Wordless Wednesday: Flats Challenge Edition


Flats Challenge: Wrapping that Bottom

I am participating in the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  For 7 days I will be using only flat cloth diapers and handwashing them in an effort to prove that cloth diapering can be affordable and accessible to all.

Dominic has been wearing a surgical towel on his bottom for every diaper change
and it has been working wonderfully. 

I took some pictures this morning just to visualize how I use the blue towels.

He likes smiling for the camera, what a ham.

And on a bright note:
 Which is awesome, because hanging in the shower was taking forever!

Hop on over to DDL for more fun!
Day 3


Flats Challenge: What's in my stash

I am participating in the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  For 7 days I will be using only flat cloth diapers and handwashing them in an effort to prove that cloth diapering can be affordable and accessible to all.
I spent the last two weeks preparing and planning, I started out with 10 cotton flannel receiving blankets, 8 cotton flour sack towels, 20 blue hospital towels, 10 homemade fleece soakers, 4 homemade wool soakers.  The receiving blankets were all gifts, four years ago, so they are well used, the flour sack towels were in my kitchen, I used them to filter fruit juice for jelly making.  The blue hospital towels were free from my Mom.  I made the fleece covers from old blankets and clothes. The wool soakers were made from thrift shop sweaters.  It probably cost me $5 in materials to make the soakers.  I am using all items I already had for washing and drying.

Now entering the second day of the challenge, I have found the biggest challenge is getting Jacob on the potty in time.  He has been wearing receiving blankets and flour sack towels, kite folded, with a blue towel pad folded inside, pinned, with a fleece soaker.  Although it is very effective as a diaper, it makes potty training impossible.  Today we are switching him to gDiaper covers with pad folded blue towels, which should make potty time easy and also means less to wash. WIN!

Dominic has been doing well in a blue towel, angel wing fold, with a snappi and a cover.  We have been alternating between fleece and wool soakers.  I prefer the wool because it doesn't need to be washed as often.

Washing. I have been rinsing after every change, then washing twice a day,  I have been using the sink, to wash, then soaking in a bucket, then rinsing and wringing in the sink.  It's tedious, but it did get my gardening hands amazingly clean.  I need to devise a better indoor drying solution. I am using pants hangers in the shower, so there is no circulation.  I was relying on my clothes line, but the weather has not been cooperating.

I like the fleece soakers, they are convenient and easy to wash.  They don't dry as quickly as a pul cover,  but the fact that they cover enough to be worn as shorts is awesome, especially in the summer.  I think fleece covers are an excellent solution for families trying to cloth diaper on a budget, they can be made very easily using the Katrina Pattern.  I just cut out fabric to make 10 more yesterday, out of old fleece blankets that have just been taking up space in the closet.  By the end of the week I should have all of them sewn up and ready to be donated along with the 10 others I have been using.  I am planning to have 25 covers ready to ship to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope by the end of the challenge.  Hopefully I have time after all the handwashing!

BTW,  Mother Nature, I am doing my best for you, a little SUNSHINE would be great right about now!

My clothes line looks miserable and lonely.

Hop on over to DLL for more challenge fun.
Day 2

And I leave you with a cute fluffy bum in a poorly folded flat.


The "OR Flat" Experiment: Toddler

I am participating in the Second Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge hosted by Dirty Diaper Laundry.  For 7 days I will be using only flat cloth diapers and handwashing them in an effort to prove that cloth diapering can be affordable and accessible to all.  In support of the challenge I am testing the feasibility of reusing the throw-away hospital towels in a diapering application.   There are families that can not afford disposable diapers, maybe using everyday items that can be found in a closet or acquired for free, a family can can cloth diaper at least part time to ease the financial burden of disposables. I already posted results from my infant trial here.

For this experiment I used a kite fold on a receiving blanket with a pad folded towel inside, the intent is that a blue towel is less bulky then folding a full size flat and still significantly more absorbent than just the blanket and because free stuff is awesome.

Jacob is 31 months and 25lbs, he wears 24mo size clothes and he had plenty of room in this setup.  It would easily fit on a larger toddler.  Out of my three boys Jacob is my 'supersoaker' the only combination that works on this kid at night is a hemp fitted, with a gCloth as a soaker and some of our cushiest wool pants.  I figured he would make a good test subject.  If only he would just pee in it already.

Jacob was a very good sport about sitting still through all the folding and pinning. He even smiled for a picture before announcing that he had to go potty. 

Jacob spent the entire morning getting pinned and unpinned to go potty.  I can't argue with progress, so I put him in underwear for the rest of the day.  Jacob got lots of praise and plenty of stickers, but I had no results.

I tried again the next day to good results for the blue towel, less exemplary results on the potty.

The towel absorbed well, it bunched up a bit after being wet while he was running around, but no worse than any other pad folded flat would.  The combination of the receiving blanket and the blue towels, took everything Jacob could throw at it, with good reliable results, I covered his bum with one of the homemade fleece soakers I made and the total cost per diaper change was next to nothing.  Once all the layers are separated it was a breeze to wash in the sink and since everything is single layer it dries rather quickly on the line. We used this same combination at night, but with a thick homemade wool soaker.  In the morning he was a little damp on the outside, but the bed was dry.

The only downside is changing time, when he had to use the bathroom is was difficult getting him out of everything in time.  I did put him in underwear quite a few times, but honestly, when thinking of affordable diaper options, no diapers is probably the most awesome.  I could streamline diaper changes using a square flat as the outer, with a snappi and an aplix pul cover, but I was testing the more affordable options.  As an alternative to buying disposables, this is a easy, cheap option.  Even if you can't make your own fleece soakers, there are plenty available used on diaper swappers for $5 shipped, and can be found for as little as $8 new. 

At the end of the challenge I will be donating all the fleece soakers I made for the challenge to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope.

Visit some other crazy handwashing Mamas...


Deep Breath

For a couple seconds I was completely terrified.

I saw the car.

I realized he didn't see me.

I had three choices and no time to weigh the options.

Left, right, straight.
We were traveling at 50mph,
Directly in front of us was the side of his car,
To the left was double yellow lines, no oncoming traffic,
To the right, soft dirt shoulder, trees, utility poles.

I went left, his car hit my passenger side door, a glancing blow but the explosion of glass scared the hell out of me.  My Jacob.  I moved so fast, next thing I knew I was in the back seat with him, checking every inch of him, he was terrified, silent, and completely untouched. I could see outside past him through the space where the door was.  It looked bad. But he was ok.

I took a deep breath, we were all ok.  Not a scratch. Well maybe a couple scratches, but nothing worse than what Dominic can inflict with his terrible claws.

We have so much to be thankful for.

Like the ability to go right back to being silly after getting stripped out of their glass covered clothes.


DIY Diaper Covers

While I was wrapping Jacob's unwilling bum in a receiving blanket with a OR towel stuffed in it I was proud of how thrifty I was, until I reached over and grabbed my $17 Kissa's Marvels cover.

Yeah, sure I did get it used, but still, what if I didn't have that cover?

Could I make my own?

Could I make my own out of stuff I already have?

After a bit of research I found the Katrina Soaker Pattern, it's free, it's printable and it is highly recommended. I do not own a sewing machine, but when I mentioned to my family that I wanted to do some sewing I managed to have three sewing machines dropped off at my house.  A good used machine can be acquired on Craigslist for under $50 if you can't borrow one.  It could be worth the cost if you really make it work for you. I made 10 fleece covers in one day with what I had on hand, I think my machine earned her keep today.

I printed out the pattern, taped it together and traced it onto a larger, 
tougher paper, so I can reuse it a million times.

Wait. Is that sponge bob?

Then I searched my house for old, worn, pilly fleece blankets, sweaters and scraps.  
I laid out all of my fleece and keeping in mind the direction of the stretch,
 I cut out as many pieces as I could out of what I had.  
I tried to make a matching small and medium...
 because it makes me all warm & fuzzy inside when my boys match. 

First thing I did was sew in a fleece doubler, I just used a zig-zag stitch all the way around.

Then I folded the diaper with wrong side out and just did a straight stitch up the sides.

Take the waist and leg pieces and fold the nice side in and straight stitch into a loop.  I didn't measure a seam allowance, I just used the edge of the presser foot.

Now fold the wrong side in and match up the outside edges.

With the diaper still inside out, tuck the leg band in and line up all of the raw edges together.  The leg band will be smaller than the leg opening, so you will need to stretch it as you sew.

Now do the same with the waist band.

 Now turn it all right side out and you have a nice new soaker!

Wordless Wednesday: Dominoes

The "OR Flat" Experiment: Infant

In preparation for the Flats and Handwashing Challenge I was experimenting with materials I have on hand to see what works.  Which brought me to these...

100% cotton blue sterile hospital towels.

These towels are packed in bags, once the bags are open the towels are no longer sterile. Sometimes one towel is used for a surgical procedure then the rest of the bag is thrown away.  The hospital can't reuse them because blue = sterile and I am sure we would all prefer not having mistakes made in that department. 

But do they need to be sent to the landfill?

I have been using these as unpaper towels for years, they clean up anything, are super duper absorbent and they wash up beautifully.  My inner hippy is very pleased. 

Now the real question, can they be used to diaper a child?

OR towels are small compared to most flats, which is both a blessing and a curse.  Measuring in at 14" x 21" after shrinking, they are comparable to a gerber flat in size.  I love a good origami fold, but that isn't going to fly with these, my first application was with a simple angel wing fold and a snappi.

Don't mind Dominic's horrified expression he just felt exposed without his cover.

I covered him up with a simple PUL cover and set him free to roam.

See all happy now :D

I wrapped his little sensitive bum in towels all day, one towel, angel fold, snappi, cover.  I added a second towel pad folded inside for absorbency for naptime. I changed him every 2 hours, his skin was dry with no signs of irritation, the towels were wet but not completely saturated, the cover was clean and dry.  Now, how about #2... well if you have an exclusively breastfed baby, you know their poop is special, like a watery, mustard explosion.  Dominic likes to do the majority of his business at 3am, because he secretly likes torturing me.  I have not done overnight with the towels alone, I LOVE my mattress, so within the guidelines of the challenge I stuffed my favorite poopsplosion containing pocket with a single pad folded towel.  At 3am the poop was gusset to gusset, all the moisture was soaked up by the towel, no leaks.  I put him back in the two towel/cover combo for the rest of the night and he woke up happy.  

Overall the results for diapering are positive, for a low income family this is a great alternative to flats, the smaller size makes hand washing and line drying easier, and the fact that they can be acquired for free makes them a great choice.

I will attempt to do the entire challenge using only these towels, I am working on getting a couple dozen more to share with a few other challenge mamas. I will see how many I can get 'new' and send them out free for shipping Monday (5/14) so they can be washed and ready for the challenge. 

Send me an email if you are interested! outnumberedmommy@gmail.com

Today I will be attempting 24hrs in towels on my 2 year old.  I'll keep you updated!

Here is a quick preview of what I am attempting on Jacob...


Flats & Handwashing Challenge 2012 - WHY?

This year I will be participating in the Dirty Diaper Laundry flats and handwashing challenge, a week of using flats (single layer cloth diapers) and covers.. and washing them all by hand.

Why would anyone ever sign up for that??!??!

This is a reality for some families, diapers are expensive. I was spending $50 per month on diapers.  Disposable wipes were an additional $10 per month.  I was spending as much on diapers and wipes as I was spending on food (not even good food because I needed to save the money for diapers).  I don't have disposable income, and well, I really was tossing $60 a month in the trash.  These numbers can be even higher, especially for families in cities or shopping on a limited income, so buying in bulk isn't possible. I decided to use cloth because it made sense financially, but the $100-300 start up can be more than most struggling families can spare.  I was lucky to get some support from my family and friends, but others are forced to make it work the hard way.

I have chosen to take this challenge to help spread the awareness that diaper need is an issue.  I will share how even the most simple materials can be used to diaper a child, freeing us from the financial obligations of purchasing diapers.  I will not be purchasing anything for this challenge.  I have some cotton birdseye flats, some old flannel receiving blankets and tee shirts.  I will use wool covers I made from thrift shop sweaters and waterproof covers made by other moms.  I will continue to use cloth wipes I made from cut up shirts.  All the laundry will be washed by hand and hung to dry. I will not be using any expensive specialty detergents.

I will make this work, because there are no government funded programs to help babies in need of diapers, so we really do need to do this on our own.

Want to help without all of the mess?

You can sign a petition to get cloth diapers or cloth diaper education covered by WIC- a government funded program that assists low income families by supplying food and other baby needs but not diapers. Sign it!

Or sign this petition to show support for the DIAPER ACT (H R 3134) that could help get more babies access to diapers (cloth and disposable).  Sign it!


Washing Woolies

Using wool diaper covers is awesome... until it is time to wash and lanolize them.   I am hand washing today as practice for the Flats & Handwashing Challenge, might as well.  I use Northern Essence wool wash and solid lanolin.  All of my wool is upcycled from sweaters, so it is a bit tougher than knit woolies, you won't want to do as much squeezing on your knits.

I don't use my sink to wash my wool, because that would require doing the dishes first and well... I would prefer not.  So I have a baby tub and a random toy bin.  I use two because I prefer separating my light colors and dark colors.

First fill both buckets with warm water.  Add your liquid wool wash.  
Place each woolie in the water and squeeze until fully saturated.
If you have any areas that need to be spot cleaned, now is the time to do that.
Just rub the soiled area with a wool wash bar.

Make sure all your wool is submerged
Let soak for 15-30 minutes

Gently wring out all of the wool and rinse, 
you can see above why I separate color.
Squeeze out as much water as you can.

 Now prepare your lanolin bath.
Fill one of your buckets/buns/tubs with warm water again.

In a mug heat up some water, 
hot enough to make tea.
In another mug break up some wool wash bar and a spoonful of lanolin.
Stir in the hot water until smooth milky white with no floating bits.  If the surface looks oily add a little more wool wash to help emulsify the lanolin. 
Now add your lanolin mixture to your warm water bath.  The water should be cloudy with no visible lanolin bits.

You will want to turn your wool inside out for the next step.

Take your wool and individually dunk each piece in the lanolin bath
once all of the wool is in, weight the top to keep everything submerged,
let sit for another 15-30 minutes.

Once your wool is all lanolized you will want to get it all dry.
This can take 24-48 hours depending on weight and how well you squeeze out the water.

Take all your wool and squeeze out all the extra water.

Then take some clean dry towels and roll up each one and press out any additional moisture
Now lay flat to dry.  I use a gate section for some of them and have some suspended wire shelving for the soakers, anything that helps airflow reduces drying time.  Open some windows, turn on a fan.


Always lay wet wool flat to dry. The wool I have hanging on clips is just airing out between uses.

I wash half of my wool stash every week, so I have enough dry to use and 
everything gets washed at least once every two weeks.