Saturday, January 12, 2008

Waterproof training pants with free pattern

Here are instructions to make waterproof training pants. These are "low bikini cut" style and trim fitting. The pattern fits my 20lb, 9 month old with a little room to grow.

The trainers have a PUL outer and a flannel inner with a soaker of 3 layers of flannel, the sides are attached with snaps, bound with 1" FOE, so that they can be easily taken off when wet but still pull up and down. You could make different variations on this:
-flannel inner, outer and soaker for non-waterproof trainers
-flannel inner, outer and soaker with a hidden waterproof layer in the soaker
-another type of material in the soaker, i.e. hemp
-sew together the sides and leave out the snaps
Download Pattern Some download times are long.

Here is the flannel inner layer with the 3 layers of flannel for the soaker. I have pinned and sewed all three layers of flannel, the soaker, to the inner flannel layer and used a wide and close together zig zag all the way around. You run the zig zag over the edge of the soaker flannel so that the edges are protected from fraying. I like to do this instead of serging the edge and then sewing it on because it takes less time and works just as well.
Cut out your PUL layer using the same trainer pattern as you did for the flannel inner. I draw the pattern onto the PUL and then use paper clips to hold the fabric still (its pretty slippery) while cutting.

Hint: I like to make my pattern pieces out of cardboard from cereal boxes, they hold up well and are easy to trace.

Hint: You don't want to use pins with PUL because this will poke holes into the waterproof layer and make it leak. You can use bobby pins, paper clips, or clothes pins instead.
Place the right sides together (the flannel should have the soaker facing out so that when you turn the trainer the soaker will be hidden on the inside). Use the same paper clips to hold the PUL layer to the flannel to prepare for sewing.
Sew the legs, the back and the front with a straight stitch and a 1/4" seam allowance. Leave the sides open. Take the paper clips out before the machine runs over them.

Attaching the elastic is a tricky. You want to use a medium sized zig zag. Take a long length of 1/4" wide elastic, don't cut it in advance. Anchor the elastic to the PUL side at the edge of the leg by backstitching, now pull the elastic with your right hand and guide the diaper with your left hand. Sew along the seam allowance so that the machine tacks the elastic down to the trainer. You will see it start to bunch up behind the foot. When you get to the end of the leg cut the elastic. Repeat this for the other leg, the front and back.

Hint: Pull the elastic by 50% (not fully tight) these trainers are fairly trim and if you pull the elastic too tight they will be too tight around your little ones waist and thighs. Try to pull the elastic the same amount for each seam so that the trainer is symmetrical.

Hint: Sewing the elastic to the PUL side of the diaper will cause the flannel to roll in on the finished trainer so that the PUL will be lying against your little ones legs to prevent wicking when wet.
Here is a picture of the trainer with all the elastic on. You can see that it curls a little but not too much because I only pulled the elastic by 50% of its stretch. You can see that it is pretty much symmetrical, no one side is curling too much more than any other.

Turn the trainer inside out through one of the back sides (there's more room there). Pin the sides so that the PUL lies flat and the elastic is straight on the ends. (I know I said not to pin PUL but you will put the snaps here anyway). Roll the end so that the flannel is rolled in, so that when you look at the right side all you see is PUL. This may result in the flannel being a little buckled but this is not important.

Hint: If you wanted to topstitch the trainer, now would be the time. Sew a straight stitch just outside the elastic, being careful not to catch it. You can do this with the waist and the legs if you wish. This may cause wicking which is why I don't do it.
If you wanted to sew the trainer together (and omit the snaps) you would pin with the PUL layer together and sew up the side seams. Turn inside out and be done. If you want to add snaps DON'T do this step.
To put on the 1" wide FOE run an inch through the machine sewing with a very wide and close together zig zag before you put the trainer in.
Sink the needle, raise the foot, open the FOE and then place the corner of the side of the trainer under the foot so that when you lower the foot it will rest on the trainer. The pins might poke through the FOE where it is folded but this doesn't matter. Then place the rest of the side along the FOE and fold the other side of the FOE on top. Lower the foot.
Sew along the edge being careful to catch both the flannel and the PUL layers in the FOE (don't stretch the FOE, you're using it as a non-wicking binding not as an elastic). When you reach the end of that side sew about 5 more stitches on the FOE without anything between (this is important because you will be folding over the excess and using to anchor the snaps) and then repeat the above step for the 3 other sides of the trainer. You don't have to cut the FOE, just keep inserting the sides and sewing along. If you are making more than one trainer you can just keep adding them on until all sides of all the trainers are bound.
Cut in the middle of each section of FOE to release each side of the trainer.
Poke a large needle through the trainer at the edge of the FOE where it meets the inner elastic (feel with your fingers to find it). This will make it easier to put the snaps on.
Take the front of the trainer and push the cap through the hole you made with the pin, fold over the FOE and push it over the sharp part of the cap. When you look at the PUL side of the trainer you should see the smooth side of the cap.
Use your snap press to put the rest of the snap on, thereby securing the FOE under the snap and finishing it off.

Repeat for the bottom of that same front side and for the top and bottom of the other front side.
For the back sides fold over the FOE first (towards the flannel) and push the cap through so that the smooth side of the cap is on the flannel side.
Put on the rest of the snap with the snap press and repeat for the other three snap locations in the back.
If there is excess FOE hanging off after the snap has been put on, cut it as close to the snap as possible with scissors.
Put all the snaps together and you will have a finished pair of trainers.


Anonymous said...

I would like to try using this tutorial to make non waterproof trainers with snapped sides. I may put a layer of PUL in the soaker like you do in another tutorial.
What is FOE? Do I need to use FOE for a non waterproof version of the trainer?

Green Momma said...

Using two body layers of flannel, and a few layers in the soaker plus the PUL, would make great non-waterproof trainers from this pattern.

FOE is fold-over-elastic and you can fine it for over $2/yd from Joann's or online from stores such as for ~$0.70/yd. I use it to bind the ends of the trainer. If you didn't want to use the foe you could simply add 1/4 - 1/2" to the edges of the pattern, run the elastic to the original end locations and after turning, fold over the edges twice to finish the ends. This might be more bulky but you can experiment and see. You could also use poly/cotton binding instead of the foe without altering the pattern.

Hope this helps:)

I'd love to see pics and hear how it turns out.


Anonymous said...

Have you figured out how much material is needed to make the waterproof trainer?

I do not have a snap press, can I use hook & loop or those snaps that you can apply with a hammer?

Also, thank you for making these patterns! It's a true blessing when money is tight to fight websites like yours.

Anonymous said...


Please correct the word *fight* for *find*. Spell check didn't catch that

Green Momma said...

I can usually get 8 pair of mediums from 1 yd of PUL and ~6 pairs from 1 yd of flannel.

You could certainly use hook and loop. I would sew the hook tab on the edge of the trainer with the tab sticking out beyond and then sew the loop onto the front of the trainers. You might want to try it with fabric you don't care about to make sure you get the look you want.

You could also use the metal snaps their just harder to be accurate with.

I'm glad you can use my website....I put it out there to help people.

Grace said...


Thankyou SO SO much for your *free* patterns, they are a true blessing. I love this pattern, I am ECing my now 9 month old daughter and I love her in these training pants. I actually made them with fleece on the outside coz I didn't have any PUL left so they aren't as waterproof. I was wondering if you think I couls use wool interlock on the outside instead, do you think this would work?? I will try and get a photo of the ones I made on my blog.

Dreamer Sage said...

Just a note on slippery fabrics...
I was given advice once, to use the roughest, cheapest, rest stop type 1 ply tp as an aid to keep the layer from sliding around when sewing. You just place one thickness of the Toilet Paper between the layers of PUL and fleece and sew it normally., then, when you're done with the garment, you can either easily tear the TP out or just wash it once. Works well with silk and satin as well.

Allison said...

Thanks for this pattern. I made the Large size with a friend's skinny 2yo in mind but I think they're too big. What size did you make for your 9 mo in the pic on this post? He's probably about the same size.

Green Momma said...

I made a could also add more snap settings to the large to make it last longer...or pull the elastic tighter:) Hth!

Katrin said...

I have been looking for a training pattern for a while and finally found a free one with PUL and without snaps-thank you so much!
I am having trouble sewing the shiny side of the PUL, because it seems to stick to the foot or needle plate, and it gets all wrinkled and crooked. Do you have any suggestions on how to get this done? Do I need a special foot or needle plate? Should I add a layer of tissue on top and tear it out later?
Thanks in advance

Green Momma said...

PUL does tend to stick to the pressure foot. You can put a piece of tape on the bottom of the foot. You can use a walking foot or teflon foot as well, those will help the PUL feed properly. You can also sew with the PUL against the feed dogs. Tissue paper on top of the PUL would also work. Lots of ideas to try! Love to hear which one worked for you:)

Katrin said...

Thanks for your ideas! I am going to go with the tape idea and the PUL down first, since I don't have any special feed for my machine.
I let you know how it went, even though it might take me a while to finish my project...

Katrin said...

Since I am already asking questions about another pattern, here are more:
My son's skin gets very irritated and red from the snap caps that face inside. Do you have an idea how to cover/cushion them up?
I just got some PUL from JoAnn and have sewn two training pants with a Zorb soaker and flannel inner layer. It seems like the fluid wick right from the flannel/zorb to the outer side of the PUL (starting at the leg openings), thus into whatever is next to it (pants, carpets,...) Do you think, it is not absorbent enough (it doesn't seem all soaked though) or can you think of any other reason? Any ideas how to change it? I would add leg gussets, but I don't want to use FOE, I prefer turn and top stitch

Green Momma said...

First off you could try putting the snaps on before sewing it together so that the caps are hidden. Make sure to stabilize them with an extra layer of pul just in that area so they don't pull through.

Second, these trainers are designed to be pretty trim so there really isn't much there to absorb, it could be that your son has large pees and so that is why they are wicking. You could try making a snap-in or lay-in doubler like I do for the wool-in-two trainers. Another idea is to use a non-wicking layer instead of the inner flannel, such as suede cloth (JA has it, it is 100% polyester).

Another problem I have heard about zorb (I've never used it myself) is that it is like a sponge and if it gets squished when it is wet then all the pee will *squeeze* out. It helps to layer the soaker region with terry to help prevent this squish factor. HTH!

Katrin said...

Will try that, thank you!

JFrankic said...

I made a pair last night for my 22 month old and used fleece on the outside instead of PUL and they are perfect!! I put snaps on one side only since my pair of pliers is a pain. Also, I don't have FOE, so I folded the fabric inside itself and attached the snaps through the layers and it worked great. There may be some compression leaks, but he will just wear these around the house. I'll make some with PUL outer for when we are out. I'm SO excited about this patter. Thank you SO much!!! This is the best fre pattern I have found. So excited to make about 14 more pairs! Many thanks and blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this tutorial. This was a very simple diaper to make. I will say though that the sizing is very small. My 2 and 3 year olds are both very skinny. Although I can put it on them, I had to add tabs to widen it, and it is VERY low cut. Just a word of warning to any mom's who are looking to make it as a replacement for pull ups. I would say that if your child is in 2T or above that you will need to make some adjustments in order to get it to fit well. But thank you so much for offering this free pattern as they are impossible to find!

Andrew and Gina said...

Quick question on the tutorial. Do you attach the elastic while the trainer is still inside out? Or has it already been turned right side in when you attach it?


Green Momma said...

You attach the elastic while the trainer is inside out. You sew it onto the seam allowance. You don't see the elastic when you turn the trainer right side out. Thanks!

Green Momma said...

To adaynasmile: Are you sure you had the scaling turned off on your printer? You should check the 1" square box to make sure that it is in fact 1" square. It sounds like the pattern didn't print out right.

Andrew and Gina said...

Thanks so much. I did a little variation. I'm using it as an overnight trainer so I made the soaker 7 layers thick.

Thanks again for this post!

El's Media Room said...


I feel like I am going to sound like an idiot...

Anyway, I have minimal experience sewing, and usually have something like another diaper or shirt or whatever laid out to trace my pattern.

When I was trying to put the pattern together, it wouldn't go together! It LOOKS like the bottom pattern doesn't match up with the other two pieces. Can you tell me if those ARE supposed to fit on the bottom like I thought, or if I'm completely clueless? It looks like it should all go together, but then the battern looks weird and jagged.

I hope I'm making some sense here.