Recycling for baby

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I've been at my sewing machine a lot lately, mostly making things for the baby. I guess the nesting instinct is kicking in big time. Here's a little show and tell:

In the interest of economy and the environment, everything in this post has been made using repurposed and thrifted materials, including shirts, sweaters, sheets, and towels.


Four pairs of baby pants sewn from t-shirts. I first got the idea of recycling adult shirts into kiddo pants from SouleMama's The Creative Family but there are some online tutorials as well including this one and this one. Tiny baby pants don't take much fabric, so I've sewn Maia a few pairs of pants as well from the same shirts.


More wool soakers from thrifted sweaters — somewhat girlier than the last set. I finally made some newborn-sized soakers so I'll be able to use them right away. I hesitated for a while since babies outgrow newborn stuff so quickly, but ultimately decided that the time and money to make each soaker was so minimal I should just go ahead and make them.


A set of flannel burp cloths, using this tutorial. I'm also in the process of making another set with flannel on one side and terrycloth on the other, but my sewing machine is wigging out on me. The bottom thread keeps breaking. Does anyone know what's wrong? I thought maybe it was a thread tension thing, but I've tried several different tension settings.


A stack of double flannel baby wipes using a thrifted flannel sheet. I didn't use cloth wipes with Maia but thought I'd give it a try this time. One of these days I'll get a serger, but for these I just used a zig-zag stitch around the edge.


And, last of all, here's my first attempt at making diapers using Rita's Rump Pocket pattern. I've made four of these but probably won't make more. These need an insert and also a cover, since they are just made with a layer of flannel (same as the wipes, above) and a layer from another thrifted sheet. AND you have to fasten them with a pin. Sounds like too many variables for me. I have some fitted diapers and some Bummis super whisper wraps that I bought off a friend. I might just use those and supplement with prefolds and wool soakers. I only used FuzziBunz with Maia and am afraid I'm going to miss them, but they are so darn expensive, even second-hand!


I've placed most of the above in baskets under this handmade changing table which is on loan from a friend. We didn't have a changing table with Maia so I'm actually pretty excited about this. Also this little corner of our house is the only sign so far that a baby is on the way (besides my belly and waddle walk). The sketch is one I did in college. Not sure if I'll keep it up. Oh, and the sheepskin (another hand-me-down from a friend that I'm excited about) is just there temporarily until I find somewhere else to put it.

Okay, show and tell over. Back to normal art-related programming tomorrow.

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  1. says

    Loved this post! Thanks for sharing. I am also expecting and due in a few weeks. I also made some diapers. I didn’t add velcro to mine. The cover will hold the diaper in place btw. Also for an insert, just use a prefold.
    As for the sewing machine, change your needle. The same thing happened to me and as soon as I changed the needle – presto – wonderful stitches again :)

  2. says

    as for the sewing machine, when I had mine cleaned it solved all kinds of tension problems. how long has it been since yours was serviced?

  3. attachlings says

    I made lots of stuff, including diapers, in preparation for my 3rd child…now 2 1/2 years old.
    If you get some PUL and touch tape (generic velcro) you can totally make up a bunch of size-flexible dipes that will have you not missing the fuzzi bunz at all. There are threads over at mothering for diaper supply places. I loved making the dipes for my weeist one…so affordable all around.

  4. attachlings says

    I made my own pattern by laying out a diaper the size I wanted to make and tracing it onto a large piece of paper (newsprint or an old paper shopping bag work great.) If you tweak these as templates, you can get a really good feel for it as it sews up.
    I forgot to add that you’ll want to get Lastin as well. It’s an elastic that holds up well to being urine-saturated. It’s clear and really stretchy and (I found) very easy to sew with.
    There are tons of tutorials available as well as some in the Sew forum at mothering.

  5. the milliner says

    Great stuff! Can’t wait to make some pants for my little guy.
    Another idea for the machine if the above suggestions didn’t work…make sure the bobbin is in the bobbin case properly, i.e. it’s threaded with the bobbin spinning clockwise or counterclockwise (if it lays flat horizontally) or with the thread coming from on top or underneath, la toilet paper style, if the bobbin is vertical. (So, which ever option is correct for your machine.) Hope that makes sense ;).

  6. Gina says

    Thanks for sharing your nesting with us! Very fun projects :)
    When my machine gives me thread-tangling and -breaking trouble it usually needs to be cleaned out under and around the bobbin… especially after sewing with flannel (as my recently prego friend and I found out when WE were nesting and making flannel swaddling blankets for our now-born babies!) I pull apart the whole compartment under the bobbin and wipe out the fuzz with the little brush that came with my machine.
    Hope you figure out the trouble. I usually have to walk away for a while from a finicky sewing machine to protect my sanity and blood pressure ;)

  7. says

    Um… is the sketch for sale? I love it. Good work on the bum-related baby sewing. For some reason all that kind of stuff just freaks me out!

  8. Amy says

    Looks like the other comments cover my thoughts on thread breakage-
    A few other ideas–
    Maybe try a different needle size?
    Could the tension on top be too tight?
    Maybe the bobbin itself was wound too tightly?
    have you tried sewing with the terry on top/flannel on bottom as well as terry on bottom/flannel on top?
    urgh. Sorry. wish I could be of help. so frustrating when you’re in a groove and want to keep up production! I’m impressed with all your work. Lovely and fun and thrifty!!

  9. attachlings says

    I did some digging around and found who I purchased my touch tape and lastin from back when I was making dipes:
    I got my PUL from a co-op, but cannot remember where…I think it was a yahoo group, though.

  10. says

    Thanks for the ideas. I’ll check on these. I have tried both jersey needles and all-purpose needles depending on what I’m sewing, and it’s been doing it with both. I don’t know much about the tension thing or even what setting it’s supposed to be on — usually just ad lib it. Need to learn more about that clearly. The bobbin winds itself so I don’t know how I would change how tightly it’s wound. For the burp cloths, I’m actually sewing on bias tape rather than directly on the terry or the flannel. This has been happening lately with a range of fabrics/projects, not just this one.

  11. says

    Fun! I’m new to your blog and to sewing, so this is an inspiring post. For cloth-diapering, I’ve used BumGenius, which makes everything so darn easy. My son is now potty-trained, so time to sell them, I suppose. By the way, I found your blog when researching for my latest “big project” – creating an art studio for my kiddos in a corner of our playroom/schoolroom. I’m almost finished with a series about making a kid’s studio on my blog, in which I linked to you. Thanks for sharing your inspiring home!

  12. says

    I LOVE your upcycled wollen soakers! Would you mind if I feature them on my blog ( I’m keen to show more handmade nappy projects on there, not just commercial nappies!

  13. Elizabeth says

    I know it stinks, but you should probably take the machine in… mine was doing the same thing (after only a years use!) and it needed some plate tensions adjusted. The bobbin thread kept getting stuck WAYYYYYY in the back where I couldn’t do anything about it! Had it serviced and cleaned and haven’t had a problem yet. Trying to decide myself on patterns and materials for my first cloth diapering foray, so glad you’ve provided some more ideas and options!

  14. says

    here’s a link to a picture of some fuzzy-bunz type diapers I’ve made, if you’re interested
    My husband bought me a snap press, which I LOVE; I’m just not a fan of velcro (but one coud make dypes like these with velcro, if they were so inclined)
    My favorite spot for buying diaper-making supplies is
    next in line would be
    As far as the sewing troubles – golly that’s a bugger! Maybe you could call a sewing machine shop they could talk you through some options?

  15. Brittanyeg says

    Have you changed the tension on your bobbin itself? If you take the bobbin out there is a little screw with a tiny slit in it. Rotate counter clockwise. That will change how tight that thread will be and maybe that will work.

  16. says

    So I’m a little slow commenting on this post, but I just had to chime in about how great all of your baby soakers and covers are. I am so impressed you find the time to make these things. I struggle just to get the laundry washed! Thanks for the inspiration.

  17. Ann says

    This is a link for making long soakers or just warm pants. I have not tried but will for winter.
    We are doing cloth wipes this time around and I love love love it. Got a pump thermos at the thrift store to keep at the changing table and just pump out warm water, spritz with some witchhazel diaper luv? solution, and use. You don’t feel bad using a ton and they just wash up with the diapers.

  18. says

    Jean your sketch is beautiful! I’m a sucker for mother/child art and at first glance I was wondering who the artist was because I didn’t recognize it. You should definitely leave it.

  19. Susan says

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  20. Gritty Pretty says

    That sketch is beautiful! I bet there’s a gorgeous ornate frame just waiting for you to find it!

  21. says

    I know this was posted a while back (this is on my “school” Reader list and I’ve ignored it all summer) but I recently looked up this problem and it turns out that plastic bobbin cases can break the thread if they’re old. Although, it is a little tougher to find metal ones that may do the trick for you!

  22. says

    You need a heavier duty needle for terry, like one for denim. Also, sew it with the terry on the bottom, but put a piece of tissue paper (such as for gifts) between the terry and the machine. Don’t try to stitch too quickly. Terry leaves a lot of lint, and also catches on the feeds. This will jam up the machine, but as soon as you lift off the terry, you lift the evidence with it. It’s probably out of whack now, and may need adjusting. Also, there may be a teeny bit of lint stuck in the bobbin carrier. Try cleaning everything out again, take it all apart. Use a lint free cloth with a drop of oil on it, and a soft natural bristle artist’s paintbrush. Good luck.
    A lurking fan.