I have been asked a few times how I make my ruffles for diapers so I figured it was time to take pictures when I recently had to make one for a project.
Let’s get started! You can do this using ANY pattern. For the purpose of this tutorial I am sewing an Ultimate Pocket Diaper.
First you will want to decide on the pattern you are going to use and the materials you want in your finished diaper. For this diaper I am using PUL for the outer and the ruffles and Stay Dri Wicking fabric for the inner. I am also using FOE for binding the edges of my pocket, 1/4 inch poly braid elastic for the back of the diaper, and 3/8 inch lastin for the ruffles. You want to make sure that you have a ball point needle (80/12 is what I use) and 100% polyester thread (I use Gutermann thread….love the color choices). You will want to select your closure. For this diaper I am using EZ Adjust Tape in white and pre-cut tabs. Grab a washable fabric marker and some pins that are safe for knit fabrics.
I like to transfer my patterns to template plastic to make them last longer. Here I have my diaper pattern traced out and I have drawn where I want my ruffles to go on the template.
Using a hem gauge you might find it helpful to draw the fold line for the elastic tab, it will help later on when making your casing.
You will see that I have 3 lines going across the pattern. I like to line up my middle row with the back leg elastic. Then measure and mark 1/2 an inch above and below that line. To determine how long the ruffles will be I generally use the back elastic mark as my guide and draw a line vertically across the ruffle guidelines. This will mark my start and stop point for the ruffles. Transfer the ruffle guidelines to right side of the outer layer of your diaper.
You will cut your ruffles to be at least four times as long as the measurement from the edge of the pattern piece to the vertical line. Cut a little longer if you want fuller ruffles. My ruffles are 18 inches long, 2 inches longer than my measurement of 16 inches. I have three ruffles in coordinating colors and a print for this diaper. I like my ruffles to be 2 1/2 inches high.
Now that you have your ruffle strips cut out you will want to mark the horizontal center of the strips. I use a sharpie in a color that will not show through the PUL for this. Once this is done flip the strips over and using a washable fabric marker, mark the vertical center of the strips.
Now you are ready to gather the strips. You will need to cut a piece of Lastin for each ruffle. In this tutorial I cut my Lastin with a rather short tail. Make your end tails longer, it makes it easier. Mine are shown at 1/2 an inch from each end. It is easier to grab and pull the Lastin if the tails are 1 to 2 inches long. To get the right length of Lastin you will need a piece that is half the width of the finished ruffle plus tails. If your finished ruffle is 8 inches long then you will need a piece that is 8 inches long. Mark in with a sharpie 2 inches from each cut end.
Now you will take the Lastin and pin it to the wrong side of the ruffle strip, centering your line on the Lastin. I like to line up my mark on the Lastin with the edge of the strip then pin about an inch below that. This lets me have room to stitch a little before removing the pin.
Set your machine to a wide 3 step zigzag stitch. Place the ruffle under the presser foot. Stitch just a stitch or two and back tack.
Then with the needle sunk down into the Lastin, grab the Lastin from behind the presser foot with your left hand and the strip where the end of the Lastin is pinned down with your right hand.
Stitch slowly down the length of the Lastin. Anytime you need to stop stitching you want the needle to be in the down position. One ruffle finished.
All three finished and ready to stitch to outer layer.
Starting with the ruffle you want to have in the center of the stack, match vertical center of the strip with the marks you made on the outer. Pin ruffle in place along the horizontal line.
Stitch the ruffle in place with a straight stitch. Back tack at the ends to lock your stitches and reinforce the line of stitching at the ends.
Remove pins and line up the top ruffle. Push the center ruffle down and out of the way when pinning the top ruffle down. Again make sure to match up the centers of the ruffle with the lines on the outer layer. Stitch down the same way you did for the center ruffle.
For the last ruffle you will follow the same steps as the first two ruffles. When stitching this ruffle down I make sure I go slow and keep the ruffle straight. If can get a little wonky with the pressure from the other two ruffles if you aren’t careful.
All finished with the ruffles! Time to sew on the loop tape on the tummy.
Grab a scrap that is wider and longer than your piece of loop tape. Pin to the wrong side of the outer layer. Tape the loop tape down with clear tape. I find this is easier than using pins to hold it in place.
To stitch hook and loop tape it is recommended that you use a medium length zigzag stitch that goes just over the edge of the tape. This will help prevent fraying of the tape after laundering. I like to start about an inch in from one end. Back tack your stitches to lock them and begin stitching. You want to have your needle stopping in the down position so you can easier go around the corners. When you get close to a piece of tape, stop stitching and remove the tape before continuing.
When you get to the first corner you will pivot the diaper with the needle down to be able to go around the corner. Stitch down the short end, pivot and continue stitching down the long edge. Repeat previous steps as you reach each remaining corner. Overlap your stitching slightly with your start point and back tack to secure your stitching.
Flip diaper layer over and trim the scrap of PUL 1/4 of an inch away from the stitching.
Put this layer aside and grab your inner layer. All marks for elastic and laundry tabs have been transferred to the inner layer prior to cutting out.
Cut your lengths of FOE as specified in the pattern instructions for the size you are making. Mark in 2 inches from each cut end for your grabbing tails.
Line a piece of FOE up with the inner layer at the first elastic marks. Pin in place at this mark and repeat for the second mark. Smooth FOE along edge of inner and pin again.
Repeat for other side. When finished your inner layer will look something like this:
To attach FOE to the inner layer you want to set your machine for a wide 3 step zigzag. Start stitching at the edge of the fabric.
When you get to the elastic mark you will grab the tail of FOE behind the presser foot and the FOE where pinned at the second mark. Before stretching be sure that your needle is sunk down into the fabric and FOE. Stretch the FOE fully, gently guiding the inner layer in the FOE to make sure it is fully sandwiched in the FOE. Stitch down the length of FOE and stop stretching while stitching when you reach the second elastic mark.
Trim the tails of the FOE flush with the inner layer.
Pin the inner and outer layers right sides together. Stitch front and back together. Begin stitching at the folded edge on the FOE and stop just off the folded edge, repeat for the second yoke.
Stitch the elastic down at the back between the elastic points.
Now to make the casings for the elastic. This part can be a little tricky. Fold the tab in to the wrong side of the outer layer along the line you drew along the curve. Pin in place. Repeat for the other side.
Pin ruffles out of the way.
I use a blind hem stitch foot with my needle set all the way to the left to stitch the casing closed. Go slow and keep the inner layer out of the way. Stitch the casing from elastic point to elastic point.
Turn diaper right side out and thread elastic into casings. Stitch at ends where elastic points are to secure elastic.
Stitch tabs and laundry tabs down to diaper using a medium zigzag stitch.
All done! Toss in the wash to rinse off your marks then dry in the dryer to seal your stitching holes. Stuff the diaper and put on baby.