now sew along the seam that you pinned to create a nice, finished edge. Remember to back-stitch at the beginning and end of each sewn seam.

    Fold and pin down the edge of the material without the design. Then sew across to create a nice hem.

  9. Now that each piece of material at the top of the diaper has a finished edge, you can sew the two pieces together about two inches in length from the outside in. Match the edges of the top of your diaper and pin them together. Place a pin at about 2 inches in from the outer edges of the diaper (the part that will function as the tabs).

    Match the edges and pin them together with the last pin being about 2 inches away from the end of the diaper.

  10. Sew from the end of the tab towards the last pin. Be sure to back-stitch when you reach that pin. Cut the thread and repeat from the other side. After this has been completed, you will still have an opening at the top of the diaper, but it will have finished edges.
  11. Now you need to sew the elastic into the leg gussets. The elastic will help keep blow-outs from happening. You will sew the elastic on the piece of fabric that does not have the design. Be sure that you are sewing the elastic on this piece of material or the elastic will not fit correctly. Cut two 7 inch pieces of elastic. Using your sewing machine’s back-stitch function, tack one end of elastic at the top of the leg on one side of the diaper. You can accomplish this by sewing back and forth with your back-stitch function.

    Tack the first edge of the elastic to the top of the leg seam.

    In order to sew the elastic for the leg gusset, you will need to stretch it out as far as it will go as you sew. Use one hand to stretch the fabric/elastic that has already been stitched, and the other hand to stretch the elastic that you are currently sewing and to guide the fabric. If you are unsure how to proceed, watch the video again for a visual aid.

    Stretch the elastic and sew along the seam of the leg.

    When you reach the other end of the leg gussett, use the back-stitch function on your sewing machine to tack it into place. Repeat on the other leg.

    Use the back-stitch function to tack the end of the elastic. Cut off the excess.

  12. Cut a 7.5 inch piece of elastic to thread through the tube at the top of the diaper. This will ensure a tight fit at the back of the diaper. Pin a safety pin to one end of your elastic. Using the safety pin as your guide, thread the elastic through the tube, making sure that the unpinned end of the elastic doesn’t go into the tube. If you want, you can use the second safety pin to pin that end outside of the tube. 

    The elastic should be visible on both sides of the tube.

  13. Once the elastic is threaded through the tube, use your machine’s back-stitch function to tack the elastic to the diaper. (Be sure you aren’t sewing the elastic to the other piece of fabric). Cut the thread and use the machine’s back-stitch function to tack the remaining end of the elastic to the back of the diaper. I choose to tack the elastic at the openings of the tube. If you want more stretch, you can tack it closer to the tabs of the diaper. Cut off the excess elastic.

    Tack the elastic at each end of the tube.

  14. Use your scissors to cut away any loose threads. Then reach inside of the diaper and pull it right-side out. Once each corner has been pulled out, you will see your finished product!

    The pocket side of the finished diaper. This side touches baby's skin.

    The butt-side of the finished diaper.

  15. You can create your own diaper inserts to stuff into the pocket diaper by cutting the remaining t-shirt fabric into a rectangle that will fit into the diaper and sewing the pieces together. You can also sew bits of flannel or old towels together to create a thicker insert to use as an over night soaker. I chose to sew along the edges of the rectangle leaving a 1/4 inch seam. This ensured that every piece was sewn together.

    Cut the remaining t-shirt material into a rectangle. Then sew the pieces together to create an insert.

  16. Your diaper is ready to be stuffed and worn! Remember that it isn’t waterproof, so it needs a cover to keep your baby’s clothes (and your lap) dry. Enjoy!

    Use a snappi or diaper-safe pins to put the diaper on the baby.

    The fitted leg gussets keep messes in the diaper.

    Birdie models the finished product before a cover is put over it.

Posted in Cloth Diapering, Crafts, Frugal Living, Sewing | 2 Comments

The Jealous Cat (Or The Reason Why We Don’t Co-sleep)

When friends come over and meet our family for the first time, I like to joke that Elijah came before The Cubs Fan and is, therefore, my number one man. While this tends to get a chuckle or two (perhaps out of pity for The Cubs Fan), there is some truth to the matter. Eli sleeps curled up in the crook of my neck with his cheek pressed to mine or with his neck draped over my eyes to block out the light.

At least one of us is comfortable

On the nights that The Cubs Fan is home, Eli squeezes himself in between our bodies to ensure that he gets the most contact with me and that hubby dearest gets the least. Has this caused marital squabbles? Honestly, yes. But that’s not what this post is about. Tonight I’m writing about a jealous cat. But jealous of whom?

Taking a cat nap during my pregnancy

Taking a cat nap during my pregnancy

When we brought Birdie into the picture everything changed. Eli was bumped out of the number one slot and replaced by a wailing, stinky lump of human who constantly needed to be fed and held. What better way to accomplish both of those things than to co-sleep? Birdie could snuggle right up to me and eat to her heart’s (stomach’s) content while I snoozed. This idea was short lived though out of my fear of smothering her with my giant breasts, so she was moved 2 feet away into an arms reach mini co-sleeper next to my side of the bed. The set up was great. I could easily pick Birdie up and feed/comfort her when she stirred and then lay her back down without leaving the bedroom. Eli, however, had other plans.

Eli begins "mission baby domination" by taking over the co-sleeper

I would wake up to find Eli curled up with Birdie in the co-sleeper, or he would insist on laying on top of her during her feedings. One afternoon I left the room where the baby was sleeping to go to the restroom, and when I came back I found that Eli had decided to curl up on top of her. It was about this time that I began to have nightmares about the cat smothering the baby. Not ready to move Birdie out of our room, I started to research ways to keep a cat out of the crib.

Playing "King of the Boppy"

Various companies make nets that fit over the crib to keep cats out, but the mini co-sleeper has strange dimensions that didn’t fit any of the standard nets. I did find that the arms reach company made a netted canopy to fit over the co-sleeper, but it cost approximately the same amount as a baby monitor. Desperate to keep her in the room with me, I shut Eli out and endured two nights of the constant scratching and yowling of a cat scorned.  We tossed him outside only to hear the awful nails-on-chalkboard sound of his claws screeching down the sliding glass door that leads from our bedroom to the backyard. Clearly, this wasn’t going to work. After a week’s worth of deliberation and fretful sleep, we decided to purchase a baby monitor and put Birdie in her crib where she would be safe from our furry feline. She took the transition to her crib surprisingly well, which is something that I cannot say for myself. I missed having her in the bed and in the room with me. There’s a space that the cat just can’t fill. But safety comes first in all things baby related, so Birdie only co-sleeps with me in the morning when Eli is roaming outside.

Bed time nursing session

Bed time nursing session

Being the jealous cat the he is, Eli still continues to snuggle up close and try to squeeze in between Birdie and me during our feedings. He’s come to learn, however, that his time at the top is over and that everything revolves around my baby bird. And if he doesn’t like it, he can just take a trip outside.

Kept warm by the kitty comforter

Posted in Breastfeeding, Co-sleeping | 1 Comment

Sunny with a Chance of Golden Showers

Yes, you heard correctly. Golden showers. Being the new mommy of a little girl I didn’t think that I would need to prepare myself for such a nasty weather anomaly, but to my dismay and horrified confusion the front of my shirt became a casualty of a walk-by peeing. For some reason, Birdie has taken a shining to making sure that everything comes out before that new diaper gets snapped on, which has been quite detrimental to the front of my shirt, the wall, the carpet, the changing pad and the outfit she is wearing at the time. You think that after 4 golden showers in 2 days, I would smarten up and start putting something over her to block the mess, but I’m so ingrained in my diaper routine (take off cloth diaper, put in pail, grab cloth wipe – use – put in pail, grab new cloth diaper and put on baby with cover) that I end up on my dripping hands and knees using the carpet cleaning machine to clean up the mess. And you should see her face. She’s so damn proud of herself that she’s all smiles and giggles as I grumble and scrub.

Now there are items on the market to combat little boy golden showers

Whizz Kid Pee Blocker

Pee Pee Teepee

But where is the product for the squirt-happy female? When this question was posed to The Cubs Fan, he happily invented a similar product for females named “The Happy Clamshell.” Oh jeez.

For the time being, a well placed cloth wipe and a mom dressed in a raincoat and wellies will have to do.

Posted in Cloth Diapering | 2 Comments

The Joy of a Perfectly Timed Shower

When I was told that showers would become a luxury after Birdie was born, I nodded politely but scoffed in disdain inside of my head. Of course there would be time to shower! A baby has to sleep some time right? Well, I was quick to learn that yes indeed babies do sleep, but so do mommies. And if a mommy is smart, she sleeps when the baby sleeps. And so, the term “crunchy mama” had taken on a different meaning altogether when applied to the state of my unwashed hair. Day after day I have been donning my favorite ball cap to hide the state of affairs on the top of my head.

You see, I haven’t been able to figure out when to shower peacefully with a happy, content (and hopefully sleeping) baby. Waiting until Birdie is out for the night is out of the question considering that I can barely keep my eyes open past her midnight sack-out, let alone shower and dry this head of curls. Showering during the day proves to be difficult as she doesn’t nap for long and screams her head off if left alone in the crib for too long. I can’t wash my hair when I take our daily bath together because she’s too little to be left alone sitting in the tub while I stand to shampoo and condition the curly locks. She’s perfectly content to play on her mat for half an hour, but I’m paranoid about leaving the dogs to babysit her while I’m scrub-a-dubbing away. And those same dogs can’t be left outside for too long lest they bark and howl until the neighborhood comes pounding on the door for me to let them back in. (This has never happened, but I would hate to impede on our neighbors’ sleep schedule since they work nights).

And so, it seemed that I was destined to be a crunchy mama from head to toe until a slight change of plans this morning forced me to shower at 7am after Birdie’s breakfast. I have no problem in admitting that one of my favorite things about the morning feeding is that we can go directly back to sleep snuggled up close in my bed while she eats. Although I have found that she likes to play after that first morning feeding, I have selfishly been snuggling us back into dreamland to catch a few more minutes of shut eye before we get up for the day. But, because of today’s altered schedule, we fed and I showered while she played on the bathroom floor; perfectly content to lay in the steamy bathroom and have a chat with Eli (who was drinking from the sink faucet) while I scrubbed a week’s worth of crunch from my hair.  After a few rounds of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” belted in my best bathroom voice and a game or two of peek-a-boo from behind the shower door (both for my benefit rather than hers), I was scrubbed clean and feeling full of energy to tackle the day. Even drying my hair was painless as I just propped her up in her bumbo chair and let the diffuser do its magic on my curls with a quick burst of air in Birdie’s direction every now and then. All in all, it took about 45 minutes from start to finish giving me just enough time to get dressed and settle back down in the chair for another feeding (a growing baby’s got to eat).

But the discovery of the perfectly timed shower breeds a new delemma.

Do I sleep in this morning? Or do I shower?

I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments