Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cloth menstrual care update

Well, i've spent some time (and a very small amount of money) on getting my 'ducks in a row' and making myself cloth pads. I also threw together some handkerchiefs (mostly for my snot-nosed little darlings. i love cold and flu season) and some cloth 'wipes' for baby butts and other small messes.

i decided to use my serger for as much of the creation process as possible. after looking about online, i decided to use This Pattern for my pads, making them pretty much as described. 
they look like this, in various fabrics.  The middle sections pull out for quicker drying time. there are also optional waterproof pieces that can be put in to reduce leaking.

the layers are:
outer 'envelope: soft flannel top, rough flannel bottom
oval pad and 'winged' pad inserts: 2 layers rough flannel with a layer of terry sandwiched in the middle
(the 'winged' insert is my own idea, because, you know, sometimes a girl needs a little extra protection!)

I also tried This pattern, but only made a couple to try them out. it is designed to be done with a serger and sewing machine, or just a sewing machine. they provide less padding, and no extra protection in the 'wings' however they are all one piece.

 lots of handkerchiefs and wipes..

For my materials, i was able to recycle some flannel recieving blankets, and some heavy  rough flannel sheets i'd recieved to use for making cloth diapers. i purchased 3 packages of snaps, and 3 meters of flannel, as i had limited numbers of recieving blankets. i used an old towel for the terrycloth in the pad liners.

this made me  about 8 envelope-style pads with fillers, 4 folding-style pads,  and about 12 panti-liners, plus handkerchiefs and wipes, with LOTS of left over fabric

total cost to me: less than $20 time spent: about 7 evenings, on and off
estimate cost of all new materials: less than $100.
worth it? oh yeah.

if you decide you want to try it out yourself, but don't have access to a serger, here are a couple links for similar sewn pads:
This one is almost identical to the 'envelope' style i made  however the inner pad pattern is different
This one also has a very similar pad  and includes cutting patterns and layered inner pad inserts

This site is a wealth of information with lots of patterns and other good stuff

one cycle later: opinions and thoughts:

well, i like the pads. they are soft and comfortable, if a little bulky (though they don't hold a candle to the disposables of 30 or 40 years ago. thanks for the horror stories, mom!) I think i'll have to find/adapt a pattern for night-time use (a longer design), but otherwise no complaints in the design department.
In practice, using a cold water bucket is slightly icky, but i think definitely keeps staining to a minimum. i had to toss a  drained bucketful of pads in with my washing pretty much once a day, (i threw them in my regular warm wash with darks.... i find a hot wash roughens the nice soft flannel)

I think that if these last even two years, i'll have gotten so used to them i won't want to change back! i'll just have to make more.
thanks for following along, and if anyone has any questions/comments, or (if you're a local) wants some help sewing their own, just shout!


  1. Lookin' good! I haven't actually read this post yet, just wanted to pop by and say check out the UWSA Food Bank's facebook page and see the photos from our drive. There shall be more to come, including some close-ups of the re-useable pads that we have on display.!/pages/UWSA-Food-Bank/357487880010?ref=nf

  2. ...out of curiousity...have you heard that blood supposedly helps plants grow? I forget where I read that, but if you have buckets of cold, red water anyways, why not use them to water your seedlings? Can't hurt!

    - Roberta

  3. yeah, evidently it's nicknamed 'moon water' and it is supposed to be great for plants. not sure how i'd feel watering my solely indoor garden though.... i'd be worried about flies and odor