Flannel receiving blankets can often be purchased very inexpensively at thrift stores or garage sales. These flannel (100% cotton) receiving blankets make excellent pre-folded cloth diapers, with very little sewing involved.
First, be sure you're watching for a good deal. Ideally, you should be able to find the used blankets for about ten cents each, and never more than fifty cents each.
Be sure you're using 100% cotton blankets. Receiving blankets commonly come in two sizes, a smaller square blanket, and a larger, rectangular blanket.
Here is a pre-folded diaper made from a smaller, square receiving blanket. The diaper is folded in a "z" shape, with three layers in the middle and one layer on each side. Sew in two straight lines, to hold the fabric in place.
The finished diaper can be folded in half (for a newborn) and then used as a pre-folded diaper.
For an older baby, fold down as much as necessary to make the size of pre-folded diaper needed for your child.
Fold sides in...
...and fold front up. There's the diaper, ready to be pinned on the baby!
Here is a diaper made with a larger, rectangular blanket. Depending on the size of the blanket, your diaper will have three layers in the middle and either two or three layers on each side.
Lay your rectangular receiving blanket horizontally. Fold each side inward, basically folding the blanket in thirds. Overlap the two sides, so that there are three layers in the middle. Sew in two straight lines to hold the blanket in place.
To use this pre-folded diaper (it will be a larger one, since it is made from a larger blanket), fold front down according to the size of diaper you need.
Here is the finished pre-folded diaper!
I have made homemade pre-folded diapers from cotton t-shirts, but wasn't pleased with the results. Flannel receiving blankets make excellent diapers, with less sewing involved.
Leave a comment if you have more questions... I'm not sure if this was clear enough but my children just woke from their naps! :)
Edited to add: Here is more detail about folding the larger, rectangular receiving blankets! :)
Start with the blanket horizontally in front of you.
Fold one side in -- probably a little more than half way, but not two-thirds (unless the blanket is very large!).
Fold the other side in the same amount. The idea is to fold the sides in enough so that your diaper will be about 13-14 inches wide -- the width of a standard pre-folded diaper.
This is what your layers will look like. Three layers in the middle, two layers on each side. You'll need to pin this so it doesn't come apart while you sew. You just need to sew two strips down the middle, to hold the layers together.
The finished diaper will be longer than a normal pre-fold from the store. For boys, I folded down the front of the diaper. Now that I'm using these diapers on a girl, I fold down the back so the extra fabric is there. :)
Also, the amount of fabric that gets folded depends on the size of the baby. These diapers are very flexible and can be use for big or small babies!
Some of my receiving blanket diapers were fairly thin (made from smaller square receiving blankets). I sewed two of the homemade pre-folded diapers together to make a thick night-time diaper. This works nicely, though you could get the same effect by just using two thin diapers for night time. (I like them sewed together since it's less work to hang one piece on my clothesline than it is to hang two!)
Someone emailed and asked:
I noticed at the end of your post on making prefolds from flannel receiving blankets you mentioned that you did not particularly like the end result of prefolds made from t-shirts. I had planned on making several using that method (having found that site myself), so I would very much like to know what in particular you did not care for. I was going to start making some of those prefolds today, but I think I'll wait a little, until I hear back from you! Perhaps if it is a matter of the diapers being too stretchy, using an inner layer of knit and an outer layer of flannel would work better? Any insight would be helpful.
Personally, I found that t-shirt material wasn't as absorbent as flannel. I made sure to use 100% cotton t-shirts, and was optimistic, but ended up disappointed.
I thought that cutting the numerous layers and sewing the diapers took a whole lot more time than pinning and sewing a receiving blanket.
I also used pins on mine, and after a while the pins made holes in the outer layers of t-shirt. Not a functional hindrance, but they definitely didn't look as nice as any of my other diapers! :)
If I were to ever use t-shirts for diapers again, I would probably use some flannel along with the t-shirt, at the very least. Even better would be to just use old flannel shirts. I have a couple of diapers made from an old flannel night gown, and they work great!
I'd love to hear from anyone who has actually made t-shirt diapers and thought they worked as well as flannel or Chinese Pre-folded/DSQ pre-folds! :)
Some final thoughts for you:
The Chinese/DSQ pre-folds are relatively inexpensive and are good quality.
Receiving blanket diapers are cheaper for me since I get my receiving blankets for about 10 cents each.
I would buy chinese pre-folds over making diapers from t-shirts. And the cheap flannel at Wal-mart will wear out fairly quickly, whereas the Chinese pre-folds will last a long time.