If you’re switching to cloth pads to save money, you’re unlikely to want to splash out on expensive fabrics like brocades, velours and PUL to make your pads… so here is some ideas and suggestions for making your pads on a budget…. without resorting to strips of fabric “rags’
Look around the house
Find old unwanted items of clothing or other fabric sources you can use. Try to stick to cottons for the absorbent parts…you might even find something to use as waterproofing such as polarfleece or a waterproofed coat fabric. Clothing (particularly tshirts) and sheets can be perfect for pad toppers and backing. Towels, hand towels etc. can be used for pad cores. Also look at “Op shops” or “thrift shops’ for inexpensive sources of fabric.
Choose your style
A style such as an AIO will require you to change the whole pad at each change, so you will need several pads to see you through. Which can be expensive if buying the fabrics new. If you need waterproofing, a better option for you might be to make the style of pad that has a waterproof base that you place the absorbent inserts ontop of. That way you keep the base on and change the inserts only – which often dry faster than an AIO pad (particularly if you make them fold up), and can be cheaper to make as you’ll need fewer waterproof bases than you would need complete AIO pads.
If cost of waterproofing in particular is a concern, look into the style of pad you’re choosing and see which suits your needs best for the fabrics you can get. A pocket style of pad can be made without waterproofing, and you can cut a piece of PUL into a couple of shapes slightly smaller than your pocket pad shape, and simply slip one in to make a waterproof liner inside the pocket pad. You can wipe and reuse it when you change pads, so you’ll not need as much waterproofing fabric. Or instead of making an AIO with a full layer of waterproofing, you could use a strip down the centre where it is needed most (You may leak off this if the pad isn’t absorbent enough though). You could also look into a boostable pad – where you have waterproofed boosters that go under a non-waterproofed pad.
Value for money
Don’t confuse cheap with value for money. I’ve seen lots of people making shortcuts for the sake of price, and I wonder if they are actually saving anything. For example using multiple layers of Flannel/Flannelette instead of less layers of a more expensive fabric like hemp. Different stores and countries have different prices, but when working out costs for me, its cheaper to have 2 layers of hemp than an equivalent 6-8 layers of flannelette to get the same absorbency. Some fabrics (like flannel) come on small width rolls, and some fabrics (like hemp) come on larger width ones – so with hemp, not only is the thickness of the fabric greater (and hemp is more absorbent a fibre than cotton), but you are also getting more fabric for your metre/yard because of the extra width – so consider things like that.
Take advantage of the smaller cuts of fabric you can find online for nappy/diaper making. While they are more expensive per metre/yard than buying a whole metre/yard of the fabric, they are more cost effective if you only need a small bit (no sense paying for what you don’t need). These can get you several pad cutouts per piece and are good for making a few pads. Or get a friend to go cloth with you, and halve the cost of the fabrics and make your pads together.
Also cheaper substitutes for waterproofing, like shower curtains or PVC table cloths may end up becoming useless over time (through the material breaking down or sounding crinkly), needing to be replaced or the pad unpicked and remade… so saving some money to start with, might cause more problems than if you’d spent the extra in the beginning to get fabric more suited for the job. If you do go for a cheaper waterproofing substitute, you might want to look at making pocket pads