Cloth Diapering: Making Upcycled Wool Covers

I was so intimidated by wool and lanolizing that it took me 10 months to finally try it. Man I wish I would have known how simple and easy they were before baby was born!

Wool is awesome because it’s naturally wicking and typically goes 2-3 weeks between washing meaning you’re only washing prefolds/flats and not covers daily. Also synthetic materials like PUL put plastic fibers into the water every time they’re washed which pollutes the ocean. At the end of their lives, PUL and synthetic covers end up in landfills where they don’t break down for much longer than they were ever useful. Wool on the other hand can be composted and returned to the earth.

Step 1. Buy a second hand wool sweater from the thrift store; 100% merino or lambswool are what were recommended to me. Men’s large sweaters/shirts have more material and go further (I can get 2-3 covers from a men’s L). Wash cold and hang dry at home.

Step 2. Cut out your pattern. The legs/crotch should be double layered while the waist and leg bands can be single. I chose to make simple shorts here and just sewed in a doubling pad after.

Here are a few free patterns if, unlike me, you own a printer and prefer not fiddling with creating your own patterns. I enjoy getting custom patterns just right, but it can be quite a waste of time and sometimes resources.

Step 3. Sew your pieces together inside out. I use a regular sewing machine so I sew a single straight stitch and then go back over with a zigzag on the edges to mimic a serged edge.

Step 4. Turn them right side out and your woolies are sewn! We aren’t ready to use them yet though.

Step 5. Lanolize! I used this lanolin nipple butter I was gifted. Prep 1 bowl/sink full of lukewarm water. Boil 1 cup of water to melt your lanolin into. Using 1 pea-size amount of lanolin per cover, mix well and then add the hot water mixture to your lukewarm water.

Step 6. Soak your woolie overnight for about 8 hours. Then take out, only ringing lightly, and lay flat to dry. Sun dry on a towel outside for quickest drying.

Step 7. Prefolds/fitted. These covers go over a cloth diaper like the one below.

Step 8. Wear & enjoy! I’ve found these work great for about 3-4 changes and then start to feel slightly damp. At that point just swap with a different woolie and lay flat to dry. They should still smell earthy and wooly and not like pee or amonia. Once they start smelling like amonia it’s time for a wash (wash cold on gentle or by hand then air dry every 2-3 weeks). They should be re-lanolize every 2-3 months.


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