Complete Rehab: Giving My Pocket Diapers A Second Life Part I

I’ve written before about replacing hook and loop tabs on my old bumGenius pocket diapers. After my son was born I quickly realized that the elastic on the legs was failing too, even on my new 4.0’s that my daughter had barely used. I was also disappointed to see that while the new 4.0 hooks were stronger, as a result the front loop strip (or landing strip as some cloth diaper mamas call it) was getting bald patches. I also had a stack of hand-me-down 3.0s from a generous friend that all needed new hook & loop and elastic as well. So I decided the time had come for a full blown diaper rehab project.

This is a picture of what my dining room table has looked like for the past few weeks (OK, months) as I have slowly worked through this project.

With the diapers I already owned (both 3.0 and 4.0) as well as the hand-me-downs, I had 28 bumGenius to repair. Just looking at that number made me want to give up. At first I decided to try and assess each diaper individually, replacing only the elements that needed replacing. But I finally decided that was just going to drive me crazy. So every diaper got new laundry tabs, hook & loop tabs, leg and back elastic and yes, (drum roll please) front loop strip. I lived in terror of ruining my diapers. Would they leak when I was done? What if I stitched them so crookedly that they were unusable and I couldn’t resell them. I reminded myself of a few things.

1. I didn’t buy more than half these diapers, so there wasn’t a large a potential financial loss.

2. The reason I was embarking on this enormous project was that they were already unusable. The hook & loop wasn’t reliable enough to stay closed and the weak elastic was allowing leaks, especially on my skinny boy.

3. Part of why we decided to do cloth diapers was to save money, and that only really works if the diapers get us through as many of our kids as possible. If I did all the repairs, there was a possibility that the diapers would make it onto future children. As they were now, they would be lucky if they followed my son to potty training without failing completely, and that was only because we used them so intermittently.


Materials needed:

-Three pieces of ¼ inch elastic approximately 4.5 inches in length

-10 inches of 1.5 inch loop for front strip

-Two 2 inch pieces of 1.5 inch loop for laundry tabs (You could also try using loop fabric, but I prefer the same loop you use for the front strip)

-Two hook tabs and two loop tabs, approximately 1.75 inches long and 1 inch high.

-100% polyester thread

-a sewing machine with a ball point needle (While some steps of this project can be done by hand, I think that doing the whole thing would be incredibly cumbersome. The only thing I can see is that maybe sewing by hand might mean not having to take the entire diaper apart to replace the front loop strip, but I still think it would take way more time and effort than using a sewing machine.)

You can use either Touchtape or Aplix, both have advantages and disadvantages. I personally chose Touchtape because it is supposed to be sturdier and last longer. I would love never to do this again. (Though I’m not sure that my diapers would survive another rehab anyway). It is a little stiffer, but I didn’t find it bothersome. My main concern was wear and tear. BumGenius diapers originally come with Aplix and I wasn’t pleased with how that held up so I thought I should try another option.

Where to get materials:

Cotton Babies sells bumGenius repair kits with 3 elastic pieces, laundry tabs and new hook and loop tabs (all aplix). But NOT a front loop strip. This is thought by many reviewers to be a major failing of the repair kit. I think this is mostly due to the fact that replacing the front loop is a big job, one which most people wouldn’t bother with and would sooner buy new diapers. (Honestly, if money were no object, I think I would have given my diapers to a more crafty frugal friend and bought new ones too, but in this case my budget won out over my fear of a large and detailed sewing project).

IMG_1477Initially I bought repair kits for several of my diapers. At $1 a piece if figured it was a worthwhile investment. But when I realized I was going to replace all of the front loop I rethought it a little.

The above amount listed is enough to repair one diaper. If you are doing several, it might be more cost effective to order the materials in bulk, since you need loop from the front of the diaper anyway. I bought large roll of loop 1.5 inch Touchtape from Kids in the Garden. Their shipping was reasonable and prices the cheapest I could find. I also priced their hook and braided elastic, discovered that if I cut my own tabs and elastic I’d save quite a bit over using the bumGenius repair kit.. But if you don’t want to be bothered $1 a repair kit isn’t too bad for the convenience and the nicely rounded tabs.

There are a couple of options when cutting your own tabs. I personally prefer to use 1.5 inch loop for the laundry tabs so that they completely cover the old ones. But cutting my own hook and loop tabs proved to be a little more complicated. I didn’t want to have to purchase more loop in the different size so I purchased 1.5 inch hook and a larger quantity of 1.5 inch loop. (You will need quite a lot more loop than hook if you are replacing the laundry tabs and front strip as well). So I had two options, make my tabs a little taller in height (1.5 inch instead of 1 inch) or a little shorter in length (1.5 inch instead of 1.75 inch).

Top: bumGenius replacement tabs. Left: smaller DIY tabs. Right: larger DIY tabs.
Replacement bumGenius tabs


Smaller DIY replacement tabs


Larger DIY replacement tabs


I think I prefer the smaller tabs.

Other companies that sell Aplix and Touchtape for rehabbing or sewing your own diapers are Very Baby, Wazoodle and many others.  Or you could try a local craft store or even a cloth diaper boutique. My experience as been that large chain craft stores don’t carry the quality you need.

Next time, we start the process of rehabbing our diapers and giving them a second life. Be sure to come back for Part 2.