diy diapers logo

How to Make Homemade Diapers

If you are prepping for your family and you have infants or toddlers still in diapers or think you might be adding to your family in the future, you are going to have to think of what your baby needs for survival. Prepping should include baby friendly foods, toys, clothing that will fit them as they grow, and diapers.

Sure, babies will survive without diapers, but your life will be a whole lot easier if you have them. If you stock up on dozens of cases of disposable diapers, you will get by for a while after the collapse, but eventually they will run out. Plus, buying all those disposable diapers is expensive and they are very bulky, so storing them would be a great challenge.

Prepping aside, many families would rather find a solution that is reusable and more environmentally friendly and when it comes to prepping you simply cannot rely on disposable diapers. The solution is to use reusable cloth diapers, but purchasing cloth diapers is also expensive. The alternative is to make your own. If you think you aren’t creative enough to make your own homemade diapers, you might be surprised. It really isn’t as hard as you think. Here are a few ways to make cloth diapers.

Flat-Fold Diaper

This is the most basic type of homemade cloth diaper and it is the easiest. It doesn’t require any sewing! Essentially, this diaper is just a big square of fabric.


  • 1 yard (1 meter) of heavy flannel
  • Permanent marker (for fabric)
  • Pinking sheers
  • Ruler or measuring tape
  • Straight pins

You will cut a square out of the fabric that is 28 inches x 28 inches. You can then draw fold lines on the fabric if you wish, lines that match the style of folding you have chosen to use. See instructions at love to know. As for how to fold your diaper, check out this video for four ways you can accomplish this.

Remember the following with this type of diaper:

  • You will need a plastic diaper cover
  • Double up the fabric (use two) to increase absorbency
  • You will need pins or a t-shaped (Snappi) or two-pronged fastener (Boingo)

Regular Cloth Diaper

For this cloth diaper, you will have to do some sewing. You will start by making your own pattern, which is easily drawn out on a piece of newspaper or another large piece of paper. But first, you need to gather what you will need to make this diaper.


First, let’s talk about the materials you will need to make your cloth diapers. In this instance flannel is your friend. If you are able to afford it, you can go to your local fabric store and purchase flannel in whatever fun patterns you like. To be thriftier, you can use old flannel pajamas or shirts to provide the flannel you will need. You will need 1 yard (1 meter) of flannel for each diaper. Aside from this, for good solid cloth diapers, you will need:

  • Padding: For each diaper, you will need a 1 foot x 1 foot (30 cm x 30 cm) square of any absorbent material that will soak up the liquid and keep it contained. This padding can be made from microfiber or cotton quilt batting. If you don’t have access to those, then terrycloth or heavy flannel will do the job.
  • Elastic: You will need elastic for around the legs of the diaper and around the waist. The elastic should be 3/8 inch or 1/2 inch in width and you will need less than 1 yard (1 meter) for each diaper.
  • Fastener: The best fastener is Velcro and you need approximately 10 inches (25 cm) of Velcro strips for each diaper. You can also use snaps as fasteners and you would need to add 2-3 snaps on the diaper to ensure you could adjust the size as baby grows.


You will also need some equipment and tools to make your diapers. The first and most obvious is a sewing machine, which would be far easier than sewing by hand. However, sewing by hand is certainly doable, and if you ever have to make additional diapers after the collapse, using a sewing machine might not be an option, unless you have an old-fashioned treadle machine that doesn’t rely on electricity. Aside from a sewing machine, or needles if hand-sewing, you will need:

  • Scissors
  • A measuring tape
  • Thread
  • Extra needles
  • Straight pins
  • A marker for marking the fabric
  • Paper to make the pattern


  1. Draw a large “T” on the paper. The top of the “T” will measure 21.5 inches across and 3.5 inches wide. The stem of the “T” will be 18 inches long and 6.5 inches wide. Note that this will fit a baby that weighs between 10 and 25 pounds, so you might need to adjust this depending on the size of your baby.
  2. Make the corners of your “T” rounded (it will have a sort of airplane shape to it).
  3. Cut the pattern out of the paper.
  4. Pin the pattern to your fabric.
  5. Cut four pieces of the fabric in the shape of the pattern, two of which will be the inside of the diaper and two of which will be the outside of the diaper.
  6. Cut a square from your pad material that is 1 foot x 1 foot (30 cm x 30 cm).
  7. Fold pad material into thirds and pin lengthwise along the narrow middle section of one piece of fabric that is meant to be the inside of the diaper.
  8. Sew the pad into place using a zig-zag stitch.
  9. Layer the four pieces of cut fabric so that you have an inside layer, an outside layer (face-up), an outside layer (face-down), and the inside layer with the pad sewn onto it.
  10. Pin the layers together and sew them all the way around, leaving the bottom of the “T” open. Turn it right-side out to ensure you have fully sewn in all four layers. When you have, you can trim away excess fabric.
  11. Turn inside-out again and sew the elastic around the edge of the diaper where the layers of fabric were sewn together, stopping just where the curve at the bottom of the “T” starts. You can mark where you want your elastic to go if you wish and remember to pull the elastic taught while you sew so it will gather the material and be stretchy afterward.
  12. Turn the diaper right-side out and fold the edges of the open end inside the diaper. Sew this edge shut.
  13. Sew along the inner edge of the elastic to produce casings for the elastic, pulling the fabric taught as you sew.
  14. Cut two pieces of the rough side of the Velcro, each about 1-2 inches in length and sew each one on either side of the edge of the back of the diaper, using a zig-zag stitch. This will create the tabs.
  15. Sew a longer strip of the soft side of the Velcro to the underside of the front of the diaper using the same stitch. When it is turned up, the Velcro should be visible and the tabs from the back should be able to attach to the front Velcro strip.

You can see the process of making this diaper at Grow and Make. As with the flat-fold diaper, this cloth diaper will require a plastic cover to protect against leaks.

All-in-One Diaper

An all-in-one diaper is essentially the same as the cloth diaper from the previous step. The difference is that a waterproof barrier is added to the cloth diaper, making the use of a plastic cover unnecessary. You can make the diaper the same way, except replace one of the flannel inside pieces of the diaper (the one without the padding sewn to it) with the same shape cut out of a waterproof material, such as vinyl (an old shower curtain will do) or oil cloth. Otherwise, follow the directions as above.

Extra Tips

  • If you don’t have enough old clothing and sheets from which to salvage fabric, check out garage sales and second-hand shops before buying new fabric.
  • If you do purchase new fabric for your diapers, be sure to wash it before you use it.
  • Purchase organic cotton if you want a greener, less chemical-laden diaper.
  • Be precise when making all measurements and cuts as even a quarter of an inch can make a difference when sewing your diaper.

You most certainly do not want to be left high and dry if and when society collapses and you are left without enough diapers for your wee one. This will add unnecessary stress to an already stressful situation. By planning ahead, you can make a pile of diapers that you can start using now, plus you will have the knowledge on hand should you ever need it again for yourself or someone you know. Being able to keep baby comfortable and happy while you take care of the serious matter of survival is worth its weight in homemade cloth diapers.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Karen Hendry

Karen Hendry
An urban prepper and rural wannabe, Karen has been working as a freelance writer for a decade and prepping for about half that time. She has gathered a wealth of knowledge on preparing for SHTF, but there is always more to learn and she has a passion for gathering and sharing that knowledge with other like-minded folk. Karen lives in London, Canada with her two children and plethora of cats. In her spare time she is writing the next great apocalyptic novel of our time, full of government conspiracy and betrayal at every level.

One comment

  1. If in a survival situation, laundering all those diapers will come into play. I found the flat 28″ square worked best. Being thin, it washes and dries easier. Since a washing machine is unlikely, there’s less chance of bacteria lingering between those layers. The squares can be folded to fit the age/size of the baby. Yes, you need rubber pants, but if changed as often as you should, one pair can last through several changes or most of the day. Just food for thought.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *