Thursday, August 22, 2013

Up-cycled Wool Diaper Cover Tutorial

I'd like to share with you how I made this wool diaper cover from an old sweater and without using a pattern. Some things you'll need:

1. 100% wool sweater 
2. sewing machine
3. scissors or rotary cutter and board
4. ruler
5. brains
6. cute baby

First thing you want to do is take your baby's measurements at the waist, thigh and rise (from belly button down between their legs to the point opposite the belly button on their back.) I took these measurements over the cloth diaper and cover she was wearing. You definitely want to factor in the bulk that you'll be covering.

My baby is eight months old and about 20 lbs. These were her measurements:

Waist: approx. 18 inches 
Thigh: approx. 11 inches
Rise: approx 15 inches

First, find an old, 100% wool sweater. This was in my closet, but thrift stores are a great place to look. If you find a sweater that's accidentally been thrown in a washer and dryer, even better. 

Next, you need to figure out how far from the bottom of the diaper to cut. If you want the finished rise of your cover to be 18 inches, cut 9.5 inches off the bottom of the sweater. Simply divide the rise in half and add .25 to .5 inches for a seam allowance. 

You should now have a tube.

The great thing about using an old sweater is that a lot of the finishing is already done for you. See the ribbed band that was the bottom of the sweater? We're going to use this as our waist band. We're also going to take advantage of the side seams as well. 

You want to cut a piece that equals half of your baby's waist measurement. Remember that knit material is pretty stretchy, so it's okay to cut it a little less than half. 

I actually cut my piece right in half because I got two pieces each about 7 inches wide, and now I'll be able to make two covers from one sweater. 

Next I turned it right sides facing, and sewed a straight line down the cut side with a quarter-inch seam allowance.

 (Edited 3/1/15: I sewed this cover using a straight stitch, which ended up working just fine. However,   as this is a knit material, it is ideal to use the elastic stitch setting if your machine has one. A serger would be the best option, but I don't have one just yet. If you do use a straight stitch, realize that it will have no give and the stitches will be prone to tear if you try to stretch the fabric much after sewing. I was still able to use my cover just fine, but I did eventually have to repair a hole after the stitching broke in one place.)

Now it looks like a tiny skirt.

One more measurement to take: the width of baby's diapered crotch. Mine was four inches and I marked this on the bottom with chalk. You should also add seam allowance to this; I forgot, but it didn't make too much of a difference. 

Next, I used half the thigh measurement to determine the length of the leg opening. You can use a string or flexible tape measure to lay on your fabric to make sure your line is the correct length. I just freehanded it.

Fold the piece in half and trace the line with a rotary cutter.

Sew the crotch shut.

Next, cut off both sleeves at the seam. 

Trim the top.

Now, if you can, find a place on the sleeve that matches half your thigh measurement. Cut out a piece about 4 inches wide. 

Take the tube you just cut and fold it so the wrong sides are together. 

 Pin to the outside of your  leg opening and sew. 

Or you can turn the soaker inside out and pin to the inside and sew. I actually found this way to be easier.

All this cover needs is to be lanolized, and you are done! 

Some actions shots:

I love how thin and comfy the waist band is. She's wearing this over a flat diaper secured with a Snappi. 

A bit of her diaper is poking out the top of the back, but since this hardly ever gets wet, I'm not worried about it.


  1. That looks like it is so soft for her to wear and it is pretty too!

  2. Do you use wool underthings? Any problems with wicking? I want to use them for night time but would need jammies over top we live in the midwest and it gets COLD!

    1. Hi Amber - I have used wool overnight a couple of times. It was definitely damp to the touch in the morning, but her clothes weren't soaking wet or anything. I would recommend fleece jammies over the wool if possible. Hope that helps!

  3. this is adorable! thanks for sharing! :) How have they held up? do you only use a prefold underneath? I'm just getting into using wool covers and i'm so confused!!

    1. Hi Speckled Kat! They have held up well so far and I haven't even lanolized them yet. I use a flat diaper with a Snappi but you could use a prefold too. Since my baby is older I'm not worried about loose stools, but if she were 0-6 months I would probably only use wool over a fitted diaper so there would still be elastic around the legs to keep in the mess. I don't mind washing wool, but it is more time-consuming to do it by hand.

  4. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial. The way you explained it makes so much sense! This is going to be my first wool soaker so I hope it goes well. I am using a thick wool so I am going to forgo felting - we will see...