First, whatever I made, I put it through some harsh treatment because I wanted to see how well everything held up.
- I tried leaving the cotton flannel fitted diapers sopping wet in the wetbag after rinsing. Bad idea. It rots the cotton flannel fairly quick.
- I put everything in the dryer and rarely, if ever hung the diapers out to dry. This puts much more wear and tear on the fabric - cotton flannel, bamboo fleece, and bamboo velour in particular.
- The outer, printed cotton flannel shows wear after about a month of heavy use.
- The bamboo velour becomes less soft, and more terry-like.
- Both the cotton flannel and the bamboo fleece eventually lose their soft fuzzy nap.
- It's harder to sun out stains.
Pin closure vs. snaps/Velcro: Out of all the fabrics I use, only two did not hold up well: bamboo fleece and bamboo French terry with pin closure.
Now, there's bamboo French terry, which is 70% bamboo and 30% cotton, and then there's bamboo baby loop terry, which is 70% bamboo, 28% cotton, and 2% poly. The first time I purchased bamboo terry, it was bamboo baby loop terry and it held up really well - in fact, for being 3 years old and always using pins with it, it looks darn near perfect. The second time I purchased bamboo French terry, and it shredded almost immediately using pin closure; all my son's inserts with that batch has holes everywhere. The 3rd time I purchased, it was the bamboo baby loop terry, and I have not used pin closure on that yet - just waiting to see how well it holds up in the wash alone (so far, so good!).
Bamboo velour is 70% bamboo, 28% cotton, and 2% poly and that holds up very well with pin closure. Bamboo fleece is 70% bamboo and 30% cotton and it eventually shreds with pin closure, although it takes quite awhile for that to happen; in my experience, about a year with heavy use I finally saw some holes developing in the pinning area. For this reason, I recommend purchasing the snap or Velcro option when purchasing a custom bamboo velour/bamboo fleece fitted diaper.
Both cotton and bamboo flannel hold up very well with pin closure, as does cotton twill. The custom combination cotton twill/bamboo velour fitted diapers hold up very well to pin closure!
Line Drying: Line drying is the best option for extending the life of natural fabric diapers. To help avoid the crunchiness that can come with line drying cotton flannel, try shaking the diaper (or giving it a few quick snaps) before hanging. You may want to do that after they are dry, too. It's also nice to re-shape the diapers before hanging them, as it will lead to a better fit once the diaper is dry.
Cotton twill, bamboo flannel, and bamboo baby loop terry hang dry the best with very little or no crunchiness!
Other fabric notes:
While bamboo flannel stays soft (even when line dried!) and holds up to pin closure well, it does shrink. More than I expected it to! For this reason, I no longer make fitted diapers out of bamboo flannel. It does however make fantastic diaper inserts!
Hemp - I don't use hemp because my son is sensitive to it. We started out using hemp fleece, but quickly found out that it could not touch his skin or he'd get a rash. And it shredded with pin closure.
Polyester fleece - I use both blizzard fleece and anti-pill fleece in my fleece diaper covers. After testing out both ways, I now make sure the inner white layer is blizzard fleece; this ensures the cover is a wee bit more water resistant. I did recently test out putting in a small PUL panel in the wetness zone (not throughout the whole cover) and that worked extremely well, I was super impressed! I'll still offer fleece-only covers, as lots of Mama's with sensitive babies prefer them, but I'll be making some with the PUL panel as well. I may use Etsy's variation option, but that will mean the fleece covers are made to order rather than being in stock.
The great thing about fleece is that you can't really hurt it no matter how you wash/dry it. It's pretty hard to stain, too. The only thing I have found, is that to keep fleece looking its best, it needs to be placed inside a mesh laundry bag for washing. You can certainly wash fleece with the rest of your diapers, but I do not recommend washing them directly in with the rest of the diapers - they need to be placed inside the mesh bag or the fleece will pill up - especially if washed with prefolds!
PUL - I currently don't offer diaper covers made entirely of PUL - the reason being is that I don't care for fold-over-elastic. In my experience, wetness wicks through the FOE too quickly, even with polyester thread. I want to try tricot nylon (think Thirsties or Bummis covers), but have heard it is difficult to work with.
I have purchased different kinds of PUL, and found that Fabrite was definitely the best! Unfortunately, they closed shop a few years ago. I have purchased "end of roll remnants" from other companies and found that to be a bad idea, as the heating process may not have been complete before the roll started, leading to delaminating PUL.
My new favorite PUL is from Babyville. It's different from the typical PUL - it has a white inner rather than the clear. If it delaminates, it does not cause a problem like typical delaminated PUL does! That white layer, delaminated or not, is pretty bulletproof. I have a cover that fully delaminated almost immediately (it was defective, and a lot of people were having the same issue when Babyville PUL was first being sold in stores) but we're still using it!
I think that's all - I try to be pretty thorough when testing out fabric! :)