Hey, did you know we cloth diaper? Surely I talk about it enough!
One of the things that’s gone along with cloth diapering, for us, is cloth wipes. I made us a huge stack of cloth wipes when we were expecting Fox and have since made huge stacks for some new babies on the way.
Cloth wipes are great not only because they are a cheap, unbelievably quick, and awesome baby gift, but it also prevents you from washing disposable wipes with your diapers, which can disintegrate and leave fluff everywhere. They also have a fantastic second life as tissues (so much softer!), bath wash cloths, counter wipes, “unpaper towels,” and whatever else you can think of! When they eventually wear out, they can go into your compost pile and continue giving from there.
Making Cloth Wipes
So, I made this huge stack of wipes using a few different combinations of fabrics, but my favorite, by far, have been our dual-layer flannel wipes. They hold up well, are super soft to the touch, and are crazy cheap to make!
Out of 2 yards of fabric, I can make 20 cloth wipes in about 30 minutes. I do use a serger, but you can absolutely make these on a regular sewing machine, as well.
Choosing Fabric. I highly recommend cotton flannel. You can upcycle old (or new-on-clearance) flannel sheets, flannel shirts, or flannel pajamas, or you can buy yardage. Make sure to prewash and dry your fabric 3-4 times to get most of the shrinking out of the way. Flannel can shrink quite a bit, so consider picking up an extra few inches if you’re buying yardage.
Sizing. I chose the size I did (approximately 8 by 8 inches) because it fits nicely into a wipes case and is plenty big enough to protect my hand from the messes.
Cloth Wipes Sewing Tutorial
First, gather your materials. For 20 wipes, you’ll need 1 yard each of two coordinating flannel fabrics, or 2 yards of one flannel print or solid. You’ll also need the usual suspects, such as thread and a sewing machine, and I highly recommend having some Fray Check (affiliate link) on hand if you will be using your serger.
Prewash your fabric a few times to allow for shrinkage.
Next, stack your fabrics, wrong sides together, and smooth them out. I matched selvedge to selvedge, and you can see that the edges don’t perfectly line up (between the shrinkage and the cutting, I always buy that extra 1/4 yard). That’s okay, though, because I’m going to cut them off to straighten out my edge.
Fold the stacked fabric in half so one fabric is facing right sides out, and the other fabric is folded on itself. We will be cutting 4 layers at once.
Cut about 1 inch off of the edge of your fabric to straighten the edge. I line up my fabric on my mat using my folded edge as a guide. Then, cut your fabrics into 8″ x WOF (width of fabric) strips. See the pretty stack there on the right? I’m usually left with about 2.5″ of fabric on the other end. I had a longer length of the green chevron than the monsters this time, which is why it looks funny!
Line up two strips of fabric, selvedge to selvedge. You want to stack one strip directly on to of the other so you can cut through four layers of fabric again.
Cut off the selvedge of your fabric to straighten it out. Then cut your strip at 8″ intervals, leaving you with 8″ x 8″ squares of fabric.
Admire your beautiful stack of wipes ready to be sewn.
Round the corners (if you’re using a serger). Use a small object to trace a curve around your corners that you will follow as a cut line with your blade. If you are using a sewing machine, omit this step. Frankly, I omit this step, too, and eyeball a curve, but I’ve made at least 200 wipes, so if this is your first time, I highly recommend marking a curve.
Serge or sew around your wipes. Grab a pair of squares off of your stack, which should already be lined up and ready to sew. I do not pin these, they don’t have to be perfect and flannel kind of sticks to itself.
With a serger, make sure you’re pushing your fabric into the knife and needles to turn around your curves, not pulling it around like you might with a sewing machine. It takes a little practice but makes for much nicer, more consistent stitching around your curves.
With a sewing machine, sew a zigzag stitch along the edge of your fabric, stopping at corners to turn your wipe. Sew as close as you can to the edge of your fabric to minimize fraying. Once you’ve done this, you’re DONE! Friends with sergers, see the next few steps…
Once you’re done with all four sides, pull your wipe off to the side and chain a few inches before snipping your threads.
Now, you’ve got some options for finishing off your wipes. You can thread your tails and pull them back through your loops, you can cut them and pray they hold (actually very effective, usually), you can sew them down with your sewing machine, or you can knot and Fray Check the ends (my personal favorite).
Knot the end as close to your wipe as you can. Cut the chain right by the knot, then hit it with a drop of Fray Check and then you’re DONE!
These are so quick and so handy to have around. We have around 40 or so hanging around, and I usually make 40-50 for expecting moms who are cloth diapering. I watch for sales on flannel at the local Joann and can usually catch it for less than $3 per yard, and better than that if I find cute remnants in at least 1/2 yard quantities.
Let me know if you make some wipes using my tutorial! I’d love to have you share them with me over on my Facebook page! Enjoy!