Cloth Nappy Fabrics 101 Part 5: A Guide To Plush and Outer Fabrics

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Hello! And welcome to part 5 of my nappy making fabrics guide (you can read the rest of the series here). Today we’re going to talk about one of the best bits of cloth nappy making – the pretties!! The outer layer is where most of the fun happens so read on….

Today we have 20% off all plush/ minky as well as quilt weight cottons so fill your boots! If you’d like to get involved in more than one offer this week but are worrying about the accrued postage costs – don’t! Just leave us a note at check out and ask us to hold your order until the end of the week then we’ll dispatch it all together and refund you any postage charges due. We also have 20% off nappy making kits all week long.

The use of the word “pretties” is rife within the cloth nappy community and boy, are there some amazing creations out there. Many WAHM (Work At Home Mum) creations really excel at turning nappies in to works of art.

So what are the fabrics you can use on the outside of a nappy?


A lot of mass manufactured nappies will use PUL as the outer layer. This works well for a number of reasons. Firstly, that you’re using the waterproof layer as the outer layer so you are reducing the number of layers needed by one. This means it costs less to make and you get a slimmer nappy. The down side comes when considering the pretty factor – it’s more difficult to embellish and customise PUL without affecting it’s waterproof properties. With the right handling it is possible to embroider on to PUL but those needle puncture holes will eventually weaken the PUL and longer term is likely to affect the performance and longevity of your nappy.


PUL as an outer fabric


Plush/ minky fabric

To my mind, this is where the magic happens. Plush is great to use as the outer of a nappy, keeping it simple it comes in an array of pretty prints so you can get a good looking nappy with minimum effort. It’s very forgiving for less than perfect stitching as stitches get hidden in the pile and let’s face it, plush fabric is one of the nicest, most stroke-able fabrics you’ll ever come across and what nicer feeling is there to have on your baby’s bottom?

You can read my full Guide to Plush Fabric here which has some hints and tips about sewing and a guide to it’s composition and handling.

You actually don’t need any fancy machines to create spectacular nappies, just check out this amazing creation from Bumble Bees (this is actually my nappy, I’m SO lucky!)

Image courtesy of Bumble Bees MCN

You can use applique really effectively to create some really amazing effects.

Image courtesy of Bumble Bees MCN
Image courtesy of Bumble Bees MCN

But if you are lucky enough to have an embroidery machine then there really is no limit. I mean, just look at this from Dinky Dot Bots . If these don’t have you adding an embroidery machine to your Christmas list, I don’t know what will.

Image courtesy of Dinky Dot Bots
Image courtesy of Dinky Dot Bots

So as well as being pretty and tactile using plush as the outer of a nappy does have some functional benefits. Because it’s a polyester fabric it won’t easily absorb moisture, this means that it’s unlikely to wick any moisture on to your baby’s clothes.


Another option for your outer layer is to use a quilt weight cotton. Because of the vast array of choice, cotton is a popular choice to easily add some decorative magic to a nappy. Because cotton is a natural fibre and will absorb moisture relatively quickly it isn’t common to see the outer layer made completely out of 100% cotton because the risk of wicking is high. Often cotton will be teamed up with plush placing it as a high back panel like this:

Image courtesy of Bumble Bees MCN

Or at back and the front leaving plush fabric around the leg area like this:

Image courtesy of Bumble Bees MCN


All of that said, I recently had a chat with Toya from Made by Toya who reminded me that ages ago we’d spoken on the phone about using cotton as an outer and I didn’t recommend it because of the potential wicking issue, but I’d not tried it . She was keen to use fabrics from her stash so she did. And it worked! She used the Chelory method. which I’d not seen before so using cotton is definitely an option. This would be a great way to use up some of your stash and keep the nappy trimmer too.

Image courtesy of Made By Toya

Well I hope that has given you some idea of the different fabrics you can use on the outside of a nappy, and the design elements that are possible. I’ll be back tomorrow for the last in this series and shall be talking about the options you can use on the inside of a nappy, often called “Stay Dry Fabrics”


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