Friday, March 9, 2012

My Crunchy Cause (and my first tutorial!)

Generally speaking, I'm not much for causes.  But this one speaks to me.  It's functional, I understand it, I do it myself, and I'm all for it.  I volunteer for it.  And it makes me happy.  Days for Girls - check it out.  Ask them, ask me, get involved if you can.  Today, I helped my local chapter assemble 60 kits to send to Uganda in May.  Hurrah! 

Brace yourselves for TMI.  However as most [eleven] of my [twelve] followers are my close friends, you already realize that TMI comes with the territory. 

I make and use my own cloth menstrual pads.  They're heavenly.  Most of you think they're gross, but I assure you, they're not.  I have been cloth diapering for four years, and using cloth toilet paper since June.  So this wasn't a very big leap.

After the birth of my second child, I was unable to use tampons.  Massive discomfort.  I tried a menstrual cup, but with the same problem.  I hate disposable pads.  HATE.  HATE.  HATE.  So I figured I had nothing to lose in trying cloth pads, especially since I had everything I needed in the house (yay for free and a project).   And I am so very glad I did. 

I searched the internet for patterns.  I found the Days for Girls patterns here.  I didn't find any one that was perfect for me - but this one was my favorite.  I changed it to suit me - a bonus of making your own....  I also made myself some larger "night-time" pads.  Whether making regular or overnight, I use terry cloth - old towels - for the absorbent part, and flannel or fleece for the outer layers.  For  my first ones, I didn't bother using a waterproof material for the backing, because I wanted to make sure I liked them, and I didn't have any on hand.  Fleece has turned out to be my favorite material for the portion touching my skin.  It wicks away moisture and is so soft!  And I've found that except for the heaviest days, I don't need the waterproof backing.  I put it on my overnights, just in case, and on a bunch of daytime ones in case I'm running errands and can't change as often as I'd like. 

1.  Print two copies of the pattern.  Cut one along the outer edge and the other along the inner zig-zag edge. (If you print out the pattern from the above link, it comes out to size, about 9" long.  I don't know how to do that, but from top to bottom, the overnight pad should be 10.125" and 8.5" from wing to wing.)

2.  Using the outer pattern, cut two layers of flannel, fleece, etc. for your outer layers.  *Note: if you want a waterproof back, cut one layer from PUL and one of fleece or flannel. 

3.  Using the inner pattern, cut as many layers of absorbency as you like out of terry cloth, microfiber, or cotton batting.  I use three layers and like it - not too thick, but does the job.

4.  Pin your absorbent layers onto the wrong side of your top layer - the fabric that will be touching your skin - and sew around the edge.  I like a zig-zag stitch; I think it keeps it in place better.

5.  Put your back layer down with the right side facing you (if you're going for waterproof, this is your PUL layer, and the shiny side is the "wrong" side).  Place your top and absorbent layers on top, right sides together, and pin.  Sew with a straight stitch, leaving a 3-4 inch gap to turn.  *Note:  It's easiest to leave the gap on a straight-ish part of the pad if you're using PUL.  If I'm not using PUL, I leave my gap on the rounded bottom edge.  Do whatever is easiest for you. 

6.  Turn right side out.  Use a chopstick to fully round your edges and get the wings out all the way. 

7.  Top stitch all around the pad, and close your turning gap.  I like to zig-zag over the gap, just to make sure it's caught, and prefer a straight stitch around the rest. 
8.  Optional:  attach a snap.  I use KAM snaps, but you can use anything you want, including a safety pin.  If your bottom layer is flannel/fleece, they pretty much stay in place even without a snap.  

That's it!  Easy as pie.  It's like a cloud for your vagina.

When you're out and about, you can put spare and soiled pads in a Planet Wise mini wet/dry bag (mine is Chic Petunia).  At home, put soiled pads in a lidded stock pot covered with an inch or two of water, and wash as needed.  I've had no staining whatsoever, and the pot is hidden behind the shower curtain.  They don't smell, they're super comfy, and I recommend them to anyone with girl parts and a washing machine.

You can also sew channels in your pads to direct the flow and keep the absorbent layers in place.  I tried with a few, but it's just an extra step and doesn't really do anything for me.  If you are going to do this, it goes with  step #4 - you can do it before or after sewing around the edges of your absorbent layers.  Just don't sew the channels through PUL (if using) - you want as few stitches as possible through your PUL.  Also, I've read that polyester thread is best to use with PUL as it wicks better, but as it's just around the very edge, I haven't worried about that.

And now, for you recipe gluttons who don't go for this tutorial, here's something fitting for my hippy ways:

Preheat oven to 300o.
 In a large bowl, combine:
  • 7 cups rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups walnuts
  • ½ cups almonds
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 ½ cups sesame seeds
  • 1 ½ cups sunflower seeds
Add and mix:
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla 
Bake on two cookie sheets for 45 minutes. 
Use a spatula to turn granola every 15 minutes.
Let cool.
Add craisins, raisins, dried apricots, coconut, chocolate chips…
Fabulous served with fresh or frozen berries and cream.
 *You can play around with the body of your granola; don’t add sesame or sunflower seeds, add pecans.  Do whatever you like!*


Em said...

Lia, I love you! Just wanted to say that! You never cease to amaze me!! said...

Thanks for posting the tutorial on the mama pads! Great job! Judy @

Mary O said...

Great tutorial! Thank you for sharing. I just made my first pads yesterday and have yet to use them so I'm wondering about the snaps. I feel like I would notice them when I sit down. Are they a bother in any way?

The Short Italian said...

Judy - I've now made a link to your website (I didn't even think about it as I purchased mine on eBay), thanks for the comment!

Mary - I can't feel the snaps at all. The thickness of the pads (I use 3 layers of terry cloth) masks that, and the KAM snaps are thin. If you are wearing cotton undies, the friction from the fabric will help your pad stay in place regardless of snaps, especially if you used flannel as your bottom layer. PUL is a little more slippery, and silky undies and a PUL bottom will make your pads slide all over the place. (Not a recommended combination.)
If you're absolutely anti-snap, you can use a safety pin. I shy away from this simply because I think removal would be messier and not as quick. I do like to have snaps - I have two little girls that keep me quite active. With the snap, my pads stay in place without a problem! Best of luck.

Brooke said...

Found this on Pinterest. :) I LOVE my cloth pads. They are so much more comfortable than disposables! I will have to give your pattern a try. I need to make some nighttime pads soon. (long and with PUL:))

Amy M said...

I found you on pinterest! I am currently starting to build my stash and am looking for a "cheaper" diy alternative. Your tutorial seems simple and straightforward (of course I'm saying that BEFORE I try it.. lol). Definitely going to give this a try.. I am going to try to scare up some supplies around the house though.
Thanks so much for sharing!

sewingso said...

Found you on Pinterest, an going to make some for sneeze protection. the older I get the more "accidents" I seem to have. will use pul an i hate the tough bladder pads. Thsnk you

The Short Italian said...

sewingso - They work great for this purpose! Admittedly, after three children, this is their primary use for me now, but it's all I need (or want). I suggest using old Carter's baby footie PJs for the fleece layer - It is the softest, and doesn't pill at all. Best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Could someone please send me the Pads Pattern. The links provided are not working and I would like to make some of the pads. Thank you,