Frugal Living

Cheap and easy, family friendly recipes that can be made in bulk, repurposing ideas, make not waste projects, cheap and easy ideas for things to make for your home and children.

How To Make Washable Sanitary Pads.


My all-in-one design of washable sanitary pad is made up of three layers. A bottom waterproof layer, the absorbent pad and a top fleece layer (to keep me feeling dry and fresh!).

washable sanitary pad

For the bottom waterproof layer you can either use specialised fabric bought from an outdoor store (which looks nice but is expensive) or you can opt for the frugal old nylon shower curtain or soft waterproof bed cover.

The middle pad is made from cotton, either flannel, brushed cotton winceyette or toweling (which is much bulkier) - you can use a combination if you like. I tend to use offcuts from other projects or recycle old sheets or towels. If you do use old sheets or towels cut the edges off and then use the outside edges, the center sections tend to get wore down and thinner, meaning the absorbency will be reduced.

The top layer is made from polar fleece, either use new fleece or the backs from old fleece jumpers.

You should end up with a selection of fabrics like the one below.

Fabrics pile  

The first thing you need to make is the absorbant pad.

Start by cutting the cotton to the size you need for your pad, as I was making maxi-pads I cut my fabric 24cm x 8cm. I used 4 layers of fabric for these pads as I had a layer of toweling in there. If I was only using brushed cotton I would have used 6 layers. If you want them longer or shorter then adjust the length accordingly - use whatever pad you are happiest using as a gauge for the size.

cut pad pieces

Make a pile of the layers of fabric (there are six in the photo as I was making 6 pads), then stitch around the edge to hold them all together, either use an overlocker or the zigzag stitch on a regular machine.

stitched pads  

That's that bit done! :-)

Next you need to Cut the top and bottom layers

The first thing you will need to make is a template piece for the pad. To do this cut a piece of fleece that is equivalent to three times the width of the absorbant pad and about one inch (2cm) longer on either end.

making the template  

Remove the outer two pads (if you used them for measuring like I did) then trim the corners off to make the pad more elliptical. Make sure that you don't curve the long edges too much as you will be applying a popper to them later on.

shaped template  

Once you have the basic shape of the sanitary pad cover you will need to cut one piece in fleece and one in the washable fabric for each sanitary pad you are making. (I don't know what happened in the photo but the light and dark blue fabric pieces are the same size, even though they don't look it!)

wierd photo of pad outers  

Now we have to attach the pad to the cover.

Lay the absorbent pad on the wrong side of the fleece fabric and pin it in place.

pinned pad  

Stitch around the outside edges of the absorbent pad so that it is attached to the fleece liner. This will stop the pad from moving around inside the cover, which is especially important when they are being washed.

stitched pad  

Next place the waterproof layer on top of the absorbent pad, forming a sandwich with the fleece layer. Pin it in place.

pinned layers  

Stitch around the outside edge of the two layers with an overlocker or using the zigzag stitch on a regular machine.

stitched pads  

Once the poppers are attached the sanitary pad are ready to use - just make sure that you line up the poppers properly - one should be attached to the fleece and the corresponding popper to the waterproof backing. Otherwise you won't be able to fasten them!

Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, September 19, 2010 12:05 PM

Washable Sanitary Pads


I have been using washable sanitary pads for approximately 10 years now. It all started when I was expecting my third child and I was researching washable nappies. I noticed a section on the website for washable sanitary protection and, feeling a bit grossed out, took a look. After perusing the different options it occurred to be that it really wasn't any more gross than a washable nappy. After all, if I was prepared to see to another persons, albeit a babies, intimate needs then I really shouldn't be freaking out about seeing to my own! With that thought firmly in mind I ordered a starter pack, which consisted of three different sized cotton pads and two different sized waterproofed backed, poppered pouches to hold the pad in place.

I must admit that the first month I wore them it was with trepidation, as I was not convinced as to the security and absorbancy of the pad. There were a few little leaks along the way, but nothing major. Thankfully I used to bleed really lightly at that point in my life. I'm sure that those pads (which I still have and are still wearable) would not stand up to my current flow which has increased dramatically since the birth of my fifth baby, nearly 2 years ago. It is possible that the heavier flow is down to me still breastfeeding, I guess I won't find out until Amelia weans herself off!

The main thing I noticed after I started wearing the washable pads is that all the thrush like symptoms that I used to be plagued with vanished. At first I didn't put two and two together, until one time when I was going to be on holiday during 'that time'. Obviously I didn't want to carry around soiled pads with me whilst out and about or have to wash them on a camp site so I resorted to disposibles again. By the time my period was over I was suffering chronic burning and itching down below, like I had done so many times in the past. After resorting to all the pills and creams to clear up the infection I went back to using the washable pads the month after and no problems. Over the past 10 years there have been several months when using washable pads were not an option, and each time I ended up with a thrush like infection by the time my period was finished. I know other women who have similar problems when using disposible pads too, so I have come to the conclusion that it is not coincidental and quite probably due to the plastics and chemicals they use in these products.

Over the years I made new pads to fit in the pouches but I was still not happy with the design of the pad, wishing rather that I had something similar to a winged Always to wear, an all-in-one if you like. After all, you get all-in-one nappies so why not all-in-one pads? I started looking on the internet for instructions and patterns for making your own pads and none of them were the sort of design that I was after. So I came up with my own, overlocker friendly, easy to do custom design that doesn't require you to follow vast quantities of instructions or buy specialsed fabrics.

My pads are made from one layer of waterproof backing and one layer of fleece (well if it keeps a baby dry and fresh shouldn't I feel dry and fresh too!) with a 4 or 6 layered pad sandwiched between them.

I use a regular machine and an overlocker, plus popper fastenings which are hammered in place. It is quite feasible to use only a regular sewing machine, using a zigzag stitch to bind the edges of the fabric together and hand-stitched poppers instead of hammered studs.

Carewise, once I use the pads I store them dry in a lidded nappy bucket over 24 hours, then wash them on an evening and hang them on the radiators to dry over night. If they are heavily soiled I wash them once in the machine without any laundry detergent, then wash them again with a small amount of detergent and an extra rinse cycle.

I think that just about covers it all, now I just need to tell you how to make them...

Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, September 19, 2010 11:27 AM

A crash course in shoemaking


Can a craft novice make a wearable pair of shoes, from scratch, in just one day? Rachel Dixon attends an ethical shoemaking workshop in Devon to find out

"It's so stressful!" "I've got a headache from concentrating so hard!" "My hand's cramping up from gripping the knife so tightly!" We might have been a tense team of surgeons, embarked on an all-day operation. In actual fact, we were a group of women learning to make shoes. And it was exhausting.

I am not the crafty type. I admire those who are, and I find their exploits inspirational - but not quite inspirational enough to have a go myself. There always seems to be something better to do (sorry, crafters). But then I was invited on a shoemaking workshop in Devon, and what, I thought, could be better than spending a relaxing day learning a new skill in a converted mill by the river Dart? Little did I know that "relaxing" would not be quite the right word.

The workshops are run by Green Shoes, a Devon-based company that makes all of its shoes, sandals and boots by hand, using traditional methods and sustainable materials. The company was set up in the 1970s, but has since shed its hippy image and moved seamlessly into the design-conscious 21st century. While ethics remain at the forefront of the business, style matters more than ever - a collaboration with designer Lu Flux even led to Green Shoes walking down the catwalk at London fashion week in February.

But back to the workshop. The first job for the novice shoemaker is to pick a style to recreate. This is no easy job for the footwearphile: two of us spent a good hour cooing over the shoes and trying them all on. Then there's the colour, from boring black to daring gold, or even a wacky multicoloured shoe. Then the material: leather, eco-tan leather or vegan faux-leather? Finally, the sole - to wedge, or not to wedge? I was torn between the brogue-like Teasel shoe and the crossed-lace Willow shoe, but eventually I plumped for a dark brown gladiator-style sandal in soft eco-leather. It looked stylish, comfortable and, hopefully, easy to make.

Alison Hastie, the co-founder of Green Shoes, was on hand to guide us through the shoemaking process, as was Becky Marshall, a young designer/maker (all the staff are involved with every aspect of the business, unlike most shoe companies where the workers have been de-skilled). Our first job was draw out the pattern and cut out the leather pieces. This was incredibly nerve-wracking - I didn't want to make a mess and waste the precious leather - but got easier as I grew in confidence. Besides, any lumps and bumps caused by shaky hands could be snipped into shape with sharp scissors later.

Then the shoemaking was underway in earnest, as we lined, glued, stitched and steamed; made holes, soles and buckles. Stamping the holes in the straps was especially satisfying, as was riveting on the buckles and pounding the last into the shoes with a hammer. We paused for lunch and the odd biscuit break, but otherwise worked solidly from 10am-6pm.

And as we worked, we talked. There were a handful of women on the course (no men), from the unskilled - me - to the hardcore crafter. All abilities were catered for, with extra guidance given to those who needed it - also me. I had rather a lot of help with the big, scary sewing machine, while others merrily stitched away without a second thought. We were all there for different reasons: birthday present; charity auction prize; new challenge.

As 6 o'clock struck, we put the finishing touches on our handiwork. Everyone congratulated everyone else and told each other how pleased they must be, while looking pleased as punch themselves. I couldn't believe how well my sandals had turned out. I insisted on wearing them straight away, even rolling my jeans up to better show them off. I stayed that way all evening, during drinks and dinner in Totnes, much to my boyfriend's embarrassment. That night I slept more soundly than I had in weeks, despite being in a tent on rather hard ground. I think it was the exhaustion of a difficult job well done, though it could have been the wine.

In the days that followed, I willed friends to compliment me on my new shoes, so I could smugly inform them that I had made them myself. Several did, and were gratifyingly astonished. The warm glow of achievement stayed with me a long time, and I had an inkling of why so many people are part of the 'make your own' movement. I've even tried a couple of little craft projects myself, such as converting a badly fitting dress into a well-fitting skirt.

But the main thing I took away from the day was a greater appreciation of traditional shoemakers. I now know what a lot of skill and hard work goes into each and every pair.

The lowdown

The next shoemaking workshops will take place at Green Shoes in Buckfastleigh, Devon, on 25 September, 30 October and 20 November. A one-day course costs £175, and a two-day bootmaking course is £350. Visit, call 01364 644036, or email for more information.

More traditional British shoemakers

Bill Bird Shoes
Bespoke leather footwear for people with fitting and walking difficulties, handmade in the Cotswolds.

Brodequin Shoemakers
Handmade leather footwear and bags, designed and made to order in Teignmouth, Devon.

Handmade leather shoes made to order in Totnes, Devon.

Vegan shoes, handmade to order in the north-east of England.

Galloway Footwear
Shoes and clogs made by hand in a small, family-run workshop in Scotland.

James Taylor & Son
Handmade shoes from English oak bark-tanned leather.

John Cornforth
Made-to-measure, handsewn men's shoes from British and Italian leather.

Phil Howard
Traditional British clogs and leatherwork, handmade in Stockport.

Simple Way
Handmade in the north-east by a small family business.

• Additional research by Niamh Griffin © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

A crash course in shoemaking

Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, September 19, 2010 9:17 AM

Cabbage can beat period pain... and other home remedies that really work


These natural remedies may have some medical credence, according to a new book by Rob Hicks, a GP and hospital doctor.

Cabbage can beat period pain... and other home remedies that really work

The remedies in the article are extracted from the following book

Posted by OneProudMomma at Sunday, September 19, 2010 9:09 AM