Diaper Cover with Gussets Tutorial (finally!!!)

* edited 3/6/13 at the end of post to answer some FAQs and add a few things I have learned with another baby and a few years more CDing experience. Please look there first if you have questions, and please read through the whole post before beginning.*

Several of you have asked how I made the diaper covers for Munchkin, so I thought I would put together a tutorial for all the other crafty mommas out there. I have never written a tutorial before, so please let me know if any part of this is unclear. If you have ever used bias tape, you will find that fold-over elastic is very easy to use, and if not, it isn’t hard to learn! I hope to explain it well enough that even a beginner will be able to create some cute covers for your little one 🙂

Here are the instructions to make your own diaper covers:

1. First, you will need to gather your materials: for a small diaper (to fit approximately 9-14 pounds) you will need at least a 16″ square of PUL (waterproof) fabric and a 16″ square of printed fabric (I use cotton), about 1.5 yards of fold over elastic (FOE)*, about 8 inches of 1-2″ wide velcro loop (soft), and a couple of inches of velcro hook (rough) per diaper. Oh, and some thread:-) Some scrap paper, a pencil, a ruler, and some scissors will do for drafting your pattern.

* A note about the fold-over elastic: make sure you get high-quality elastic that will stand up to repeated laundering as diapers get a lot of use! I have been using the 3/4″ no-pill elastic from this store and it seems to work well. Also, the wider the elastic, the easier it is to use. If you have never used FOE or bias tape before, you might want to start with 1″ elastic.

2. Next, you will need to draw out your pattern and cut the pieces. You can use a cover or diaper you already have that fits your child well or even a disposable diaper to figure out the general dimensions, then tweak it if necessay. The neat thing about making your own covers is that you can customize them to fit your baby just right! The pattern I came up with looks something like the sketch below. It is 16″ wide at the back, 8” wide at the front, and about 5.5″ wide at the narrowest part in the middle. The entire diaper is 16″ high. This is small diaper that will fit approximately a 9-14 pound baby. Of course, the pattern can be adjusted for any size diaper you wish to make. Red dots indicate where you will begin and end gathering the elastic. You can also cut a dip into the front of the cover (red dashe line) to give a bit more room for the umbilical area if you are making your cover for a newborn.

3. Cut out your pieces from the fabric. Notice how I seamed the middle of my printed fabric to ensure that the cupcakes are right-side up on the front and back of the finished diaper. This isn’t necessary unless you choose a fabric with a directional print. Of course, the PUL fabric should be one solid piece. You don’t want any holes for moisture to wick through! Go ahead and attach a strip of velcro loop across the front of the fabric piece, then baste the cotton and PUL pieces together very close to the edge and trim if necessary so that your stitch line will be covered by the FOE. Make sure your PUL is facing shiny side out. Also be sure to mark the points where the gathered part of the elastic will begin and end along the leg openings and back (red dots on my pattern) on the pieces.

4. Gussets at the leg openings help keep messes in. If you would like to add them, you will need to cut out 2 PUL semi-circles about 8.5″ long and 2.5″ high for the small diaper. (see pattern)

5. Fold a piece of elastic over the straight edge of the semi-circle, tack the end, and stretch the elastic fairly taut while you stitch it on using either a wide 3-step ziz-zag if your machine has it (see photo below), or a plain wide zig-zag. The zig-zag should fall near or just over the inner edge of the elastic. When you are finished, the edge of the gusset should be gathered up. If it doesn’t seem very gathered or doesn’t stretch well, you may be using too narrow a zig-zag or not stretching taut enough. Expirament if you need to until the elastic seems to gather and stretch well:

6. Now, find the center of curved edge of the gusset and the center of the leg opening on the diaper and pin them together. To attach the gusset, I find it easiest to begin near where the pin is and stitch towards one end using a straight stitch just a little at a time while I carefully pull the edge of the gusset to match the edge of the diaper. Take your time! Then go back to where the pin is and stitch towards the other end until the entire curved edge of the gusset is attached to the leg opening of the diaper. Do the same thing on the other side. The finished gusset should look somewhat like a dam along the leg-opening of the diaper:

7. Now comes the fun part; finishing the raw edges of the diaper with fold-over-elastic! I usually start the FOE right behind the gusset on the back of the diaper with the printed fabric facing up, since that is the side that will show on the finished diaper. Make sure you can see the marks for the beginning and ends of the gathered elastic. Fold the FOE over the edge, making sure that the raw fabric edge is completely enclosed and begin stitching without stretching the elastic (just like bias tape) using the wide 3-step zig zag. Make sure the zigzag falls just over the inner edge of the elastic and go slowly, especially around the curve of the tab. Stop frequently and double check that your fabric edge is completely enclosed in the FOE.

8. When you get to the mark where the gathered elastic should begin on the back of the diaper, stop, pull the elastic taut, and stitch a couple of inches at a time until you get to the end mark. Continue stitching unstretched around the second tab. Next, you will come to the leg opening. Here you will be enclosing the unfinished edge of the leg opening and the gusset in the elastic as you stretch and carefully stitch between your marks. Keep going, you’re halfway there now! Continue around the front of the cover and back up the other leg opening, stretching wherever the elastic needs to be gathered.

9. When you get back around to the begining, stop a couple of inches short and cut the elastic so that it just overlaps where you started. Finish stitching the last couple of inches, go right over the cut edge and backstitch a couple of stictches to finish off. Here I like to remove the diaper from the sewing maching, turn it sideways and stitch a plain, narrow zigzag over the cut edge of the elastic to prevent any fraying and make it look a little neater:

10. You’re done! Well, almost 🙂 now, all you need to do is add a little square of velcro hook to each tab so that you can fasten the diaper and trim off all your stray threads, then diaper your baby and admire your handiwork. Now, isn’t that the cutest little bum you’ve ever seen???? 🙂

*Edited to add:

• “Does the cotton fabric on the outside cause wicking?” Not in my experience. They may be somewhat more prone to wicking than covers with just PUL, but only if they are allowed to get really, really soggy. I generally don’t use them for overnight/long car trips, etc… and have had very good luck (Zeke is actually using a few of Miles’s original covers, only they have since had snaps added)

• on that note, “Can I use snaps instead of velcro.” Yes! And after a few years of experience, I actually recommend it. Velcro sticks to everything in the dryer (face it, you will occaisionally forget to fasten it before tossing in the washer) and it eventually wears out and needs replaced. It s also easier, in my experience for an older baby to undo velcro and escape the diaper. Ahem… The process is essentially the same, you will just need a few plastic diaper snaps and either a snap press or snap pliers designed to work with them to attach them to the cover instead of the velcro.

• “Do I have to use the cotton outside fabric?” Absolutely not. It is purely decorative, and something that I came up with after procuring a LOT of really cheap plain, white PUL. Since my original writing, cute printed PUL has become much more widely available. I actually ound ome really cute robot PUL at JoAnn’s a while back to make a few new covers for Zeke.

• “Do you have a pattern for___size? I am not in the pattern business, but I will say that it is easier than you think to draft your own pattern from an existing cover or even a disposible diaper, which is all I have done. (and which is why I am not comfortable offering a printable pattern) All you need are general dimensions: total length stretched out, width across tabs, width at narrowest point, width across the front. Try to make sure your pattern is symetric. Don’t stress out too much about it – it is not an exact science! 🙂 If you want to size up/down, remember that the narrowest width does not change very much at all from size to size.

• “what kind of diapers do you use with them?” You can use folded flats (a large square-ish single-layer diaper, folded to fit the baby) or prefolds (rectangular diaper that already has a thicker layer through the middle), fastened with a Snappi, or pins. I have used both since I have some of each, but personally I like the flats. Husband prefers prefolds.

• “My cover looks great, but it leaks.” A couple things to check: make sure that the cover is the appropriate size for your baby and the diaper you are using, make sure that your fold over elastic is not made of or covered with a wicking material, and make sure you are not using a cotton thread to attach the elastic, as it can also cause wicking. And, this should go without saying, but please change your baby frequently. No one likes sitting around in a soggy diaper! 🙂 Try adding a soaker if you child is a heavy wetter.

• “Can gussets be added to a one-size fits all cover?” Yes! My latest batch (with the cute robot fabric!) are size adjustable and use snaps to ajust the size. I used a Blueberry cover for measurements to draft my pattern.


94 thoughts on “Diaper Cover with Gussets Tutorial (finally!!!)

  1. Thanks so much for this. I bought a pattern- no gussets! 😦 Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Also, I couldn’t get my FOE to gather the fabric well, and I am thinking that it’s the size of my stitches. Thanks!

  2. Pingback: Hodge podge links « She lost her keys

  3. Thanks so much for the help! I will try this as soon as I get my hands on some foe. My only question… does using a cotton fabric create wicking problems?

  4. Great tutorial! Your clear pictures helped alot. My first gussets look great.

    Can I use this same method and make a diaper that I would turn and topstitch instead of using FOE around the edges?

    • Lisa- I have had no problems with wicking, and my son even wears the covers at night. If you are concerned about wicking you could use 100% polyester thread- that way moisture couldn’t travel through the thread to the cotton on the outside.

      Sandy- I haven’t tried a turned and topstitched diaper with gussets, but it may be worth a try.

  5. Your pictures and instructions are so helpful. Thank you! It was helpful for me to have a “Pro-Wrap” handy in the larger size I needed to make a pattern from because when I tried winging it (making a toddler size by adding various inches to your small example) it didn’t fit very well.

    RE: Sandy (turn & topstitch)
    I tried this, attempting an AIO based on this pattern above. It was a bulky disaster. Maybe just for a cover if you trimmed your seam allowances very close before you turn it wouldn’t be so bulky.

  6. Pingback: make your own diapers / nappies | frugalandthriving.com.au

  7. Thank you very much. The gussets worked out great. I had no problem. It was easied than making the pocket diaper. I made 16 diaper covers in 4 sizes-newborn to large and they look like a professional did them.



    • From top to bottom, how long is your large size? Left to right as well? I’m trying to make a one size fits all diaper cover but don’t have any diapers of a larger size to base it off of.

  8. Maybe this is a stupid question but, since I’m new to making diaper covers, bear with me. Does it matter which side of the PUL faces in or out? Which way do you do it?

  9. It would be waterproof either way, but most people face the smoother, shiney side out- towards the baby- so that the diaper cover can easily be wiped clean with a wipe if it just wet and it doesn’t have to be washed after each use. Good luck:)

  10. I’m wondering if it would work not to attach the elastic to the gusset before attaching it to the cover and then just adding the elastic to the gusset when doing the FOE? Have you tried this?

  11. Thanks for the tutorial! Now..off to figure out gussets for larger sizes! great pics!

    @Krystina: I buy my FOE online at Very Baby. I think Wazoodle carries it, as well. Both stores have a supply of diaper-making supplies, as does Kids In The Garden. Good luck!

    • Candice, How did you do it?? I have a 19.5 lb, 7 month old and need to make a cover for him that fits. I’m worried about tracing another cover that it will end up being too small once I add the elastic. Thanks!

  12. Thanks so much for this tutorial! I don’t like aplix, but plan on adding snaps instead. After I make this, I’ll send you a picture you so can see how it turned out. I’m so excited to make some more snazzy covers with cute fabric on the outside!!

  13. Thank you for posting pictures, detailed directions, and links to buying materials. I’m looking into making diaper covers, and it’s been hard to find precise and clear instructions to make them with gussets. Many, many thanks!

  14. Thank you so much! This is exactly the covers I was envisioning in my brain to create. Glad I found this because now I can stop envisioning and start sewing! 🙂

  15. I’m wondering what kind of cotton you used? Is it knit? I have 7 weeks to make some covers and I’m making a trip to the fabric store!

  16. Hi,
    Thats one great tutorial. I have a doubt though, silly one may be, but what goes into this cover? I mean the part which is absorbing and directly in contact with the baby skin, what is it? I am wondering because there is no provision provided for fitting in the soakers.

    • Hi, I’m new to this whole cloth diaper thing, but I believe a tri fold diaper goes inside. Like the cupid that fly’s in and shoots a romantic couple, wearing a trifold diaper with saftey pins. Now a-day there using snappi’s. Sorry about the spelling. I really appreciate the tutorial Jodean!! I’ve never tried sewing before, but my wife is afraid of her sewing machine.(and I’m tired of paying $50-60 a month for my two in diapers.) The look very good indeed.

    • What you can do is either use prefolds, fitted diapers, or make soakers (my choice) with several layers of absorbent fabric. I do a top layer of microfleece, 2 layers of Zorb (very trim and absorbent), and a bottom layer of microfiber. Serge (or zigzag) them together and attach snaps to the cover as well as the soaker. Then when baby is in need of a change, you just unsnap the soaker, snap in a clean one and wipe the cover with a wipe. If you check out the Best Bottoms website, you can see how they shape the soakers and the placement for the snaps.

  17. Your diaper cover pattern is amazing, thank you soo much for being so generous to share, i have already made one to see how it rolls out and realize that I just love it!! I am expecting my first baby this November and wanted to know how I would go about making a cover for a newborn, how would I modify the measurements? Getting nervous because I think the cloth diapers and few covers i have made and bought so far are all for babies 9 lbs or larger. Thank you again!!

    • I used a newborn cover I already had and liked for measurements (I think it was a prowrap cover) Just sort of stretched it out to measure each part- total length, back and front width, narrowest point width, etc… And sketched it out on a large piece of paper. (it helps to just sketch out half of the pattern, then fold your paper in half and transfer to the other side so it is symmetric, if that makes sense. I also made the front of the cover dip down a bit in the middle to leave a little more room for the umbilical cord area. Good luck, and congrats on the new little one! I’ve got one due early December 🙂

  18. Thank you very much for sharing … I just started making my own diapers and my girlfriend told me about the Gussets and how great they would be in my diapers (since my baby is due next month) … Awesome pattern I cannot wait to try it out !

  19. If you use printed PUL do you have to do another layer of cotton? Joann Fabrics has some really cute colors and patterns of PUL…just wondering! Thanks!

  20. A very helpful tutorial, thank you. I am going to try my first diaper for my new Grand baby that is on it’s way soon. The only question I have is with the gussets.. There is the curved edge and then the flat edge that has the elastic on it…do you sew the curved edge that is pinned in the center of the gusset to the leg so that the flat ends that have the elastic on the gusset ends at the red dots? it just seems like such a gap and I can’t quite see it. I’m new at this =-) It will pull the leg opening into a tighter curve right?

  21. WOW!! Thank you so much for this pattern! I have been searching for a good diaper cover pattern so I can make something to cover baby’s cloth diaper, but that isn’t a plastic pants. (I envision the poo clean-up will go a LOT smoother with a diaper cover instead of plastic pants.) I’ve never made a diaper cover before and am a bit leery, but with your clear instructions and superb pictures, my confidence is growing. Now, how do I make one that is larger? My son is 7 mo. old and weighs close to 18(?) lbs, so I need a larger pattern size. And…if I buy the fun printed PUL, will I also need to sew a cotton layer?–or is that for design purposes only?…I wish you could come and visit me and help me make one–I do better by being shown and by doing, especially when the teacher is right there with me. 🙂 This tut will have to do. Thanks again for the wonderful instructions and clear pictures.

    • You’re welcome! The cotton layer is just for design purposes, so if you can find PUL with a print you like there is no need for the cotton layer. We have a new JoAnn’s store since I wrote this that has some cute PUL prints. As for a larger size, I would recommend either using a cover you already have or can borrow, or even a disposable diaper for approximate measurements to fit your son’s size. Stretch it out and measure at several points: length front to back, width at the back where the velcro/fasteners are, width at the narrowest point in the middle, width at the front, etc.. Then use those measurements to draft up a pattern on a large piece of paper. Good luck!

  22. Super impressed! My mom gave me a bunch of PUL she had picked up somewhere and I’ve been afraid to make diapers because it always looked so intimidating. But I finished a newborn size diaper cover today and it looks awesome! I was afraid whatever I made would look misshapen or messy but it looks so cute! Can’t wait to have this baby and try them on!

  23. Hey, I just found this tutorial while searching for a tut to help me add gussets to a pattern I am already using. Thank you! I haven’t tried it yet but for some reason it felt difficult to detail out, which seems silly now that I see it!
    On a side note, lovely blog, and I see you have a link to some hashimotos info on the side… do you have this? Just curious because I do too. Haven’t had much trouble or issues with it, but I just saw in an article info about some leafy greens being bad for it? I think I need to have my levels checked again, They lowered me about 2 months ago but I feel exhausted and I swear my hair is all falling out!? Is that dumb? 🙂 Okay, now I am just rambling.

    Thanks for the tutorial!

    • Good luck with your diaper project!
      Yes, I have Hashimoto’s. Being tired and losing hair are two symptoms that you are hypo, so having your levels checked again couldn’t hurt. Also, some people (myself included) can have lab results within the “normal” range and still experience symptoms. I don’t tend to feel good until my TSH is towards the very lower end of the normal range. Good luck!

  24. I have been trying to figure out gussets, and your tutorial is great! The problem I am having now is with stretching the FOE around the legs (due to the curvature of the diaper, I imagine). I am constantly either catching the gusset or not enclosing the fabric edge. Will it make a difference if my seam allowance is too small? I thought I was using a 1/4″ seam allowance when sewing the gussets to the diaper, but now that I am thinking about it, I may be at more like 1/8″… Also, is gathering the legs necessary with the gussets? Do you have any tips or suggestions?

  25. Very quick question… Would the gusset size you have work on a OS cover? I am a novice sewer and have sewn a few OS covers for my DD over the past year, but I have recently been asked to sew some as gifts for a coworker’s wife – they want gussets and I have no clue as to size measurements for a one size cover…
    Thank you in advance for your opinion!! 🙂

  26. Pingback: Going Green with Cloth Diapers | American Mothers S. A. | a mySA.com blog

  27. Fantasic tutorial on adding gussets I have done this to my brought cloth diapers at home and have solved the leakage around the leg issues

    • So much harder! I really reccommend FOE!
      Otherwise you could use the regular elastic where gathering is needed and cover everything with bias tape afterward like she does with the FOE.

  28. Omgosh. You saved me so much money! Your creation is awsone and your pictures helped a lot too. I made a cover without the gussets…pop leaked everywhere…..so I made another one with the gussets…awsome! Your instructions were very good but my first 1 turned out awful, then after that they turned out fantastic. Thank you so much and every one I tell when they ask me when I made them I promise I will tell them you showed me : )

  29. You’ll probably be asked to take several baby outfits with you into hospital if that is where you’ll be birthing your baby. It’s a good idea to have a mixture of both 000’s and 0000’s to start with. How long they spend in each size really depends on how quickly your baby grows (and oh boy do they grow quickly!) but unless you have a premature or very small baby, getting more 000’s than 0000’s is a good idea.”

    Our personal blog

  30. I have a quick question – thinking of sewing this for my son, and using snaps. I am fairly new to using snaps and I wonder a) if the snaps can go right through the PUL without causing leaking, and b) whether you need an extra layer in order to help the snaps ‘snap’ (given that the prongs are too long for a single layer of PUL). And if so, can you add a layer of something to the inside of the cover (mine is printed PUL so I don’t want to cover it!)

  31. I have a similar question to Rachel. To make a OS cover with snaps I know you have to re-enforce the snaps with a little piece of pul on each snap, but it will show on the inside, so I am wondering if I need to use 2 cuts (layers) of the PUL?

    • What I did in the end was to use a strip across the line of the poppers along the top of the nappy, so the edges of the extra bit were enclosed in the elastic. It is working well so far!

  32. Pingback: Cloth Diapers | the terrific tales of Tory

  33. So many snaps! I am sort of a newbie to this…I can see what the top rows of snaps are for, but are there some purely decorative snaps lower down, or do those have a purpose that is escaping me?

  34. Great tutorial! This is what I’ve been looking for! One question…this may be stupid, but I have seen different tutorials say different things…when sewing an inner fleece layer and an outer PUL layer, the shiny side of the PUL should be hidden and facing the bum, right? Or should the shiny side be on the outside?

  35. Pingback: 2015 MARCH-MALLOWS Due in March 2015! Come join us! - Page 648 - BabyandBump

  36. Do you have any tips for scaling the gussets as you change the diaper size/pattern? I’m using a slightly different pattern than yours in a newborn size and want to make sure that whatever gusset I cut will actually fit properly on my pattern!

  37. Pingback: Sweet Baby Bottoms… | deliveringhopeint.com

  38. Hi, Thanks for the great info. I have a pattern for sized diapers and I was wondering if I could add snaps to make it a one size-diaper cover or if I would need a new pattern for the one-size covers . also, I have read that the one-size diapers often leak on a newborn because the leg holes do not tighten up enough; do the gussets improve the performance of the cover on a newborn?

  39. I have been reading and rereading this tutorial so many times in the last week! I finally went out tonight and bought everything I needed; I was so excited! Came home and drew up my pattern, and started in on your instructions. They were so clear cut that I had NO issues at all following them! Thank you so much! My daughter looks adorable in her new diaper 🙂

  40. I was wondering with the snaps you used on the robot cover it doesn’t leak putting the snaps through the cover right? I am attempting my first try at covers and don’t want to waist my PUL. also I have the printed PUL and not the cotton fabric with it, is it the same process with sewing everything if it’s just the PUL?

  41. I appreciate this tutorial! I am interested in switching to cloth diapers and am thinking of making my own to save moolah. Could you estimate how much it would take to make one? I actually think I could get by with 12 and wash every few days. Thank you so much!

  42. Thanks for the teach…my daughter requested cloth diapers for her newborn Grace. I had no idea how diapering has evolved since I had babies! I was in the “flat cloth diaper with rubber pants” era. Yours is one of the nicer patterns I’ve found. I am an experienced seamstress and was wondering if the FOE could be sewn over the entire outside edge at one time. I was concerned about the separate seams at the gusset ends causing uncomfortable rubbing on baby. You were very thorough and easy to understand. Thanks again:)

  43. Pingback: Free Cloth Diaper Patterns and Sewing Guides | Mini Matters

  44. You may never read this on such an old post, but why do you use FOE for the entire diaper? It seems like you could use bias tape for a significant portion. Anyone else have any ideas on this?

  45. Really old post so you’re probably well past diapers, but I thought I’d ask anyways: where/how does the hook part of the velcro get attached? I can see the yellow spot where you indicate that it goes, but what do I stitch it to and at what phase? (I’m actually attempting to use this pattern for a cat diaper.)

  46. Hi, I was wondering how long/wide you made your one size rocket diaper? Also I’m wondering where in the Ozarks you live. someone mentioned Arkansas. And that is interesting to me as we are praying about moving to the Ozarks for a quiet peaceful place to raise our children. We are currently in the country on the outskirts of DFW. Any good land for sale at a very inexpensive price?

  47. you don’t explain what a gusset is and for nor do you say what pul and foe are you are assuming that everyone knows what you are talking about. please add expiation of these terms in you pattern.

  48. Pingback: 10 Free DIY Sewing Patterns for Baby Gear –

  49. Good day! Since you’re reading this message then you just proved that contact form advertising works! We can send your ad message to people via their contact us form on their website. The best part of this type of advertising is that messages sent through feedback forms are inherently whitelisted. This increases the likelihood that your ad will be read. Absolutely NO Pay per click costs! Pay one flat rate and reach millions of people. For details please reply to: william4212sau@gmail.com

  50. Pingback: Diaper Cover with Gussets Tutorial (finally!!!) - Get Into WP

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s