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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
Next place the waterproof layer on top of the absorbent pad, forming a sandwich with the fleece layer. Pin it in place.
Stitch around the outside edge of the two layers with an overlocker or using the zigzag stitch on a regular machine.
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...
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