Girls Day Out

So today, I took Beeba 2 up to Ithaca with a friend and her daughter. We had a great time. We visited this cute shop called Mama Goose, which is a kind of a children's consignment store/natural children's stuff store. They have a whole section of cloth diapers, which is really awesome, as they are to my knowledge the only local store (semi local, since they are about an hour from me, lol) . They had Mother-ease diapers, and some bamboo ones, and hemp ones... and lots of prefolds and flats. I have to say, I was kind of surprised at the brand-name diapers.... I thought they would be better or something, since all I really have experience with is WAHM diapers, like mine... but... they were no better than mine or any other WAHM diaper I have seen. and not nearly as cute.

What I thought was really cool was that they also were carying a local WAHM's work... in fact, several, throughout the store... but for the diapers in particular, it was awesome that I know the mama from the Diaper Sewing Divas Forum, which we are both members of.

Anyway, since I make my own diapers, I just bought a pack of Flats (for research, lol... then I can say I have tried every type of cloth diaper.) and a baby gate and we left.

We walked the Commons, too, and checked out lots of other stores, and I really have to say, I like Ithaca. Its a cool town. Now, if the day had only been just a little cooler, lol.

We found a little Yarn and Fabric store too. That was an awesome find. I have a limited budget right now, or I could have gone wile in there. There were some really cool knit prints. I did buy a few. Pics tommorrow.

We made a stop at GreenStar, too. its a natural CoOp market. Practically everything in there is organic, and I swear, if I could afford it, I would shop there for everything. alas, we have essentially the same budget as we had two years ago, and two more kids, lol. Our budget does not allow for purely organic shopping.

There's a Thunderstorm heading our way, so I'd better log off, I'm tired anyway. sad part of that is in a thunderstorm I don't dare have the sewing machines on either, with them being so expensive and our house being a prime target for lightening (we got hit last summer) I can't afford to risk them.


The Life of a mom.

Heh... this morning we went to a local free play-center to meet some friends. Beeba 1 was excited, but being 2 yrs old, had to be ornery anyway. He fought with everything from getting a shirt on to getting out the door. On the positive side, he did help pick a nice clean diaper for his baby sister, and gave her a kiss.

Our friends include Beeba 1's Best friend, 2 weeks younger than him, her mom (my best friend locally) and 3 other children she babysits. we had fun, and Beeba 1 was most happy stealing all the "CHOO CHOO TREAN!"s from the other kids. He is obsessed with trains.

We got to go shopping today too. Since we bought my Embroidery machine 2 fridays ago, we have been living VERY frugally. But, the hope is that the machine will bring extra income into the house. so, when we had the money available, and the local Husqvarna dealership was running a Closing the business sale, we grabbed it. I paid about half its value. It was worth it, and though we may have eaten an awful lot of spaghetti in the last week, and we ran out of milk yesterday, it will be worth it in the long run, and we did not starve, by any means. (we saved the last cup of milk for Beeba 1 this morning)

And now, we have milk, and juice, and all sorts of food in the house again. We are still going to be living frugally for the next few weeks, because this is the mortgage paycheck, where the bulk of the money coming in goes straight out again. But we always manage to survive. Eventually I'll get some sales in my shop, and that will help, but for now... we survive.

I am ordering more supplies, too. Don't worry, they don't come out of this paycheck... I'm not that dumb. But I do know that if I don't have the materials available to make diapers, that would be no good. so, I ordered lots of nice Cuddledry microfleece, and some more PUL, and some FOE.... lots of yummy colors, too. I am dying to embroider on some pretty ocean or chocolate brown PUL... the embroideries I have seen on those colors have been to die for. But that has to wait until next month, when I get my Card reader forthe embroidery machine. Apparently my brother agrees that embroidery is a good way for my business to grow, since he decided that he will buy it for me with some of his military sign up bonus. Yay! He is gonna buy me some thread too, so by August, you can expect to see embroidered Diapers available for sale in my shop, and Custom slots available through my website. I can't wait.

hmm.... haven't got any pics up yet today, huh? Howabout a cute pic from last summer? Beeba 1 Loved SpiderMan last summer, so I made him a Spidey Diaper... It had no closures, since that was before I got my snap press, and I was tired of Hook and loop at that time... I just closed it with Pins... I always did mean to put snaps on, but got distracted, and then he out-grew it... go figure. Excuse the bad pictures... I never planned for these to be shared, so I didn't bother making them nice.


Diaper Laundry, Its not so bad.

Ok, so here's a topic I get asked about fairly often. I usually find myself looking at the questioner like he or she is a lunatic, actually. thats because Diaper Laundry is just one more load of laundry. And it really isn't any harder than any other load of laundry.

Usually, Coversations go something like this:

"OH, you use cloth? Isn't that Hard?"(exchange gross, stinky, timeconsuming, what have you here... its all the same)

Me: No, not hard, why would it be hard?

See, thats when the conversation can get interesting, and its usually in the next few minutes I either have someone convinced they'd like to try cloth, or they tune out and aren't listening any more.

So lets address some more common misconceptions, shall we?

1. DUNKING. Dunking is hardly ever (and for me, in a year and a half of cloth, never) necessary. People think of dunking as a requirement of cloth diapering because they remember their mothers, or grandmothers doing it, or they've heard stories about it. I can't tell you how many times I have heard the story of coming in from playing to find the baby's soggy wet diaper soaking in the toilet bowl, or the tub, or sink, or wherever. I can tell you that I have never had a diaper soaking in my toilet, nor have I ever heard of any of my MANY acquaintances and friends in the cloth diapering world doing this either. It just isn't needed.

When babies are very little, their waste is by nature water-soluble. This may seem strange to those new to cloth, but with breastfed babes at least, you can throw it right into the washing machine. I promise, it won't hurt your machine. Honestly, I have no experience with Formula fed babies waste, so maybe a kind reader will fill me in on that one. Both My Beebas are exclusively fed at the breast.

Toddler waste is much more solid, and in most cases will roll, or can be shaken off the diaper straight into the toilet. No dunking, no swishing here... what doesn't come off, (the very small bits) can go into the wash... it'll come clean.

Ah... but you notice, I missed a period. This is the hardest part. The stage of time when babies are starting to eat solid foods, but are still on a highly liquid diet. That's the hardest stage, actually. Thats the stage where you are reluctant to just throw it in the wash, but it doesn't roll off, either. Ironically, thats also the stage at which I entered into cloth when I started with Beeba 1. Its really not that bad, though.

Yes, it may require a bit more than just a shake, though. I still don't know very many people who dunk. There is a nice handy tool for this very situation. Its called a Mini Shower, and it connects to the clean water supply on your toilet. You can buy one online, or you can go to a hardware store and buy the basic components for less. Either way, you then can use it to spray that goopy stuff off your diapers and keep your hands clean while actually using less water.

I am also told it works well as a personal bidet. I don't have one, though I may ask my husband to put one up when Beeba 2 hits that stage, so I can't tell you about that.

2. Smelly Diapers, Bleach, and getting them clean enough. Bluntly put, Many people are worried that they will not get their diapers clean enough washing them at home, or that they will need a lot of bleach, or other harsh chemicals to do it. Some people may even have tried using cloth for a short time and found that they had an odor left in their diapers. Well, for starters, this is not something that needs to be an issue. Lets go over some of the points of washing.

Diapers SHOULD be washed on hot. the hot water will help sanitize them. If you have one of the newer machines with a SANITIZE setting, use it. If not, set your water temperature high on your water heater. I have been asked about smelly diapers a few times, and the first thing I asked back is what temperature do you wash on. More often than not, they are washing on cold or warm, however they wash their clothes. I can't say it enough, WASH ON HOT. Then add a second rinse to your process.

Most people I know would advocate a rinse cycle before the hot wash. This would be done on cold. Personally, I don't do it, but I have an old top loader. If you have a newer front loader or high efficiency washer, I would suggest using a rinse first. it will help remove any lingering bits before the main wash. Front loaders don't use as much water and so sometimes do not work quite as well for diapers... which makes me wonder whether they really work well for any clothes, but I don't have one, so I don't know.

As for bleach, don't use it. I know, your mother, or her mother, or whoever has told you about cloth diapers has probably said you will need to invest in it. You don't. What we know about bleach now that they may not have known is that it breaks down fibers, and shortens the life of them. As far as getting stains out, or disinfecting, well... the sun does just as good a job on both fronts. My husband's grandmother likes to tell peopole that all her friends and neighbors used to assume she used gallons of bleach, since all her whites and her kids whites stayed so bright and clean looking. And she was a nurse with 9 kids, so she had a lot of whites. She very rarely if ever used bleach, though. Her whites stayed that way because she line-dried her clothes. Now, you don't need to line dry your diapers, though if you want to, by all means do so. I want to put up a line in my yard myself. but if you do have a stain that can't be gotten rid of, lay it out in the sun. The back window of a car, or laid out on your porch, or any place where it will get direct sun will work. In a couple days time, your stains will have faded away.

For those of us who don't have lines to hang our diapers on, or who don't want to, a hot cycle in the drier will help to finish the sanitizing process.

Another useful hint is no matter how much you want to use extra detergent, DON'T! Too much detergent causes build up, and not just on diapers. but on diapers you will see the effects of that build-up. Detergent build-up can mean less absorbency, and more stink issues. It can cause a pocket diaper to repel liquid, instead of wicking it through to the insert. It can make a good diaper leak well before its time. If this happens, you'll need to think about Stripping your diapers. But that is a topic I'll leave for another day.

Laundry detergents come with a scoop or a cap with little marker lines telling you how much to use. Don't listen to them. They want you to use that because you will use the detergent faster, and need to buy more. In reality, you only need between a quarter to half of what they recommend, and you will have to find that perfect amount. Ideally, you want a little bit of sudsing when you are doing your wash, but by the time you get to your second rinse, you are hoping to see NO SUDS AT ALL. you also do not want to smell your detergent. Clean diapers should smell like clean water, not soap.

You can add a little Essential Oil if you are inclined. If you do, go sparingly. A few drops can go a long way. Try a few out, to see what you like. My recommendations, tea tree oil, lavender oil, or eucalyptus oil. Or any combination of those. They have cleansing properties, and smell yummy.

Tea tree is Antiseptic, Antifungal, and AntiViral. Eucalyptus is an analgesic, and is antiseptic, and can help with minimizing odor retention. It is effective against bacteria, especially Staphylococci. Lavender is antiseptic, analgesic, and also has deodorizing properties.

If you do use Essential Oils, you may smell a hint of them lingering on your clean diapers. Thats ok. Just use one you like.

You want to avoid using detergents that contain lots of extra chemicals, like brighteners, or enzymes. These can cause issues. I use All Free and Clear, and have had no issues. You can find one you like on this chart.

Did I make everything confusing enough? I'll probably have to come back and edit for clarity later, because I honestly can't remember everything I wrote right now. I've been interrupted a few times.

So here's a basic laundry routine for diapers:
Step 1, Cold rinse with no detergent.
Step 2, Hot wash with a small amount of detergent.
Step 3, Extra rinse cycle. (my machine has a setting for this, I just turn it one. If yours doesn't, you may need to do this manually. Important for getting all detergent out.)
Step 4, Dry in dryer on hot, or hang on line.
Step 5, You're done. Organize them however you like and pat yourself on the back.

Speaking of organization, I have a few pics of my diaper area, and since I haven't shown any pics today, they'll do nicely. My Diapers are kept on the shelf above my washer and dryer (which, happily, are on my first floor) On one side I have Diapers for Beeba 1, on the other side are Beeba 2's diapers. Of course, I redo my area fairly often... it tends to get messy. But it works for us.


Welcome, Cont.

OK, where was I? Oh yes... I had just gotten my website redone. Of course, by this time, I was pretty pregnant. I was bogged down with all custom orders, and had no time to stock my storefront. And my own Beeba 1 had outgrown all his diapers, and was wearing them like bikinis. Beeba 2, who I was pregnant with, had a few diapers gifted to her, but not nearly enough for a newborn stash, and I was running out of time. I made a decision. I knew my customers would be unhappy, but I also knew I had to put my own children first sometimes, and I knew that the last month or so of pregnancy, and the first month or so with a new baby, were going to be tough. So, I finished my customs orders, and let my customers know that there would be no more customs for a while. I would still try to stock int he storefront when I could, but I could not do the custom orders for dozens of diapers and get my own kids set up with new stashes too.

Over the last month or so of my pregnancy, I sewed new diapers for Beeba 1 (who is 2) and LOTS for Beeba 2 (now 6 weeks old). During that time, I managed to get myself approved to make for sale from the Fattycakes pattern of diapers, which I very much like. Unlike my own front closing pattern, Fattycakes is a side closing diaper. It is best made with snaps, and fits on a wide range of kids.

I also made up a design for a wipes case, which is coming soon to both my shops. I embellished mine with a decorative border I was able to do on my new Sewing machine, which I bought when my mother's old machine started stitching funny.

I also have invested in an embroidery machine in the last 2 weeks. Now we are broke till I sell some stock... hehe... but it is an investment. We have eaten spaghetti more in the last 2 weeks than in the last 2 months, but it will pay off in the end. I can't do much with it now, I need the Card Reader/Writer so I can take designs from the internet. But that will come. I am getting that piece of vital hardware in July, at the behest of my brother, who has decided that part of his bonus for joining the military should be invested in his nephew and niece's futures. Its all very cool of him.

I got my etsy just recently too... my first thought was that it could promote my main site... but I think it will more likely be as a sister site, rather than a promotional tool... either way, on either site, I will make money from the sales. But customs will continue to be through my main site, as I can control them better that way.

That takes us up to today. Beeba 1 is playing with his toys in the front room, Beeba 2 is yelling out her frustration that I put her down for a minute. (she was in my arms most of the time I was typing, of course, nursing more than not. She is an avid nurser.) I have cuts of PUL and seudecloth sitting in a heap near me, waiting for the kids to nap so they can become pocket diapers and covers. I have flannels and knits begging to become Fitted Diapers. I have ordered Cotton velour, and Microfleece, to become soft cozy inners for diapers.

I have PUL waiting to be embroidered too, but that will have to wait till I get my hardware. I'll write about that more later.

And I have Fluffy mail waiting to get sent off on its way. I participated in a "diaper shower" through an online community I am part of. Here is What I am sending:

There are 3 diapers there. one in my pattern with a snap-in soaker. Thats the little blue one. One in the Fattycakes Pattern, a pocket or cover, made from the cutest fleece remnant ever with a seudecloth inner. And finally, a pink Hippy Hippy Snap, which is a pattern I'm not YET licensed for. it is a hip-snapping diaper, which i also like a lot.

Then theres the other big news around here: Business Materials. I got business labels in recently, and with that, decided to bring the face of my website forward into my business cards and informational pamphlets. Now, I look all professional. The best part of that all is that While my web designer made my original banner, I was able to edit it to fit and create the rest of my business materials from it. I'm kind of proud of myself.

Next topic for the blog will be: Diaper Laundry, how easy it can be.



Ok, so this is a first. It's a first for me, writing a blog, and its a first for you, reading mine. Welcome to my blog. I am mostly going to be writing about, as the heading states, my Business, Beeba Bottoms, and my Kids, Beeba 1 and Beeba 2. For the sake of safety and their father's wishes, I will not use their names here. If you know us offline, you already know their names.

So how did I get into making diapers?

I've always sewed... when I was 12, i was designing dresses for my kid sister's barbie dolls. I actually had my first sewing machine at age 7, and it wasn't a toy, either. Of course, I didn't learn to use it till I was 11. That machine was melted (yes, thats right, melted) when I was 13... we had a house-fire. I didn't sew much for a while after that.

When I was married, my mother sewed my wedding dress on her 20-year old machine. I wanted to help, but didn't dare mess up my own dress. but I watched. and when I moved out of state with my husband, she gave me that machine. My sewing days were back.

When Beeba 1 was a few months old, wearing trashie diapers, he was getting all sorts of rashes... so I started reading. I learned about the kinds of diapers available... and then I learned the price. can we say sticker-shock? So, out came the old machine, and a paper grocery bag. (I had read that I could make a pattern by tracing a trashie)

I soon tossed the paper bag, it gave me headaches, and tossed the trashie-tracing idea, too... trashies never did fit well anyway. I didn't give up on making diapers though. Being a frugal mom, I started with free patterns. I tried the ottobre small first... it never made it onto a bottom. then I tried the Mama bird pattern.. better, but not great. so I started measuring... Beeba 1 was not happy as I stretched measuring tapes all over him.

After several tries, I came up with my first pattern, and covered it with a wool wrap I had chrocheted from yet another free pattern.

It worked, but it still wasn't perfect. I wanted perfect. So I kept working. It took several months, but in the meantime, I was building his stash.

Eventually, I had a pattern I liked. The only problem was, the Velcro kept falling apart. That led me to do some more research. I found out that Velcro was exactly 2 things. 1. the most expensive brand of hook and loop I could have gotten, and 2. the worst brand. I found a Brand of Hook and loop called Touchtape, and fell in love. It was strong, it lasted, and it came in different colors. (although I never bought anything but white... I couldn't imagine needing more than that for just my Beeba.)

There were still problems with Touchtape... If I forgot to close the laundry tabs, I got huge diaper snakes in my washer and dryer, and lint loved to build up in the hook, making it useless untill cleaned. Still, my husband loved that it was just like using a trashie, so I kept trucking. Besides... who could afford to use snaps??

It was around that point that I had a few people tell me I should sell the diapers. Being naive, I listened. I made a few business cards, created a little angelfire site, and even registered with my state as a business. Ha. I did get some sales.

My first sale was a pretty big one, too. A local mom saw my family out walking and thought that the diapers were cute. She ordered 10 diapers for her son, who was a bit older than mine... she was hoping they would help him potty-train sooner. I don't know if that worked, but later, she also bought diapers for her daughter (who had not been born yet when I met her).

I started to make some stock, and arranged to go sell at a local farmers market. That was fun. I didn't sell much, but hey... How many people go to a farmers market for diapers? But, I got my name out locally, and that did help a bit.

My nephew came and helped out one week. He played more than helped, but hey... thats what kids do.

After the summer was over, I realized I was no longer in love with Hook and loop. My son had learned to pull it off, as many toddlers seem to do. I decided I needed an alternative. I tried snaps. Metal snaps from the craft store. Ha. That was a total flop. Good thing I never tried to sell those. They fell off in a few washes, if they hadn't fallen off in their first use. Let it be a lesson to aspiring diaper makers. Metal snaps= not for diapers.

I didn't give up so easily, though. I tried getting snaps from online. I bought from the snap store, their long prong metal snaps. they worked better, but not by much. metal snaps were not the way to go. but by this time, I had realized that even though metal snaps were the pits, I liked the concept. I did some math and realized that I had made enough money to invest a bit in my business. I bought a real snap press.

By the time my snap press got here, I was pregnant with Beeba 2, and tired all the time. I made my husband do all my pressing for me. but boy, did it feel good not to have diaper snakes in the laundry, or to have to pick lint off of diaper tabs. I decided that I would keep offering the hook and loop, since that was my original product, but that I would also offer the snaps. Polyresin snaps work great for diapers, by the way. You just have to press really hard.

In the meantime, I had decide I needed a better website, because I knew the local scene wasn't going to last forever, and I also knew that I was going to have to take time off when Beeba 2 was born. I wanted my business in a good position when that happened. I arranged a trade. I got my website designed as a storefront, and in return, I made a stash of diapers.

To Be continued... the kids are calling.

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