Cloth Diaper Repair

I have a confession. In the hustle and bustle of packing and showing our house to sell, we fell off the cloth diapering bandwagon. I throughly washed and packed the diapers and moved on to disposables. GASP!

Since we have gotten settled in our new home I have un earthed the tote the diapers were stored in. Mr. SewLuxeSew actually cheered when he saw the cloth diapers back in rotation 🙂 That makes my heart happy.

After rotating through the diaper stash I noticed a leak issue with 3 Rumparooz. After checking them out further the leg elastic is completely shot.


The diaper on the left has worn out elastic, leg and interior gussets. The diaper on the right has working elastic. Both diapers are the same age, been cared for the same. I do not use bleach or machine dry my shells.  Here is what the worn out elastic looked like when I removed it.

DSCN4151This is really disappointing after spending almost $75 on three diapers and using them for less than a year.

There are a few tutorials on how to repair the leg elastic in cloth diapers. I thought I would add my two cents to the mix too.

  1. I made sure to not use any natural materials for repair of these diapers. These pocket diapers are made of all man-made materials (PUL, polyester, rubber). If the diapers were made of hemp or cotton I wouldn’t worry so much about it. Use polyester thread instead of cotton. Check your elastic package to see what it is made of. Using cotton on a synthetic diaper could (does not mean it will) be a weak point in the diaper leading to further repairs.
  2. Be careful when unpicking the stitches so you do not poke holes in the PUL or stretch the existing stitch holes. I had a hard time with this because PUL is stretchy and stitches sink in the lining fabric.
  3. Unpick as much of the seam as you need to. If you need to unpick more stitches to easily access the elastic, do it. Once the repair is done you will not be able to tell. I actually ended up with a few spots where I caught the PUL in the seam when I attached the new elastic. It was not a catastrophe and I did not undo and fix it.

Begin on the outside, unpicking stitches.


I found it was easier to unpick the stitches when I rolled the fabric over my finger.


Or fold the diaper on the stitch line.


Turn the diaper inside out and continue to unpick stitches until you feel comfortable with how much of the inside seam exposed.


Your diapers may be different where your elastic is attached. This elastic is sewn into the main seam. Repeat on the rest of the seam where the elastic is attached.

DSCN4134Cut the elastic as close to the stitching as possible. Only do this on ONE end at a time. Do not pull the elastic out of the diaper yet. You will use the old elastic to pull the new elastic through the sewn casing.

I wouldn’t try to undo the side seam just to remove the little bit of elastic left  in the seam.


I measured the elastic in the Rumparooz diaper that was still good, it came out to 4 1/2″. If you have a diaper that fits you baby well in the leg, measure that instead. I cut my elastic with an extra 1″ on both ends (6 1/2″ total), but marked where the 4 1/2″ begins and ends (red line). The extra gives you enough room to work with the material.

On the side that you cut the elastic, pull the loose end out enough to sew it to the new elastic.


Line up the opposite end (red line) of the new elastic with the seam in the diaper. Pin in place.


The pin does not need to go through all the layers in the seam, just enough to hold it in place while you stitch.

You can see the blue PUL wanting to stay folded over the seam. This is where I caught the PUL when I attached the elastic. I did not undo my mistake as it would have left holes in the PUL. In the end you can’t really see the small pucker on the outside of the diaper. I think if I would have opened the seam more I could have avoided this mistake.


Sew just above your marked line. Back stitch.


Be sure not to catch the back (PUL) in this line of stitching. you should ONLY be sewing on the serged seam. It is kind of hard to see in the pick because of the thread color, but the new elastic is attached with the stitches within the existing seam stitching.

Trim off the extra elastic.


Now you can go to the other end, fish out the old elastic (on the left) that is still attached and pull the new elastic (on the right) through.


I didn’t worry too much about if the elastic was twisted at this point. But If you are worried about it you can pull the new elastic back out and try again.


Cut the old elastic close to the seam, without cutting the seam.


Sew the new elastic in, backstitch. Trim off the excess elastic. At this point the old elastic should be completely removed from your diaper!


Repeat on the other leg of your diaper. Then turn the diaper right side out. If you have not done so already, thread matching thread (blue) in the top of your machine and white thread in the bobbin.


Stretch the leg opening so it is no longer gathered. Stitch on the original sewing line to close the leg seam back up.

DSCN4168Your diaper should be good as new.

You may have noticed the inside gusset elastic has also worn out. I looked at replacing this too, but decided against it. The elastic is not only sewn inside a casing but also has a zig zag stitch running down its length.

6 thoughts on “Cloth Diaper Repair

  1. I realized that the inside leg elastic casing is wide enough to snake thru some 1/8 polybraid elastic next to the old elastic. Just be sure to tack it down and close the holes up. This is a very good tutorial and is exactly how I have been replacing elastics in CD’s as well. Don’t forget to throw them in the dryer for 10 or so mins on hot heat to remelt the new holes created by the needle in your pul fabric. 🙂

  2. This is going to be SO HELPFUL to me! I wasn’t sure what to do about my diaper elastic wearing out, because I was afraid to start undoing seams in the diaper. Seeing what&how you did it has given me the courage to make some much needed repairs!

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