Have you noticed that as your child gets bigger the price of nappies goes up and UP? Pull-up training pants are no-different, and sure enough the last diaper you need to buy for your little one will be the most expensive. Now that my daughter is nearly ready to start potty training I’ve taken notice. Nearly a dollar every time she has an “accident!” There are actually a number of benefits to sewing the cloth training pants yourself.
Benefits of Cloth Pull-Ups
- Your toddler knows they are Big Girl/Big Boy pants and can get excited about wearing them
- There are no super-absorbent polymer chemicals (SAP), designed to pull moisture away from your baby’s skin (this is great for diapers, but not so good when you want your child to be able to ‘feel’ it when they are wet – a necessary sensation for potty-training)
- Your toddler will have a soft, natural fibre next to their skin
- It’s better for the environment (it takes up to 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose in landfill)
- Although you pay more for each cloth pair compared to disposables, you will likely pay significantly less over the course of the time it takes to complete potty training
- You can customise the size and absorbency
- They are much cuter than disposable nappies
What You Need to Sew Training Pants
- A good pattern (we recommend the Babyville Boutique Totally Trainers Pattern)
- Fabric for the outer layer (you can use a soft material like cotton knit or fleece, or you can use a waterproof but breathable fabric like PUL)
- Fabric for the inner layer and soaker (fleece, flannel or velour)
- Fold-over elastic for the waistband
- Either fold-over elastic or braided elastic for the leg openings
- A ball-point sewing machine needle (size 9 or 10) and good quality polyester thread
A Few Tips
- Trace your pattern and markings onto a paper template so that you can reuse all sizes of the original pattern or make alterations to your template
- If you are using the waterproof PUL fabric, remember that in order to stay waterproof you must ensure you don’t poke holes in it when sewing. If you must use pins only use them in the seam allowance
- You can either use bull clips (from a stationery store) or Clover Wonder Clips to hold your fabric together as an alternative to pins. Just pull them out as you sew, like you would pins.
- To get the correct size of elastic use your child’s actual measurements for the waist
- If you combine the two elastic measurements so that you sew the leg openings with just one type: add the two sizes together and subtract the seam allowance. Therefore, the size should be 11″ for small, 12-1/4″ for medium, 14-3/16″ for large
- Anytime you sew with elastic (or knits that are meant to stretch) you need to use a stitch that has some stretch in it. I recommend using either the 3-step zigzag, or the regular zigzag. If you are sewing with a stretchy knit, for your seams you can use either the stretch-stitch (it looks like a lightning bolt) or a twin needle with a straight stitch (it looks like two parallel straight stitches on the front and one zigzag along the back)
- I found that my braided elastic stretched a bit as I sewed it in. I had to cut my elastic a little bit shorter than the guidelines so that they fit. Customise any part of the pattern so that it fits your child loosely enough to pull on and off but tight enough to contain the leaks
- I’m of the opinion that underwear should be tight at the groin area and not so tight at the hip area for the best comfort, so when you’re sewing in the full elastic leg opening make sure you stretch a little bit more in the middle than on the ends
I had enough PUL fabric to make 7 pairs of training pants for my toddler. I think they are pretty adorable and she was so excited after I made the first pair that she ran around the house waving it over her head. I chose to use PUL for the outer layer and the inner layer and soaker were cotton diaper flannel. I tried a few different methods (the pattern booklet describes 4 different ways to make them) before settling on the method that I liked the best. I have also used sports mesh fabric for the inner layer (not the soaker layer) with great results. I found that the sports mesh is really stain resistant and doesn’t pill like the flannel can.
*UPDATE: we now have soft and absorbent bamboo fleece that makes for great soakers.