How to make your own menstrual pads- a very simple pattern

Sweet mercy it’s been busy around here. Aside from my normal chores and tending the children, I’ve been working on a great many gifts and preparing for harvest season. Usually craft season doesn’t begin until the apples demand picking, but due to our growing family, we’ve a great many more birthdays, and we’re celebrating more holidays with family. Between the extra food preparation to compensate for our food allergies and making gifts, I’m ashamed to say we’ve enjoyed our fair share of cold plates and messes.

But that’s neither here nor there- let’s talk about these little packages!

I honestly started making these for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons you might want to make some too:

  • Allergies or sensitive skin- Many personal care products are loaded with perfume, and the adhesive sometimes has latex, or wheat or corn based glue. Also, some of them are starched.
  • Health- Many of these products are also bleached, and bleach can damage your natural PH, leading to infection or irritation. Also, due to the plastic involved, you’re not allowing air circulation…plastic wrapped vagina anyone?
  • Environmental concern- In addition to containing plastic, which rapes the planet, imagine how much waste these products make. They cause garbage, but also the manufacturing process creates waste, and increases the carbon footprint.
  • Comfort- I’m sorry, but who enjoys crunchy paper bits down there? Not. Me. These things are like a pillow- at a time when you could really use something soft and cushiony.
  • Privacy- This is a weird one, but you or your adolescent may feel self-conscious about the loud noise caused by opening up a pad and placing it into a clanging bin inside a stall.

And did I mention they’re PRETTY!

I made these out of an old cotton towel and some fabric scraps. Depending on how thick your towel is or how heavy your flow is, you may want to add more than one layer of towel. Some makers use layers of flannel. I prefer cotton and terry. You’ll also need to model these after a pad that you already use. You don’t have to make all the same size, but you’ll need to make more than one template obviously if you do.

The first step is to trace your pad. I traced mine twice, and when I cut out the first one, I only cut out a contour of it without wings. The pink part, the part without wings, will be your inside stuffing template that you’ll use to cut your towel or flannel.

With the second template, make sure you extend the length of the wings so that they overlap substantially in the back, enough to put velcro or snaps later. Then, grab a ruler and make tick marks all around your shape to set up a seam allowance. I am very accustomed to a quarter inch seam allowance because I enjoy using my machine as a guide, but you can use a half inch seam allowance if you’re a novice or you have a hard time seeing. Once I have my tick marks, I just connect the dots and cut out my second shape.

Next, use your first shape to trace onto the towel. I made 2 dozen shapes because that’s how many pads I was making. When you cut out these shapes, cut INSIDE the line you drew. This will accommodate the space it will take up as stuffing inside.

Then you’re going to trace your second shape onto your prints, cotton or flannel. Remember, that when you’re tracing your shapes, double the fabric up with the right sides facing eachother, basically tracing on the back. You’ll need two of the second template per pad.

Take one side of the second template (with wings), and pin one of the first template (of the towel or the layers of flannel) to the wrong side of the fabric.

Sew it around the edge, with the quarter inch seam allowance. It will look like this on the back:

Don’t worry if it’s perfect- remember what these are going to be used for. Don’t forget to remove your pins. Next, sew the second part of the pair with wings to the first part with the right sides facing in towards eachother. You can pin them together while you sew if you need to. Start on the side of one end and sew around, leaving the end open so you can turn it right side out.

Turn it right side out and turn in your seam allowance. Pin it in place and sew it shut. You can do it by hand or use a machine.

Once it’s sewn shut, iron it.

Next, iron the wings down so that they overlap on the back.

Now, you can choose whether or not you want snaps or velcro closures. Velcro is easier because you can sew it on with a machine. You can even get iron-on velcro that you can first iron into place and then reinforce stitch on the machine, or you can drop a stitch into regular velcro to hold it into place. The velcro can also be applied horizontally so that the wings are adjustable. I chose tiny pieces of velcro because I have very sensitive skin and am very small, and in my experience, large or adjustable velcro manages to come into contact with my skin and scratch it.

To care for these, simply put them into a bucket or basin of water with some of the homemade laundry soap recipe featured on the site, or in a basin of baking soda and water. When it comes time to wash, which should be at least every other day, simply drain the water into the toilet and wash the pads in the washer. Do not use bleach. If there is a problem with yeast or mildew smell, simply add tea tree oil to the wash load with extra baking soda and borax.

When traveling, a small pouch can be made out of PLU lining and cotton. My cousin made me one that is nice with a zipper, but even a reusable sandwich bag purchased at your local health food store would suffice.

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18 thoughts on “How to make your own menstrual pads- a very simple pattern

  1. Pingback: Green your bathroom, one step at a time: Natural toiletries and DIY | Kate's Apartmentsteading

  2. Thanks for sharing your pattern! I’ve been wanting to make “the switch” for awhile now, but haven’t quite gotten around to it.
    The fabric you have really is gorgeous!
    Thanks again!
    – Jenny@SmallTownHippies

  3. ok, so I’m all for home made menstrual pads…I spend way too much money on them as it is. Recently I’ve resorted to depends (embarrassing), because I’m so heavy and I always seem to leak in every direction and these seem to be the only thing that contains my menses. So, i’m wondering how the fabric would allow the blobs to get through, because for me, its so heavy. I can change a pad and then have to change it again in 10 minutes because its full. If I were to make my own, how much padding do you think would be needed?

    Jazakh Allah Khair

    • I would recommend post-partum pads by tracing the desired pad and leaving an ample seam allowance. If you want a less-dense fabric, go ahead and use a cotton blend or a jersey knit. I would probably use either a very thick terry, or use 3 layers of terry. You could make a prototype and if you don’t like it, adapt it until you get it right. These are a pretty quick project, and you’ll want to get the feel of it by completing one start to finish before you go ahead and make two dozen. I also recommend in your situation to use what’s called PLU as your backing. It is a rubberized water-resistant material that is used in cloth diaper making, and they have it at Joanne Fabrics.

  4. Pingback: 2013 Gift Roundup | Kate's Apartmentsteading

  5. I have been using pads I made over a year ago. They look and smell like clean fabric after washing. I use my homemade laundry soap,and oxygen cleaner(dollar store special) $1.00 for about 20 to 40 scoops depending how much you use in rinse water bucket that they get soaked after use for at least 24 hours before I wash them. I made mine extra long with a wider end for the back because I am a heavy bleeder, I had to wear diapers on my period before every time. At first I made a large fabric diaper then I found some free patterns on the web and I still use those for everyday pads for in between because now I don’t have a regular cycle. My period has changed because of these I skipped my period from January to April and again in May to July and no period for September and now when I do have one I have no cramps or clots. I will never go back. I use cotton laminate and cotton towel fabric and cotton/hemp all bought from KIDS IN THE GARDEN owned by Mellisa Meier (kidsinthegarden.com) . I also sew my own bras and underwear and quilt.

  6. I’ve recently looked into purchasing some when my period comes back (had baby 4 months ago). You make it look so easy! I’m a novice seamstress, but may give this a go! Thank you! I’m thoroughly enjoying your site! New fan here!

  7. I’ve been looking for a good tutorial on making reusable menstrual pads for a while, and I’m glad to have found this, however, was it necessary to say that plastic “rapes” the planet? I’m an environmental engineer. I know how terrible plastic is, but maybe next time you could be more thoughtful on your word choice. I don’t think rape is a word that we should toss around lightly.

    • As a rape victim, I totally agree that rape is not a word we should toss around lightly. Which is why I used it.

      There is plastic in our water supplies, giant gyres in our oceans, in the bellies of animals and marine life, production plastics in our natural environments and air, permeating our dwellings….to say that plastic intrusively and without consent destroys our planet- is an understatement.

  8. I have made some similar for my teen, but have a question regarding the PLU. How does it not leak if it is being pierced by the sewing needle? We had a leak through once at school, so I need to find out how to prevent that. Otherwise my earth conscious little lady will be back to disposable pads. Please advise!

  9. I am thinking of making some as panty liners but am worried that the PUL would be too warm. I don’t get my period anymore but do experience mild leaks when I sneeze…do you think this would work?

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