Sewing an All-In-One (AIO) Diaper

Materials Needed:  Barrier fabric OUTER (PUL is most common, heavy fleece is sometimes used. Wool is not appropriate for an AIO-style, as it must be handwashed)  Soft fabric INNER (stay-dry microfleece shown, other popular fabrics are suedecloth, flannel, velour, and silk)  Absorbant CORE (microfiber shown, also hemp, cotton, bamboo, etc)  ELASTIC (I recommend stretchrite brand, I use ¼” for the legs on all sizes, as well as the waist on smalls. I prefer 5/8” for the waistband on larger sizes, but ¼” works ok too.)  CLOSURES (I use touchtape, other options are aplix, industrial velcro, and snaps) Some things to think about when choosing materials: What will this diaper be used for? How long will the baby wear it between changes (how absorbent does it need to be?) Are sensitive skin/reactions an issue? (Some kids react to synthetic fabrics, others react to staying wet). What materials can I afford? (organic bamboo velour retails at $19/yd, whereas cotton flannel is $3/yd) Here are the materials I prefer, and why: PUL (1 or 2ml, either is fine—1ml is slightly more flexible, and is generally cheaper, however I feel that 2ml holds up to more use/abuse, particularly for toddlers) Microfleece keeps the skin dry by wicking moisture through to the absorbent core. Because it does not absorb any moisture, it won’t wick it onto the outer fabrics (fewer leg leaks). It is also very soft. Alternatively, I like velour which is not ‘stay-dry’ but tends to feel more dry because of the height of the fuzz. It stays soft forever, whereas microfleece will pill a bit after repeated washings. The downside to these fabrics is that they are both stretchy, which makes them a little harder to sew. Microfiber dries quickly, and is VERY thirsty. It is available inexpensively as ‘auto care cloths’ at places like Costco. SO, you have your fabrics, you have your pattern, you’ve cut everything out, now you’re ready to sew! If at any point in the process you have questions, please feel free to contact me via or

You may feel the intense desire to nuzzle your microfleece or velour. I recommend doing this now, because once the diaper gets used, you’ll never get another chance. 

STEP 1—attaching the core Lay out the core on the wrong side of the inner. It should be centered between the sides (around ¾-1” from edge) and roughly centered front-to-back as well (about 1 ½” from edge). Sew all the way around, taking care not to pucker the inner (which will probably stretch). It may end up not quite straight. That’s normal and ok—it won’t show later, and this is a poop-catcher, after all! wrong side I use 3 layers microfiber, but 2 layers is probably sufficient for newborn/small diapers. Core size in inches (I usually use 1 large piece and tri-fold it) S—12 long x 4ish wide (12x12 trifold) M—14 long x 5 wide (14x16 trifold) L—16 long x 5ish wide (16x16 trifold)

right side STEP 2 –sewing the sides together Lay the inner and outer together, right sides together (the shiny side of the PUL is the wrong side). No matter how carefully you cut, they probably will not line up perfectly because the fabrics both stretch a bit—the most important place to match up is across the top back, and to have the centers in alignment.

Always sew with the inner side up!! (otherwise the PUL will
stick to your presser foot and will not move through the machine)

Use 5/8” seam allowance across back, and 1/4” (edge of presser foot) everywhere else. Be sure to leave an opening across the front for turning it right-side-out (I leave it the same width as the core—I have little hands though, so if you have larger hands you may want to leave it wider) The fabric will probably stretch a bit. Puckers/tucks are ok in the areas that will have elastic anyway, so just pinch the fabric to those places if you can’t get it to lay flat. (and yes, the fuzz from the microfiber will get everywhere!)

front opening

seam allowance change This is a good time to check the height of your tabs. Lay one against the other to verify that they are the same width (top to bottom). If your back seam slanted a little they may be off. With your first few diapers you may also want to lay on a piece of the velcro to verify that the tab is wide enough to fit it. This pattern does not have a lot of room to spare in that regard, but you don’t need much either. Of course the diaper will still work, but it will look kinda funny if the tabs are different sizes. If one is bigger than the other, it’s easy at this stage to pick out an inch or two of stitching and even them up.

STEP 3—attaching the elastic There are two ways to do this step: mark & measure, or look & stretch. I recommend starting with marking, but once you have made a few diapers you probably will not need to take the time for that anymore. The one place you DO always need to measure is the tab length (the distance from the tab end seam to where the elastic starts). It should be 4 ¾” for M/L dipes, but I do 4 ½“ for S Mark the start/stop spots for each piece of elastic, then lay on the elastic, right next to the seam (in the seam allowance). Stretch it from one spot to the other, and zigzag it on (many people like to use a three-step zigzag or wavy elastic stitch, but I find that a standard zigzag allows the elastic to tighten back up more, creating a snugger fit). If you are not using pre-measured pieces of elastic, then just start at one mark, then pull it as tight as possible while sewing. Stop sewing at end mark, and snip off elastic! This may not work evenly with all types of elastic, but it has worked beautifully for me with stretchrite. Some people prefer to tack the elastic at each end, then create a casing from the outside (not sewing the elastic to the fabric along the length, but just enclosing it in the casing). I found this time-consuming, annoying, and I got leaks through the casing seams, so I don’t do it. I sew all elastic on the inner side—this makes ‘rolled in’ legs. If you want rolled out, sew the elastic to the PUL side. Elastic lengths (if you measure) S – back 4” leg 4 ½” M – back 5” leg 5 ½” L – back 5” leg 6-6 ¼”

STEP 4—trim and turn

Trim corners where indicated, as well as anywhere that the fabric seems to stick out really far (from the pieces not quite lining up). This is most important along the legs. There SHOULD be some extra width along the back because we made that wide seam allowance. Turn it right side out…oh wait, could it be?

YES! It looks like a diaper!

It’s always a good idea at this point to double check that your tabs are the same size… STEP 5—shut the front Tuck in the fabric edges along the front of the diaper, pinning so they lay nice and flat. Sew shut with a straight stitch near the edge.

STEP 6—sew on velcro Center the front piece about 3/8” down from the top of the diaper (touchtape is a little stiff, and leaving this space prevents it from poking the baby’s belly.) I prefer to sew it on with a zigzag stitch— one edge of the zigzag should be barely off the velcro. Some people prefer the look of a straight stitch—a straight stitch must be at least 1/8” in from the edge of the velcro, which leaves the edge free to catch or poke—thus I use a zigzag. Length (front piece) S—7 ½” M—9” L—11” You can use a little shorter, but I like the adjustability of using the longer piece. (here you can see the closure stitching too)

Sew on the tabs with the hook (sticky) side on the end, and the loop (soft) side toward the middle. I like to use tabs about 1 ½” wide, but many people use narrower tabs too. I would not go smaller than about ¾” wide. Be sure to keep a small space between them, otherwise the tab will not fold shut very well. Do not try to share the center stitching on both pieces or it will not fold shut at all. You can sew them separately, but if you want to save yourself a step you can try sewing them on at the same time following the pattern shown here: Up the outside, across the top of BOTH pieces, down the inside, across the bottom of the loop, up the center (on the loop), with the needle in, lift the foot and turn the fabric, then down the center (on the hook), across the bottom of the hook, and stitching over your initial line on the outside edge. If you don’t want laundry tabs, then just attach a piece of hook velcro.

All done!!!

Any one of these adaptations will affect the size/fit of the diapers. For the most part, I find that going up/down one size is more effective than making alterations—the only exception is if the rise is too long/short. These diapers have a proportionally long rise compared to several other styles/brands. Skinnier Baby Make a cross-over velcro tab: cut one extra piece of loop, and (after sewing inside tabs) line it up on the PUL side, over the stitching of the hook piece (so on the end of the tab), and sew it in place. Lay out the diaper on a fold, leaving ½” of the pattern hanging over the edge of the fold (in effect removing 1” from the width of the diaper) Wider Baby Use a 1” longer piece of elastic in the back, and/or measure the tabs to 5 or 5 ½” before starting elastic. Shorter Rise Lay out the pattern on a blank piece of paper. Place the front and back at the desired length (leaving a pleat/fold in the middle). Trace the width on the tabs and front portion, redrawing the side curve as needed between them. Longer Rise (you probably won’t need this, because the pattern is already pretty long) Cut the pattern in half across the middle, and lay the pieces on a blank piece of paper at the desired length (with the gap in the middle). Trace the width on the tabs and front portion, redrawing the side curve between them to cover the gap.