As nappy nerds will know, there are three popular free patterns for home use online. Like many newbies to the art of making nappies, I wondered which one was best, which would fit my baby and so forth. As the information about these patterns is scattered across fora, and I couldn't find a collation/comparison, I decided to do my own, complete with pictures.
Common opinions about these patterns seem to hold true; the Ottobre pattern is enormous, and the Mamabird much smaller, relative to the size ranges claimed for each nappy.
Maeve is four-and-a-half months old, 8.6kgs and blessed with, um, generous thighs and tumtum. She is a medium in most WAHM and commercial nappies, and a size 0 in clothes (when fitted over big clothie bottom).
The three patterns I used:
Wee Weka S-M-L pattern for fitted nappy, available here.
The Mamabird fitted nappy pattern, available here. I chose to make the Large size due to popular opinion that this nappy runs very small.
The Ottobre fitted nappy pattern, available here. I used the smaller size, as this nappy is considered to run very large.
As I'm a beginner seamstress and lack an overlocker, I made all nappies using the same turn'n'topstitch method with an internal soaker. A good overview of this method can be found here! Each nappy has an outer of pretty quilting cotton, a body layer of hemp, and a flannelette inner. The internal soaker (sewn to the hemp body layer) is constructed of two layers microfibre and a layer of the same hemp. All are fastened with HTH and loop.
With the Wee Weka, I decided not to put the second row of loop on the tummy, thinking that Maeve is so ginormous that surely she wouldn't need it. See photos below - I'll have to add it later.
The first bump I ran into was that none of these patterns fit on a standard "nappy cut" of fabric! See below:
(for these fabrics (50x45cm I think?) I ended up using a pattern of my own devising - based on the Wee Weka, but with a shorter rise and tabs.)
Because I used the same method to sew each nappy, I won't make remarks on the various patterns' clarity of directions or ease of sewing.
Here is a picture of the "raw" nappies (cut, not sewn). Note the difference in rise!
Uh oh. See big gappiness?
Shortening the rise (need second row of loop as pattern indicates) fixes the problem.
Nappies side by side:
From left to right: Wee Weka, Mamabird, Ottobre
The Wee Weka, being a multi-sized nappy, definitely needs the second row of loop on the belly, so as not to gape hugely at the legs on a babe of Maeve's size. I generally don't like the look of this kind of thing, so will unpick it when she no longer needs the smaller size. Also, presumably due to the fact it's designed to fit a huge range of babies, the tabs are extremely long, and meet round Maeve's middle. I would imagine a smaller/skinnier babe would need a crossover tab. However, it's a nice trim fit through the crotch, and will fit for ages, even though it's the smallest "looking" nappy.
The Ottobre pattern is HUGE. It's so long in the rise that it well and truly covers Maeve's belly button, and our one-size covers don't fit over it! It's also very big around the legs/high cut over the thighs; we just roadtested it thoroughly with a poo, and it leaked out one leg! It is cut generously through the bottom though, and should come into its own when Maeve grows a little more.
Even though I made the small Ottobre and the large Mamabird, the Ottobre is still bigger!
The Mamabird pattern is quite wide across the front, and as a result isn't as trim through the crotch as the other two patterns. However, it fits best of the three right now, even if it won't last as long. It's also nice and easy to cut out and sew, what with the straight sides!
Of course, the pattern that fits Maeve best is the one I drafted for her - it's based on the Wee Weka though, just with shorter tabs and rise (eliminating the need for that second loop row/fold down at front). For a bigger baby, the Ottobre would work well (love the extra bum room), and if you like multi-size nappies, the Wee Weka is great, from a baby Maeve's size and up. If you want simple and easy, the Mamabird may be the way to go!
An excellent resource for nappy sewing is held at Oz Cloth Nappies. There are links to suppliers, patterns and sewing hints. Enjoy!
EDIT, 21/03/2007: It is now almost a year later. Believe it or not, I am still using one of these nappies! The Wee Weka really came into its own as Maeve grew. The innards of the nappy were designed for a young infant who didn't wee a lot, so I sewed up some microfleece boosters. As I said I would, I added an extra row of loop to the belly, but unpicked it when Maeve no longer needed it. Still is lovely and trim, works fine until a PUL or knitted cover. Occasional near-leaks at the legs though, though never onto cover or clothes, it's just very trim through the crotch. Still my favourite design, and still going strong.
The Mamabird fit for the shortest time, and I wasn't a huge fan of how wide it was across the crotch. But to be fair, I don't think we EVER had a leak or a poo blowout from this nappy. It worked great, just not a cut I prefer, and was very small.
The Ottobre... *shamefaced* This nappy was WAY too big for Maeve when this article was written. She christened it with a poo, which ran EVERYWHERE as the nappy was gappy and loose. I kept it aside to let her grow into it, moved house... and now I can't find it. :( I'd love to try it out and see how it works! If I find it, I'll let you know.
EDIT, 13/03/2008: It is now two years later, and both the Wee Weka and the Ottobre nappy STILL fit. :D Kids really do lengthen and get leaner as they grow; I suppose it's not so amazing, but still. A very versatile couple of patterns indeed!