Making diapers with buttonhole elastic



Tips for making a one size adjustable pocket diaper using buttonhole elastic.


**This tutorial assumes a basic knowledge of sewing in general, and sewing cloth diapers in particular. **


You can use almost any one size diaper pattern and modify it for using buttonhole elastic.  There are many great one size patterns available; some are even free!


To start, cut out your waterproof outer layer, and your wicking inner layer.


Apply snaps to your waterproof outer layer.  Be sure to reinforce the snaps!


One thing to keep in mind is that if you are using adjustable elastic in the waist, you can probably get away with fewer waist snaps.  That way you change the size of the waist using elastic, not snaps.  This is very useful if you want to avoid wing droop on the smaller waist snap settings. Likewise, you can also eliminate a crossover wing snap (on front snapping diaper) if you have adjustable waist elastic.


Of course, you can still use adjustable elastic in the waist and keep all the snap settings, that way you have maximum adjustability. 


If you are only using adjustable elastic in the legs (and not the waist) then be sure to apply snaps as your pattern directs.




You can see how our buttonhole elastic diaper differs from a regular 3 step rise style  one size diaper, which has rise snaps added:



If you plan to add tags, embroidery or other embellishments to the outer layer, do it before you sew the layers together!



Plan your pocket opening and prepare your inner wicking layer. We used a simple front pocket like this:



Check that you marked your elastic placement very carefully, before you proceed!


Before you go further, you need to decide if you want buttons on both ends of each piece of elastic, or just one end.  If you put buttons on both ends it is super easy to change the elastic later.  The other option is to tack down one end and use a button on the other. Both are equally adjustable, but you can save time sewing on those tiny buttons!


We chose to use a button on one end, and tack down the other.  For the leg elastic, we decided to put a button on the front of each elastic piece, as that is the nearest to the pocket opening, which makes adjustments easier.  We only put one button on the back elastic, and will tack down the other end, so our diaper will have three elastic pieces (two legs, one back waist), with three tacked down ends and three button adjustable ends.


For each elastic end that will need a button, cut a small piece of scrap fabric - just a tiny square will do.  Pin that where you marked your elastic placement, just before the starting point for elastic.


Once that is done, you can sew your two layers, right sides together, making sure that your small square of fabric is just outside (beyond) the elastic start point.



Turn your diaper right side out, and following your markings for elastic placement, sew casings for the elastic.


Once that is done, you can topstitch areas without elastic (optional).


It will look like this - note that the casings are OPEN on both ends:



Before you put the elastic in the casings, you might want to mark the elastic so that it is easier to adjust later.  You can put numbers, letters, or just colored dots at certain intervals.  Be sure to use a laundry marking pen, or something that will not wash out or bleed onto your lovely diaper!


Make sure to mark both of your leg elastics identically - then you can set them easily later, and no problems with getting them exactly the same. ( If you set one side to the red dot, then make sure to set the other side to the red dot...)




 Sew a button onto each little tab.  (If you plan to topstitch the non-elastic areas keep in mind that it is easier to do the topstitching and then sew the buttons on after, so make sure you are done topstitching.)  We made our tab big enough to fold over, but you could add another square for reinforcement if you want.


Then thread your elastic through the casing.



If both ends have a button, then go ahead and button them up. 


If one end is going to be tacked down, then sew the end of your casing closed, making sure to catch the end of the elastic.  If you are using premeasured pieces and you want them to be exactly even (waist is not so important, legs are) then make sure you sew them in the same distance from the end.  That way your markings on the button end will line up evenly on both sides!



And you're done!  Turn your diaper right side out and admire your work.  To change the size of the waist or the legs, just reach in (you might want to turn your diaper again so you can see what you are doing more easily), adjust and you're all set. 



Stuff it with your insert and you are ready to go. Once you get it set to the right size, you won't need to adjust again for several months, or maybe longer - it depends on how fast your baby is growing.




We made two identical diapers, one with adjustable elastic and one with the traditional 3 step rise.  You can see them compared below.


Smallest Setting

(buttonhole elastic diaper is on left)



Medium Setting

(buttonhole elastic diaper is on left)



Large Setting

(buttonhole elastic diaper is on left)





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