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Merry Menses

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. :P

Pad Tut 1

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. :D 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….

First, wash and dry your fabrics!

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. ;)

  1. TemplatesPrint 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.)

  2. Unless you want a particularly jazzy pad cut the two pockets from the same fabric. Then hem down the top edge.
    Pad Tut
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
    Pad Tut
  5. Cut away the excess fabric, turn it RS out, and stitch around the pad close to the edge.
    Pad Tut
  6. 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.
    Pad Tut
  7. Trim the excess fabric, turn it RS out, and stitch around the wings close to the edge.
    Pad TutPad Tut
  8. Add a popper (snap), and Bob’s your uncle!
    Pad TutPad Tut
  9. 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.
    Cloth Pads

    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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8 Responses to “Merry Menses”

  1. Clara V said

    Hey! ClaraV from Ravelry here, and I gotta say thank you so much for uploading this! This is the exact pad that I want to use when I make the great jump into the wonderful world of reusable menstrual products!

  2. Lin said

    What a great tutorial, I have seen some good ones like that for sale but not as pretty!

  3. XNtrick said

    Pretty!!! Thanks for the tut. (o:

  4. Amy said

    Thanks! Great pattern. I’m going to try it next time I need to sew some new pads!

  5. Marilyn said

    This is interesting! But I would like to know more info. Like taking care of it. And I have a very heavy one, how to avoid leak passing to clothing?
    Thank you
    Marilyn

  6. K said

    Thank you for the pattern! I want to try making my own, and this makes it so much easier.

  7. deb said

    I made these and they turned out great. I used flannel with a natural cotton batting on the inside of the insert, and then machine quilted it to make it not as bulky. I also made a secondary insert that is flannel on the outside with a thin layer of vinyl on the inside to avoid leakage, and it worked really well (before I found that I could bleed right through the thing in an hour).

    I have an old plastic coffee container in my bathroom in which I make a mixture of water, baking soda, and detergent. After I use the pads I rinse them and put them in this solution until I’m ready to wash, which keeps odors down and prevents major staining. So far, so good.

  8. [...] 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; … Read More [...]

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