Last week in my list of ways to save money in the baby's/kids' room I mentioned using cloth diapers and even sewing your own for an even bigger savings.
I have not cloth diapered my children up until now but it's not foreign to me since I helped cloth diaper several younger siblings. I'm not sure why I didn't think of it until now for my own kids, but better late than never.
I did some research on the Internet and found the best and easiest directions on the Diaper Swappers forum. I decided I would use one for a prefold, which is a flat diaper that is already the size it needs to be, with a strip of thicker fabric going down the middle. This is what most people think of when they think of cloth diapers.
I started scrounging around the house for old flannel shirts and T-shirts, and came up with quite a few. I went to my mom's house and collected a sewing machine, some old T-shirts, lots of flannel and other cotton fabric scraps, and a few other essentials like thread and bobbins. I stopped by Goodwill and bought a flannel sheet for $3, and gathered a bag of thread and other sewing things at a yard sale.
The back of a man's large flannel shirt works great for a flat diaper, which is just a piece of flat flannel (or whatever cotton fabric is used) that you fold into the shape you need. I cut out a few flats from a couple of flannel shirts and a few out of the flannel sheet. My son really loves the feel of the flannel flats and so do I. For extra protection I lay a prefold on top of the flat and fold the flat around it.
I made some prefolds next, using old men's large T-shirts as the front and back, a strip of flannel down the middle on the outside (that helps keep the cotton jersey from stretching too much and is just cute) and some of my brothers' old folded up wife-beaters to stuff the middle section.
For someone who hasn't sewn anything other than mending the last 20 years or so, the diapers turned out great! They work really well and are holding up really well. The machine broke before I could make enough to last longer than one day, though.
There are all kinds of other diaper styles that you can make, and I want to try to make a few other styles. I'm not going to make a lot of them, since my son is (hopefully) just months away from potty training.
Whether you buy them or make them, cloth diapers are an investment up front, but you can greatly reduce the cost by making them yourself out of old clothing and sheets. I spent about $10 on the sheet plus supplies like thread, scissors, pins, and stuff like that. So far I've gotten about 10 diapers out of it with enough fabric scraps and old clothing to make a whole lot more.
We are still using disposable diapers for nighttime and when we leave the house, but our disposable stash is moving a lot slower than it used to. Hooray!