"You have the best flats! Why don't you sell pre-flats?"
There is a reason. Several of them, actually.
Stretchy knit material in 100% cotton will get holes in it from the pins or Snappi Fasteners. Holes = unhappy customers. Knit fabrics are prone to holes from pins. Woven fabric, such as muslin and birdseye, does not get holes from pins or Snappi Fasteners because of the nature of a woven fabric. It's a criss-cross grid. The pin goes through the grid of the weave, instead of the pin making a hole in the knit.
Stretchy fabrics that are not 100% cotton - well - they aren't 100% cotton. A polyester (which is made from petroleum) grid in the cotton helps quite a bit with the holes problem and it helps make it stretch, but Spandex, polyester and rayon from bamboo are not natural fabrics. Organic bamboo isn't exactly a thing since bamboo is actually rayon and that's a synthetic made from a plant and it tends to have shrinkage issues. As soon as you add a synthetic to the cotton, be that polyester or rayon, it's going to be harder to wash and more prone to holding on to stink and detergent residue. Hemp/cotton is pretty nice and is natural and durable, too, so that is a good fabric for a pre-flat, but it it is quite pricey. We could make them from our hemp doublers fabric if people wanted us to do that, but that much of the expensive fabric would be costly.
Generally, the prices for pre-flats are higher than woven flats. Woven flats (muslin and birdseye) are easily repurposed for many things later on, but the pre-flat shape just isn't going to be as useful later on because of the shape of it, should the knit fabric survive. Over the years I have made several prototypes of pre-flats from various cotton fabrics, but the increased cutting and sewing cost makes them so much more expensive to make than square flats. I decided not to bring them into production. Woven square flats and prefolds are a better value. Pre-flats are not new. Years ago, they were called "daddy flats" but that name is now considered faux-pas, yet historically true. I even have a similar item in my diaper archives from 1966. The idea is not new and it does have a place.
Are preflats easier? Maybe they are when you are new to flats and they are smaller to handle which is good. But you still have to fold them. If knit pre-flats help you find the love of flats, then they are a great option. Lots of people love them but they are not part of our line. Woven flats will win for versatility, wash-ability and longevity. But as with everything, there are tradeoffs and different reasons to make different choices and different budgets, too.
It can be a fun project to make pre-flats out of muslin or birdseye flats. Try just a few before committing to them all.
Many preflats are dyed. Color belongs on the outside of the cover, not next to baby's skin, so the dyes are yet another stopping point for many of the pre-flats. We discourage the use of dyes in fabric as a diaper next to the skin, especially home-dyed fabrics, due the changing pH of the urine on the fabric over time. The way a diaper is used is not the same as other garments. The skin is very absorbent and it is our largest organ. I'll err on the side of caution when it comes to even fiber-reactive dyes in diapers and pass on dyes in cotton next to baby. All of our cotton diapers are undyed and all of the cotton diapers are made without optical brighteners, too. This way the risk of dyes running is zero. Dyes are something to consider and make a choice about.
I'll stay with our dye-free optical-brightener-free natural 100% cotton woven flats - the old fashioned tried-and-true kind - loved and proven over many generations of cloth diapering families.
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