Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Day #3: DIY Flat Diapers - DDL Flats & Handwashing Challenge

Today is Day #3 of the DDL Flats and Handwashing Challenge!  It's open topic day and I'm going to share a couple methods for making homemade flats!  So far, we are rocking the challenge here!  Definitely having fun and learning a lot!  After experimenting with some different folds yesterday I am back to the fold I made up on Day 1 because it's the only one I'm having success with absorbency-wise for my toddler.  I've been tweaking that fold and I think we're into a good routine now.  I'll definitely be sharing folding techniques later in the week!  Today has been a great day so far with no leaks, blow-outs, or damp covers at all!  In fact, today we've been rotating back and forth between the same two One-size Wool Wrap Diaper Covers all day and just airing between changes.  Even though I've allowed myself 6 covers for the challenge, we haven't had a day where we've needed more than 4. :)  I don't think I'll have any wool to launder tonight!
I made all our flats for the challenge myself.  Half of them I made from old undershirts that belonged to my husband and the other half from organic cotton interlock that I purchased by the yard.  Flats are really simple to make and if you don't own a sewing machine or serger you can even make no-sew flats just by choosing the right material (such as cotton interlock knit) that doesn't fray!
Here's how easy it is:
Option #1: Make flat diapers from fabric yardage purchase online or at the fabric store...
Here is a lovely pile of uncut organic cotton interlock knit.  There are many places where you can purchase fabric by the yard that can be turned into homemade flat diapers!  Both woven and knit materials can be used for flats.  An example of a commonly used woven fabric would be cotton birdseye or diaper gauze.  I prefer knit fabrics because of the stretch they provide.  My little one has chunky thighs so it keeps her comfy.  You'll also get more use out of stretchy fabrics as your baby grows!  Some knit fabrics that can be turned into flat diapers are: interlock, french terry, fleece, and velour.  I personally would always opt for natural fibers and certified organic or Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified fabrics whenever possible.  There are many options for pure cotton as well as blends with hemp and bamboo that are great for diapers!  Do be careful with bamboo - not all bamboo is created equal and some, like "bamboo rayon," are really just like synthetic rayon because they are so highly (and chemically) processed.
Some online retailers of organic fabrics:
Most knit fabrics are going to be 54-60" wide.  That means you'll get two flats out of a yard with some extra material to spare to make doublers, etc. with.  You can maximize your yardage by purchasing multiple yards in a continuous cut.  For example, even though you can only get 2 (26" x 26") flats out of 1 yard, you can get 8 flats out of 3 continuous yards.
Most flat diapers are about 26" or 27" square.
Many knit fabrics are tubular (i.e. they are in a round tube.  If you cut along one side of the tube your fabric will be 54-60" wide).  You can cut open the tube of fabric or just leave it tubular and cut out your 26" x 26" square and then cut along the fold of the side that's still connected and you have your two flats!  Easy as that! 
Here I am cutting along the existing fold of the tubular fabric.
My fabric was 60" wide, so the fabric tube was 30" wide and I only needed a 26" piece.  This left me with a 4" wide remainder to make doublers with!
8 flat diapers (they are in two layers the way they were cut, so it only looks like there's 4!)
At this point you're done if you are making no-sew flats!  Cotton interlock will not fray, so technically you don't HAVE to finish the edges.  The edges will roll up a little when washed, but they won't unravel.  If you have a sewing machine you can also hem them with a straight stitch and if you have a serger you can buy some pretty serger thread and finish the edges that way!  I have a serger, so I decided to finish mine off that way.
Here are a few pictures of my finished flats:
Option #2: There's another way to make flats for very little or zero cost!  You can use old t-shirts or thrift store finds.  Each shirt will get you 2 flat diapers (depending on the thickness of the t-shirt cotton you may need to double these up).
I made T-shirt flats using old undershirts of my husband's.  He's a size Large and so my flats were a little smaller than the standard size.  Ideally you would want to use Extra Large tees to get a decent size square.  I instead made mine rectangular and adjusted my folding method.
Here's how you make a T-shirt Flat Diaper:
Here's a plain, cotton undershirt.  I probably should have ironed it first since it had been in a box of scrap fabric for about a year, but....I was feeling lazy. ;)
Cut along the side of the shirt towards the arm-pit area.  Then cut along the sleeve seam to separate the sleeve from the body.  Repeat on the other side of the shirt.  Trim up any edges that are not straight and even.  We're going for a perfect square here (or rectangle if your shirts are smaller like mine)! 
Now cut off the neckline.  Make your cut nice and straight.  You can use scissors or a rotary cutter.
You can now separate the two, square pieces of fabric.  These are your two flat diapers!
Ta-da!  See how it looks like a diaper?! :)
Now put those awesome homemade diapers on your baby and feel PROUD!
#flatschallenge #bringingflatsback #makeclothmainstream #clothdiapers

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Day 2: Show off your stash! DDL Flats & Handwashing Challenge

Wondering how the washing went last night?  Not too bad!  I'm sure for those who handwash every day this can be a tedious chore at times, but I'm one of those weird people who likes tedious activities because they force me to slow down.  Last year my dishwasher broke and I hand washed dishes for about 6 months until my parents came to visit and promptly took me to Lowes to replace the dishwasher.  I wasn't in a rush to repair or replace it because I actually liked handwashing the dishes.  It was relaxing and gave me time for reflection.  I also have off-grid fantasies where I have one of these awesome old-fashioned wash tubs and wringers:

But alas, I had nothing so quaint last night.  I washed in a basin in my bathtub with a hand plunger-looking thingy, like this:

During the day yesterday as I changed diapers I REALLY thoroughly sprayed them down with the diaper sprayer.  This is a must.  If I didn't have a sprayer I would have gotten some rubber gloves and toilet dunked/rinsed the diapers as I went.  This makes wash time a lot easier and less icky.
I did a rinse, wash, rinse, wring, hang to dry, done!  My wonderful friend Becky, who sews our beautiful diaper covers, actually spent a period of time hand washing out of necessity when she was moving and she advised me that I would have to do a lot of rinsing to get the suds out from washing them, HOWEVER, I only had to do a single rinse after washing because the Unicorn Baby Beyond Clean is an HE detergent and the sudsing was minimal even though the diapers came out completely clean and fresh!  Yay!  Here they are hanging in the morning sunshine (they didn't quite dry overnight):
Ok, the blogging prompt for today was "show off your stash" so here are some pictures of our stash of homemade flats!
For the challenge we have:
8 organic cotton interlock flats (these are absorbent enough to use just 1 flat for a 19-month-old, 30 lb. toddler)
8 upcycled T-shirt flats (these are much thinner and I have to double them up)
Thats 12 total diaper changes for during the day.
We also have:
2 organic cotton and hemp french terry flats (these are for nighttime, and I made two single-layer boosters to go with them)
I'm trying to keep the stash reasonable, so even though I have quite the collection of wool covers over here, I am limiting myself to no more than 6 in the rotation this week, but SO FAR we've only needed 3!
Yesterday we used: 8 flats total (including her nighttime flat) and 3 wool covers to get through the day.  We had 3 blowout poops and 2 covers had to be washed so I am going to be adjusting our folding methods today!
If you want to see a photo essay of how we wash and lanolize our wool covers, check out THIS POST.

Day 1: The 5th Annual DDL Flats and Handwashing Challenge!

May 11th 2015
Today kicks off the 5th Annual Dirty Diaper Laundry Flats and Handwashing Challenge! Read more about the challenge HERE. I guess I must have been living under a rock for the past few years since I only recently discovered the DDL blog!  I just love all the information provided there by Kim and Laura.  What a fantasic resource for cloth diapering parents and parents-to-be!  When I heard about the #flatschallenge I jumped right on board!  I have cloth diapered for 9 years now and used just about every style of cloth diaper imaginable, but I have never actually hand washed diapers!  I have been fortunate enough to always have access to a washing machine.  Even during military relocations when we were in temporary housing or hotels I was able to use communal washers or laundromats to launder diapers.
I remember, way back at the beginning of my cloth diaper journey, reading a blog post about a family that traveled the world with their infant son and hand washed simple flat diapers and covers as they went.  That kind of dedication amazed me!  I also know that some families are in financial crisis and do not own a washing machine or dryer.  They might wish they could use cloth and save money over buying disposables but feel like that wouldn’t be a practical option.  Or they might not even know that cloth diapers are an option at all!  This challenge illustrates just how possible hand washing is as well as how economical and simple cloth diapering can be!  It’s also another way that we can get the word out about the many benefits of cloth diapers so that we can #makeclothmainstream!  A flat diaper can be made from an old cotton undershirt for pennies (and I’ll have a tutorial on how to do that soon!), a flat diaper can also be made from any type of natural, absorbent cloth fabric, which can often be purchased by the yard inexpensively.  Certain types of fabric don’t even require finishing with a sewing machine or serger!  We have a passion here about certified organic fibers, both to support sustainable, organic agriculture and to keep harmful chemicals and pesticides away from our baby’s skin.  I was able to make a stash of certified organic flat diapers for less than $30.
Here's a little intro to what our set-up is for the challenge: I will be diapering my 19-month-old, 30 pound daughter using homemade organic cotton interlock flats, upcycled cotton T-shirt flats, organic cotton and hemp french terry flats (as our nighttime option) and organic wool diaper covers (both our OS Wool Wrap style and our Large Pull-on style covers).  We will be washing using Unicorn Baby Beyond Clean and a hand plunger.  I wanted to keep our stash reasonable and small, because part of the challenge is to illustrate how economical cloth can be.  I made 8 organic cotton interlock flats, 8 upcycled T-shirt flats (I have to use these doubled so this gives us a total of 12 diapers for the day), and 2 nighttime flats.  This means we will have to wash every evening to be prepared for the next day.
So far on day 1 my observations have been:
* I’m amazed that we are getting enough absorbency for a large, older baby with just a single flat diaper!  This is with the organic cotton interlock.  With the upcycled undershirts I have to use two layers because they are much thinner material.
* We have not had a single wool cover with a damp exterior, so I know we have the absorbency right!  I also loved that when we had a poop diaper, the way the flat was folded and secured kept our wool cover CLEAN!  Big plus there!
* Because the interlock is stretchy I am able to get a great fit, even on a larger child, with a 26” x 26” flat and 1 Boingo fastener (see picture). 
* Definitely glad I have a diaper sprayer!  Thorough spraying is going to save me a lot of time and ick-factor when it comes to the handwashing! ;)
More updates after we wash tonight!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Kefir Blueberry Muffins

You can bake with kefir just like you would bake with buttermilk.  Even though we're trying to cut back on our consumption of grains here, it's hard when the kids are always requesting braided semolina bread or kefir pancakes.  It takes the edge off the guilt when I can bake without refined sugar and using cultured foods like kefir!  If you're into soaking your grains you can soak the flour in the kefir overnight before adding the rest of the ingredients and baking.  I always soak my grains and flours if I have the time. :)

Here's our most recent kefired creation, Kefir and Raw Honey Blueberry Muffins:

1.5 cups organic flour
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup raw honey
1/3 cup grapeseed oil (or melted butter)
1/3 cup kefir
1 egg
1 cup wild blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl and mix well.  Add wet to dry in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment and mix until just combined.  Fold in blueberries.  Scoop by the heaping spoonful into your greased or lined muffin tin. Note:  I use FSC certified unbleached and chlorine free baking cups (yes, these exist!) to line my muffin pan, it makes for easy clean up!  Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 25 minutes (less if blueberries are not frozen).


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Equinox & Planting with the Moon Cycle, Part 1: Cultivating the Soil

I would like to write a series of posts this season about planting according to the moon cycle and moon signs. This is a centuries old practice followed by farmers and those living close to the land and it extends to much more than just planting.  In reference to the moon's potent sway over bodies of water, Pliny the Elder, a first century Roman naturalist, said that the moon "replenishes the earth when she approaches it, she fills all bodies, while, when she recedes, she empties them" (The Old Farmers Almanac).  This gives us a guide for when to plant certain types of vegetables and fruit.  Just as the moon's gravitational pull determines the tides it also has an impact on moisture in the soil.  Tests have actually proven that seeds absorb the most moisture on a full moon ( Generally, plants that bear their fruit below the ground (root vegetables) should be planted when the moon is waning and those that bear fruit above ground when the moon is waxing.  There are much more detailed guides than this and some break the monthly cycle down into quarters to be even more exact.  I am going to start this series of posts with the cultivation of the soil that is necessary before beginning to plant for the season.  Today is the vernal equinox (or Spring Equinox).  The day and night are of equal length and this day marks the beginning of longer days and shorter nights.  It's a perfect time to begin preparing our garden for the onset of spring.  We have already seen Mother Earth starting to wake from winter slumber and come alive on our homestead. Chickens are laying eggs, goats are kidding, the ground is greening, fruit trees have started to bloom, and I even saw the first bluebird yesterday!  Today we are celebrating these signs of fertility and re-birth and hoping to be blessed with a fruitful garden this season!  This weekend we will be very close to the 4th quarter of the moon cycle, the moon is waning (heading from full to new) and the moon will be in Sagittarius.  The waning or receding moon is considered a dry time, especially the 4th quarter.  The "semi-barren" sign of sagittarius also makes this time particularly suited to preparing the bare earth for planting.  This is the time to kill any weeds, do any pruning, prepare your soil, and perform any other general management.  If you live somewhere warm and have already done this, the 3rd quarter of the moon cycle, which we are still in this week, is when it is best to plant crops that bear their fruit below the ground; carrots, radishes, and so forth.  It is also best to plant fruit trees during the 3rd quarter even though they bear their fruit above ground.  We will be planting some carrot seedlings in pots to celebrate the spring equinox today, which happens to fall into the 3rd quarter of the moon phase.  Every year I use this activity to have the children draw a parallel between preparing the physical soil and planting the actual seed and preparing their spiritual soil and planting a "seed" for some kind of personal growth inside themselves that they can nurture for the rest of the year.