We've been cloth diapering for 18 months with prefolds and covers. We loooove them as they are one of the most economical ways to CD, more so if you find a good deal. None of the covers we use was bought new (ok maybe one cover was new, bought from a thrift store). That means that at some point the elastic of the leg gussets is going to give up and leaks are likely to happen.
I have about 10 covers that need a bit of TLC, some small, some medium, and our current ones, Thirsties size 2. Below a tutorial to fix your diaper covers.
You will need:
- 3/4 inch Fold-over elastic
- Seam ripper
- Sewing machine
- Lots of patience!
1. Below you can clearly see the elastic we will be replacing. You might notice it is not as wide as the 3/4 inch elastic you bought. No worries.
2. Start by removing the elastic for the gusset. I started from the middle towards the ends. Go slow and careful not to make more holes in the PUL.
3. The ends of the elastic and gusset are a little bit more complex. You will need to open up the edges of the diaper, where the gusset meets the edge. Open about 1 to 1.5 inches of the cover's edge so that you have space to work. After opening, you will notice a plastic elastic. Use your seam reaper to remove the stitches that lay over the gusset edge (see picture below). Be careful to not puncture or cut the elastic. Once the elastic is free, you will notice there is one more layer of stitches binding the gusset and the cover. Remove those stitches too.
4. Below you can see how the gusset end looks. In the picture I have very little space to work with, so I recommend you undo a few more stitches to have more space to work with once you are ready to sew the new FOE.
5. For this size 2 cover the gusset length is about 8 inches long. Your elastic should be half of the length of the gusset plus 3/4 inch extra on each end. This might seem wasteful, but you'll need that extra length to be able to pull through the feet of the machine while you are sewing.
6. In this picture you can see I had the edge of the FOE and the end of the gusset at the same level, without the extra FOE length. This made it quite difficult to start sewing, since you have to pull the elastic from the back of the foot of the machine. I literally had nothing to grab on to, so leave the 3/4 inch extra and it will be easier.
7. Now you will sew the FOE to the gusset. If you left the 3/4 inch tail of FOE start feeding it through the machine slowly without pulling the elastic or gusset toward you. Use a 3-step zig-zag stitch. Believe me, if you have the 3-step zig zag stitch available in your machine you should use that one instead of the regular zig-zag. Like I said, start by sewing on the tail end of the elastic without stretching it. Once you reach the PUL gusset, stop and start pulling the FOE towards you. Like with any elastic sewing, you should pull and sew as you go. Be mindful that there should be an extra 3/4 inch left at the end, so you really have to pull the elastic towards you.
The next step will be to sew the ends to the edge of the cover.
8. Cut the tails of FOE that you left on each end and place the edge inside the white edge of the cover, just like it was before you reaped the seams. You will sandwich the end of the gusset with the edge of the cover and sew them all together. Start with your needle down and start sewing about half an inch before the elastic (or more if you reaped more than that). Go slow and make sure you are sewing through the bottom edge, the gusset, and the top. You will also have to pull the cover towards you while sewing, as this part of the cover has an elastic too (the plastic elastic, remember?)
9. Yay! One side done.
10. And the other side too!
11. Enjoy your newly FOEd diaper cover. The first one will be the most difficult, but you will know what to expect and what works for you for the next ones.
A few more comments:
You might be tempted to cut all your elastic lengths at the beginning, I would say cut as you go. I recommend cutting 3/4 inch extra for each end, but you might find that you need more or less. This is why I recommend to cut as you go. That way you'll be able to modify according to your needs.
Fix one diaper at a time. There's a learning curve, and you learn a bit more with each diaper cover. You will find what's the best length to seam reap, which way to attach your FOE, what stitch length, etc. If you do one diaper at a time, each one will be better than the previous one.
I'm going to try to add more pictures for each step so you get a better idea of what needs to be done. In the meantime, try it! If you feel nervous about attaching the FOE to the PUL gusset, practice. I practiced on some woven cotton pieces until I got the right stitch length and felt more confident pulling the elastic. That's also how I found I needed the extra length of FOE at each end.
Let me know if you have any questions! And be sure to let us know how it worked out on my La Fabrica Shop Facebook group.