What is PUL fabric and 15 Sewing project ideas that use polyurethane fabric (PUL), a laminated and waterproof fabric commonly used for cloth diapers.
I started making cloth diapers for my kids in 2011 and I have a lot of scraps and extra PUL fabric leftover. I hate letting good fabric go to waste so I have a number of projects that I make with my leftover PUL fabric.
What is PUL Fabric?
PUL stands for polyurethane laminate. It’s a laminated fabric that was originally designed for hospital use- it can (or should) withstand hot washes and be durable enough to last through many uses. While it can be washed on hot, it lasts longer if it’s line dried, similar to other fabrics.
PUL fabric begins as a knit fabric before it is laminated during the manufacturing process. The lamination makes it perfect for cloth diapers because it makes the fabric waterproof. The fabric has some stretch to it due to the knit foundation and the stretch should always goes across the waist of the diapers you sew.
Now that my kids are almost all out of diapers, I need more projects for the PUL I have sitting around!
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Where to Buy PUL
I used to exclusively buy PUL from a specific company because I hadn’t had issues with their PUL delaminating, but they’ve gone out of business since then. Delaminating is when the fabric and the lamination separate, ruining your PUL. It’s a sad day if that happens.
You can prevent delamination by carefully following the instructions by the fabric manufacturer, but some brands are more prone than others. And sometimes the lamination process just doesn’t go well and there’s a bad batch. It happens.
Tips for Sewing with PUL
PUL can be a bit tricky to work with.
- Use clips instead of pins to hold it together while you sew. Using pins puts holes in the PUL.
- Bigger isn’t better for PUL. Use a smaller needle size (9 or 11) to prevent putting huge holes in your fabric.
- Needle choice: A ballpoint needle is usually recommended for PUL. I’ve used universal needles on my cloth diapers, however, and they have worked okay for me.
- The ‘sticky’ side of the PUL can often cause problems with feeding through your sewing machine. I’ve found a walking foot is a great investment if you plan to sew with PUL frequently. Make sure you get one that works with your machine.
- You want to use 100% polyester thread to prevent wicking.
Here are three products from my shop that I used PUL for the products. Keep scrolling for more ideas for PUL.
Delamination of PUL Fabric
One thing that’s important to understand about PUL fabric is that it can delaminate. This means that the pretty part of the fabric and the plastic that laminates the fabric come apart. At this point, the fabric is not waterproof anymore. It’s very frustrating and occasionally a company has a bad lamination batch. You won’t know until you wash it for the first time- so while PUL probably won’t shrink if you don’t prewash, I always prewash because I don’t want to find out the batch of fabric was bad AFTER I spent an hour sewing a diaper.
Here’s a video showing what delamination looks like:
15+ Sewing Projects that use PUL
1. Nursing Pads: Reusable nursing pads help breastfeeding moms prevent embarrassing leaks through their clothing. The exterior is PUL to prevent the leaks with interior absorbency and a stay dry liner that goes against the skin.
2. Wet Bag: Wet bags make amazing gifts for moms and others. They’re great for storing wet or dirty clothing, as well as wet bathing suits after a trip to the pool. A zipper helps contain any smells and the waterproof PUL helps keep wet from leaking through.
3. Reusable Menstrual Pads: Yes, this is a thing! Reusable menstrual pads are pads that can be washed. They’re eco friendly alternatives to disposable pads and using them can help save money. Some people also find them gentler on their body during their cycle. You have a lot of options for fabric choices (for the part that touches your skin) and these “mama cloth” can be quite comfortable.
4. Reusable Snack Bags: Many people love reusable snack bags made with food safe rated PUL. These bags are easy to throw in your diaper bag and aren’t as bulky to store or carry as hard plastic alternatives.
5. Cloth Diapers: Cloth diapers are the obvious sewing project to make with PUL. They’re reusable alternatives to disposable diapers and they can save your family a lot of money! Washing on a hot cycle helps kill germs and leaves the diapers clean and ready for reuse. They can last for a very long time if properly cared for and have good resale value.
Similar to cloth diapers, reusable swim diapers are also made from PUL. Swim diapers (disposable or cloth) do not have absorbency to hold in pee and are exclusively to contain fecal matter (provided your child doesn’t have diarrhea). Many pools are now requiring reusable swim diapers instead of disposable alternatives; I believe this is because the elastic is stronger on the reusable swim diapers and therefore better at containing poop.
6. Refrigerator Liners: Scrap PUL fabric makes for a great refrigerator liner. I cut fabric to fit my glass shelves and wipe the shelves down with water. The PUL liner then will adhere a bit to the shelf, protecting against stains if something spills. This makes cleanup easier and I just wash the liners on hot when they get dirty.
7. Custom Laundry Bag for Traveling: I used PUL to create a custom laundry bag for traveling. I wanted something waterproof so that sweaty or wet clothing and bathing suits wouldn’t make my suitcase musty or wet. Suitcases aren’t easy to clean and I wanted to keep ours smelling and looking new!
8. Serged PUL Bibs: PUL is a good waterproof option for bibs, although you may want to add an absorbent fabric as well.
9. Bowl Covers: Reusable bowl covers are made with food safe PUL and offer an alternative to plastic wrap or aluminum foil. They’re also really easy to put on. They fit well over half of a watermelon too!
10. Training Underwear: Similar to cloth diapers, training underwear is intended to hold some wet but still leave your child feeling wet so they know when to use the bathroom.
11. Swing Straps: I made some easy swing strap covers from PUL because I wanted something that would last outside in the rain and sun. Our swing’s straps weren’t gentle against baby’s skin without these.
12. Car Seat Protector: This pad has some absorbency and PUL to keep wet from soaking through to the car seat. It’s a good option for children who may leak through a diaper or training underwear.
13. PUL Changing Pad: PUL is easy to wipe down and waterproof so it makes a great changing pad.
14. Stay Dry Mittens: Some people use PUL to make stay dry mittens.
15. Children’s Art Apron: Again, easy to wipe down and comes in cute fabrics.
16. Pet Diapers: If you have pets who need diapers, chances are there’s no end in site. People make diapers for every animal from dogs to goats to chickens. It’s really brilliant because you may need them longer term than you would for a child, and it saves your carpets and upholstery. It also saves you money.
17. Car Trash Bags: Lining these trash bags for the car with PUL made them a lot easier to clean if something spilled inside.
18. Lunch Bags: I use PUL on the inside of my lunch bags because it’s washable and easy to wipe down.
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