Thursday, April 9, 2009

A manifesto - of sorts

I have never claimed to be a seamstress - in fact, many times, I've claimed quite the opposite.
Truth be told, I really don't know how to sew. Oh yes, I know, I took a semester long sewing class (back in the old days when they offered such a class in high schools - circa 1997) but try as I might, I can't remember a darned thing. It is for this reason and many more that you should all be quite impressed with my most recent sewing adventures. Behold, the baby wipe:

"It's a What?" I hear you ask... yes folks, that's right, it's a baby wipe - of the wiping-the-bottom variety. Now why on EARTH would I waste my valuable time and talents figuring out how to sew one of these? I'll get to that. First, Let me give you some background.

This Is my sewing machine. It was gifted to me by a good friend (Cheers to Dani) who received it from a woman in her church who had passed away. I'm not sure how old this Singer is, but I'm pretty sure it dates back past the 1950's. I have all the instructions to it (which are no longer in book form but rather in single pages rubber banded together) and even a box of additional parts - none of which I recognize. This past weekend I put myself to the task of figuring out how to change the stitch from straight to medium-zig-zag and, let me report, I had great success.

I still haven't figured out how to make it go in reverse (a must, if I remember correctly, for fastening a stitch) but I'll save that task for another weekend. Now back to those wipes...

Remember how I said Jonathan and I planned to use cloth diapers? Yes, yes, I see you shaking your head at me. Well, I for one was thrilled when our first order arrived in the mail yesterday. So excited in fact, that I decided to choose a model for our first collection. Mind you, these are your traditional "prefold" cloth diapers - Levi will only be in these for 4-6 weeks (max) before he moves into the oh-so-much-more-convenient "pocket diapers" - I'll get to that later too. For now, This is my dear friend Casanova modeling a prefold with a velcro prowrap. The second one shows what it looks like under that prowrap - note the lack of pins which have been strategically replaced with a "snappi". Hooray for no pins!

So, for about $40 we've got enough cloth diapers and prowraps for about 6 weeks of diapering. Can we say money saver? Yes, I know, the time and effort it will take to wash said diapers will be the trade-off so we'll just have to take it one day at a time. As a woman I reserve the right to change my mind - but optimistically, I really think this will work well for us. The picture below are two of the kinds of diapers we will have once Levi is closing in on 10-12 lbs. These are quite simple, very similar to disposables (in their ability to wick moisture away from the skin) and they adjust to fit children from 10 to 35lbs. They're pricey (about $17 each) and we'll need about 24 of them - but $400 and change is one heck of a lot less than the cost of roughly 8750 disposables over the course of 3 years. I won't even bother going into the effect 8750 diapers full of fecal matter have on our landfills and our environment, you probably know where I stand on that. Anyhow, here are "fuzzi bunz" and "bumgenius" diapers:

This is probably our favorite option: Fuzzi Bunz. Why? first, they snap shut (sounds complicated, but it's not). They have multiple snap settings for different sized babies. Snaps don't wear out like velcro does (see Bumgenius below) and this diaper has adjustable elastic in both the legs and the waist. It has a "pocket" to put an absorbent microfiber insert into (each diaper purchased comes with two of those) and the outer layer is waterproof. We like simple, we like long-lasting.

Above is a Bumgenius diaper. It also has an opening for an insert. This diaper has velcro closures rather than snaps. Easier? probably, but not as long-lasting. Eventually that velcro wears out. We'll probably have fewer of these than the others just because, for the same price, they will likely wear out sooner. All theory, no practice.

So back to those wipes - I know, I've said that a few times - why in the world would I go to the trouble? well think about this: When you change a baby and you wipe him up, where do you put that wipe? I, for one, put that dirty wipe right inside that dirty disposable diaper. I wrap the whole package up and plop it into the diaper genie. So, wouldn't it make sense (since we are using cloth diapers) to make a wipe I could simply wrap up with the dirty cloth diaper and throw in the wash bag? Otherwise I'm stuck trying to separate trash from laundry - yuck. So, while I know it may not actually work like I think it's going to, the fabric was well worth the $12 and hey, I've learned a lot about that sewing machine in the past week.

For those of you who may be interested, I used flannel for the wipes. I cut them about 9x10 (I didn't measure, I just folded my 2 yards of fabric into equal pieces, ironed, and cut - I have very little patients). I sewed them wrong side out with a zig-zag stitch, then turned them right side out and closed the gap. I noticed that they were quite "puffy" and, for extra structure, decided to put an additional zig-zag stitch around the entire outside. Now, I don't have to worry about the corners backing into the wipe while in the wash. If that doesn't make sense don't dwell on it too long, you kinda had to be there. Here's an idea of how big they are, the one in my hand below is folded in half. They are really rather large:

So there you have it, our cloth diapering manifesto. For those of you wondering, yes, my dear hubby is just as on board with this plan as I am. He and I went down to our local cloth diaper store (there's only one in the state - it just happens to be in Lincoln) and played with the many varieties they have. We have no clue what kind of an effort this will take, but financially it's a GREAT plan. If you're a mamma or a mamma-to-be, or you're just curious as to why middle class folks are returning to cloth diapers, visit this site, and this site. Both of them helped us make our decision. That said, - I maintain the prerogative to change my mind!