Want to use cloth training pants, but turned off by the price? Make your own! You can make these DIY waterproof training pants with this tutorial for less than $3 per pair!
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Although potty training officially ended a few months ago, when we were in it, I struggled with finding options for long car trips, naps, and night time.
I looked into cloth trainers and even reviewed a few options.
Cloth Trainer Reviews:
- Flips Training Pants review
- Bummis Potty Pant review
- Charlie Banana Cloth Training Pants review
- Ecoposh Training Pants
While they all worked, they weren’t working as waterproof trainer options. I really needed something to use for nap time and nighttime potty training.
They were also expensive. Compared with pull-ups, yes, cloth trainers are more cost effective since they are washable and reusable. But, investing in a few pairs of cloth trainers gets expensive, especially when I saw how much, or how little, they absorbed.
What’s the difference between diapers and training pants?
It’s a great question that you might be asking yourself and one that it’s a little harder to answer especially for those of us who are potty training while using cloth diapers.
Theoretically, the difference between diapers and training pants comes in with wetness. The easiest way for me to explain is… Diapers aren’t supposed to feel wet and training pants are – it’s one of the cues to let the child know – hey, I shouldn’t have made these wet, they feel yucky.
So, in this sense, yes, the fact that cloth training pants aren’t super absorbent is exactly how they should be. But, again, I was looking for absorbent cloth trainers to help with nighttime and nap time accidents.
There’s a couple of reasons I wanted to go to cloth training pants even at night:
- Most cloth training pants, and even disposable training pants, are pull-on. They are so much easier for kids to take on and off themselves, which is why potty training usually goes better when wearing these.
- Sophia was ready to “potty train”. She said so herself. And she knows the difference between training pants and diapers.
So, instead of investing in more cloth training pants, I decided to make my own that were more waterproof.
Are these waterproof training pants completely waterproof?
No, they aren’t. I don’t know if you could get a totally waterproof training pants, because that’s basically a diaper, right? If your child is still peeing a lot through them, they are probably not ready to potty train.
They don’t hold a ton of liquid, just like other cloth training pants on the market. They won’t keep your sheets completely dry at night or their clothes dry in the car, if it’s a big accident.
BUT they will absorb more than regular underwear and keep their clothes and sheets drier. And if you have any sewing skills at all, you can make them for 1/4 of the price of cloth trainers!
Now, I’m a beginning seamstress, so bear with me. This isn’t a tutorial in which you’ll get patterns and measurements – oh no! If I were to do that for you, I could assure you that they would be wrong and crooked because everything I do is pretty much free handed – it’s much more fun that way!
DIY Waterproof Training Pants Supplies
- Pack of Gerber Cloth Training Pants
- PUL – waterproof material
- Fleece [optional]
- Flannel or Hemp – any type of absorbent material for extra absorbency [optional]
Gerber Unisex Baby 3 Pack Training Pant,White,2TWaterproof PUL Fabric Print 56Organic Cotton Lightweight Flannel Fabric – Natural – 55 Inches wide – By the Yard
If you are currently potty training your child, check out another tutorial that saved my sanity and our sheets at night – these Homemade Pee Pads.
The first step in this cloth trainers project is making your waterproof AND absorbent core, if you choose to add one. To make your pattern, simply lay a piece of paper on the trainers and trace the outline of the already extra padded middle.
One side of the trainers are a little longer than the other, which is why I labeled the front and back so I wouldn’t get them switched around.
You’ll want to do this for all of the fabrics you are using – PUL, hemp or other absorbent fabric, and fleece.
I wanted to test out a few different fabrics so I used both flannel and hemp. I simply cut up a hemp insert I had within my cloth diapering stash and it worked perfectly! Keep in mind, you’ll want to use very absorbent, but thin materials in your waterproof training pants.
I also used a little cloth diaper knowledge and decided to add a layer of stay dry fleece inside the trainers so that if I chose to put these on one of the girls’ at nighttime, their skin would stay a bit drier than right up against a wet material.
After I made a few, I realized this really wasn’t a necessary step at all.
After you cut all your fabrics, it’s time to get ready to pin, pin, pin! I added all the absorbent materials to the inside and attached them to the trainer with a straight stitch.
Once they were in place, I attached my PUL to the outside of the trainers with a zig zag stitch. This step will help keep the wetness inside the absorbent layers rather than leaking through the cloth training pants.
The PUL material will actually repel liquids, making it stay inside that absorbent core. This helps you get a more waterproof training pants than just using a cotton trainer.
Once they were finished, Sophia was so excited! We called them her “night time panties” and treated them extra special. Sophia picked out the lovely farm themed PUL herself, mainly because of it’s blue color, and I was pleasantly surprised at how cute they actually turned out!
After several months of use, our DIY waterproof training pants have held up wonderfully! I have found that the trainers with the hemp added in really make a difference – they can absorb one accident without any real leaking – very similar to other cloth trainers on the market, but again – at a fraction of the cost.
And the final price? Let’s compare our super cute DIY cloth training pants to the average cloth trainer which runs about $15.95 per pair.
- 3 pack of Gerber Cloth Training Pants – $7.00
- PUL – You could totally get by with 1/8 – 1/4 of a yard for this small project – $1.75
- Fleece, Hemp, & Flannel are optional and probably best used if you have scraps – $0.00
DIY Waterproof Trainers – $2.91 EACH!
Waterproof Training Pants
By adding waterproof PUL fabric to classic cloth trainers, you'll boost their absorbency, plus make cute waterproof training pants for your child.
- Polyurethane Laminate - PUL Fabric
- Gerber Cloth Training Pants
- Flannel or Hemp fabric [optional]
- Fleece [optional]
- Sewing Machine
- Paper and Pen
- Lay a piece of paper on one cloth trainer and trace the outline of the already extra padded middle. This will make your pattern for extra padding and your outer PUL material.
- Using your paper pattern, trace and cut 1 small piece of PUL waterproof material for each trainer.
- If you opt for more absorbency, do the same thing with your absorbent material.
- If you opt for adding a fleece topper inside, do the same thing - trace and cut that material.
- Pin all your absorbent materials to the inside of your cloth trainers.
- Sew them on using a straight stitch.
- Take your PUL fabric pieces and pin those on the outside of your cloth training pants.
- Use a zig zag stitch to attach the PUL to your cloth trainers.
One side of the trainers are a little longer than the other, which is why I labeled the front and back so I wouldn’t get them switched around when attaching.
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This post was originally published in August 2013.
Monday 12th of September 2022
Love this idea! I was discouraged by the cost of cloth options as well. But now I’m discouraged by the results of my training pants… I used 100% cotton flannel for absorbent layers (top layer a train pattern to motivate my son to keep them dry), but I’m noticing that water beads up for a few seconds before soaking in. Did a pre-wash and several washes of the finished pairs and still getting delayed absorption, which is making my son’s accidents just run out the leg holes. I hope with more washes the flannel roughens up enough to let pee soak in right away.
Tuesday 13th of September 2022
They will get more absorbent as you wash them, I believe. Good luck!
Wednesday 1st of February 2017
This is an amazing idea! I'm saving this on my pinterest for when my little one is old enough to be potty trained! Thank you :)
Wednesday 18th of February 2015
I did the same thing! I didn't think to use PUL though. i had some Frozen cotton remnant and used the incentive of "don't pee on Elsa". It worked!
Wednesday 18th of February 2015
Hahaha - I LOVE that "Don't pee on Elsa!".
Wednesday 8th of October 2014
I have been getting mixed messages everywhere. These plain Gerber trainers- there is absolutely NO plastic inside them is there? I've read that the Gerber ones with designs on them have some kind of plastic in them (they make a crunchy noise when you squeeze/move them) but can't confirm if these plain ones have it or not. I really don't want plastic of any kind in our trainers, so I wouldn't be using PUL either, I'd be using bamboo or cotton.
Tuesday 28th of February 2017
Your comment is from time ago so you probably don't need a reply, but for others reading this presently:
There are Gerber training pants that have the plastic in them and others that do not-- are strictly cloth . Usually the trainers that have plastic as an inside layer come in packs of two and, in my experience, mention having a terry cloth lining inside.
Erin at IOGoods
Friday 11th of October 2013
What a superb idea! It always boggled me how training pants are so much more pricey than regular underwear...this is a great solution, and totally Green!