Cloth wipes are versatile, gentle on your child, easy to make, and save you money! They can be used for sticky hands and messy faces as well as dirty bottoms, and can be laundered with your cloth diapers or towels. Wet them with plain water or a homemade wipe solution before use. Two dozen wipes is a good number to start out. It sounds like a lot, but once you get the hang of making them you’ll have a stash of cute wipes in no time!
Making cloth wipes is very easy, even beginning sew-ers can make them! They can be made out of almost any fabric you want, as cheaply or luxuriously as you choose. I started making cloth wipes over 14 years ago after receiving a dozen commercial cloth wipes from a friend when I was expecting our second child. I took one look at them and thought “I can make these”, and I did!
First you need to decide what kind of fabric you want to use. I started out cheaply, by cutting up an old towel. You can also use flannel, terrycloth, velour, and diapering fabrics like sherpa or hemp fleece. For really luscious wipes try organic velour, yum!! Two fabrics that don’t work well are fleece and woven fabrics. Fleece just smears the poo around and wovens are too thin to absorb. If you use a thicker fabric you can make one-layer wipes, but thinner fabrics can be used in two-layer wipes. Two layers are cushier and more absorbant, so that’s what I prefer.
Next you need to decide what size to make your wipes. I like 8×8 or 4×8, but you can make them any size you want. My 4×8 wipes fit in an old commercial wipes container without folding, and the 8×8 wipes fit when folded in half once.
Finally, choose the level of sewing you feel most comfortable with. If you’re a beginner, try Easy first and progress to Tricky.
Easy: One-layer wipes are the easiest to make!
- Cut your fabric into squares or rectangles the size you decided on. You can round the corners by tracing a quarter if you don’t want square corners.
- Zig-zag or serge all the way around the edge, removing the pins as you go. Be sure that the “zag” of the stitch goes a little over the edge to keep the fabric from getting raggedy.
- Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of stitching, or finish the serge stitch, so the stitching won’t pull out.
- Trim the threads close to the fabric, and you’re done!
You can use different colors of thread or variegated thread for a more decorative look. When I make wipes for my son I like to use up odd spools of thread that I have leftover from other projects.
Medium: Two-layer zig-zag/serged wipes are a little more difficult, but will get easier with practice.
- Cut both fabrics into squares or rectangles the size you decided on. You can trace quarters to round the corners if you’d like.
- Lay one layer with the “right side” down so you’re looking at the back of the fabric.(The right side is the front of the fabric, the side you want to look at and use.)
- Place the other piece of fabric on top of the first, with the right side up and facing you.
- Check to make sure you can see the right side of both pieces of fabric on the outside.
- Line up the edges of the layers and pin all the way around the wipe.
- Trim the thread close to the fabric and admire your work!
If you want a more decorative look, you can use different colors of thread or variegated thread.
Tricky: Two-layer “T&T” (turned and topstitched) wipes are a little tricky, but with practice you can do it!
- Add 1/4 inch to each side of the wipes when you cut them out. (That means that if you want 8×8″ wipes, cut the fabric 8 1/2 x 8 1/2.)
- Cut both fabrics into squares or rectangles the size you decided on, remembering to add 1/4 inch. Leave the corners square, it’s easier than rounded corners.
- Lay one piece of fabric with the “right side” up and facing you.(The right side is the front of the fabric, the side you want to look at and use)
- Lay the other piece of fabric on top of the first with the right side down.
- Check to make sure that both pieces of fabric have their right sides together on the inside.
- Line up the edges and pin all the way around. Be sure that you can see the WRONG side of the fabric on both sides of the wipe.
- With a straight stitch, stitch almost all the way around the wipe, about 1/4 in from the edge.
- Stop about 2 inches from where you started sewing, backstitch and cut the threads.
- Trim each corner near the stitching so it’s not bulky when you turn it right-side-out.
- Carefully turn the wipe right-side-out through the opening you left.
- Fold the edges of the opening in so they’re inside the wipe and the outer edge is straight.
- Pin the edges of the opening to hold it closed.
- Straight stitch all the way around the wipe less than 1/4 inch from the edge, making sure to close the opening. (If you stitch too far away from the edge you won’t close the opening and those edges will flip out and get raggedy.
- Remember to backstitch when you begin and end stitching.
- Trim the threads and admire your work!
You can also try zig-zag stitch or another decorative stitch instead of straight stitch on the outside of your wipes. Variegated thread doesn’t work well for straight stitch, but using coordinating or contrasting thread colors makes the wipes look nice.
Have fun making lots of wipes for your child! If you make clothing or dipers you can make matching wipes for your child with the fabric scraps.