So I made the mistake of washing my BRU prefolds thinking they would fluff up in the wash. They didn't! These are the thinnest, cheapest prefolds I've ever seen! I can't take them back though because they are washed so I had to use them for something. I love the look and ease of fitted diapers but can't afford to dish out $20 a pop for some one else to make them!
After washing, the prefold is smaller than 14 x 20 but it's difficult to measure because they are so thin. It really doesn't matter what the actual measurements are to me though. Here's what I did:
Step 1: Fold the diaper in half lengthwise (hotdog) and make the crotch.
You can use whatever pattern you want for the crotch. I used a diaper I had previously made. Another description I saw online somewhere suggested cutting off the "back" couple inches (left side of the picture) of the prefold to make it a better size. I actually left it intact and moved the leg openings towards the "front" of the diaper (right side of the picture) so that I could reinforce the back flaps. The red line shows how the back wing is twice the length of the front right now.
After folding in half and marking the leg openings, I stitched the edges together between the lines only. This is the black line. I have an easier time stitching two things together when I can hold them, so this worked better for me than cutting the curves and then stitching them together. Either way, this doubles the layers in the diaper's crotch and makes a "pocket" of sorts to hold my flannel layers after I turn it inside out. (See Arfy's tut for better pictures of this step.) These will not be removable layers though, so it's not truly a pocket.
Step 2: Sew "wet zone" layers in place to prevent fraying.
I like how this step makes a quilted look on the finished project. I used a zigzag stitch set at the default setting for this. I also went back up the center seam (black line) because the cheap BRU prefold has a layer of batting that bunches and I don't want it to shift too much. We'll see if it matters later...
Step 3: Fold the back wings in half and sew together to make square tabs.
Fold the surged edge of the back down so the wing is square and stitch the two layers together in a square. I zigzagged all four corners of the square, even the folded edge, because I like the look of it. It's probably not necessary but gives a finished look.
Step 4: Add back elastic (if you want it)
I put back elastic in most of the diapers I made because I like the way it pockets the poo better. I've also figured out how to add back elastic after I've finished the diaper, so I know I can always go back and do it. The picture shows one way of putting in elastic. I don't do it this way at all anymore because the elastic is exposed. This is the inside of the diaper that you can see in the picture above. See the quilting? :-) I suppose putting the elastic on the other side of the diaper would hide it, but I'm afraid with how thick the layers are that it would want to "pocket" the wrong way. Only one way to find out...
**This diaper is completely usable right now, as is, with a cover. I just thought the plain white was boring. It is Snappi-able too! Or you can skip down to the Leg Elastic step if you want.**
Step 5: Add the outside fabric (Option 1 - Full Coverage)
I felt that this diaper was just too thin to actually be useful. I decided to use a second BRU prefold (I bought and washed two dozen!) as a second layer. In the picture you can see where I pinned a second diaper to the first, lined up the edges and sewed them using a straight stitch. Because they are identical, I didn't need to worry about "right side" and "inside." You could use flannel or interlock instead too. I've since made diapers with each and liked the look of it. If you use another material, make sure you sew the print (what you really want facing out when your baby is wearing the diaper) to the nice side of the diaper. You will be turning it inside out and want the pattern "out". To keep with the "cheap and easy" factor, I used one of my husband's tee shirts too. You can see it in my final "stash" picture at the end. Whatever you use, leave an opening so you can turn the diaper inside out. This hides the icky flower flannel that I could never use with my boys anyway. After stitching
Step 5: Add outside fabric (Option 2 - Crotch only) *My Favorite*
So instead of using a large piece of fabric to cover the entire diaper, I tried adding just a strip of fabric to the crotch area. This lets me use the cute prints but also keeps the wings stretchy and Snappi-able. As you can see in the picture, I sewed the "right" side of the print to the "nice" side of the diaper, but only through the mid section. If you sew it completely, you won't be able to turn it right-side out!
Step 6: Add leg elastic
Now, this I have seen done many ways, but I like this way the best. I'm just not happy with the 3-step zigzag elastic. In fact, I just hate the look... I attach one end of the elastic to the diaper using a zigzag. I go forward and back two or three times just to make sure it holds. I then hold that end tight and stretch the other end to the next mark and pin it down with my thumb and forefinger to sew another zigzag back and forth to hold in place. That's when I cut the elastic. I found that measuring and cutting the elastic before sewing was a waste of time and never turned out evenly anyway. This way I have no waste. I think you can eye-ball the length too to make sure the two legs are close to being the same. Just make sure the elastic is attached evenly on both sides. It's important to note that the elastic goes all the way at the edge of the diaper for this. It should actually be "outside" of the straight stitch" you joined the two pieces of fabric with. I've found that as long as the elastic is as far out as possible though, it really doesn't matter if it's over the seam. Of course, I'm using them to hold my baby's poo not sell them! :-)
Step 7: Turn and Top-stitch.
Whichever outer fabric you used, it's time to turn the diaper "right" side out. If you covered the entire diaper, just close the opening that was left for you to turn it right side out. If you only covered the crotch, you will need to attach the fabric to the front and back now. I found a stitch on my sewing machine that looks like a surged edge. It's two horizontal lines with a zigzag in the middle. This is what I use to close the ends of the diaper only. It seems rough, so I don't want to use it all over. A regular straight stitch works just as well and gives the diaper a finished look. I like the look of the zigzag, so that's what I used on the train diaper. To attach the loose fabric on the crotch-only diaper, just turn the fabric in a little to make a neat crease and top-stitch over it to the diaper in four straight lines: left and right front and back. That's it! The fitted diaper is done!
Step 8: Clean-up, tuck, and stitch raw edges.
The front wings are now ready to be cleaned up. The woven fabric of the prefold just looks ugly to me. It's frayed and messy. I turn the edges in and use the zigzag to make a nicer edge. I cut any excess fray from the back wings too.
These two pictures show the double prefold diaper's inside and out. Pretty boring, but very thick!