Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Waiting for Jadon: Cloth Wipes Tutorial

I am one full week past my due date. I'm not that surprised, actually, especially knowing that my mom carried late with all five of us kids (I, her first, was two weeks late and everyone else was at least 10 days late). I wonder how much longer this kid will go? Luckily, while Jadon waits, I get to do more projects!

Yesterday's task was making cloth wipes. As I am already committed to cloth diapering, using cloth wipes seems like a no-brainer. It's not like I'll be doing any extra laundry; they'll just get tossed in the wet bag and the washer with the diapers. I'll be saving even more money by not having to buy disposable wipes, and I'm generating even less waste.

Apparently, the most popular fabrics for cloth wipes are flannel or fleece. Many people recommend using old receiving blankets to make cloth wipes. You cut them into squares, double them up, and sew them together. Other people prefer cloth wipes with more texture so that they use fewer wipes with each diaper change. They cut up old towels, which don't need to be doubled because they are so thick.

I decided to use live in the best of both worlds and make cloth wipes out of flannel and towels! I also made a set of cloth wipes for a friend who just joined the cloth diapering club with her three-week old daughter. Other cloth wipers recommend having 1.5 wipes for every diaper, but I wanted more so that I won't run out. I made each of us a set of four dozen cloth wipes.

Here's a tutorial for how I made my wipes:

I don't have any old receiving blankets yet, and I didn't have the heart to cut up my new ones. So, I bought a handful of receiving blankets at a secondhand store and used a rotary cutter to make 7x7 inch squares.

Look at the cute fabrics! Too bad these are going to get covered in poop.
Then I gathered some old towels from around our apartment. My mother-in-law also contributed a few towels that she didn't need any more.

I didn't end up using all of these towels, but I'm glad that all those hand towels are gone now.
They've sat untouched in my closet for months.
The towels also got cut into 7x7 inch squares. For those of you who have never experienced the wonders of a cutting board and rotary cutter, feast your eyes on a quilter's best friend:

Nice straight lines in just seconds!

I folded the towel in half and got 24 squares out of it.

 All the flannel and towels are cut and ready for sewing. 
The cutting can be a little tedious, but it's so much faster than cutting with scissors. Now you're ready to sew. There are two options for putting your layers of fabric together. For a more polished look, a serger is ideal.

A serger trims excess fabric while binding the edges with thread at the same time.
You will see serged edges inside most of the seams in your clothing.

"Why, serged cloth wipe! What nice, clean edges you have!"
"The better to prevent fraying, my dear!"
If you do not have a serger, you can also use a zig-zag stitch on a sewing machine to bind the flannel and towel layers together.  I found that putting the towel on top and the flannel on the bottom worked best. When I tried putting the flannel on the top and the towel on the bottom, this annoying bunching started happening.

DO: flannel on the bottom, towel on top.
DON'T: towel on bottom, flannel on top. Makes fabric bunch up.
If you sew the layers together, your wipes may need a little trimming after you get all the way around. Whatever fabric is sticking out too much, just snip off with scissors. The serger will do this step for you, but most of us don't own sergers (I have to go to a friend's house in order to use hers).

Before trimming......after trimming!

After you get through all your wipes, you have a nice thick stack of cloth wipes to wipe a baby's bum with! I can't wait to give this set to my friend.

*UPDATE September 2013: I improved my cloth wipe design! Check it out: Cloth Wipes: New and Improved!*


  1. Hi, I'm new to cloth diapering and about to start making my own cloth wipes. Do you just use one layer of receiving blanket on top with the towel on bottom? I've read that 2 pieces of receiving blanket sewn together works too, but I like the idea of the absorbency with using a towel.

  2. my friend has tried cloth wipes but feels that they get kinda mildewy before she gets a chance to wash them...any suggestions? Thanks!