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How to Make Cloth Diaper Covers from Recycled Wool Sweaters

written by: Lindsay Evans•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 3/22/2011

Many families who cloth diaper their children use all-natural wool diaper covers. High-quality wool covers are expensive to buy, but you can make your own wool diaper covers, wraps, shorties, and longies from recycled wool sweaters - here's how!

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    Choosing and Prepping Sweaters

    Head to your local thrift store, or even your closet, to acquire several wool sweaters for making your own wool cloth diaper covers. Choose sweaters that are 100% wool (or very nearly so), free of small holes, and soft (not itchy) to the touch. One wool sweater will generally make one pair of wool longies or shorties, plus one to two pull-up style diaper covers.

    Next, wash the sweaters in the washing machine in hot water to felt the wool. You want the wool to be thick and shrunken so it will contain moisture. Use a small amount of a gentle, unscented detergent. Dry the sweaters on high in your dryer. You may want to repeat this process until the wool is properly felted.

    Once you have a shrunken, felted, soft-feeling sweater, you are ready to do some basic sewing to turn your sweaters into diaper covers. Wool makes a great diaper cover because it is inherently anti-bacterial, breathable, and highly water resistant. The natural lanolin found in wool fibers acts as a water repellent. Periodically, you will need to re-lanolize your wool covers to keep them effective at retaining moisture. Follow this tutorial on how to lanolize wool covers.

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    How to Make a Recycled Wool Diaper Cover

    Once you see this amazing, ingenious pattern you won't believe how easy it is to make a wool diaper cover. Often called a "baby bum sweater," the pattern calls for you to cut out a large triangle from an old wool sweater. The points of the triangle come together to form the cover. The waistband is self-forming from the ribbed bottom of the sweater. Add some ribbing around the leg openings and you're done! Depending on the size of cover you make, you can sew one or two covers from one sweater.

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    How to Make Recycled Wool Longies or Shorties

    DSCF1672 Wool longies are woolen pants that act as a diaper cover and pants all in one. When used over a secured prefold or fitted cloth diaper, wool longies can be a great solution to keeping children dry during naps or overnight.

    Wool longies are very easy to make from an old sweater. Basically, the arms of the sweater become the legs of the longies. First, you cut off the arms of the sweater at the armpit. Cut down each seam of the arms to where you want the crotch of the pants to be. Sew the two pieces together to form pants. You can make a waistband for the pants by adding some elastic to the waist, or by using the ribbed bottom found on most sweaters. For a step-by-step tutorial on how to make longies, see here.

    For shorties, which can come in handy in warm climates or during the summer, the process is identical to longies. Just cut off and hem the legs to your desired length. You can also use the ribbed hem, wristbands, or neckline of the sweater to make leg cuffs.

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    How to Make a Recycled Wool Diaper Wrap

    If you prefer to use wrap-style diaper covers, follow the free pattern found here. Wool wraps are convenient to get on and off your baby, making changing time easier.

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    recycled wool longies photo: author's own

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