May 31, 2007

Cloth pads

Apparently the average woman will use around 17,000 pads or tampons in her lifetime, the majority of which are flushed down the toilet, a terrible though huh? Just imagine the waste they produce, damage they cause and the money they cost us.
After having my second child i breastfed until she was around 15 months old therefore i didn't menstruate, it was great. Soon after i weaned her from the boob my cycle returned, ugh, i started using tampons again and i hate them. So, i have stared to make my own cloth pads and am looking into ordering a menstrual cup.
I have put together a step by step of how i make my own cloth pads, i will add the pattern to the sidebar in the next few days.

Cloth pads
You will need:
flannel for outer
flannel for inner
scissors
pins
sewing machine

Wash, dry and press your fabric. I have used half a metre of flannel and folded it to cut out 4 pads at once.

Cut out your pattern pieces

Take each of the bottom pieces and fold the opening edge over 1/4 inch, press then fold over again, press and sew in place.

Pin the pieces together and sew around the edge, clip the curves and turn right side out.

Press. Top stitch around the edge and sew down each side to form the wings. Add pressers or velcro to the wings.

Make a pad to fit inside, i have recycled a flannel bed sheet. I sewed 2 pieces together, turned right sides out and top stitched all the way around. I made it large enough to be folded into 4 layers and quilted it randomly to keep it in shape.

Underside with pad

The finished pad

These could also be made on an overlocker/serger but you would need to adjust the seam allowance or they will turn out bigger. You could also adjust the pattern to make larger or smaller pads with thicker or thiner inserts for heavier or lighter days. I've seen these made with a nylon backing to make them waterproof but i prefer not to, i plan to only use them on light days and use the menstrual cup on heavier days.

79 comments:

Anonymous said...

I started using a Diva Cup a while back, and I *love* it. I only need to rinse it a couple of times a day, and it never leaks. I highly recommend it.

ms. pea said...

Nichola, thanks for posting this! I am a devotee of the cloth pad since I gave up evil (made from TREES!) tampons back in grad school. Yours are so much nicer than my home-made pads... but then again I'm the only one who sees them. The amazing thing is, the stash of 5 or so pads I made back in 1999 are still with me today! That's a rather skimpy cost for 8 years of gourmet menstrual products, doncha think?

Some of my favorite materials to make pads with:
-old flannel pyjamas
-really worn-out old terrycloth towels
-re-claimed flannel shirts
for all of these, the older, softer and more worn-out the better! Just be sure there's no polyester or nylon content on any parts that are supposed to be absorbent... synthetics tend to repel moisture. 100% recycled cotton is the way to go.

Jillian said...

I second the diva cup! I've had one for two years and haven't used a single pad or tampon since. It's fantastic.

pippa said...

Thirding reusable menstrual cups! I've been using the Keeper for over a year now but would happily have bought the Diva Cup or another brand had they been available.

It's the best $60(aus) I've ever spent and I'm tempted to give them as gifts to my girlfriends.

Era said...

I will jump on the Diva Cup train and state how much I love mine as well. It's so comfortable that I forget that it's there usually. But mine does occasionally leak (usually at night when I'm sleeping), so I will totally be making these cloth pads as backup. Thanks so much for this post!

tracy said...

thanks so much!! great post!

Amy said...

thanks for the great post! I love, love, love my diva cup, but I'd like to have a couple of pads around too just in case. I can't stand the crinkly feeling of disposable products any more.

Dutch Girl said...

As a fellow sew greener who has been rockin' the Keeper for two years now I can attest to the fabulousness in a)saving the greenbacks b)saving the trees c) the ease of use. Great how-to on the pads I haven't the need for them but inspiring none the less!

Lisa said...

Great post! Homemade pads (besides being cheaper and greener) are sooo much more comfortable than store bought pads. Which makes sense...which would you rather have on your pink bits - plastic mesh or soft flannel?

Mine never leak and I have a very heavy period. For the inner pad I use a couple layers of an old felted wool sweater.

Snaps work better for me than velcro because somehow the scratchy edges of the velcro always poke my legs.

For a good downloadable pattern go here: http://home.inreach.com/raisngrl/diy/pads/pad.html

Gwyn said...

For Australians that can't sew the best ones are form wemoon and they are waterproof.

Sarah said...

These obviously can be used in lieu of panty liners? I *have* to have panty liners in..because I just can't stand ruining good, CUTE panties. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I also love my Diva Cup and won't ever go back to using tampons. I tried the Keeper first and like the Diva Cup better. For those who are interested in a commercial version of pads, my personal favorite is Luna Pads (and they also have pantiliners, which I love) http://www.lunapads.com/default.aspx?Lang=EN-US&PriceCat=2&RefID=

Marlys

Norma said...

Here's a better price on the cup. Thanks for the post. I'm trying both.
http://manymoonsalternatives.com/detail.php?pro_id=85

Sarah said...

Ahhh! I am still breastfeeding my 17 month old so that means I have been enjoying 17 + 9 months of menstrual cycle freedom! But...it will come back someday and I think I might have to make a few of your pads. I already use resuable flannel pads and I love them. Your pattern looks super easy to follow though and I look forward to making a few more.

Off to check out the Diva cup...

Thanks :)

pen & purl said...

Although it's been said before - the DIVA cup! It's fantastic. Do check it out if you're thinking of switching. I've had mine for over three years and have never had to use pads / tampons once. Think of all the resources saved! It's comfortable, hygenic, easy to use, economical, convenient, - especially when travelling. I don't know why I didn't get one sooner.

nikkishell said...

Yeah, these could be adapted to be used as panty liners, either by making them smaller or just using the outer pad without the liner.
It seems a lot of you prefer the DIVA cup rather than the Keeper, i was leaning more towards the Keeper because it's made from natural rubber whereas the DIVA cup is made from silicone. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

I have been using cloth pads for a few years now, and they are great! I recently made a few of my own and they're realy not that hard...and you get to choose gorgeous fabrics for them. Where did you get your fabric from Nikki?, I love it:)

nikkishell said...

Although i used a recycled sheet for the inner pad i wasn't too keen on having it next to my girly bits so i bought some new flannel from Lincraft. It cost about $5AUS a metre.

minecreations said...

I just discovered this blog through poppytalk and it's great! I'm still working through the archives and just loving the helpful info.

As an aside- I've been using the keeper for four years and just LOVE IT! just think of all the bleached out cotton (not to mention money) that I saved myself and the planet in just four years of not buying tampons. It's amazing the little choices we can make that make such a huge difference!

Thanks and looking forward to keeping up with your blog.

historicstitcher said...

I've been using cloth pads since I was in college and heard a lecture by a midwife who told us that women with heavy flows sometimes have lesser flows with cloth pads. Not to mention how unhealthy it is to put bleached paper products on the most absorbent tissue in your body!!

I use a similar pattern now (and made nursing pads, too - little boy nursed 24 months!) but my originals were simply squares of cotton folded into rectangles and pinned into my panties. Wreaked the panties, but got me convinced!

I second the snaps over velcro - somehow the edges and hooks of the velcro always find their way to skin. I have used polyester fleece for the backing - it helps keep moisture from wicking to the panties.

Pantiliners are simply the outer "winged" portion without the insert. On heavy flow days you can use double inserts!

Lamzeydievey said...

Thanks for the pattern!
I've heard that women with heavy cramping also tend to find relief when switching away from disposable pads. Does anybody know if this is actually true?

shash said...

why does this post and all the comments make me so happY! i think cuz we're sticking it to the man and being enviro-friendly and crafty and unashamed all at once. i'm definitely going to try one or all of these great solutions! thanks all!

Anna Phor said...

If you are using flannel, you can also just zigzag the inside edges and then clip the seams to your stitching -- it'll give you less bulk in the pad when you turn it inside out.

I find that I get more cramping using tampons, so I usually use pads on the first day, when I'm more likely to be crampy. Dunno about the difference between 'sposies & cloth pads, though.

cally said...

I love this post!!!!
Did you see in our google group i mentioned my home made pads, but this has been SO enlightening. Goodness knows why but I never thought to use poppers instead of velcro, even though the velcro used to bug me on mine.

And DIVA cups (and hte others). I'm ashamed to admit this but I had no clue about their existence! Seriously, and I am usually 1st to try out all things old fashioned/alternative if they are eco. I will be order mine online immediately and making new thinner pads as backup instead of the main catcher.

Brilliant brilliant post. And like Shash, loving all the comments and the great girl vibe going on here. Nikki, I can't tell you how immensely glad I am you that stayed here at Sew Green. x

nikkishell said...

Thanks Cally, i'm glad too!

kelly said...

I have never used cloth pads or a cup but am now very interested. I have horrible cramping and very heavy periods and am actually considering going on Lybrel to stop the whole thing because I am in so much pain...is it true using disposable pads n such create cramping? I don't know how that would be true scientifically...

poopytoothpaste said...

oh yessssssss!
the divacup is my saviour.
i've recommended it to so many women around me and i can't stop advertising for them. what a great, great invention.

i hope it works out for you, too!

historicstitcher said...

I don't know if it's true for everyone, but my severe cramps were significantly reduced when I started using reuseable. (Before, I would go to bed for the first day or two of my period, and I needed to change the biggest dispo pads every half hour...)

I initially tried it because the midwife I heard speak had mentioned that using cloth pads reduced flow and cramping. In my experience, she was right. I don't know anyone else locally who uses them, and I can't say that it works for everyone, but I do highly recommend giving it a try.

Just know that it's not an all-or-nothing experiment - you don't get all the benefits on the first cycle, though there is some improvement. It takes a few cycles to get your body happy (after how many years of putting chemical-laden pads on/in your sensitive parts, is it reasonable to expect instant results?)

Good luck to all!

(And I've never tried a Keeper/Diva device, either, though I've known about them for over a decade. Not my kind of thing. Everybody's different!)

amy k. said...

this is so cool!
I make my own pads as well-and as I gather supplies for baby #3-I also remembered that I used old cloth diapers cut up with serged edges (or diaper doublers) for pads for the bleeding after baby comes-

I also have sewn my breast pads too-I love cotton flannel so much!

flannel is perfect for sewn baby wipes-with a homemade baby tushie spray. . .

Anonymous said...

I had a friend in university that used both the diva cup and cotton pads.

I remember being so wowed by the idea of the homemade pads (before then it had never occured to me).

She also had absolutley amazing, lush house plants, which she shly admitted were self fertilized. She kept her watering can half full with water in the bathroom and emptied the diva cup into it. Really I honestly have never seen more beautiful plants!!

Anonymous said...

diva diva diva!
i like it better than the keeper because the keeper is rubber vs the silicone diva which you can boil.
my period - for the last two years - has never been so hassle free, leak proof, and yes - for some reason, even less crampy. and the best thing is that i spent $30 (cdn) two years ago, and have not used or bought a pad or tampon since.

Lorissa said...

Thanks for sharing this! I've been using the "mooncup" which is basically the same as the diva cup but UK version for a few years now, and I just want to tell every woman I meet!!

I also make flannel pads, and give them as gifts--just sharing the comfort.

I DO think that bleached disposable pads and tampons make for more cramping and bleeding. I noticed a decrease in both when I began using my cup and flannel pads. I think it is due to the toxins that are byproducts of the bleaching process. (just my theory)

There are unbleached cotton disposable alternatives at health food stores.

filambulle said...

I love my mooncup, and have way less cramps now that I use it. I even found myself actually looking forward to my period, a thing that I NEVER would have imagined only four months ago! I find it very enjoyable, and quite empowering too, giving me the feeling that I am in harmony with my feminity. (difficult to explain in a few words)
Mine leaks a little bit the two first days. I have homemade and bought cotton pads for those days. (lots too much in fact, now that I use my cup for the whole periodical days) No more irritations (soreness?) here too!
I wish I had made this discovery/choice earlier. (And I really should post about that in my blog. I need a little bit more of strenght before doing this. Some person in my real life really don't need to know about my menstrual details. They know I have a blog...)
In short:
menstrual cup = easy; totally practical (less to think of); needs a little bit of practice, but not so much; LESS CRAMPS; more hygienical; empowering.
cloth pads = confortable; logical; less soreness than disposable, because breathable.
I will write this post. apparently I have still way more things to say about this topic than I thought I had.
:)

filambulle said...

ps.. I had really BAD cramps! So crampy ladies, do try mooncup and such. It may well change your life.

Judy said...

Thanks so much for this great tutorial! I'm venturing out to make myself a stash of these for my postpartum phase later this summer as well as when my cycle returns. I'm also really considering a cup, especially after all the great reviews!

Here It Comes Again said...

DIY pads don't have to be nearly so fancy as those illustrated. I liked to make them from a regular old fashioned style cloth diaper, folded in thirds and stitched. Much less work as you can buy a 12 pack of diapers and run up the whole batch in minutes. Pre-soak in a bucket of 1/4 cup borax, 1/4 cup soap, then wash hot with soap and bleach.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the info. I can't wait to make my own.

Does anyone no if this pattern has been posted anywhere? or Does anyone know where I can get a pattern?

Thank you,
Chris

Anonymous said...

http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-Diva-Cup-Model-2-FREE-FAST-USA-SHIPPING-DivaCup_W0QQitemZ150154210174QQihZ005QQcategoryZ67590QQcmdZViewItem

the diva cup is dirt cheap on ebay

Barb said...

Finally a better way! I love the DivaCup, period. Got my Diva Cup at www.southcoastshopping.com for $17.99! International, email them for a shipping quote.

Jennifer said...

I love my DivaCup!! Should have been using this years ago. The best price I found is at South Coast Shopping for only $17.99 and arrived in only 2 days! Model 1 and Model 2

carole said...

I just received my DivaCup!! WOW! I love it! South Coast Shopping now has them for only $16.99! Model 1 and Model 2

- Steffi - said...

I've been using the Keeper for a year or so and am very happy with it. I can never imagine using tampons again! I love this little pad pattern and think it's a great idea.

As a side note, I have some patterns on my blog for 'toilet wipes', i.e., reusable loo paper.

http://fastfallingfeathers.blogspot.com/2008/01/perhaps-teeny-bit-embarrassing.html

kindigo27 said...

I don't have kids, but when my best friend started her family, she chose to use cloth diapers. Her OBGYN was happy to learn she'd made that choice, pointing to a recent rise in genital cancers, which she believed was related to the chemicals in disposable diapers.

Think about it: disposables do keep kids "dryer", but they also keep a strange chemical cocktail next to the most body's sensitive skin. And children in disposables don't tend to potty train as early as those in cloth so they spend YEARS in these diapers, followed then by pull-ups at night. Then, as young adults, women go back to these chemicals in the form of disposable pads & tampons!

So, I plan to use cloth diapers when I have kids. And I just made the switch to cloth for myself. I've purchased a few GladRags, which I love (except for the price). It didn't dawn on me until recently that I could have made the cloth pads! So thanks for your post. I'm gonna gather up some material and make some pads!

Carlo said...

Good Job! :)

Anonymous said...

A word on synthetic tampons... I believe they commonly contain rayon fibers these days, but I've heard that in the past they contained an amount of fiber glass. Fiber glass (as I learned in college) is a very, very small glass fiber that is linked to lung caner if it is inhaled. I think the idea is that the fibers are so small that they disrupt normal cellular growth and function... not a great idea for soft tissues. The fibers were likely to cause more bleeding... and if you think about it... the more you bleed, the more tampons they sell, the more money they make. Maybe TSS and cervical cancer have a link? I just can't trust synthetic tampon brands after hearing that.

Yahoo for all these create women-powered healthy solutions!

shelle said...

Thank you for the pattern, I have made a few for myself and now I am getting ready to make some for good4girls.

Anonymous said...

If you want your pads to be waterproof but don't want to use sythetics, try a wool liner inside under the inner pad. You can search online for any site giving instructions for caring for wool baby diaper soakers for instructions on making the liner waterproof (search specifically for info on "lanolizing" soakers) -- same basics apply. It works really well.

Katie said...
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Anonymous said...

I e-mailed my husband's medical flex account company asking if a menstrual cup (reusable ones - not insteads) would be coverred. They are an FDA Class I device and since they are reusable they are also considered a "durable medical device".

I got an e-mail back today saying that it WAS covered. Woohoo!

Pretax dollars put to good work. :-D

I'll be making these as a back-up for heavy flow days. I'm not sure I ENTIRELY trust the cup. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, and (I'm the one that posted about the medical flex acct) I found MoonCups here for $18.49 http://www.southcoastshopping.com/?page=shop/browse&category_id=86&CLSN_2536=12377510802536125aae01ad807e8876

Since Diva's site says to only use it for a year and MoonCup's site says closer to ten - I'm tending toward buying a MoonCup.

Anonymous said...

JoAnn's Fabric has a flannel sale - $2.49 a yard. I've heard that around Thanksgiving it gets cheaper (around a buck a yard) - but for now, hey. ;-)

Not sure if the sale only applies to online shopping, or if the stores are holding the sale, too. Check their site. I'm thinking a yard would be enough to make a pad with enough left over for the insert?

Morgan said...

Here's a video tutorial on how to sew basically the exact same pattern from Lunapads.com:
http://blog.lunapads.com/2009/04/diy-pads-for-you-or-others/

enjoy!

Gold Guide for World of Warcraft said...

good post :)

Anonymous said...

I will definitely give this a try! They sound great and I think not only is it great for women to get talking about personal issues online but at the same time, spreading great ideas about how we can create less waste. Thank you for posting :)

Lilia said...

I just came across your blog now - I know it's an old post - I just got my diva cup yesterday - AND I LOVE IT!

I'm considering making some cloth pads but am still a bit nervous about it! I'm gonna read on for some more advice ... hope you got your menstrual cup and are loving it too!

WOW GOLD said...

WOW GOLD, nice blog. its worth reading. I liked it very much

Anonymous said...

I suggest you do some research before you jump in with the diva cup (or any other type of cup).... i bought one and it now sits in my cupboard because of this

http://www.assocpharmtox.org/pages/CupPetitionText.html

i have found several other disturbing articles... there has been no solid research done into the safety of these cups... and the people who say they don't cause anything are usually the ones selling them, or people who haven't done any research... just be careful

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous. That petition was started in 2003, and there has been no further action taken by the FDA or anyone else, nor have there been reported cases of endo. due to use of the menstrual cup.

Anyone can submit a petition, it's not based on any actual evidence or study, but just theoretical supposition.

There's no solid research done into the safety of cotton pillowcases either, but still they continue to be used. Drama!

People who are selling cups are almost always women who have used them for many years and are so excited / vested in using the menstrual cup that they want to spread the word about the cup. So yes, I would say they do know they don't cause anything - because they are the ones who tested it on themselves!

I would be interested to see what the other "disturbing articles" are.

Trisha said...

Hi: Regarding the Diva Cup vs. the Keeper, I would choose the Diva Cup because I am allergic to latex and therefore the Keeper would make me all break-outy and sore and it would just be a mess. Secondly, those who use them might notice that medical-grade silicone is far less prone to odors than rubber is.
Just an FYI....

1stkidswholesale said...

This seems to be a great site for purchasing stuff for kids like baby whole sale clothing with fine quality - available with all top brands Barbie, Ben 10, Disney, Peppa Pig, etc.and i would surely like to try their service...i had been relying on http://www.1stkidswholesale.co.uk earlier and they too offered good stuff.

Suburban Sweetheart said...

Wow.

Had no idea this was a think.

But... props.

dining room table said...

This is so nice. This do it yourself pad is the nicest substitute.

*star.mama* said...

Thanks for the post! I'll be making these for my niece as her Red Day present. Every girl should get lovingly handmade pads for their first period don't you think?

Angie's Chit Chatting Corner said...

I mentioned it to the hubbie last night and he said no. What are the men in your lives saying about cloth pads?

Katrin said...

Do you have any recommendations on what kind of pattern/shape for cloth pads to use with women's boxer briefs? The wings and buttons obviously don't work for them...
Thanks!

MkJuan said...

Hi!
I was googling and stumbled upon ur site. I like one of the comments left by your reader. It gave me an idea on the soakers for my son's learning pants. So, while tooting on the first learning pants I sewed for him (though doesn't looks that nice) I linked you to my page as well, I hope u don't mind. If you do, I'll remove it.

Thanks for the tutorial. Once I'm done with my son's things I'll try to make my own cloth pads (never tried one before).

Anonymous said...

I purchased my Diva cup about three years ago. I loved the idea of not having to buy tampons or pads again. Well the it doesn't work for me. I have pelvic floor issues from having children and the diva cup doesn't fit right and leaks all the time. So just a word of caution that it doesn't work for all women. I still love the idea of the cup but what can I do. Maybe one day it'll work right. So when I discovered cloth pads I was all over that. I have just finished making myself a stack of them and look forward to my next cycle just to try them out.

Em said...

I'm way past menstruating now but in later years just used my diaphragm ( Dutch Cap). Friends were horrified but it seemed a great idea to me and was tailor made.

*evhcreative said...

Very stoked to find so many good posts about these. I've been wanting to make them for ages.
Now that my sister in law as made her own nappies, and we'll be doing the same when we have a bubs, this makes perfect sense!
Thanks!!!

o-bLeTe said...

Hi! Im making a zine about periods and including an article about mooncups and reusable pads. as a huge supporter I was wondering if i could use this pattern in my zine? My email is ramblingfeline@hotmail.com
the zines due to be printed july 5th.
all credit will be given!
thanks
D

Anna said...

I read to use old crib pads on the bottom of the insert to make the pad waterproof. For your version, I suppose you would just use it on 1/4 of the pad.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for posting this. I get SO irritated and painful during my period, and I have since I started having my period when I was 12. I always thought it was normal, until recently when I tried washable pads. They have completely eliminated my pain!
YAY!

Kimberli said...

I have a weird question. I want to make these too because I have looooong periods. And economically speaking in one money I can go through 20 dollars worth of tampons. And that especially is not cool with the period starts halfway through the month and by the time I need more tampons I'm broke and have to wait for the cash.

Anyhow, the question is, how are reusable pads used when out and about? Or should I use this cup thing everyone is talking about when at school or how shopping, or hanging with friends and just use these pads at home? I'm just curious before I go SEW crazy and can't really use them.

Anonymous said...

I know it's an old post, but I just want to affirm the awesomeness of reusables.

No, it's not any harder to use cloth than it is to use disposables when out and about. If you carry a purse or diaper bag, you can just carry a reusable wet bag for the pads, too; I put the old and new in the same bag, on different sides. Sometimes it's easier to use cloth because you might not have a pad/tampon can in the bathroom stall. I haven't noticed a decrease in cramps with cloth vs. disposable, though.

The Diva Cup does lessen my cramps. Provided I insert the cup correctly, my cramps almost disappear. If I put it in wrong, though, it tends to increase the cramps. Solution: take it out and reinsert it.

Anonymous said...

Hey!
Love the thought of using reusables, saves a lot of money and protects the earth! Your design is way better than what i use. And you can use these on period panties so that you dont have to ruin your cutie panties,nor do you have to use a panty liner. I have been using Adira period panties for 6 mnths now,they have never stained on me.

Anonymous said...

Diva cup fan here! But looking for something when I dont want to wear it. Def trying these thanks for the post!!

Marina said...

Hi - am really hesitant to try these as I can't understand how you can use them and not have the blood soak through to your undies and, subsequently, your outer clothes for all to see - how do you prevent that happening?

Would really like to try something like this as the glues and plastics in store-bought pads gives me an awful rash.

marina@wrightfamily.com.au