Sunday, 2 March 2014

DESIGNS THAT ARE OUR OWN - When Moms make diapers

When I became pregnant with baby #6 this past summer, I knew I would use cloth diapers again.  It's my norm, its how I grew up, played with dolls and how I raised my other 5 babies.   Making them wasn't originally my plan.  It was my solution to being poor lol.  But I've been sewing since I was 3, so it was a natural solution for me. 

I set out with the decision to just make a plain, typical prefold.   Then I added Velcro.  This wasn't my design idea.  It's my moms design from about 35 years ago when she made a few diapers for my dolls.  It was her solution to not giving her clutsy pre-schooler pins to diaper her dolls.  Many design ideas tend to be just that;  A solution to a problem.  There are draw backs to a Velcro prefold in that some of the folds just won't work.  That was not an issue as the folds my mom used (and so the folds I as a small child used, and use today as a mom), were not effected.  So design draw back for some but not for my Mom, not for preschooler me, and not for adult Mom me either.  Some folds I just do a little different to work with the Velcro.  These will appear in a series of posts on folding a prefold diaper.  So when I decided to add Velcro to my prefolds it was a design decision of my Mom's that I knew worked for me, which is all I need; a diaper that works for me.

Now when I had the gathered leg thought, that was different.   It was my own thought and I discounted it originally.  I figured 'Who was I to reinvent the wheel (diaper)'. I even came across a few posts on the internet suggesting the same thing.  Who are these mom's who think they can re-invent the diaper?  Their design changes are small, similar to others sometimes.  And again I discounted my idea, cuz yeah, who was I? 

Well this is who I am:.  A Mom of (soon to be) 6, who has been cloth diapering for 18 years, sewing for 35 (I started when I was 3).  Im a seamstress who has sold powwow regalia and my regalia's are known and identifiable over this whole powwow region.  Im a person with a mind that can figure out how best to do something my way so it works better for me. And hey, 10 years ago I came up with my own way to add ribbon to a fancy shawl at powwow.  One that has grown in popularity.  Moms making small changes to things they use and do everyday is just that:  the thought "for me this would work better this way". 
So I began sewing my prefolds with Velcro when just the other day I was sewing my night wraps and decided to make the gathered leg.  Just sitting there at my sewing machine.  Doing what I do at my sewing machine, sewing my way.  I long ago started to make my own patterns.  It began with making small changes to commercial patterns and the more I used them and changed them, the more familiar I became.  Its how I changed puttinng ribbon on a fancy shawl.  Its how seamstresses make design changes.  Just sitting at a sewing machine.  Sewing with the end product in mind.  Your mind sees a better end project and you change course sewing to achieve it.  It's how designs in sewing sometimes change.  The seamstress invisions something a little different and knows she has the tools to make it reality.  Honestly I dont think my sewing machine would have let me discount the idea.  It taunts me lol.  "Just do it, you can undo it if you don't like it".  Its true.  I even figured out how I'd let the elastic go if I dont like it, before I did it. 
But here's the thing.  I haven't reinvented the wheel (diaper).  I took the design elements I liked of two different diapers and combined them into a hybrid.   I simply made what I most wanted in a diaper.  I didn't do it for others.  I didn't do it to design my own thing.  I did it so I could have everything I wanted in a diaper.  (So I doubt I'll be taking elastic out).  The push from family to sell them (and with my parents help that's being looked into,  cuz im busy sewing and getting ready for baby). Is more about me loving to sew, beinng good at it and being broke and without a current job.
Solution to a problem: no job so create my own job.
Fancy shawl with ribbon added in my own way (now very popular method)

So here's the reality.  Other moms out there making small or big diaper design changes are just doing something to improve their lives, they sit at that sewing machine and work the fabrics into their visions of what they need.  Its no big ego trip that we can make a better diaper then those before us.  That said: Let's keep in mind that we would all be learning to fold flats if a diaper service hadn't had the idea to make flats easier for their customers by sewing them together.  Let's remember that the first fitted diaper was a Mom making a cloth diaper as easy as a sposie.   A pocket diaper was another Mom's  idea to make her life easier.  The many small design differences from one brand or style to the next has all been the same thing.  The fitted hybrid (AI2's) was a person combining their  favorite design elements of two different diaper styles.  Remember I said, all diapers work, its just personal preference; what design elements, what pros and cons are important to you? Chose your cloth based on that, based on invisioning yourself using them.  I'm not out to re-invent things.  Im just a mom who sees and makes changes in life to best suit my family, like all Moms do.

What I would agree with is a mom making changes in diaper design should probably be vey familiar with cloth diapers (even if its just one style of diapers) first.  Why? Cuz you have to know how to use something correctly in order to see improvements.  Besides someone looking for a new invention ego trip isn't going to have a great design change.  I saw a blog (yesterday) where a mom makes a rather cool design change to a prefold (I've asked to share her post here, so we will see).  Its one I dont see using for my purposes but I can totally see this being a solution,  an everyday improvement for many moms.  I feel likewise about my prefold hybrid design.  Its got what I like most about prefolds, and basic fitted diapers all in one new diaper. The two diaper designs I like best and am familiar with.   And yeah it wasn't a big design change.  And yeah I'm sure many people are doing similar things.  The point is.  Im doing what I need, making what I want, and if Im smart enough to be able to sell some; well good for me.  I believe there most be other moms like me who will see my hybrid and say "that's just what I want, that's how I want a cloth diaper to work".  Its not re-inventing, its personally improving.  And in the cloth diaper world that is exactly what has given us the many choices to fit the many different parent-baby combos. 

My velcro prefold and my prefold hybrid (also with Velcro)
 
LESSONS, deign changes are:
•a solution to a problem
•the thought "for me this would work better this way". 
• a seamstress invisioning something different and knowing she has the tools to make it reality
• combining your favorite design elements for what you most want in a diaper. 
So lets me thankful for the changes before us, the changes we make, and the changes to come after us. 

Some examples:
1950 - diaper service owner invents prefold, made by curity.
1950 -  Sybil Geeslin (Kennedy) invents first fitted diaper, the safe-T-di-dee-diaper.
1987 - bummis creates modern diaper cover.
1995 - Motherese comes on the scene by mail order.  Owner Erika Froese had been selling these one size diapers which she had designed and named for her children.
2000- Fuzzibuns creates pocket diapers.