Cloth Diapering How To/Demo

Cloth Diaper Anatomy – Types of Elastic


This post was originally published on the Kelly Wels blog. Post may contain affiliate links meaning if you click and buy I receive a small commission. Thank you. Just when I thought I had figured out all the cloth diaper terms a few years ago, along came FOE and gussets and true gussets and double gussets and…and…

Elastic is manufactured by weaving, braiding or knitting rubber with polyester, cotton or nylon (there is also clear elastic – one brand name you may have heard of is Lastin – available.) Each type/material has different benefits such was not narrowing when stretched, laying flat (not rolling) when stretched, durability, longevity etc. (Poly Braid is often used in diapers.) Elastic also comes in different widths, and widths may vary by diaper brand, or even area (waist vs. leg elastic.)

Unless you are sewing your own diapers, you won’t be as concerned about the type as much as the sewing style of the elastic/leg openings (although I do find that wider elastic is my preference.)

Encased: Elastic is sewn inside a fabric leg casing, such as Bumgenius pocket diapers and many others.

Not Encased: (A.K.A. “rolled” elastic) Elastic is sewn end to end, but it not held inside a leg casing. Examples are Bottombumpers and the old style Bumgenius Elementals.

Serged: Applecheeks is a good example of a diaper with “ruffled” leg openings. This style is common on fitted/WAHM diapers. Rarely, I have heard of a baby who was sensitive to the thread on the gathers.

Fold Over Elastic: Fold over elastic (FOE) serves as both elastic and binding. It is folded over the edge of the fabric & sewn. Some babies’ skin can be bothered by the elastic right against their skin, and it is possible to have puckering/uneven shrinkage if fabrics & elastic were not prewashed. A good example of FOE is Super Undies. Contrasting elastic can add to the look of the diaper.

I find that wider, encased elastic provides a good fit for us, and leaves fewer red marks.

Dirty Diaper Laundry’s Cloth Diaper Finder lists the style of each diaper’s elastic if you find a favorite! Do you have an elastic preference?

If you’re new to cloth diapers, check out my Cloth Diapers 101 article.

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Maria is an aspiring "fit mom" of 3 children, writing about cloth diapers, going green, and her life as a single mom. Maria works with many companies within the cloth diaper industry and beyond, providing social media management, product development, and other services.
  • Jason
    August 7, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    I’m curious about elastic leg gathers used on certain cloth diapers. What functional purpose do they serve?

    • August 7, 2017 at 4:01 pm

      Do you mean the double gussets like on Thirsties or the ruffles on diapers like Applecheeks?

  • February 11, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    […] diapers FOE Fold over elastic, a form of elastic often used on WAHM made diapers. Read more about elastic types in my post on cloth diaper […]

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