Our Homesteading Dream

Living, laughing, loving, and learning on our little suburban homestead.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How-to on the wool longies....

In the past, I've shared pictures of the wool longies that I've made for my little ones. I received many e-mails requesting a "how to" post on making them. Here you go! :P

What you will need to begin:

Wool sweater (preferably lambswool)

Matching thread

1/2 inch elastic

Sewing machine


Common Pins

(Rotary cutter is nice but not necessary)

Some basic info to start with.

Wool longies are usually used in place of a plastic diaper cover when one uses cloth diapers.

When properly felted and lanoized, they work better than regular covers! And they are made from natural fibers that breath..so less diaper rashes! We use longies in place of 'jama bottoms, tights and pants.

Here's some info on lanolizing:

"Lanolin is the natural waterproofing on sheep's wool. This natural lanolin is what makes the wool "waterproof". Wool absorbs about 30% of it's weight without feeling wet, which means "overspill" gets absorbed by the wool and, ta da! No leaks. Just let the wool air dry between uses, and you can go for weeks between washings. Wool doesn't get smelly like synthetics do. The lanolin on the wool cover gets used up by the urine as the cover air dries, so after a while you will need to restore lanolin to the cover to maintain the cover's effectiveness. Getting lanolin back onto the wool is call Lanolizing. Some people do a short water-only soak or rinse prior to lanolizing to rinse out any residue first. Some like to lanolize their covers inside out, butI do not notice any difference in the results either way."

I buy most of the wool I use at thrift shops. I've paid anywhere from .99-4$ a sweater. (One time I paid $8. The sweater was beautiful and brand new...that is the one I made the purple striped skant out of:o)

Before going out to the shops, you need to measure your children. You need their waist (measure around their waist) their rise (measure from front to back. Belly button, between the legs and to the top of the diaperline above their bum) and you need the length.(This is the inside part of their leg from the crotch to the ankle) I also get a thigh measurement.

Now you have your measurements and can set off to search for wool. What you are looking for is 100% wool. (Some blends would work but could tend to wick the moisture out from the diaper and then you end up with a soggy child:O) I prefer lambswool as it is the softest and least itchy. Pay close attention to patterns, colors etc. and that it has a tight weave. Make sure it's something that will work for your child. Now you get to measure (or at least eye-ball it as my Dad says)

The sweaters arm length needs to be longer than your child, hip to ankle with a bit extra to allow for shrinkage from felting. (Though many times wool sweaters end up at thrift shops due to being shrunk and if thats the case...you're ahead of the game!:O) If it's too long, that's okay. You can shorten them later or just roll the cuff on the longie to allow room for your little one to grow. (This is always my choice)

Once you've brought your wool home, it's time to felt it. Felting is when the wool fibers shrink or tighten .Think back to that beautiful wool, or angora sweater that you accidentally threw in the dryer......that's actually what we are trying for here. Felting happens because the scales on the wool swell, rub against each other and bind together, creating a denser, shrunken fabric. Wash the wool in hot water and dry in a hot dryer(without detergent.) and the wool should felt nicely. This can be repeated if the wool hasn't felted as tightly as you'd like it to be. The tighter the weave, the more waterproof your longies will be,***** though you need to be careful not to overshrink!***** :O)

(I'll include a link on wool care and how to lanolize your wool at the end of this how-to.)

Now you're ready to begin! Here's the sweater that I'll be using.

The first step is to remove the arms from the sweater. Lay the sweater flat and cut from the underarm seam straight across to the outside of the arm.

The next step is to split the seam of the arm. Refer back to your babies measurements. Take the rise, divide it in half and then add one inch. That is how far down you want to split the seam. (Example: If your child has a 20 inch rise, divided in half it would be 10 inches, then add 1 inch to allow for the waistband. You'd need to cut 11 inches of the seam in this circumstance)

Then you will do the same to the other arm. This is what you should end up with.

Now turn the both pieces inside out and match up the seams. I'd recommend the first time making the longies that you pin the seams together. Especially if you have a pattern or stripes to match up.

(This is the time you will need to cut down the size of the arms if they are too large for your baby. Though I've never had to do it, measure your baby hip to hip. Now measure the pinned arms from hip to hip. If it's significantly larger, you can cut some of the width from the wool where you've pinned the seams. If you really want to avoid this, just keep an eye on the width of the arms when you are shopping for your sweater. Childrens sweaters work well for little babies, womens for a medium size and men or XL womens for toddlers I've found.)

Now you want to sew the seam from front to back. I use a small straight stitch to keep it as tight as possible. This will keep it from unravelling. You can also go over the crotch area a few times as this is the area with the most strain.

This is what it looks like after the seam has been stitched.

Next you are going to fold the top of the waist band in about an inch. Again, your first time you should pin. Make sure you have room for your elastic to slide through. I start at the back seam and work my way around, leaving a 1 inch gap. (This is where you'll slide your elastic through)

Next you are going to take your elastic and put a safety pin on the end. I use a diaper pin just because they are large and easy to thread through the opening. DO NOT CUT YOUR ELASTIC UNTIL THE END!! I made this mistake my first time and cut it too short :O)

Thread the pin all the way around your waist band and back out the same opening. You can remove the safesty pin and stitch the end of the elastic to the inside of the seam.

Next, pull the elastic to the width you need for your child. (Refer back to your babies waist measurement, just remember elastic stretches!:O)

Zigzag stitch this piece of elastic together.

Now you can cut the excess elastic and stitch the opening in the waistband closed (Some people prefer to leave it open to have access to the elastic. It's very easy to change elastic to accomadate a growing child or the next baby needing the pants.)

Here are my finished pants.

These are a little bigger than I was planning but that's okay as my monsters will quickly grow into them! :O) I hope this how-to was helpful and if anyone has questions, either leave it in the comments or private message me.

Now for the care of the wool...There is a fabulous company called Green Mountain Diapers and they have a video on how to wash and lanolize the longies. I use what they recommend, Eucalan wash and Lansinoh lanolin and have had wonderful results every time.

Save your leftover wool pieces. I've been using mine to make regular slip on diaper covers, shorties (the shorts version of the longies using the body of the sweater) hats, mittens, and soon a wool piece quilt! The possibilities are endless. Have fun!

God bless,



Anonymous said...

IF you need a larger bum in the longies you can lay the sweater flat-the line up a diaper cover wih the bottom hem of the sweater. The botom hem will be your waistband-so allow room to turn it down to make a casing for the elastic. cut out around the diaper cover leaving a little extra room for seams. Then sew the sides and crotch together. YOu make the legs out of the sweater arms and sew them to the legholes. This allowed me to make longies for my youngest even when he was to big for just sweater arm pants. I hope you can understand the instructions. They turn out looking a bit like a pull on diaper cover with long legs.

Homesteading Dream said...

Thank you for your comment and instructions! I've done something similar making a pull-on wool cover and "shorties". There are so many wonderful things you can make with the wool scraps too...I'll be making a "how-to" on some of them soon. :)
Thanks again for your input!