Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cloth Menstral Pads

Ok, ok, ok, don't yell, way too much has happened for me to keep up with this blog. But I'm going to try harder.

One thing that this post will be about is saving money. Sort of. I lost my job last year just after Christmas ( and i won't go into that story) and started having a hard time getting some of the "necessities of life" for my family. My daughter has been menstrating for over a year by this time, and with buying pads becoming harder and harder to do, we finally researched cloth pads. After making a bunch, both of us give it an enthusiastic 2 thumbs up. I will supply the pattern I've been using, but we found that there are no leaking, less odors, and less waste than we had with the commercial pads.

In the research we did, I came upon a pattern similar to this, but we changed it some for our use. If you own the orginal pattern, let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

Now, on to the pattern---( I'm sorry I don't have pics to post with this, my internet connection has problems with loading pics)

You will need:
Package of washcloths (usually the 18 count washcloths from WalMart work well)
Flannel--I used a couple of yards worth for myself and my daughter, and thinking of needing some more
Sewing thread
Serger works the best, but you can also use a sewing machine with a zigzag setting for most of the work.
Snaps (press-on would be the best-- will explain more later)

First thing, open those washcloths you just bought and toss them in the washer with the flannel and wash on the hottest water setting you can. You need to pre-shrink them before anything is done, or they will shrink on you afterwards, and that is something you don't want to have happen. It might not hurt to iron them afterwards, that was a step I didn't worry about since no one will see them when they are used, unless they are doing laundry for you.

After that- you will want to lay out a washcloth on top of the flannel and either just cut, or draw around the cloth to get a square of flannel the same size as the washcloth. Or you can do the cheaters way, which is what I did. I layed out the washcloth on top of the flannel, and then serged around the washcloth, letting the serger cut away the extra flannel as I went. You should be able to do the same thing with a sewing maching, just cut the flannel after zigzagging around the washcloth.

Once done, you will have your pad completely made, just fold it into thirds and stick it where it belongs. It's best if you have somewhat of snug-fitting undies to wear them with. If you prefer the tabs, then here we go with that:

Take some extra flannel, cut two strips about 2" to 3" wide by 3" long. Fold each in half longways and sew up one end and the side. Turn right side out and finger press flat. Grab your snaps and follow the directions on the package for the press-together snaps and place a female snap on one tab and a male snap on the other. Now grab a pad, and fold it into thirds. Use a straight pin to mark where those folds are, or a marker that will wash out to mark those fold lines. Open the pad back up and place the tabs about halfway down, lining up the fold line with the open end of the tabs (it helps to keep the tabs snapped together at this point so you can make sure they line up at the same point). Give yourself about 1/8th to 1/4" room to catch the tabs in the sewing and then sew a straight line down that fold.
You can do this with regular buttons and buttonholes (that is something I never learned how to do right, plus I think it would feel uncomfortable between the legs), sew on snaps, hook and loop tape or other types of fasteners, but just remember when you choose the fastener, think about how much you are going to be snapping them on and off. This is why we chose to stop when the squares were sewn together.

That's all there is to making these. We don't use the tabs, and I haven't even made the fold lines. Since I started using these, my cycles have been lighter, so I don't need as heavy a pad like I did using the commercial ones. At first, my daughter was going to balk at using them, saying she didn't like the feel of flannel on her skin. She has since started using them and fell in love, since they don't itch like using a regular washcloth did against the tender skin ( and we both have done that in a pinch). They open flat when washing, so they take no time at all in drying.

And speaking of washing, this is how we care for them. Use, throw in hamper afterwards, wash with regular clothes. Every once in a while, I will throw them in the washer and just let them soak in cold water for an hour or two, but never had a problem with staining with them. There are some out there that keep a bucket of water by the toilet just to drop them into, change the water every day during use, then wash at the end. With two big labs, that wouldn't last long around here, but they do leave the hamper alone. After drying, I just fold them up into the pad shape and store in a bag by the toilet, so they are ready for the next time or person. Just remember to keep the fabric softener use to a minimum so they will keep absorbing like they should. I rarely use it myself, so don't have much to worry about it around here.

And figure this: We were spending about $8 a month on commercial pads ( and that is going with store name brand). Haven't used them in over 8 months now-- so we have saved over $50 so far. Now if you think my math is off, some of that money went to water and electricity use to keep them washed. My daughter is very enviromentally concious about what waste we throw away. She is happy about the less plastic we are throwing in the trash now.