Selected articles and online-only features from the Church of the Brethren’s official magazine

Living Simply | May 3, 2019

T-shirts into diapers

Diapers from recycled t-shirts
Photo by Diane Mason

Judy Mill of Lewiston Church of the Brethren got Northern Plains District started on a project to sew donated t-shirts into diapers. Thousands of diapers have been made out of “recycled” T-shirts by people throughout the district over the last five or six years.

Get the instructions and diaper pattern here.

Initially, the diapers made by the district were sent to a Catholic orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, through a group in Rochester, Minn. One day, one of the women sewing them said, “Wouldn’t it be fun to take the diapers to Haiti and put them on the babies?” So after contacting the Midwives for Haiti booth at Annual Conference in 2013, in 2014 three women from Fairview Church of the Brethren—Vickie Mason, Sarah Mason, and Diane Mason—traveled to Haiti with 850 diapers.

The next year 1,080 diapers were shipped to Kayla Alphonse in Miami, Fla., who sent them to Haiti via cargo shipment. Last year, three Fairview members—Carrie Johnson, Sarah Mason, and Diane Mason—returned to Haiti taking 1,300 diapers including some made at Ivester Church of the Brethren and some at English River Church of the Brethren.

At National Youth Conference (NYC) last year, Mill and Lynn Mundt of Lewiston and Emily Penner and Diane Mason from Fairview sewed diapers while youth cut out the T-shirts. In three days, 240 diapers were completed, and Alphonse took them with her after NYC.

T-shirts and cut-out diapers that didn’t get sewn during NYC were brought back to Northern Plains District. Lewiston took some, as did Fairview and Ivester, and boxes were at district conference for congregations to take home and sew. Diane Mason brought home the rest and cut and sewed them—since NYC she has sewn more than 1,500 diapers. Since October 2018, some 950 diapers have been given to Midwives for Haiti and 640 diapers have been given to the Haiti Medical Project.

Midwives for Haiti was started by Nadine Brunk Eads, at that time from Richmond (Va.) Church of the Brethren. In 2014, the organization used diapers to encourage mothers to bring their babies into clinics for checkups, and each mother received one diaper. In 2018, the project began creating baby packs that four mobile clinics take to mothers. These packs include a diaper, washrag, soap, and squeeze bulb for cleaning infant noses.

Midwives for Haiti trains midwives to work in remote regions of Haiti. These midwives deliver more than 200 babies each month—so even if each baby gets only one diaper, they need a lot of them.

Would you like to try making diapers yourself? Get the pattern and instructions here.

Diane Mason attends Fairview (Ia.) Church of the Brethren. She is a member of the Church of the Brethren's Mission and Ministry Board.