The New Diaper Primer

Appendix 4: Suspender Briefs

We suggested the use of Suspender Briefs in chapter 13 as a way of supporting the diapers throughout the day. As layered diapers may be worn for six hours or more before changing, sagging will certainly occur as they become heavier with increased wetting. Suspender briefs hold the diapers close to the body and reduce sagging to a minimum. They are worn over the plastic pants, and usually over a T-shirt to protect the shoulders from possible friction from the elastic straps.

We present below the technique for sewing the straps onto ordinary low-rise briefs available in most men's underwear departments. We know of no supplier that provides this service. It is an "at home" operation!

1. Materials:

I recommend the brand 2XIST Contour Pouch Brief, #3103, 100% cotton, about $10 per pair, available from because the fabric stands up well to wear and laundry and keeps its elasticity to support the diaper. It is important that the style be low-rise so they will ride on your diaper and not come up over the top of it. Many of the lesser-quality cotton briefs (as low as $3 a pair) just don't provide the support we require and are not worth the effort to make them into suspender briefs. Purchase briefs that are two sizes larger than your waist measure - e.g., 34-inch (85 cm) waist should use a size 38 (96 cm) brief.

I like the Heavy Stretch elastic by Stretch-Rite, 1 inches (4 cm) wide, 1 yards (1.15 m) per package, and you need two packs. This product is hard to find. Sewing notions is the category, and most stores carry the Stretch-Rite brand, but only go up to 1 inch wide. A good fabric/sewing store should carry the 1 -inch and the 1 -inch width. Sorry, I've not found it on line! The width provides strength and distributes the weight on your shoulder. My attempts with -inch wide elastic were not satisfactory. The support briefs with that thinner elastic was only suitable for disposable diapers because it lacked the elastic strength to hold up wet cloth diapers over a longer period.

Suspender length is going to be subjective; based on your height and how tight you want the straps to feel on your shoulders. I am 5 ft. 9 inches (175 cm) tall, and a 41-inch (104 cm) cut length works well for me. Cut your two elastics the desired length and start sewing.

2. Sew:

Note the front elastic straps are going to be close to the brief's panel stitching for the pouch. This will get the support from the elastic strap right down into the pouch to support the diaper. Use a large zigzag stitch with a short stitch length and sew along the three sides of the elastic and across the top of the briefs waist band to close the box.

3. Measure Back:
measure back

Go three inches on either side of the rear waist center seam. Stitch the elastic from the right side of the front to the left side of the rear.

4. Pin:

After the four ends of the elastic have been sewn to the brief's waistband, pin the cross-point about 10 inches (25 cm) up from the back. Use a brass or stainless safety pin. As you wear the suspender briefs you may find the shoulder straps tend to slide or ride down your shoulder away from your neck. Move the pin-point of the cross higher up to correct this. If you find the straps seem to rub on your neck and you wish the straps would move down your shoulders a bit, then lower the point where you pin the crossover.

5. Low Rise:
low rise

I'm wearing orange Suprima pants to clearly show that the suspender brief's waist band is supposed to ride on the diaper and not on the waist band of the plastic pants where the doubling up of the elastic waist bands would become very uncomfortable. As long as the suspender briefs waist band stays on the diaper, you will be comfortable all day long.

6. Rear:

This image shows the support that the briefs are providing to the cloth diaper along with some compression to minimize the diaper bulge. We may worry about a "big butt", but most times the worry is not justified; when I add pants the diaper pretty much disappears. The suspender briefs help keep it that way by keeping the diaper pulled up.

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