- Is my fabric going to be cut, or in one continuous piece?
- Which side is the right side of the fabric to go against baby?
- Shrinking and Prewashing
"Do I need to pre-wash everything? How much will my fabric shrink?"
There are care instructions regarding prewashing of fabric before you sew it on each of the fabric categories.
Synthetic fabrics, such as microfibre, microfleece, suedecloth, will not shrink in the wash so you don't need to prewash before sewing for shrinkage reasons. It is however always advisable to prewash dark/bright colours.
Natural fibres, (bamboo, hemp, cotton etc) have shrinkage potential, so are best washed before sewing. You can prewash your natural fibres in the way that you will wash them once made up. For example if you are going to only ever cold wash and line dry your finished item, you can cold wash & line dry your fabric. If you are going to hot wash and drier your finished item, you should prewash your fabric in hot with a hot drier, to make sure it's got no shrinking left to do once made up.
The theories behind prewashing hemp are a little different. Not only does hemp shrink a fair bit, but the theory is that it also has natural oils, which prevent it absorbing well. You need to give hemp a couple of hot washes (and dry in between each wash) to ensure all these oils are removed. Hemp does not reach maximum absorbency until it has been washed and dried many times.
There's one thing you should note when you're doing these hot washes - don't pre-wash your hemp in with your nappies - because all those natural oils you're removing from the hemp will be swishing around in your nappywash water & coat your nappies. Not a good idea.
The official line on hemp shrinkage is "up to 20%". I know that sounds incredibly painful. My trial 1 metre pieces of hemp fleece & hemp jersey went through 2 hot washes & 2 cycles in a hot drier. The fleece went from 1m long & 148cm wide, to 87cm long & 144cm wide. The jersey went from 1m long & 137cm wide, to 88cm long & 128cm wide. You can line dry them between prewashes, I just did mine in a hot drier to get maximum shrinkage figures for you.
- Removing Misplaced Snaps
"I put a socket on instead of a stud, how do I get it off?"
There's a few different ways you can try:
1 - Put the snap piece back into the die set, and over-press it. You can put your press down on the floor so you can lean on the handle with all your weight. This should crack the snap piece so you can pick the pieces out.
2 - Drill the middle of the misplaced snap out with a drill. Using an electric drill, put the drill bit on the centre of the cap, and have someone else hold the nappy still as you drill. Alternatively put the head of a philips screw driver in the middle of the misplaced snap and whack with a hammer.
3 - Put the stud die (female/flat die piece) in the press. Hold the misplaced snap on it's side, lower the die until it's resting on top of the sideways snap, and press the handle as you whip your fingers out of the way. This cracks the snap in half sideways and you can remove the pieces.
4 - Put the socket die (male die piece) on the press, turn the snap over so the cap is upside down against the die, and press down hard in the middle of the cap so it leaves a circle in the cap. They should jsut pull apart.
5 - Cut around the edges with nail clippers until you are left with just the smushed centre prong, which should then slip out.
- Size, Fabric & Thickness of Inserts
"What's best to use for inserts & how many layers do I need?"
You can use any of the fabrics from the "Absorbent Fabrics"> section for inserts. For that matter, you can use towels, tea towels, flat square nappies... anything absorbent at all as inserts.
If you're using bamboo, bear in mind that it takes a long time to dry. So you are best to not sew more than two layers together without being able to unfold it to two layers thick for drying. If you sew a 'square' two layers thick and approximately 32cm x 40cm in size, you can then fold this into 3 to make a rectangle/pad shape which is 6 layers thick.
For microfibre, it's more common to use 3 layers, in a rectangle/pad shape the right size to fit in the nappy you are using. 3 layers of microfibre will dry fast, and gives a reasonable starter amount of absorbency without being at all bulky.
For hemp, it is best to sew a 'square' two layers thick and approximately 32cm x 40cm in size. To use, you then fold this into 3 to make a rectangle/pad shape which is 6 layers thick. 6 layers is a good absorbency vs bulk ratio, but opening up to 2 layers for washing means it doesn't take ages to dry.
To work out how many inserts you will get from a metre, you need to decide what size you're making them, and then just work it out based on the width of the fabric (all fabrics have the width listed in their descriptions). Microfibre is 132cm wide and does not shrink. Hemp is 148cm wide but will shrink, possibly as much as to be 144cm wide. Bamboo comes in different widths, check the product listings. It can shrink up to 20%.
- Why have you only sent me the female part of my snaps?
- If you order has the words "socket and cap sets" on it - something like this:
1 x 200 - White - Size 20 - Socket & Cap Sets
then this is for you. If it says "full snap sets", then I messed up ;)
Socket and cap sets are just sockets (female), and caps. If you want studs (male) as well, you need a full snap set.
The description on the socket and cap product listing, and the description on the full snap sets product listing, is there to hopefully help you to work out what you want before purchasing:
Full Snap Sets -
"These are complete sets, and are what you need to need to make a full snap. If you are just starting out snapping, these are what you need. A set of 100 comes with 100 sockets (female), 100 studs, (male) and 200 caps (so 100 complete snaps)."
Socket and cap sets - "Socket and Cap sets are for those who are using more sockets (female) than they are studs (male), such as when making bulk nappies with a row of sockets across the front.
If you are just starting out and are confused whether you need snap sets, or socket and cap sets, I would go with the complete snap sets until such time as you find you are needing more sockets, and by then, you will have a better idea of whether you are using more sockets or not.
A 100 Socket and cap set comes with 100 sockets and 100 caps."
We have put the Snaps Info section at the very top of the snap section in case people manage to miss both of miss both of the above explanations and aren't sure, it basically has the same information, plus more. Specifically:
"Size 20 Snaps are the most commonly used size, perfect for nappies. Also great for lots of other uses. [...] Socket & Cap sets are available because you usually use more sockets than studs on your nappies. So, you can buy just the sockets separately when you need more. "
We do not ordinarily have studs (male) listed separately, however see the next question/answer if you are wanting these.
- Can I buy individual snap parts?
Usually, we have our snaps listed as full sets, or socket and cap sets. Every couple of months, we put up a temporary listing for one week, enabling you to stock up on individual snap parts.
We don't have the warehouse space or the time to be able to offer this as a permanent option, so the best compromise we have come up with is to offer it as an option regularly, for a week, so people can top up on what they will need until the next stocking.
When we do this, we announce it in several places. The main two are on our facebook page and in our newsletter. "Like" us on facebook, or subscribe to our newsletter, and you will be sure to always be notified of our next Individual Snap Parts stocking. We also post updates like these on our Twitter account, our News & Updates page of the greenbeans.co.nz website and on our blog.
- What should I make my nappies out of?
"What fabric do you recommend I use for my nappies?"
That comes down to way too much personal preference, what suits your baby, where/when they will be used, who is going to be doing the nappy changing... etc etc, for me to give you a straight easy answer.
For a brief overview:
PUL is what you need for your waterproof layer.
Microfleece vs Suedecloth will both work for a "stay dry" layer. Microfleece is more snuggly feeling which can make it warmer to wear. Anecdotally suedecloth resists stains and pilling better than microfleece. Microfleece has stretch in it, which can make it harder to sew to PUL, however it makes for a nice stretchy adjustable nappy. Bear in mind that due to the lack of stretch in suedecloth, you need to make sure there's enough width in the crotch of a pocket nappy to enable you to stuff it with plenty of absorbency, and that your hand can fit in and out to do the stuffing! This isn't an issue with microfleece, which stretches to allow for easy stuffing.
Bamboo is very absorbent, deliciously soft, absorbs quickly, and doesn't squish moisture back out. It's also said to have antibacterial qualities and is a fast growing sustainable fibre. It's downside is that it takes a long time to dry.
Hemp fleece & french terry are the same weight, so about the same absorbency, the difference is that fleece is soft & fleecy, and french terry is loopy. The fleece feels nice but you can't use a snappi fastner on it, the french terry you can snappi. The fluffiness of the fleece will wear off eventually, while the loops of french terry will remain. Hemp can stiffen up over time/use. See the hemp page for more information on it's antimicrobial properties, durability, & environmental friendliness.
It absorbs slowly but holds moisture well. 6 layers of hemp fleece or french terry is ok for a daytime nappy for many babies. However, 6 layers sewn all together will take forever to dry. Either use a two layered hemp flat that you fold into three for a pocket stuffer, or in a fitted nappy you can do say 2 layers in the body and then a fold out soaker pad in the middle.
Hemp jersey is a lighter weight, more like a tshirt type material. People do use it in nappies but usually with some other absorbent fabric also. It's great for tshirts and other clothing also.
Cotton, such as our cotton velour, is less absorbent than hemp or bamboo. It feels deliciously soft and comes in gorgeous colours, so it is great for the outside, visible layer of a fitted nappy. Also it doesn't have a wet soggy feel when wet, which means that if you don't want to use a synthetic "stay dry" layer against baby's skin, it is a great alternative to use as the next to skin layer. It won't have the 'stay dry' feel of microfleece or suedecloth, but it is soft and not soggy against the skin. Also great as the top layer for cloth menstrual pads. It's slightly 'grippy' texture makes it a favourite for cloth wipes too.
Microfibre is very absorbent, however it soaks up more like a sponge effect, so it will soak in quickly and hold a lot, but once it's overfull it can in theory squish back out. So in longterm useage such as overnight, it is commonly advised to use microfibre on top, in conjunction with something like hemp or bamboo underneath it, to lock the moisture away.
- My microfleece doesn't wick!
- Are you testing it with warm water?
Cold water will wick more slowly, but pee is always warm ;)
Do you have something absorbent underneath it when you're testing?
If the moisture has nowhere to wick to, it will take longer to go through.
Have you prewashed it?
Sometimes finishing agents on fabric can mess up absorbency/wickability/etc, so prewashing fabric is always a good idea. However, there are some things you can't prewash with, because they will coat the fabric and stop it from wicking. The basic two are anything soap based (ie lux flakes or similar), and anything with fabric softener in it. Some detergents these days have "a touch of" softener in them, watch out for that!
Is the fleece rolling out at the legs or the PUL rolling in?
If you've got leaky pocket nappies, it may not be related to the microfleece failing to wick at all, but rather because the PUL is rolling in at the legs and coming into contact with the wet, and wicking it to the rest of the outside.
- FOE or Lastin DIY Kit? And What's the Difference?
"Which DIY kit should I start with?"
FOE is Fold Over Elastic. You use it around the outside of the whole nappy, stretching it where you want the nappy elasticated. It serves as elastic around the legs and waist, and a soft binding everywhere else. It makes for a nice looking finish.
Lastin is a clear elastic which you sew in at the legs and waist, then turn the nappy in the other way - this is the "stitch and turn" technique.
So whether you use FOE or Lastin as the elastic for your nappies is a matter of personal preference, in that the nappies will function in the same way regardless of which you choose. Both are listed for sale on our website in the Elastics section .
The advantage of lastin is that your stitching is hidden - you sew it only where you need the nappy elasticated, and then turn the whole thing in the other way and do not see your stitching. For this reason many beginners prefer to start with the lastin kit.
One other thing to remember is sewing FOE on the outside means you are not using up the seam allowance, which is provided for in most patterns. So an FOE nappy will turn out a size larger than a lastin nappy made with the same pattern.
You will find both photos of nappies made with lastin, and nappies made with FOE, in our customers photo gallery.
- Why are my pocket nappies leaking?
If it was soaked right through and wringing wet, then the fact that the nappy had leaked means you need more absorbency than the insert you were using, so try adding another insert in.
If it wasn't fully soaked, then either it's not absorbing properly, or it's the fit/microfleece causing the problem.
2) Assuming that you've prewashed your insert (or if it was hemp, have washed and dried it 5 or more times,) then it should be absorbing ok, so it could be either a fit issue or a microfleece not wicking issue.
3) Did the nappy fit snuggly around the legs? Does the microfleece/suedecloth roll out at the legs, or the PUL roll in? If the PUL is rolling in at the legs and coming into contact with the wet, it could be wicking it to the rest of the outside. Obviously if the nappy isn't fitting snuggly around the legs, there's space & potential for the wet to just run straight on out.
4) Using barrier creams on baby's skin, or washing you nappy in a soap based detergent or with fabric softener, will coat the microfleece/suedecloth and prevent it from wicking the moisture through the stay dry layer and into the absorbent insert, meaning it has nowhere else to go but puddling on the top and eventually running out the legs. To check if your microfleece is wicking, you can test it by putting something absorbent underneath it, and tipping a little warm water onto it, to check that it does run through into the absorbent thing underneath.
We precut all our fabric ahead of time, which means when your order is placed we just have to pick it all off the shelf and can send it off to you straight away without any delay. The lengths listed on the website are exactly the lengths we have sitting on the shelf.
If you order Qty 1 of "3 metres" - you will receive one continuous three metre run of fabric.If you order Qty 3 of "1 metre" - you will receive three pieces of fabric, each one metre long.
This gives you the option of ordering a longer run of fabric to enable you to cut more nappies out of the single piece, or multiples of shorter lengths of fabric, if you find that makes for easier handling or pre-washing. There is no difference in price between ordering "1 x 10 metres" length, or "10 x 1 metre" lengths - the only per metre slight price increase for the extra cutting involved comes with 50x50cm nappy cuts.
Microfleece: it is important to have the correct side facing out, as only one side is "anti-pill". A simple trick is to stretch a cut edge. The right side will roll under, towards the wrong side. The right side of the fabric to go against baby's skin, looks slightly smoother and more uniform than the wrong side which should be hidden.
Suedecloth: the soft fluffy side is the right side, against baby's skin. The smooth shiny side is the wrong, hidden side.
PUL: the soft fabric side is the right side, facing out to be seen. The shiny laminated side is the wrong, hidden side which goes against the wet nappy.
With absorbent fabrics, there is no right or wrong side, they will perform pretty much the same either way. Most people choose to have the fluffy side against baby. The only time it is important is if you are sewing layers of bamboo/hemp fleece together with no opening. In that case do not sew the fleecy side to the inside, because as the fluff wears off over time, it will create clumps of fleece inside your nappy that can't get out, so they become annoying lumps.