Making your own sanitary napkins

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Making your own sanitary napkins

Post by ThreeperMan on Mon 13 Jul 2009, 05:20

To make your own sanitary napkins you need the following supplies:

A sewing machine with a zigzag stitch.
Flannel: Old flannel shirts & baby blankets work beautifully but new flannel works fine too. Be sure to wash it in hot water before using to prevent shrinkage.
Thread
Snaps or Safety Pins
Scissors

The Outer Pad
Begin by printing both of the patterns and cutting them out. The Inner Pad is a large oval. The Outer Pad is actually 2 patterns in 1. With the long straight side extended, it is the topside. You will need to cut 2 of these. With the long straight side folded in, it is the bottom side. Place the straight edge on a fold of fabric and cut 1 of these. Look at the pictures for examples.

Make 1/2-inch hem down the long straight side of each of the 2 top pieces. Straight stitch or zigzag stitch this hem, as you prefer. Now arrange the 2 upper layers of the outer pad over the lower layer. The front hems should overlap slightly, or by about 1/2-inch.

Zigzag stitch around the outside twice. If desired you may straight stitch down the dotted lines shown on the picture to the right. This allows the inner pad to fit more securely inside the outer pad and also makes folding the wings a bit handier.

Some women apply a snap or button to the wings at this time. Place them at points "A" in the illustration. Velcro is not advisable because it has a tendency to chafe. Personally, I don't liketo go through all the work of applying snaps or buttons so I use a safety pin instead. Large diaper safety pins work beautifully for pinning the wings together. To the right you will see a picture of the pad pinned closed. The wings fit around your underwear just like disposable pads with wings. Some women wear the pad with the pocket seam facing down, next to their underwear. Other women prefer the pad placed with the seam-side next to their skin. Try it both ways to see which you prefer.

The Inner Pad
The inner pad is the absorbent part of the sanitary napkin. It slips inside the pocket of the pad. The beauty of this is that you can use as many inner pads as necessary for the rate of your flow. During heavy times, or overnight, use 3 or 4 Inner pads. For a lighter flow use only 1 Inner pad. For a panty liner, use the outer pad without an inner pad. The reason you use several layers instead of 1 very thick layer is because several thinner layers are easier to wash and have a shorter drying time. Additionally, the many exterior surfaces of the pad layers makes them more absorbent than a single thick pad would be.

For the inner pad you want to cut at least 3 layers, maybe 4, depending on the thickness of your fabric. Use the same pattern for all of the layers. Use flannel for the 2 exterior layers of the inner pad. Use 1 or 2 layers of flannel or terry cloth, cotton quilt batting or another absorbent material for the interior layers of the inner pad. I used old flannel shirts, a flannel baby blanket and an old towel for my fabric. The towel was ripped and had a few holes. I used it as the interior layer of my inner pads. The flannel baby blanket was the exterior of the inner pads, and the flannel shirt was the outer pad, the part with wings.

After cutting out your layers for the inner pad stack them neatly. Zigzag stitch around the edges twice. Trim the edges if desired. I used dark thread in the picture so you could see it against the light flannel. Make 2 of these inner pads for each outer pad. They are very easy to cut and stitch, so you may want to make a few extras for heavy days.

After completing each part of the pad, slip the inner pad inside the pocket of the outer pad. Pin it in place and see how it feels. You will be surprised at how comfortable it is.

Washing and Maintenance
When you make your own pads you have to wash them instead of tossing them into the garbage. Keep a small bucket of water with a lid in the bathroom, preferably out of the reach of children and pets. Add a spoonful of vinegar if desired. Remove the inner pad from the outer pad. Soak the used pads in the bucket of water. Drain the water into the toilet before washing the pads. The water can also be used to water house plants because they like all the extra vitamins and minerals. Make sure you use cold water so that the stains will come out. I wash every morning. Some women stash all of the used pads in a pillowcase or plastic bag and wash them all at once when their period is over. I don't do this because I have a washer in the house and I find it more sanitary to wash them every day. They can drip dry or machine dry.

If you do not have a washing machine, then they may be washed by hand. Run cold water over them in the bathtub to remove most of the blood. Place the pads in a medium bucket or tub. Add a little soap and cold water. Using a clean plunger, plunge the pads until they are as clean as you can get them. Plunge for a good 10 minutes for the best results. Rinse the pads well and squeeze them dry. Hang each pad by it's own clothespin and they should dry pretty fast, even in the winter.

If you like, you can iron the pads, but do not use starch on them. Be careful not to use fabric softener either because it will make them less absorbent.

A No-Sew Alternative
If your sewing skills are lacking, or you simply do not want to go through the trouble of sewing your own pads you can try this instead. Purchase absorbent terry-cloth dishtowels. Wash them before using. Fold them into rectangles about 3 or 4-inches by 10 or 12 inches. Use safety pins to pin them into your underwear at both narrow ends (the front and the back). These are a bit bulkier than home-sewn pads. They are quite comfortable though, and are a legitimate alternative. They may be washed the same as home-sewn pads. I've also seen washcloths recommended. Fold them into thirds, or quarters (long ways) and fit them into your underwear. Apparently they stay in place without pinning because of the friction between the terry-cloth and underwear. For heavier flows fold together 2 or more wash cloths.

About Fabrics
When I made these, I used fabrics I already had in the house. You may purchase new fabric instead if you like. Use a sturdy double-napped flannel if you go this route. It will last the longest and give you the best results. Cotton quilt batting is very nice filler, but you can also use additional flannel, which is less expensive. Wash everything before cutting or sewing. Flannel will shrink. After sewing, wash the pads again before using. This helps them hold their shape better. Men's flannel shirts and flannel baby blankets make excellent flannel for your own menstrual pads. They can sometimes be found for 25¢ or 50¢ a piece at yard sales, which makes pads very cheap to sew at home. Brightly colored fabric is less likely to show stains than solid colored or light fabric is. I prefer to use patterns and dark colors for this reason.

About the Pattern
I created this pattern free hand after measuring commercially available, disposable pads. My pattern is a little bit wider and longer than some patterns available on the Internet. This is to accommodate the average woman, who is a size 14 or larger. Standard pads and liners are created for a size-6 woman. Pads made from this pattern are less likely to leak because they are large enough to fit properly. If you are a smaller woman, or prefer slightly smaller pads, there are several other patterns available online. You will find them linked below. Note: Some of the sites may refer to ideas you do not agree with. Please overlook anything you find offensive and focus on the useful information instead.

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ThreeperMan
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