Friday, July 26, 2013

Cloth Diaper Tutorial: How to Make a Flip Cover

I haven't posted in several weeks because I've been busy with...diaper orders! I'm thrilled that my sewing skills are being put to use for local cloth diaper families. Luckily, I thought to capture my work in step-by-step photos so that others can make what I'm making. My next few posts will be sharing the work of the past several weeks.

PUL flip covers...aren't the fabrics adorable?
The flip cover diapers pictured above were recently ordered by a friend. Flip covers are used as a waterproof barrier that keeps diaper messes from leaking onto baby's clothes. I make mine with a fabric called PUL (polyurethane laminate), which has a urethane layer (waterproof side) bonded to a polyester or poly/cotton blend (printed fabric side). They are not absorbent, so a prefold, flat, or fitted diaper has to be worn inside. Flip covers can be made to fit a particular size, but I like to make them with an adjustable rise to grow with baby. They can be fastened with Velcro or snaps.

I found a free pattern for making diapers online. The patterns come in two sizes, small or large. Since my friend's daughter is about 25 pounds, she ordered the large diaper, which would fit a baby ranging from about 20-40 pounds. After my friend picked out her fabric, I cut out all my pieces (front flap, main cover, and back flap).

Next, I used a ruler and a permanent marker to indicate where I wanted my snaps to go. I copied the snaps placement from another diaper I own (sorry, it's hard to see the dots I drew because of the fabric pattern!). 

Before adding snaps, I ironed remnants of PUL fabric to the back of the cover. The urethane layers can be bonded to each other with heat. This reinforces the area where the snaps go. Without reinforcement, repeated snap use can stretch out the hole and pop off. 

You just have to be careful not to bond the fabric to your iron! If the iron touches the urethane side of the PUL, it will melt it off. I found that placing the tip of the iron on the patterned side of the scrap bonded the two pieces just enough to flip the cover over. Then I could place the entire iron surface onto the patterned side of my main cover to ensure that the scraps were completely bonded.

With the scrap PUL ironed in place, I took out my snaps pliers and and added the snaps. If you'd rather have Velcro, stay tuned for a future post!

Next, I trimmed the corners of the main cover and front and back flaps. A round edge is easier to work with when you use fold-over elastic (FOE). FOE is a type of elastic that has a crease down the middle to make folding easier. You sandwich the PUL fabric inside the FOE for a nice, finished edge to your diaper. When you want your fabric to be gathered, you pull the FOE so that it is stretched out while you are sewing. Then, when it retracts, the fabric sewn inside is gathered.

There are many different widths of FOE available to buy. I use 1-inch FOE for diapers.

I began sewing the FOE on the front side of the diaper, looping my way down the leg area, then coming around the back, and finally ending up at the opposite front side. There are marks on the free online patterns that indicate where you should start and stop gathering the PUL inside your FOE.

I used a separate piece of FOE across the front to hide my raw ends of FOE from earlier. If it's needed, I return to the FOE ends with some hand sewing to make sure nothing appears unfinished.

After all the FOE was sewn on, I added my final snaps to the side arms.

There you have it, a finished flip cover.

As far as I know, flip covers, paired with whatever absorbent inners you chose, are among the cheapest cloth diaper systems. This system also dries the fastest and requires the smallest number of diapers. PUL covers can be washed along with soiled cloths. Air drying is better than a dryer simply because it will prolong the life of the cover (especially covers with Velcro closures).

Jadon currently wears a rotation of just four flip covers that I made him. I made one cover slightly larger than the others for nighttime (which gets stuffed with three cloths to make it through the night!). I've found that three other covers are adequate for our daily needs. Flip covers do not need to be washed after every use. If Jadon has a wet diaper, the cloth goes into our wet bag for washing, and the cover is left out to dry. Also, if I notice a cover is smelly from several days of use, I'll throw it in the wet bag. If Jadon poops, and the cover gets really soiled, it goes into the wet bag with the dirty cloth. Otherwise, I just do a little spot cleaning with one of my cloth wipes, and let it dry.

It's a winning system, if you ask me!


  1. What pattern did you use for these diapers? I love them!

    1. is where I originally found them, but their website seems to be down. Check out the flip cover someone shared below!

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Hey there
    I am searching for a pattern that I can make my own am pretty new to this and would like to make some cloth diapers for baby due in May but I'd like them to be one size fits from birth to potty that has the snaps
    Ie like measurements of material and were the snaps actually go.
    With the extra quess set like the best bottoms.

    Could you help :)

    1. I haven't found a one-size pattern that I wanted to try, but you could modify a large pattern to simply include more snaps. Unfortunately, I need to search for a new pattern to share with friends because the website where I found these patterns appears to be down! (

      I'll make sure to post an update with a comparable pattern if I find something good.:)

    2. Check out the one-size cover someone else found below!

  4. I found another pattern that matches the FLIP almost exactly ( Cotton babies says their covers fit babies 8-35 pounds. I can attest that the definitely fit toddlers - DD (3 in May) potties during the day, but wears them to bed, with an econobum pre fold and a thirsties fab doubler.

    Though I like the pattern linked above, I love, love, LOVE your idea of ironed scrap strips for the snaps - I'm 39 weeks and antsy to get stuff done - with the snow I'm nervous that I won't make it to Joanns for the PUL to line my snap placement. I got a bunch of the PUL on sale - the way I figure, I'm making almost $150 of covers for less than $25! We're planning to use disposables until his stump falls off - this way we also get used to 2 under 3 before mega laundry kicks into gear. I have 3 econobum covers and 3 Flip, and am adding 9 DIY covers to my stash. I'll use disposable inserts when we're out and about, so I figure a few more sets of pre-folds and we're good to go, for a total investment of about $300!

    1. Sounds like you're set to go! Good luck with the baby on the way! I'm due with Baby #2 in May and starting to experiment with cheap additions to my stash. T-shirt prefolds seem to be pretty popular among the thrifty and I've got to try them. I'm also going to try out some homemade flannel fitteds for my EBF infant since I hate washing covers so often with messy newborn poops. :)

      Thanks for sharing the pattern. I will be passing it along to other DIYers since the website I originally used seems to be down temporarily (or permanently? I hope not!)

    2. BBB is down permanently as far as I can tell. The owner moved and changed jobs. I don't think she is planning to go back to the CD sewing stuff. Thank you for linking my blog though. Since it is hosted for free, I don't see it going anywhere. ;)

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    , I thought this article was suppose
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    Thank you so much for this comprehensive list!
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    . This has helped me make decisions
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  7. I am making some diapers for a mother to be and I know nothing about this, having never had kids myself. There is a lot of vocab or acronyms I am not familiar with... I also am wondering about the inside layer of the flipcover. I have seen some with "alova" ? Do you line yours or is it completely OK to just have PUL in one layer ? Also, could you tell me the quantity of material needed for one flip cover ? (snaps, FOE, PUL) it would really help me. Thank you so much for this tutorial, even if it is 5 years ago !!!

  8. Hi , What is the name of that, you are using for taking water on inner side(soft white colored)? I do not know the name of that. How will you make that ?

  9. Love your site! I am hoping to make my own cloth diapers, but I am unsure of how much PUL I should purchase, what amount per yard would you suggest?

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