Babies bring a ray of sunshine into the world. However, they don’t bring much of anything else with them! It’s up to us to provide the important things to keep them happy and healthy. This handy diaper stacker is designed to hang from a crib or changing table. There’s plenty of room for lots of diapers inside plus large handy pockets on the outside for wipes, ointments, lotions, and more. Our adorable sunshine appliqué, with its unique teardrop sun rays, is offered below as a free download.
We chose a bold striped fabric along with two coordinating solid canvas cuts. There are direct shopping links in the supply list below so you can create a stacker identical to ours. Or, select your own combo to best fit your nursery’s décor.
Our stacker finishes at approximately 23″ high x 13″ wide x 8½” deep and is sized for a 12″ wide child’s hanger. It is quite sturdy and could easily hold disposable diapers stacked nearly to the top, however, we wouldn’t recommend stacking quite as many of the heavier cloth diapers.
For more nursery project ideas, check out the Babies & Nursery category within our Project Index.
Sewing Tools You Need
Fabric and Other Supplies
- 1½ yards of 44″+ wide printed cotton fabric for the exterior body and pockets; such as a 54″ Gray & White Strip Premier Prints Twill
NOTE: This yardage allows a bit extra to fussy cut the stripes.
- 1¼ yard of 44″+ wide coordinating solid fabric for the lining; such as a Kona Cotton in White
- ¼ yard of 44″+ medium-weight coordinating solid fabric for the top exterior section; such as a Duck Canvas in White
- ¼ yard of 44″+ medium-weight coordinating solid fabric for the appliqué, piping and binding; such as a Duck Canvas in Yellow
- ¼ yard of fusible fleece; we used Thermolam by Pellon
- ½ yard of 20″+ wide medium weight fusible interfacing; we used Décor Bond by Pellon
- Scrap or ¼ yard of paper-backed fusible web for appliqué; we used Wonder Under fusible by Pellon
- 1 yard of ¼” cotton piping cord
- Scrap or ⅛ yard of ⅝” – 1″ sew-in Velcro®
- One 9″ x 14″ (approximate) sheet of plastic canvas (or similar) for the base support
- ONE 12″ wide child’s hanger with an adjustable hook
NOTE: Our stacker is sized for a snug fit over the hanger. The style we used was purchased at a local variety store. We spied the same style online at Target and Bed Bath & Beyond. The key is to buy the child-size style (most are 11-12″ in width) with a hook that can be rotated, allowing you to best position the stacker on a crib or changing table. We don’t recommend the molded plastic hangers.
- All purpose thread to match fabric
NOTE: We used all purpose thread for our appliqué work; you could also use a rayon embroidery thread for this process if you prefer a brighter finish.
- See-through ruler
- Fabric pen or pencil
- Iron and ironing board
- Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
- Tape measure
- Seam gauge
- Seam ripper
- Straight pins
- Hand sewing needle
Getting Started and Pattern Download
- DOWNLOAD AND PRINT: TWO COPIES of our TWO pattern and template sheets, which have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
NOTE: In case you only want to print the required page twice, you need just ONE copy of the Sunshine Appliqué Template and TWO copies of the Diaper Stacker Top Section.
IMPORTANT: Each page in the PDF is ONE 8½” x 11″ sheet. You must print the PDF file at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on each page so you can confirm your final printout is to scale.
- Leave the appliqué as a single unit.
- Cut out the two copies of the top section pattern along the solid lines. Flip over one copy, then butt together the two pieces along the center line, matching the arrows on the templates, to make one pattern piece. Do NOT overlap. Tape in place.
- From the main exterior fabric (the stripe in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 19″ high x 44″ wide rectangle for the main body of the stacker
Measurements shown to accommodate vertical stripe
TWO 7″ high x 14″ wide rectangles for the pockets
Measurements shown to accommodate horizontal stripe when positioned
ONE 10″ high x 14″ wide rectangle for the bottom
- From the lining fabric (the white cotton in our sample), cut the following:
TWO pieces, using the assembled top pattern
ONE 19″ high x 44″ wide rectangle
ONE 28″ x 10″ rectangle for the base insert pocket
- From the fabric for the top section (the white cotton duck in our sample), cut TWO pieces, using the assembled top pattern.
- From the fabric for the appliqué, piping, and binding (the yellow cotton duck in our sample), cut the following:
ONE 2″ x 28″ strip for the piping
TWO 2″ x 19″ strips for the binding
Leave an approximate 8½” x 11″ rectangle for the appliqué. Fusing and cutting steps are shown below.
- From the fusible fleece, cut TWO pieces, using the assembled top pattern.
- From the fusible interfacing, cut the following:
TWO 6½” x 6½” squares for the pockets
ONE 9″ x 13″ rectangle for the base
NOTE: If your fabric is particularly lightweight, you may also want to cut TWO 4″ x 19″ strips to use to interface both sides of the stacker’s opening (between the exterior and the lining). Our combined exterior and lining fabric was substantial enough without.
- On all the top section pieces, snip into the seam allowance, through all the layers, at the dots shown on the pattern. This indicates the opening where the hanger will come through. Remember to make a snip to both the right and left of center.
- Cut the Velcro® into one 3″ length.
- From the plastic canvas, cut ONE 12½” x 8¾” rectangle.
At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board
- Using the appliqué template you printed, trace the sunshine design onto the paper side of the paper-back fusible web.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the web to the wrong side of the solid fabric (the yellow duck canvas in our sample).
- Carefully cut out each appliqué shape: the center half circle and all seven teardrop rays.
- Using the template guide on the top section pattern piece, place all the appliqué shapes in position on one of the top section pieces (the white cotton duck in our sample) – this will then become your front piece. We used just one half of the pattern, setting one side of the sun and then the other.
- Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the shapes into place.
- Find the fusible fleece and the remaining top exterior piece. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the fleece to the wrong side of both the front and back top exterior pieces.
- Thread the machine with thread to match the appliqué shapes in the top and bobbin.
- Set up your machine for a dense satin stitch. We used a medium width zig zag with the length set to almost zero. You want a clean, tight stitch. Practice first on scraps to test your settings. If you are new to appliqué, check out our tutorial. We chose to do a raw-edge appliqué.
- Your needle should run right along the edge of the appliqué shape. Go slowly, and remember to always stop with the needle in the down position if you need to pivot or adjust. You are stitching through the fabrics and the fusible fleece, so you should not need any additional stabilizer.
- Find the two exterior top pieces (one with the finished appliqué) and the two lining top pieces.
- Place the two exterior pieces right sides together and the two lining pieces right sides together. Pin each set in place along their curved top edges, leave their long, straight bottom edges open.
- Find the top marks you made originally, which indicate the opening for the hanger. Align these dots and remember to break your seam to leave this section open.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch each set together along the top curved edge, locking your seam and leaving that space between the marks open.
- Clip the curves, being careful to not cut through your seam. If you are new to this technique, clipping a curved seam allows it to stretch slightly so when you turn the piece right side out you have a smooth finished curve. Find out more in our Curves Tutorial.
NOTE: You will notice in the photo above that some of the appliqué stitching was done prior to adhering the fusible fleece and some was done after. This is us testing to be sure which option yields the best result. As listed above, we recommend fusing the fleece into place first, then appliquéing through all the layers.
- Prepare the piping. If you are new to this technique, we have a good tutorial on making and attaching piping. We have summarized the steps below.
- Find the 2″ x 28″ fabric strip. Cut the piping cord to 28″ to match. Wrap the strip around the cording, right side facing out. The raw edges of the fabric should be perfectly aligned along the length of the entire strip. Pin in place.
NOTE: We finished the raw edges of our piping; this is optional.
- Stitch in place, running your seam close to the cording. We also finished the raw edges of our piping; this is optional.
- Pin the finished piping around the entire bottom perimeter of the top exterior, against the right side. The raw edges of the piping should be flush with the raw edge of the main fabric. We placed our starting/ending joint at the center back. Remember to leave about an 1″ of piping free at the head and tail to join.
- At the starting/ending joint, use your seam ripper to reveal the cord. Cut the ends of the cord so they will butt together. Trim away the excess fabric, re-fold the fabric into place around the cording, and re-pin.
- Machine baste the piping in place on the right side of the fabric, keep your seam line as close to the cording as possible. It’s easiest to simply follow along in the original piping seam. A Zipper foot allows you to get in closer to the cording.
- Press the seam allowance up towards the top, so the piping now forms the bottom edge of this “hanger pocket.”
- On the lining unit, which is wrong side out, fold up the bottom ½” all around and press.
- With the exterior right side out and the lining wrong side out, slip the lining inside the exterior so the two pieces are now wrong sides together.
- Adjust the pieces to align the curved seams and to match up the top hanger openings. If the two layers are not laying as flat together as you’d like, trim away some the the fleece interfacing around the hanger opening.
- Pin the layers together just at the top opening.
- Flatten the piece so you can slide it under your presser foot.
- Along both sides of the opening, topstitch the exterior and lining together through all the layers, staying as close to the fold as possible. Then stitch forward and backward across each end of the opening to secure it, about three to four stitches should be enough.
- It’s like you are making a big buttonhole.
- Leave the two layers free along the bottom edge. Set aside.
Prepare the main body section with the pockets
- Find the two 7″ x 14″ pocket panels and the two 6½” x 6½” interfacing squares.
- Fold a pocket panel in half so it is now 7″ x 7″. Press well to set a center crease. Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible. This center fold will become the top of the pocket. If using a stripe as we did, the stripes should be running horizontally on the pockets against the vertical stripes of the main body of the stacker.
- Place the interfacing square on the wrong side of the pocket rectangle. Align one edge of the interfacing with the center fold and one side. This leaves ½” of fabric showing along the opposite side and the bottom. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the interfacing in place. Repeat for the remaining pocket.
- Re-fold the pockets right sides together. Orient the pocket with the stripes running horizontally so you can keep track of the top and bottom. Pin along one side only, the side without interfacing in the seam allowance. Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch along this side only on each pocket.
- Clip the corner and turn each pocket right side out. Use a long, blunt-end tool, such as a chopstick, knitting needle or point turner, to gently push out the corner so it is nice and square. Press the pocket flat. Each pocket should have a folded top edge, a sewn side edge, an open side edge, and an open bottom edge.
- Find the 19″ x 44″ exterior panel. Place it wrong side up on your work surface, then fold the 19″ sides together so they meet at the center – like a wrap-around skirt. The stripes are running vertically.
- Place one pocket at the bottom corner of what will become the front opening of the stacker. The raw side edge of each pocket should be flush with the raw side of the opening, and the raw bottom edge of each pocket should be flush with the raw bottom of the fabric, as shown in the photo below. The folded edge of each pocket is the pocket top and the finished (seamed) side is the outer edge of each pocket. Pin the pockets in place.
NOTE: Remember, you are pining and stitching the pocket to just the front layer of the exterior fabric. You folded your exterior piece in order to figure out the correct placement, but you don’t sew through both layers.
- Topstitch along the outer seamed edge only of each pocket. Run your seam as close to the edge of the pocket as possible.
- Find the two 2″ x 19″ binding strips. To create the binding, fold the strip in half (so it now measures 1″ x 19″) and press to set a center crease. Unfold wrong side up so the crease line is visible. Fold in each long raw edge so they meet in the middle at the crease and press. Then refold along the original center crease. The photo below shows one plain strip and the pressed folds as described.
- Find the 19″ x 44″ exterior (with the pockets in place) and the lining panel. As mentioned above in the Getting Started section, if your fabric is very lightweight, adhere 4″ wide interfacing strips to the 19″ sides on the wrong side of the exterior panel. We did not use interfacing.
- Place the exterior and lining panels WRONG sides together, aligning all four sides. Machine baste around all four sides, staying within the ½” seam allowance.
- Slip the binding over the 19″ sides of the basted-together panels, encasing the raw edges of the layers within the binding. Pin in place.
- Edgestitch the binding in place. Go slowly, insuring your seam line stays straight and you catch both the front and back of the binding all along both 19″ lengths.
- Re-fold the exterior, aligning the bound edges so they are in the exact center of the folded panel. Make a small snip at the top center back and bottom center back, exactly behind where the bound edges come together in the front. Do not cut deep; these are just for marking purposes – you don’t want to cut below what will be your ½” seam allowance.
- Measure 6½” to the left of center front and 6½” to the right of center front. Mark both points with a pin. This is the finished width of the stacker.
- Make a 4½” pleat on each side. To so this, simply bring in each side fold towards the center until the distance from the side to the inner point of the fold is 4½”. Pin to securely hold the pleats in place.
- When both pleats are in place, the top edge should measure 13″ across and all the top raw edges should be flush. Machine baste across the top, within the ½” seam allowance, through all the layers. This seals the top of the stacker.
Insert the base
- Find the 10″ x 14″ base piece and the 9″ x 13″ interfacing piece. Place the interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric, centering it so there is ½” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
- Fold the base in half (so it is now 10″ x 7½”) and mark the center points at the end of the fold. These marks indicate the center front and center back of the base.
- Turn the main body of the stacker wrong side out. Align the center front mark on the base with the center point of the bound front edges of the stacker. Align the center back mark on the base with the notch you cut earlier marking the center back of the stacker. Pin the base to the stacker right sides together along the front and the back.
- Carefully clip into the seam allowance at the corners to allow the stacker to flatten, then pin the sides of the base to the sides of the stacker.
- The base should fit evenly and flat all around. Make sure it is sitting straight.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch all around. Stop and pivot at each corner. Keep the needle in the down position, readjusting the stacker in order to stitch each side. This seam also secures the bottom of the pockets.
NOTE: If you are brand new to this type of base, check out our full tutorial on inserting a flat base into a tube.
- Turn the stacker right side out through the front bound opening.
Attach the top to the body
- Place the completed hanger top right sides together with the seamed top of the body. The right side of the appliqué should be laying against the front bound opening of the body.
- Push the hanger top lining up and away. Align ONLY THE FRONT of the top with the pleated top of the stacker. Pin straight across, from seam-to-seam on the top and all the way across the stacker. The back of the top should remain free of the seam as should the top lining.
- Stitch straight across the top of the stacker, using a ½” seam allowance. We suggest repeating this seam for extra security.
- Press the seam allowance up towards the top and bring the lining down into place so it covers the seam allowance.
- Adjust the lining so it hangs flat and is smooth and lightly pin. You are pining both the front and back of the hanger top. Find the exact center at the back to position the two pieces of Velcro®.
- Pull the lining away along the center back.
- Stitch one half of the Velcro to either side of the lining, on the right side of the lining. You are just stitching through the Velcro® and the lining.
NOTE: You could stitch the Velcro® to the lining when first constructing the lining, but we feel it is best to do it at this point in order to confirm the placement on the finished piece, insuring the closure is as flat as possible.
- Replace the lining so it covers the seam allowance all around and re-pin in place. The folded edge of the lining should sit right along the piping. If it isn’t a perfect fit, adjust the fold as needed.
- Hand stitch the lining to the top.
Bottom insert panel
- Find the remaining 28″ x 10″ lining piece and the plastic canvas.
- Fold the lining in half (so it is now 14″ x 10″) and pin along both 14″ sides.
- Using a ½” seam allowance, stitch the two sides, creating a pocket.
- Turn the pocket right side out. Fold in the top raw edge of the opening 1″ and press well. The pocket now measures 13″ x 9″.
- Slip in the plastic canvas.
- Topstitch the top opening closed, running the seam close to the edge.
- Place the insert panel into the stacker, pressing it down into place so it covers the seam allowances of the base and creates a flat platform on which to stack the diapers.
Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Kathy Andrews, What Sew Ever