Sunday, May 17, 2015

Day 7: Final Thoughts on the DDL Flats & Handwashing Challenge

I can't believe our week of handwashing is already over!  This was a fun challenge; I learned a lot and thought about things I never considered before.  It pushed me to try diapering methods I'd never tried before and to troubleshoot and problem solve to make them work for us.  By the end of the week I was happy with our folding routine, washing routine, and nighttime diapering routine.  I didn't change anything about our busy schedule because of the challenge.  We still had several very full days of errands, baseball games for our older children, and even a long car trip yesterday (2 hour drive to a friends farm, 2 hours at the farm, 3 hour drive home because of a stop for lunch) and all while using organic cotton interlock flat diapers, Boingo fasteners, OS Wool Wrap Diaper Covers AND handwashing them in our tub each night as well as getting everything dry in time for the next day!  I also hand washed our wet bags, cloth wipes, and some single-layer doublers.
Here's how we did:
Our tiny Challenger, sweet little Eilidh Marie.

Day 1:  We used 8 flats, 3 wool covers.  2 covers had to be washed because of blowouts.  The nighttime flat I made from hemp french terry didn't work out because the fabric wasn't pre-washed and the pee just rolled right out the leg, lol, the flat wasn't even wet!  Ooops, I should know better!!
Day 2:  Experimented with different folds.  Used 8 flats and 4 covers.  Had to wash all of my covers because our experiments didn't really pan out and we weren't getting enough absorbency from our folding techniques!  Nighttime diaper rocked!  After 1 hand pre-washing I got it to absorb!
Day 3: We used 8 flats again, 3 wool covers.  No covers had to be washed - YAY!  But I did wash my older child's wool trainer (which he now wears just like underwear without an insert) because he had an accident. I didn't have a hemp flat dry for nighttime so Eilidh spent the night in a OS Sherpa Gussetted Contour Snap-in Diaper (with hemp) and I still handwashed this diaper the next day.  The new OS Sherpa Snap-in Diapers are soooo awesome and absorbent BTW.  We are loving ours for nighttime use!!  We were back to our original fold today and it worked GREAT.  Wonderful absorbency, no troubles.
Day 4:  8 flats, 3 covers.
Day 5: 8 flats, 4 covers.
Day 6: 7 flats, 4 covers.
Day 7: 8 flats, 2 covers all day, we were traveling a lot this day!  Then a 3rd cover for bedtime.
With an older baby (19 months) we never needed more than 8 flats and 4 covers.  For car trips and overnight we used a Wooly Booster for extra protection.  I had two of these in our rotation this week. I check her diaper every hour, but now that she's older she tends to hold her pee for longer and the go A LOT all at once, haha. :)
Now that we have completed the challenge, I will say this, cloth diapering with inexpensive flat diapers is DEFINITELY possible and even enjoyable.  Once you learn the folds that work best for you and your baby you will be able to to streamline your system by pre-folding and you'll be doing it with your eyes closed after a few days!  If you don't have access to a washer and dryer, handwashing is also definitely possible and doable.  It might get tedious and I'm not going to lie, I am glad I don't have to handwash tonight, but it really didn't disrupt our routine too much!  The key for me was doing the wash after my kids went to bed.  It was just a quiet part of my day.  Washing and hanging the diapers and then tidying up the house and going to bed.  If I had tried to take care of it while all 4 of my kids were up and running around the house I would have probably gotten stressed!
The challenge made me realize that families in financial crisis, who don't have a washer or dryer, would also probably be washing their entire family's laundry by hand.  That would be pretty extreme for us.  We have a family of 6 and even though I was hand washing diapers for a week I was definitely still doing a lot of other laundry in our machines!  I thought about how I could cut down the amount of clothing, towels, and bedding that we own to make handwashing a possibility for all our other laundry.  It could be done, and I even drove by a farm yesterday and saw several long laundry lines strung out and the laundry of what clearly was a large family all hanging in the sun.  It made me think about how all laundry used to be managed that way and we just had smaller wardrobes of better quality clothing.  Washing machine or not, I think I'd like that for our family.  We could certainly make our life simpler by cutting down on the amount of clothing and other washables in our life.
Finally, I want to talk about cost.  We have chosen, for our family and our business, to commit ourselves to using completely natural, and wherever possible, certified organic fibers for diapering.  This choice is not just about keeping harmful residues from chemicals and pesticides away from our child's skin, but also about supporting sustainable, organic agriculture and processing methods that keep harmful chemicals and pesticides away from ALL people, both in the field and factory, and out of our streams, rivers, and soils so that we can preserve this beautiful Earth for future generations.  I fully realize that not everyone can afford to purchase organic products, as they are usually quite a bit more expensive than conventional products. The more those of us who CAN afford them act/speak/vote by using our purchasing power towards organic and sustainable products the more affordable we make them for everyone else.
This challenge has really made me think hard about affordability.  I would love for everyone who wants them to be able to afford to diaper their baby in our organic cotton diapers and wool covers.  I am brainstorming an economical diaper package/system that will make natural fiber diapers and wool more readily available to families on a budget.  With the expense of having a large family and a small farm to run, plus a growing business, I definitely understand being on a budget even though I recognize how lucky our family is in so many ways to have access to things we take for granted like washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, a roof over our head, and room in our budget for some luxury expenditures like occasionally eating out and entertainment items like movies, books, iPads, etc.
Here's what the cost of our diaper stash for the week would look like (using our maximum of 10 flats and 4 covers + accessories):
8 x Organic Cotton Flat Diapers (homemade from fabric yardage): $32
2 x Organic Cotton/Hemp Nighttime Flat Diapers (homemade from fabric yardage): $14
4 x Organic Cotton Doublers: $0 (used scraps from making the flat diapers)
3-4 x Organic OS Wool Wrap Covers (retail price): $162-$216 (if we had used 4 Large Pull-on covers this would have been $114-$152)
2 x Wooly Boosters:  $20 (retail price)
12 x Organic Sherpa Cloth Wipes: $24 (retail price)
Our total stash cost:
Stash with Large Wool Wrap Covers (3/4) = $204 /  $242
Stash with OS Wool Wrap Covers (3/4) = $252 / $306
So roughly, $300 from birth to potty if you're using the OS Wool Wraps, which are good from 10 lbs through potty training (over 30 lbs).
No too bad considering that the average family will spend over $2000 on even the generic brand disposable diapers from birth through to potty training.
Finally, some news!  Thanks to this inspiring challenge, we will be adding hand-dyed organic flats to our product lineup very soon!  We expect to receive the organic cotton interlock yardage this week and I'll be busy dying our interlock in 6 different beautiful colors, which will be available as flats in two sizes!  Our new solid colors will also be available in OS Fitted Diapers, OS Wool Wrap Covers, and Pull-On Wool Covers.
Thanks for following along with the Flats Challenge this past week!
Peace, Love, & Happy Diapering!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day 6: Our Favorite Fold

It's Day 6 of the DDL Flats and Handwashing Challenge!  Today's blogging prompt is about folds.  There are MANY tutorials out there online dedicated to the many ways to fold a flat diaper.  I'll list a few of them here:

When my daughter was a newborn we had some flats in our rotation and I loved the Origami Fold.  Now that she's 19 months old and 30 lbs we had to quickly adjust our folding methods to accommodate her size and absorbency needs!  I made up a fold on day 1 that seemed like it would give her the best fit and absorbency.  On Day 2 of the challenge we experimented with a few different folds (origami, kite, triangle, jelly roll) and I'll just say that this was our most challenging day and we could not get the absorbency we needed.  Day 3 (and from then on) we went back to the made up fold from Day 1.  Now, I'm not claiming to have invented this fold as it probably exists somewhere else already, but this is what I came up with on-the-fly that seemed practical...and worked!

1. Lay your flat diaper out on your changing surface.

2. Fold up the bottom third of the diaper

3. Now fold the left side of the diaper in and then the right side so that they meet in the middle.

4. Repeat step 3.  Now you have 8 layers of fabric.

5. Open up the back half of the diaper so your have "wings" to fasten around your baby.

6. Place baby on diaper.  Pull the front up and the wings around and secure with a Snappi, pins, or Boingo fastener.  Then I jelly roll the legs in to create a kind of gussett/blow-out barrier. ;)


* Tip: I'm not a huge fan of dealing with poopy flat diapers folded this way, because the poop can make its way into a lot of the nooks and crannies of the folds.  To prevent this, I have sometimes been putting a 5" x 13" single layer piece of fabric on top of the diaper before securing it.  It gives us an extra layer of absorbency and it make it easier to spray the diaper down if it gets messy!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Day 5: Handwashing Diapers - DDL Flats & Handwashing Challenge

We're 5 days into the Dirty Diaper Laundry Flats & Handwashing Challenge!  We're no strangers to handwashing around here.  In fact, I try to post a picture or tip on our Facebook page every week on "Wash Day Wednesday" when we hand wash and lanolize our wool diaper covers.  We have a photo essay of our wool washing process in THIS POST.  This week has been the first time that I have hand washed almost an entire diaper stash on a daily basis though!
Here is how I have been handling our diaper laundry this week:
Throughout the day I spray each dirty diaper thoroughly with my diaper sprayer before placing it in a dry pail that hangs on the back of our laundry room door.  After I put my littlest one to bed I go and get the dry pail and empty it into our tub. First I do a cold rinse.  I spread the diapers out in a single layer so I don't have to fill the tub with too much water.  I use a hand washing plunger to agitate the diapers and push the water through the fabric to rinse them.  Then I drain the water from the tub and re-fill the tub with hot water and about 1 half tablespoon of Unicorn Baby Beyond Clean detergent.  I agitate all the diapers again thoroughly.  I drain the tub again and re-fill with cold water to rinse a second time.  After a final agitation I drain the tub and wring each diaper out as well as possible before hanging them on my drying rack.  In the morning I move them out to our porch so the sun can finish drying and sanitizing them.
When we first started out I thought I wanted to wash in a bucket, but I ended up deciding I wanted more room to agitate the diapers and flush them with water.  They would have been in a big clump in the bucket, which seemed like it would make them more difficult to wash or that I'd need to wash in batches.  I think just using the tub has cut down on my wash time and made thoroughly cleaning them easier.  Even though the tub is much larger than a bucket, I'm washing in just a few inches of water so I'm still striving to keep our water usage as low as possible.  I'm looking forward to browsing other bloggers posts about their wash methods for the challenge to see what is working for everyone and what is not!  I'd say the one problem with the tub method is that my lower back starts to hurt from bending over to plunge the diapers.  A large/wide bucket that can be elevated on a stool might be the way to go!  
The whole handwashing process only takes me about 20-30 minutes before bed.  The diapers are mostly dry in the morning and I put them out on the porch for a couple hours before my daughter wakes up and needs them.  I have actually found that handwashing does not disrupt our regular routine too much.  It has been pretty easy to incorporate it into our day!  
I've also cut down on the actual time it takes to diaper my little one by perfecting our preferred fold and pre-folding all our flats so they are ready to go when we need them!  I'll be posting about our folding method tomorrow!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Day 4: Cloth Diapering on the Go - with Flats!

Today is Day 4 of the DDL Flats & Handwashing Challenge!  The topic today is using flats on the go, which is perfect because we had a lot of errands to run today!
Our cloth-on-the-go bag is not much different this week than it usually is.  Instead of my usual Sherpa Snap-in Diapers, this week I'm taking along flats to pair with my OS Wool Wrap Diaper Covers.  This is what we packed for our outing today:
1 x Wooly Wet Bag
2 x OS Organic Wool Wrap Diaper Covers
3 x Organic Cotton Interlock Flat Diapers
1 x Hemp Doubler
1 x Wooly Booster
For longer outings I have a little bit of a different diaper set-up, which is similar to what I do for overnight. Wool is, quite simply, nature's most perfect diapering material.  Wool is temperature regulating, keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter, it stretches and bounces back to its original shape, when lanolized it is an excellent barrier material while still remaining completely breathable, it is naturally antimicrobial and antifungal, it deters odors, it is a completely sustainable and renewable fiber, and our merino interlock is so soft you'd never believe it is wool! ;)  Because wool is completely breathable there is sometimes more of a risk of compression wicking when you have a wet diaper plus pressure being put on the diaper and cover, such as when sitting in a car seat.  When we go out for longer car rides or outings I use a Wooly Booster to add two layers of merino wool to my daughter's diaper for extra protection.  The Wooly Booster is a 2 layer strip of merino wool that is 5" x 14" and goes between her diaper and cover.  I hand wash these along with my wool diaper covers and lanolize them as well.  We also use a booster at nighttime.
Here is a picture of Little Miss in a hemp flat diaper with her cover + wooly booster ready to be fastened up so we can head out the door!

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!