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Replacing Diaper Elastic

If you're like me, you use your diapers about once every other day.  By the second child, ours were starting to show signs of wear in the elastic.  This particular diaper had no stretch left at all!  This whole process takes about 30 minutes to pull out all the stitches and remove the elastic and 15 minutes to put new elastic in and restitch the casings.  It's a little tedious, but well worth the effort.  Instead of spending $15-$20 on a brand new diaper, the whole project cost me about $.30 for elastic and thread.  If you post on diapering message boards, you can usually ask for donations of diapers with shot elastic and find lots of people who would be happy to send you their old diapers for just the cost of shipping.  You can remove stitches while you watch tv and or the kids play and spend less time in the sewing room than you would making a new diaper.  The other bonus is that if the diaper was a little loose or tight before, you can now customize the fit to your child!  As I type my daughter is sleeping soundly in this very diaper.  It had been sitting in the back of the closet for a while unused since the elastic was completely gone.  Cloth diapering doesn't get any more frugal than this!

This diaper is a medium Fuzzi Bunz pocket diaper.  I used about 7.5" of elastic on the legs and 6" in the back.  I've tried a few different measurements and this works pretty well. 

1.  Starting at the open end of a pocket diaper, begin removing the leg casing with a pair of small scissors or a seam ripper.  If the diaper you are working no does not have an open end, use the seam ripper or small scissors to make an opening along one seam first, preferably where there is no elastic.  Once you have the beginning inch or so or the casing removed, turn the diaper inside out.  You may find it easier to pull the two pieces of fabric apart with your hands and cut the strings in between (see photo.)


2.  Once the casing is completely open, use your scissors to cut the threads and remove the elastic.


3.  At the pocket opening, carefully pull out the stitches.  In this brand, the elastic is partially serged onto the back seam.  Do not pull out the serged stitches or your pocket opening will no longer be sewn together.  Just trim off the old elastic as close to the serging as possible.


4.  Mark your old elastic attachment points and begin sewing the elastic back on the legs.  Use either a three step elastic stitch or a standard zig zag stitch.  I set my machine to about a medium stitch length for this project.  Sew on top of the serging or as close to it as you can get, or use the old elastic placement as a guide.


5.  The pocket opening can seem a little tricky, but it's simple once you get the hang of it.  Don't worry about messing up too much, after all the diaper you are fixing is unusable as it is, right?  I mark the elastic 1/2" from the cut end and leave the rest uncut so I have plenty to work with.  Mark the elastic at the other end with a washable marker or disappearing pen.  Starting at the cut end of the elastic on one side of the pocket, line the marking line up with the opening and stitch towards you (see pic.)  If you look carefully you'll see a tiny bit of elastic sticking out from under the presser foot on the left side.  This insures the stitching doesn't get pulled loose over time.


6.  Stitch just past the elastic and then, with the needle in the DOWN position, turn the diaper so that you are stitching closed the opening.  Be careful not to stitch the elastic down.  If you have trouble with the presser foot sticking to the PUL backing, try a walking foot or teflon foot.


7.  When you get to the other end of the opening, turn the diaper with the needle in the down position again.  Be sure that your stitching will line up with the pocket opening.  Carefully pull the elastic through the casing until you find your second marking.  Put down your pressure foot again and stitch closed the final opening.  The tail end of the elastic is marked in red on this picture.  Once you have finished closing the casing, trim off to 1/2" or so of the stitching.  Notice how the stitch line in the photo will end to the right of the serging of the pocket opening.


8.  Turn the diaper back right side in and topstitch over the leg casings.  Be careful not to overstitch the elastic so that it can stretch freely in the casing.  You're done!  Congratulations, you created a treasure from trash and saved yourself a bundle!

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