Posted by Ali G on Saturday, 23 August, 2008
If you think reusable cloth pads are icky and a step backwards, you don’t know what you’re missing. Too bad for you.
Cloth pads are a million times nicer than disposables, which may contain such delightful treats as wood pulp, latex binder, super-absorbent powder, polyethylene, hot-melt adhesive…. Lovely, huh? In terms of comfort there’s simply no comparison; they’re more eco-friendly for anyone concerned about the environment and landfills; and, my personal favourite, they’re cheaper! LOL. I feel quite smug every time I walk past the “feminine products” aisle in the supermarket. Have a happy period? Why, thank you. Yes, I do now!
By request (from Ravelry and BusyMitts), I’m posting the templates and a [very] mini tutorial for my version of a reusable menstrual pad. (I’m not a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination, so there may well be an easier way to achieve the same result.) This one consists of two parts: a pocketed liner that snaps around your keks, and an insert pad that slips into the pockets on the liner. You can make the insert as thick or thin as you like, and you can use a couple of inserts together depending on your needs.
Obviously, you may use whatever fabrics you like. For this one I’ve used flannel for the outsides, and cotton batting for the core. I’ve had success with cores made from terry and flannel, but batting is my preferred material because it’s absorbent without being bulky. Some people will want to use PUL or nylon to provide a measure of water-proofing, but I haven’t. I don’t need it myself, and I prefer not to use synthetic fibres in my pads. YMMV.
My instructions are for turned and topstitched pads. I actually prefer the type with a serged/overlocked edge—it’s quicker and easier to make, and results in a smoother pad overall—but the overlock stitch on my machine isn’t tight enough to prevent fraying, so for durability T & T it is.
The finished size of the liner is 10.25″ long and 3″wide when snapped shut (7″ wide from wing to wing); the insert is 9.75″ long and 2.5″ wide in the middle. If you prefer a larger or smaller pad simply print out at the size you need. I.e., for an 11″ pad increase to around 113%; for an 8″ decrease to around 82%; and so on. Bear in mind that this will also alter the width, so you’ll need to take that into account. Okay….
The sewing police will not come after you if you don’t, but there’s really little point in carefully measuring to get the the size you want only for your lovingly-crafted pad to shrink the first time it’s washed. It’s not as though the shrinkage will be nice and uniform either! Try it if you don’t believe me.
- Print and cut out the templates. The liner and pad (insert) templates are actual size, and have no seam allowances. The one for the pocket is larger than the finished size. It’s supposed to be.
(Gah! I’m having real problems trying to upload the templates as images, so I’ve had to make them into a PDF. Click the pic on the right for the file. I had to darken the edges to get them to show up on the scan. Sorry about the poor quality.)
- Unless you want a particularly jazzy pad cut the two pockets from the same fabric. Then hem down the top edge.
- Using a wash-out fabric pen draw around the other templates onto your fabrics. You’ll need two liner shapes, and two insert (pad) shapes in your outer fabric(s). To reduce bulk at the edges of my pad I cut the cotton batting core about 0.25″ smaller all around than the insert template, and sew it separately onto the wrong side (WS) of one of the pieces of flannel before making up. Quilting the core to the flannel keeps the pad nice and thin.
- Pin the right sides (RS) of flannel together, sew around the shape you drew for the insert, leaving a couple of inches unstitched to enable you to turn it the right way out.
- Cut away the excess fabric, turn it RS out, and stitch around the pad close to the edge.
- Layer the fabric for the liner as in the pic below: flannel RS facing up, then the pocket RS up with hemmed edge towards the centre, then flannel RS down. Pin and sew, again leaving a gap on one of the wings through which to turn RS out.
- Trim the excess fabric, turn it RS out, and stitch around the wings close to the edge.
- Add a popper (snap), and Bob’s your uncle!
In the interests of full disclosure I have to say that when the pad is finished and folded, the shape is much too rectangular for my liking; i.e., not shaped like the gussets on my knickers. That makes the pad ruck up a bit, which is most definitely not good. I solved this problem by making the wings narrower. I don’t have a pic of how that looks, but it ends up shaped very much like the blue one in this picture. That’s the perfect shape for me.
If you use this pattern to make your own pads, I’d really love it if you’d send me pics! Thanks.
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