Turning a Flip Diaper Cover into an Elemental-Style All In One Diaper

And now for something completely different. I don’t normally do tutorial posts, primarily because I think they’ve all been done before. In fact, I know that this one has been done before. Where do you think I got the idea? But I was so in love with this project, and I wanted to encourage anyone who thought it would be too difficult with a detailed photo tour. This will be of zero interest to my usual “fan base.”

Today, I am hosting a guided tour, converting a Flip diaper cover into an Elemental-style all in one diaper, with optional stay dry lining.

This is a great upcycling project. I did not spend any money making this diaper. Well, I spent money once upon a time, but not anytime recently. I use and love Flip diaper covers, and the fabric is from 2 jersey knit receiving blankest on their 4th or 5th upcycle.

Let’s start, shall we?

First, we need a pattern. This is not my pattern, I take no credit for it, but it works terrifically for this project. Find it here, towards the bottom. It’s called 2013 Style Elemental Soaker. A huge thank you to the pattern maker.

Click on the link, print the pattern, cut it out, tape it together.

And now, a word about fabrics. Cotton is easily accessible around the house, but bamboo is a fine choice also. You can use flats on hand, dish towels from the kitchen drawer, any cotton jersey knit, a prefold, old cotton or flannel sheets, a couple of old t-shirts, flannel fabric, or, my personal favorite, a ratty old Flip organic cotton night insert. For this tutorial, I am using 2 knit cotton blankets that have seen better days and I will also show how to use a Flip organic night insert. For my diapers, I prefer a knit fabric to make them feel and look like an Elemental.

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Materials needed: Flip cover, cotton fabric, fleece (if stay-dry is preferred), pattern, scissors, pins, and a washable marker. Marker not shown. I had to raid the the kids’ marker box. And of course a sewing machine and thread. Any thread is fine since all sewing is done on the interior or the diaper.
IMG_20140210_211213941
I laid out 4 layers of fabric, then traced the pattern twice. You can accomplish layers by folding the fabric, or cutting and stacking it up. For most materials, 3-4 layers will suffice. Since this fabric is on it’s last legs, I did not make any efforts to conserve fabric. Each diaper has 2 soakers that are 3-4 layers thick. After tracing, cut the 4 layers of fabric as a single piece with a sharp scissors or rotary cutter, if you prefer.
Then I also traced the pattern over a piece of fleece. This step is unnecessary if stay-dry is not wanted or needed.
Then I also traced the pattern over a piece of fleece. This step is unnecessary if stay-dry is not wanted or needed.
So now we have 2 soakers, 4 layers each, plus a fleece topper.
So now we have 2 soakers, 4 layers each, plus a fleece topper. Do not worry about the marker. It will wash out in the first wash.
Lay the fleece on top of one of the soakers.
Lay the fleece on top of one of the soakers.
Pin it in place. I'm usually pins schmins, but they are necessary here.
Pin it in place. I’m usually pins schmins, but knits can be tricky.
Turn it over and check for misalignments. I am using a serging stitch on my sewing machine and need all layers to line up so no layers are missed.
Turn it over and check for misalignments. I am using a serging stitch on my sewing machine and need all layers to line up so no layers are missed. Trim edges so all layers match up, more or less.
This is the stitch I am using, as shown in my sewing machine manual. It's called a pine leaf stitch or a serging stitch. I do not have a serger, this is a stitch available on my regular sewing machine. Find something close to this kind of stitch and it should work fine.
This is the stitch I am using, as shown in my sewing machine manual. It’s called a pine leaf stitch or a serging stitch. I do not have a serger, this is a stitch available on my regular sewing machine. Find something close to this kind of stitch and it should work fine.
Starting at either the top or the bottom of the soaker, start sewing. Repeat with 2nd soaker.
Starting at either the top or the bottom of the soaker, begin sewing all the way around the soaker and back to where you started. Repeat with 2nd soaker.
Top soaker completed.
Top soaker completed. (This is not my finest work, but it certainly got the job done.)
Bottom soaker completed....don't worry about the purple. It will wash out the first time you launder the diaper.
Bottom soaker completed.
Here they are together. Line them up and get ready to attach them to the cover.
Here they are together. Line them up and get ready to attach them to the cover.
Here is the inside of a Flip cover. There are 2 flaps, one in the front and one in the back.
This is the inside of a Flip cover. There are 2 flaps, one in the front and one in the back.
Starting with the wider end of the soaker, place the top side of the soaker right sides together with the back flap of the cover. The "right side" of the flap is the side that you see when the diaper is in a state of rest. The wrong side is shiny.
Place the wider end of the soaker together with the back flap of the cover. The fleece top should be together with the side of the PUL with the laundry tabs. If you do not have a fleece topper, the right side of the soaker is any side. You will sew with the shiny side of the PUL facing up.
I pinned at the center first, then worked my way out to the edges. I bent several pins irreparably.
Start pinning in the center and work your way out to the edges. I eyeballed the approximate location of center. You will likely bend several pins irreparably.
Soakers pinned completely to the back flap.
Soakers pinned completely to the back flap. This is a horrible photo that adds nothing to this tutorial.
Start sewing. The shiny side of the PUL should be on top. Reinforce the edges really well with both backwards and forwards stitching.
Start sewing. The shiny side of the PUL should be on top. Reinforce the edges really well with both backwards and forwards stitching.
Turning the flap back into place, this is the diaper with one end of the soaker sewn in.
Turning the flap back into place, this is the diaper with one end of the soaker sewn in.
Flip the soaker so that the top of the soaker is on the outside of the diaper cover.
Flip the soaker around to the outside of the diaper cover.
Turn the front flap over to the outside of the diaper.
Turn the front flap over to the outside of the diaper.
Again, match up right sides. Top of soaker matching with non-shiny side of flap.
Again, match up right sides. Top of soaker matching with non-shiny side of flap. Pin in the center, then work your way out.
Sew in the same way as the other end.
Sew the soaker to the cover in the same way as the other end, reinforcing the ends with forwards and backwards stitching.
This is the diaper after I finished sewing. It should be inside out like this.
This is the diaper after I finished sewing. It should be inside out like this.
Turn it right sides out. And there you have it.  The diaper is complete.
Turn it right sides out. And there you have it. The diaper is complete.
Side view.
Side view. Diaper rise is fully unsnapped.
Diaper closed.
Diaper closed.
Another side view.
Another side view.
Front of diaper on an 18 month old toddler.
Front of diaper on an 18 month old toddler.
Back of diaper. Love the trimness, even more trim than an OBGE.
Back of diaper. Love the trimness, even more trim than an OBGE.

The following photos show how to use a Flip organic night insert to make soakers. This is my preferred fabric choice, as it makes a crazy absorbent diaper.

Each diaper uses one Flip organic night insert. The pattern is about an inch longer than the insert, but it's easy to work around that.
Each diaper uses one Flip organic night insert. The pattern is about an inch longer than the insert, but it’s easy to work around that.
Cut the insert in half. With sharp scissors. Really sharp scissors.
Cut the insert in half. With sharp scissors. Really sharp scissors.
My scissors are not sharp. But that's ok, we'll trim off the edges.
My scissors are not sharp. But that’s ok, we’ll trim off the edges.
I somehow missed a photo here, but lay the pattern on top of one half of the insert, as centrally as possible. Trace out the leg edges of the pattern. Doing this eliminated my ratty edges completely.
I somehow missed a photo here, but lay the pattern on top of one half of the insert, as centrally as possible. Trace out the leg edges of the pattern. Doing this eliminated the ratty parts of my inserts completely.
Shift the pattern down until the edge of the pattern lines up with the edge of insert. Trace and repeat with the other end.
Shift the pattern down until the edge of the pattern lines up with the edge of insert. Trace and repeat with the other end.
Do the same with the other half of the insert, then use one of the soakers to trace onto the fleece.
Do the same with the other half of the insert, then use one of the soakers to trace onto the fleece.
This is all that I removed from the insert.
This is all that I removed from the insert.
Sew using the same instructions as above. And voila!
Sew using the same instructions as above. And voila!
Two super-absorbent layers of diaper.
Two super-absorbent layers of diaper.
Side view.
Side view.

ETA: I made a handful of these diapers and they have been in use for about 8 months now. They have held up quite well to regular washing, bleaching and drying. I worried about the edges coming unraveled with wear and tear, but so far that has not happened. The diaper using the Flip organic night insert as a soaker is very, very, very absorbent. Moreso than the ones I made with 8 layers of jersey knit.

Second ETA: I wanted to comment on taking the diapers apart after they have served their purpose. I was able to take them apart with the cover completely unscathed. The original flaps on the Flip have serged edges and the soakers are attached right over the serging. I used a seam ripper and carefully removed the soakers one or two stiches at a time, making sure I didn’t cut into the serging. Since the flaps are not part of the waterproof outer, even if you did cut into the PUL or serging, it would not compromise the diaper at all.

I would love feedback if you used this tutorial!

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