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Reusable, Cloth Baby Wipes

October 12, 2009

IMG_2891 cropped

We used reusable, cloth baby wipes on my last two girls.  I didn’t have a lot of money and hadn’t ever seen a tutorial for wipes, so I ended up purchasing single ply, serged-edged flannel wipes, which served us very well and have even made it into our family wipe basket after going through two babies!  Which is to say that flannel wipes are not only softer than paper wipes, but very durable and long-lasting.  The single-ply, serged wipes are certainly functional, but they aren’t much to look at, which is why I’ve made two -ply, top-stitched wipes for the last two baby showers that I’ve attended.  Both of my friends planned on cloth diapering, which makes this gift very appropriate, but even if a family isn’t cloth diapering, having extra wipes on hand is always practical.  Babies and kids seem to always need something wiped.  Making wipes is very economical, too.  I’ve seen beautiful wipes on Etsy, running from $10-18 for 10-12 wipes.  I think that’s a fair price if you are purchasing them, because they do require work to make them, but if you have the time, basic sewing skills, a machine and fabric, why not save some money, personalize them and do them yourself?

I use two yards of fabric for each side, because I use two different designs for visual interest.  If you plan on using the same design, get four yards of fabric.  This yields 40 wipes, which are 7 1/2″ x 7 1/2″ finished size.  New flannel goes for about $5.99/yard at a local chain fabric store in town, and less than that if you have a coupon.  You could even purchase some old flannel receiving blankets or sheets at a thrift store (or you may have some on hand) and re-purpose them.

Start by cutting 8″ squares of flannel, you should get around 40 from each of your 2 yard lengths or 80 from four yards.  This job is easily accomplished with a cutting mat, a clear quilting ruler/quilting cutting guide thingy and a rotary cutter.  When you have your 80 squares, pin them together with the right sides facing each other, wrong sides out.

Pinned wipes

Pinned wipes

Next,  sew a straight stitch around the edge, with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  I use a pretty long stitch, since I will be top-stitching.

Pinned wipes in the upper corner and stitched wipes

Stitched wipes

Important:  Leave an opening of approximately 4″, so that you can stick your hand in there to turn them right side out in the next step.  Like this:

Leave an opening

Leave an opening

When you have sewn all your squares together and you now have 40 wipes, you will need to turn them all right side out.  Stick your hand in there and turn them out and then use a smaller object, like a chopstick, to push the corners all the way out.

Turned wipes

Turned wipes

Next, press the wipes so that everything is nice and flat in preparation for top-stitching.  Make sure to press 1/4″ inside the wipe on each edge of the opening so that the it looks like one square with flush edges, like this:

Pressed wipes

Pressed wipes

Press the whole stack.  They will be much flatter and neater looking now:

Stack of pressed wipes

Stack of pressed wipes

The final step is top-stitching, to add a more finished-looking touch and to also sew your opening closed.  I usually do it about 1/8″ away from the edge.  I’ve used both a straight-stitch and a zig-zag stitch.  This batch used a zig-zag.  If you’ve got a fancier machine than I do and you have decorative designs, feel free to use those.  I’ve seen a nice looking set of wipes with a decorative vine stitch.

Finished wipes

Finished wipes

For a wipe solution, I always mixed up in my empty wipe warmer (though an empty wipes tube would work, too), 1 to 1 1/2″ of hot water, a few drops of Dr. Bronners liquid soap, a few drops of olive or almond oil and one or two drops of essential oils (I always used either lavender or chamomile or a mixture of the two, because they are safe for babies’ delicate skin).  When I mixed that up with my fingers, I’d add a stack of wipes and then an extra water if it was necessary to moisten all the wipes, but the initial water usually worked, or I poured out any excess liquid.  This full wipe warmer of wipes would last for 4 or 5 days with no mildew issues.  There are commercial wipe concentrate solutions out there, but, again, why pay more for something that is easy and economical to make at home.

After having used these for many years, I wouldn’t ever use disposable wipes again.  These are so much prettier, softer, and more fragrant than disposables, not to mention they are more environmentally friendly and if that weren’t enough, they don’t tear and they clean up messes far better than disposables.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 12, 2009 12:01 pm

    This is a great tutorial, thanks for sharing, Lisa!

  2. Mom permalink
    October 12, 2009 12:39 pm

    Those look great. You instructions are great and would be easy to follow.

  3. October 14, 2009 9:30 am

    Thanks you two! Let me know how they turn out, if you decide to make them, Marcy.

  4. October 23, 2009 3:48 pm

    Those are so cute! We used cloth wipes (and continue to use them for our potty user, but rarely remember to use them ourselves), but I was much lazier and just cut up some scraps of flannel. I didn’t even edge stitch them and they’ve held up for more than three years, though not as well as the scraps of terry that are serged. If I get some extra flannel I may make some nicer ones, though. They’re so pretty!

  5. December 7, 2009 11:23 pm

    It’s been over a month since I cut out two dozen wipes, and today I sewed half of them! I am so slow. But they came out great, and my husband is impressed!

  6. December 9, 2009 9:37 am

    I’m so slow, too! Unless I have an absolute deadline (like a baby shower or birthday) things will take me forever.

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