Monday, May 28, 2012

Turn a Babies R Us Prefold Diaper into a Fitted Diaper - Easy!

I've only had my machine for two weeks and I could do it - It's easy!! :-)  I got the idea from Arfy on her blog and changed it  a bit to make it just how I wanted.  Thank you, Arfy!!

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!

Here is a picture of several of my prefold to fitted diapers.  The ones on the left are all different because I was experimenting.  The black ones are from a tee shirt.  The blue plaid has rounded wings (I don't like them as much because they don't stretch in flannel).  After the train diaper I made here following these steps, I realized it was my favorite.  I made the other five assembly line fashion in 2 1/2 hours.  I timed from my first cut to the final cleanup.  That's 30 minutes per diaper... I'm pleased.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Project Simplify Week 4: The Final (Not Really) Push

What a month!  I've gone from, "Wow, this should be fun," to "OMG, are we going to be on 'Hoarders'?"

Now that weeks 1-3 have come and gone, my house has some spots that are truly working well:

  • Kitchen: The papers cluttering the counters and refrigerator were out of control and we had no real system for keeping them managed.  After adopting a filing system that included a calendar, my family is now more organized than ever!  We know the day of the week, what is due (and the cost), as well as where the kids need to be and what's for dinner!  Whew! :-)  That alone makes me happy.

  • Kids' Things: Not really done, but much more manageable, the "toy room" was a mess and the boys didn't like to play there. What does that mean?  All the toys came out into the living room!  This wasn't pleasant.  So, we put away the toys we wanted to play with, stored some we wanted to keep, and donated [very] few that were not loved.  We also got the labeled tubs back on their shelves and my oldest son's artwork up on the walls for his little brother to admire, which he does all day long with "My brother made me this!" :-)  I also got binders to house their artwork and writing samples so that there was a real place to put the things that would never make it onto a scrapbook page but needed to be kept.  This week's project makes them smile because they can play in the playroom and admire their work in the binders.

  • Closet, Cabinet, and Drawers: This week's project took a lot of effort on my part only really.  It was all my stuff!  I like to think that my family makes the messes, but I too had way too much stuff.  I culled my clothing by 4 big bags, emptied some drawers to make room for baby, and down-sized my scrapbooking items to almost half (and organized it in a way that got it out of the over-crowded, catch-all office that should be a baby's nursery in a few months and into the room where I actually do my scrapbooking!) What a great idea.  This not only benefits my family, but also my good friend's Girl Scout troop that loves to do craft projects.  It's a win-win.

Week 4 was supposed to be about the garage.  I planned on spending the whole week hanging shelves and cleaning out tons of stuff we don't really want.  Instead I think I'll spend the time working in the office, turning it into the baby's new room.

I get so excited thinking about this little boy and I want him to actually have a room of his own.  The older boys love sharing a room now, so we are going to wait until this guy is old enough for a twin bed before changing the rooms around.  Ry will be in third grade in two more years, and O will be starting kindergarten the same year, so that may be the time... or we may wait until Ry is in forth grade.  Either way, a baby's schedule would not be nice to the older boys' sleeping and eventually our oldest should have his own room... When the time comes, we will shuffle again, but for now I want to make the office more comfortable for us to spend time with the littlest.  I am so looking forward to this week! :-)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rainy Day - Please, go outside for a while!

So in this seemingly never-ending pursuit to clean up the house, I've discovered a couple little things that seem to impeded my progress...  They are super cute and give great hugs, so I don't want to get rid of them, but today they just had to go outside.  Rain or not, please go outside for a while...

Since we'd spent the morning cleaning out the playroom, they both deserved some down time from cleaning.  Nap time had come and gone hours ago (without a nap) and neither of them were hungry, so I sent them outside.  AS soon as they went out though, the long-awaited rainstorm came!  This means only one thing: chalk time! :-)

O went first, as he usually does, and Ry came out a few minutes later.  They play so nicely together.  Their only concern was the giant fluff-ball who kept erasing their drawings with his wagging tail!
Ry and his rocket ship.

O and his pile... why must you pull them all out at once?

O's "jelly sandwich."

Project Simplify Week 2: Kids' Things (Part 3)

It's going to take me several more days (or another week) to finish, but it will get done.  Eventually I hope to get Ry's computer in there for him so the baby will have his own room in what is now the over-crowded office.  I'm getting excited about nesting!!! :-D

Here are the pictures from today:

Notice the corner shelf is gone?  It's in the driveway trying to attract a buyer, and there is so much more room in here. Both boys came into help clean up, and we actually got some things into the "give away" box!  Amazing...

Here are the BEFORE pictures:

Project Simplify Week 3: Closets, Drawers, and Cabinets... Oh My!


So this week has been a looong week for Project Simplify.  Early in the week I started weeding through my clothing and the boys' old clothes to find items for donation.  My goal was 6 bags (including household items) and I am almost there!  I have four bags of just my clothes for donation, but I forgot to get them outside for the free pick-up so now I have to take them to the Salvation Army truck down at Wal-mart.  No problem.  Here is an "after" picture of my closet:
I have all my hanging clothes that I really love, a stack of jeans, a stack of long-sleeve layering tees, and a stack of PJs above that.  On the tp shelf, I have my lesser worn, seasonal clothes (bathing suits, winter gloves, etc.) separated into baskets, and my heating pad... Hey, they come in handy! :-)  To the right of the pants hanger begins my husband's clothes, so I think I did a good job of fitting my wardrobe to the space available.

Here was the "Before" picture:
It was almost empty because I couldn't open the door! :-(

Drawers to Cabinets:

I decided that for drawers I would go through my scrapbooking things to pare down what I had.  My markers, stickers, punches, etc. were in the yellow drawers from the office. (Pictured in my BEFORE pictures)  While I was sitting there looking at it all, I eyed my nemesis "The Paper Bin."  This is a 68 quart plastic tub filled to overflowing with my 12x12 scrapbook paper.  To say the least, it's overwhelming... actually, I should say it WAS overwhelming.  I downsized! :-)  

I know some scrapbook-making friends would say I am crazy for getting rid of so much, but I just lost all desire to make pages when I faced the daunting task of choosing papers from a 3-foot bin.  I went through and ruthlessly pulled all the prints and colors that I knew I wouldn't use.  I went through the big stacks that come bound and pulled out only the papers I really wanted and threw the rest in a stack.  My god friend is a Girl Scout leader, so she has inherited the entire stack, all 7+ inches!  I also added the stickers, stamps, and punches that I no longer used.  It's such a huge stack, I know her girls are going to love it!  

Now that my scrapbooking stash is much smaller, I was able to relocate it to the living room where I actually end up doing my crafts.  I was able to box everything neatly and even had room for my little printer! Those empty cabinets in the living room sure came in handy!  Here is the "after" picture of my scrapbooking stuff:
Ribbons, thread, and embellishments are on the top with the drawers with my remaining markers, adhesives, and colors.  The second shelf down has my craft sewing machine, stamps and chalks, and inspiration notebook along with the picture album from my childhood that I have been converting to a scrapbook for my brother and me.  The bottom shelf holds all my remaining paper.  This cabinet is only 11 inches deep, so you can imagine how much paper those Girl Scouts will have.  The plastic folio in the middle holds all of my remaining stickers, sorted be theme, and those cute quote books.  Now when I want to make a page or two for the boys, I just have this cabinet to look through and not a huge tub plus drawers.  *sigh of relief*

Now I need to get back to the playroom to finish what I started weeks ago...  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Project Simplify Week 3: Closets!!

Well, actually the week's theme is closets, drawers, and counter tops, but I think I have already mastered the counter tops in our home.  We only have them in the kitchens and tiny bathrooms.  I used the kids' stuff week to contain the kitchen clutter already.

By the time I get back into my pre-pregnancy clothes, I'll probably be ready for new ones, so my clothes should be easy to purge.  I read somewhere that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time... or was that brain power? :-)  I'm positive that I don't wear most of the clothes I have.  I can name at least 15 pieces I don't like off the top of my head.  Don't get me wrong, I don't have a ton of clothing or buy stuff on impulse.  Actually the opposite is true.  I hate clothes shopping, so when I find something I like I buy every color/print it comes in so that I can stop looking!  This means that I have several items that wear at the same time or stretch/fade/go south all at the same time.  I can just round up each version of the item and toss them all.  That way I don't have to try them on either!

My husband on the other hand has a TON of shoes!  I think he holds on to old shoes as "yard shoes" so that he doesn't have to part with them.  I find them in the garage, hallway closet, bedroom...  They are usually all the same too!  he will return to the same store every year or two to get the same pair of shoes!  We are going to get rid of some of the old ones this week.

We are pretty good about getting rid of the clothes that the boys stain or grow out of, but now that we know the baby will be a boy I'm trying to hold on to some of O's hand-me-downs.  He is pretty rough on clothes though and he is the second in line for most of them.  We've been getting big guy clothes from a coworker lately now too, since Ry is going to be 7.  This just enables me to avoid clothes shopping further! :-)  I love it!!  However, I'm sure there are clothes in the boys' room that shouldn't be saved because we just don't like them.  My boys don't like skulls or dark colors much, so we can donate them.  I know we have several pair of little boy shoes that can go now too since the 3-year-old wears SIZE 11 and the almost-seven's kindergarten clothes from last year.  At some point he just started wearing his older brother's clothes and shoes and now we have sizes 9 and 10 in shoes and 2T, 3T, 4T that no longer fit him.

We have a neighborhood pickup on Saturday for the local cancer research center, so this is a great week to get a move on and purge our closets.  My goal is at least 6 bags to donate!



Sunday, March 18, 2012

Project Simplify Week 2: Kids' Things (Part 2)

This is a continuation of my Project Simplify Week 1: Kids' Things from a week ago.

So this weekend we finally got into the playroom (AKA Toy Room) to clean up a bit and purge some unloved toys.  Turns out "we love them all" was a little too hard for me to argue with so not much actually left the room. I think it will take someone hard-hearted to come in and help me finish the job... or maybe it will just stay jammed packed.  I really appreciate the advice in Organized Living: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living when it comes to the idea that if we purge what we just don't love, then we will be left with the things we truly do love.  I know my kids don't really love every toy.  (Just like I know my husband doesn't love each and every one of his newspapers.) I just don't know what my next step will be... okay, I do know, It's to finish the book and read about the actual process of decluttering since I'm still reading about the theory! :-)

Anyway, I thought I'd post some "After" pictures from our clean-up this weekend.  The new artwork came from my oldest son's kindergarten portfolio that he insists the youngest needs to see.  I like that it got the wicker basket above the fridge cleaned out and the plastic storage box pared down.  I also like the colors on the walls, and I have to admit it will make throwing the paper out easier when the colors fade and O gets to kindergarten and makes his own letter art. :-)


Okay, this looks a lot better, but it still looks like a huge pile of toys that no one can reach back there in the right hand corner...  The ottomans are from the living room redo and we figured they would be good for storage, but they are empty!  They take up too much space too.  Can you say, "Yard sale"? :-)

This is my 3-year-old's favorite spot in the room.  He carefully placed his beloved monster trucks on the shelves for this clean-up, but he finds it nearly impossible not to rush over and pull them all down to play!  I tried to display them on the picture shelves on the opposite side of the room so that I could purge the corner table, but they were all too wide to fit.  I'm going to have to keep looking for a better solution.

I love the simple look of the cloth bins.  I have laminated tags on each handle so the boys know what goes in each, but they don't look at them... They remember the color! :-)  I didn't realize this until I switched a couple bins and contents a few months ago. They insisted I "fix it!"  I think we really need a book shelf in here...

Each of the bins in the closet has a picture and name attached.  I've found that the easiest way to make a kid-friendly label is to cut a portion of the box the toy came out of and use packing tape to stick it to the tub.  That way I don't have to print pictures and labels anymore! :-)