Friday, June 8, 2012

Sewing Cloth Training Pants-- A Pattern Review (Of Sorts)

I knew as soon as I started sewing cloth diapers that I would be just as excited to sew cloth trainers when the time came--always something new! Normally our boys don't even look at the potty until three, but Little Guy is completely aware of his pee-pee and will tell me immediately afterwards. He tinkles ALOT, so lately I'm changing diapers ALOT! I thought to myself this week, "Why waste a big fat diaper on one wetting?" Aha--He needs trainers!

I did a little research on patterns for cloth trainers. There isn't a whole lot to choose from. I piddled around with a few freebies I found, and then decided I just wanted to buy a pattern. After looking them over, I decided I wanted the style that has a separate center panel like boys undies because I would be more likely to use PUL scraps than if the PUL covered the whole outer. I briefly had my heart set on the Tinkle Time Trainer Pattern , but I kept looking for a few days. I came across the Bella Bum Big Boy Trainers Pattern on Etsy and decided to go for that one. I liked how many options there are for the stages of potty training. They also have a girls' version. You never know until you actually look at and use the pattern how much you'll like it, so I held my breathe while I was waiting for the email with the download (which was only a couple hours). Verdict: I like it. The pattern is nicely organized and nothing is left unexplained (that I noticed). The pattern even explains how to measure for and choose the correct size, which is always helpful.

Let me say this, I would save myself a lot of "OOPS" if I would just read and follow instructions. But I have issues with this! After you've sewn a hundred different diaper patterns you tend to think, "I've got it down." Trouble is, not all patterns work the same, or why would there be different patterns! I made a couple of boo-boos but was able to make it come together nicely in the end. My biggest mistake was not clearly paying attention to the instructions on measuring the Fold-over Elastic. I ended up piecing my elastic after some misinformed cuts, and I never waste FOE! Oh, and I also forgot to prewash the FOE, which I might have ignored anyway because I was so eager to try the pattern. In the end, the back side pieces came out a little wider than the front side pieces and the snapping ends didn't line up exactly. I was later able to determine that this was my error in cutting out the pattern. I had chosen the Stage 1 style but cut out the stage 3 pattern (which basically just includes seam allowances because you don't use snaps on those edges), and this made the widths not line up correctly. When I was trying to figure it out I emailed the pattern maker and got a quick response from them, although I ended up figuring out my mistake as I was getting ready to take photos to send them for analysis. An "AHA" moment.

The assembly is pretty basic. You start with your soaker pad. I didn't make mine exactly like theirs with soaker layers and a booster layer because I was using two edge pieces of a prefold diaper sandwiched between a good diaper flannel and a repurposed white undershirt. I just zig-zagged around the prefold layers to keep them in place in the soaker, and serged around the outer layers' edges. The prefold layer is a little stiffer than I would prefer, but I have a bunch that I want to use up.

For the center outer layer I used some of a PUL remnant I bought at JOANN'S that was really too short for most diapers, but great for this. For the stretchy side wings I used a pique knit polo shirt that Hubby had thrown in the repurpose pile. For the inner layer I used the repurposed white undershirt. And I happened to have a piece of white FOE for binding that had been slightly abused and torn off of another project. The pattern recommends twill tape to stabilize the stretchy wing edges where the snaps go, and all I had was black, but it turns to the inside anyway.

The pattern actually suggests using non-absorbent stretchy knits for the inside and wings to avoid wicking, but I am big into repurposing, so we just make do. Besides, If I'm going to be changing him after every little tinkle, wicking shouldn't be an issue! Most of the time I don't even put a waterproof cover on him at home when it's warm. I love how the soaker is only attached at the front and back for faster drying.

So, aside from a few deviations, which I can't seem to help doing, I followed the pattern and was able to complete a pair in a couple hours (printing pattern, measuring for size, cutting pattern, cutting fabrics, serging soaker, sewing body). Of course I had to put them on him immediately to see how they fit and I was very happy. I did notice when I took them off later that there were some little elastic marks on his thighs, so we will size up the elastic next time!

If you are looking for a trainers pattern, I would definitely recommend this one. If you are new to sewing, some challenges might be working with PUL and FOE--but if I can do it, SEW can you!