Why yes, I actually do!
Here’s the deal… I started a sewing group on Facebook for people who like to sew and want to share projects and information. We have a lot of talented people in the group who post all kinds of things — clothes, bags, bedding, drapes, you name it. If it came from a sewing machine, they post it. And these folks are GOOD!
Yesterday, I posted something I had sewn that I hadn’t seen anyone post before: maxi pads. Yep, I use washable, reusable menstrual pads. There are a few reasons for this:
Cost – Buying products month in and month out can get pricey. Before Kotex, Always, and ‘nem came on the scene, women used cloth (hence the term “on the rag”). I figure if it’s good enough for my ancestors, why not give it a shot?
The environment – I probably don’t need to tell you disposable menstrual care adds a lot to our landfills. Using cloth is a great way to keep waste out of the environment.
Health – I became concerned about the absorbent polymers used in disposable products and their impact on women’s health. And as an anecdote, I and a few friends of mine noticed a decrease in our flow after we stopped using disposable products! Kinda scary when you think about it.
Comfort – Honestly, I find cloth pads and menstrual cups to be more comfortable than disposable pads and tampons. They definitely, uh, “breathe” better.
All of this started after I had my child and started cloth diapering her for all the same reasons. It occurred to me than perhaps I should start doing the same for myself.
Posting pics of my pads (wow, the alliteration) yielded a lot of questions about how they wear, how to wash them, and specifically how to make them. After all, it is a sewing group! So I promised one of our members that I’d post a tutorial on how I did it. Like to read it? Here it go…
First, you can get the pattern I used here: Aday’s Cloth Pad Patterns. I used a different sewing method than hers because I wanted a different look and function, but try hers as well. I
You’ll want three different fabrics: something for the top of the pad, something for the absorbent core, and a water resistant backing. Below, I’m using flannel for the top, some random terry cloth I had for the core, and fleece for the backing. Some people use jersey, microfiber, or minky fabric for the top layer. For the core, you can use microterry, and for the backing you can also use PUL.
I’m using two different sets of instructions for people with a serger and people without a serger. The serger will make the process much quicker, but you can do beautiful work even if you don’t have one.
Cut out your top layer and backing in the winged shape, and the core fabric in the liner shape (click on any of the images to make them larger):
I have three layers of terry cloth there. Use as much or as little core as you like to adjust absorbency.
Next, place your core in the center of the top layer on the wrong side of the fabric. Pin it in place.
Take this over to the sewing machine and sew approximately 5/8 of an inch away from the edge of the core liners, mimicking their shape.
You make need to trim the core slightly around the edges after this step. Place the backing on top of this and pin it in place.
Take this over to your machine and stitch only along the sides of the core.
Now, the edges are ready to be serged. Take the whole thing over to your serger and finish all around the pad. Make sure not to use the knife here (it doesn’t need to be trimmed).
Your pad has now taken shape! All that’s left to do is insert the snap. You can buy a snap kit at your favorite fabric store. Be sure to follow the directions.
My kit requires that you lance a hole before inserting the snap pieces. I like to cross the two “wings” together and lance then both at once.
You’ll then insert your pieces and clamp them in place.
You, my dear, now have a pad!
The process for making the pads without a serger is slightly different. Here’s I’m using a flannel top, the same terry cloth core, and a PUL backing.
On the wrong side of your top fabric, trace the winged pattern and then add another 5/8″ outside of the shape. You’ll cut on the outside line.
Cut out the same shape on your backing fabric.
Place your core in the center of the top piece on the wrong side of the fabric. Pin it in place and sew it together in the same manner as above.
Place this piece and the backing piece (right sides together) and stitch about 3/8″ away from the edge. Leave a portion un-stitched. You’ll use that hole to pull the pad right-side-out.
Trim the edge to a scant 1/4″ and turn the pad right-side-out.
You’ll have to fuss with the seams a little, but make sure they’re all turned out. Press it with the opened portion turned under to mimic the rest of the seam.
Now that you have it pressed, you’ll edge stitch the pad all around.
Here’s how it will look on the back:
Add your snaps…
And you’re DONE!