If most of us had a choice, we'd buy all our fabric in person. There's nothing like getting to touch and feel a fabric and see the true color in person. Unfortunately, few of the fabrics commonly used for diapers can be found at your favorite fabric store. If you ask the employees, they often don't know what you are talking about. You can save yourself some time and driving around by using our guide-
Bamboo- You will not find this in the larger chain stores with the exception of Hancock Fabrics. Hancocks recently added an organic bamboo knit. This is not suited for diapers however as it is very thin. It is best suited for clothing. Bamboo fabrics used in diapers such as fleece, french terry and velour can only be found online.
Fleece- There's a wide variety of fleece on the market and you can find fleece just about anywhere! The quality varies greatly however, so be careful before you buy. For diapers, many love the microfleece from Joanns. There are always coupons in Joanss flyers and it sometimes goes on sale for 50% off. I always suggest buying a small amount and testing it for wicking and washability before investing too much money. Some fleeces won't wick, or will pill and wear terribly in the wash. To some extent, you can rely on a water test. Take a small bottle of water with you and drop a few drops on the fabric. If it runs right through the fabric, it should wick the way you want. This test is not foolproof however. Some fabrics will fail this test, but work just fine in practice. This is because the viscosity of urine is completely different than water, and baby's bottom pressing on the fabric actually helps push the liquid through the fabric.
Hemp- Very few brick and mortar stores carry this fabric, and none of the larger chains like Joanns, Walmart and Hancock. If you have a local store that sells apparel fabric, you may find some luck there but the few that do carry hemp fabrics usually have fabrics not suitable for diapers such as lightweight stretch jersey and canvas.
Hook and Loop- I have never had much luck with the hook and loop found in the major chain stores. Velcro brand is very stiff and seemed uncomfortable on my baby. It also does not wear very well. It fills up with link quickly and does not have the holding power that Touch Tape and Aplix have.
Organic cotton- This you can sometimes find in stores. Hancock fabrics now carries an organic cotton and organic/bamboo jersey. Unfortunately it's very thin jersey and better suited for clothing than diapers. Organic cottons used for diapers such as fleece and french terry can only be found online.
Other cottons-This fabric is where you can do well in your local fabric store with a little bit of knowledge and hunting.
PUL Fabric- If you've ever tried asking for this at your local fabric store, they likely directed you to the costume fabric section and pointed out a shiny plastic raincoat looking fabric. This fabric is much thicker than PUL and is not suitable for diapers. Despite the thick plastic coating, it is not waterproof after a few washings. The laminate cannot stand up to the wear and tear of regular washings and will begin to crack, peel and split off after just a few cycles. Although both Hancock Fabrics and Joann's now carry a PUL fabric, it is a pretty stiff fabric. The best PUL fabric cannot be found in stores and is available only online.
Snaps- The polyacetyl snaps preferred by diaper makers are not found in your local stores or the big chains. I highly recommend The Snap Store. Her color selection is excellent and her customer service is first rate. In three years I have rarely broken a snap from her store and the snaps have never failed on my diapers even after being used through 2 children. The metal snaps and snap setters found at the large fabric chains are not suitable for diapers. The metal in the snaps rusts quickly due to the washing required by cloth diapers.
Wool Fabrics- If you are fortunate and have a local fabric store that sells apparel fabric, you can probably find suitable diaper cover wool there. Fall and winter are the best time to find a good selection, and in the spring you might happen upon some great deals. Look for 100% wool flannel, crepe, and jersey. All make good covers if you use 2 layers. Coating, suiting and summer weights or blends are not recommended.
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