Tag Archive | sewing

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.

Making a Kitchen Witch

I ordered a book online by Salley Mavor. It changed my life.

The book is on making tiny felt people. She uses wool felt, but for ethical reasons, I have been using ecofelt, which I’ve mentioned before in felt fruit making, and it is made of recycled bottles. I haven’t been able to stop.

Now ok. You’re probably looking at this book thinking it’s a little advanced. I have to admit, making tiny dolls that are 1.5in tall is a little intimidating. But thrown on your glasses and give it a whirl because to be honest, it’s not that bad! Once I got the hang of it, I began making my own creations. Here are a few:

I think this little one is 3-3.5in tall

LOL OOPS! How’d that lil guy get in there? πŸ˜‰ Just kidding. He’s not a faery. He’s a little GNOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But I digress. So my sister’s birthday is tomorrow and I had no idea what to get her, so I decided to make her a kitchen witch. A kitchen witch is a German folklore tradition that believes that by hanging a witch doll on a broom in the kitchen, it wards off bad spirits and brings success to your cooking.

I began by making brooms. I used materials from the back yard and old jewelry wire. Sometimes realizing I have thinks like jewelry wire makes me question if I’m a hoarder…how far can I ride the “art teacher” thing out?

I should have warned you that this is a messy process. Just assume that everything I do is going to be messy and you’ll never be disappointed. Next I adapted a pattern from the book and began making bodies and clothing.

Then I put arms on.

The pattern calls for beads for the heads, embroidery on the felt, and a few other things. I ended up breaking out the hot glue gun, which I’ll explain someday, is deeply satisfying to me. The end result (the suspense was killing you, admit it), was this gorgeous little 3in kitchen witch…

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to order one, or one of the above pins.

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The beauty and practicality behind an apron: Aproning at it’s finest.

That’s me in this early morning. Wrinkled and pallid, quiet and breathless. I try to start my morning with five minutes outside in the cool summer morning air to prevent the inevitable tension headache of my day to come. My daughter has ADHD and she’s home from vacation, making my normal household duties twice as difficult.

Lately, when I get dressed, I put on my apron before putting on my shoes. It wasn’t always this way, but my son has started walking, which means diapers are harder and messier to change, sticky hands and drool attack my thighs and midsection, and I wear more of his lunch than he eats of it.

And then I realized. This is a very basic homesteading concept.

Aprons are to protect your clothing from messes, but also ruin. The chances of staining, rips/tears, or wear are reduced. If you don’t think you need an apron, consider these tasks that would benefit from “aproning”:

  • Bathing little ones
  • Cooking and baking
  • Doing dishes
  • Cleaning up little ones
  • Washing dirty laundry- even in a machine, clothes must be stain treated and sorted
  • Cleaning a catbox or petcage or washing and grooming the pets
  • Cleaning out the refrigerator or taking out the garbage
  • Scrubbing floors
  • Gardening
  • Dusting
  • Cleaning the bathroom
  • Making crafts- especially painting and basket making
  • Nature walks (think pockets and flying sticks)
  • Making essential oils
  • Canning
  • Harvesting/picking or visiting the farmer’s market
  • Hanging laundry (again, think pockets and staying dry)
  • Making candles
  • Making soap
  • Collecting wildflowers or herbs

And there you have it. There are many more occasions (aside from wanting to look like a total Betty, since aprons are sexy), but the majority of my days are full of tasks that just benefit- if not NEED- an apron. If you don’t own an apron, don’t worry. Look at these aprons my mother got at a thrift store- they’re GORGEOUS (vintage aprons are so cute).

Admittedly, I often forget I’m actually wearing an apron, and have been known to wander out into the public with it on. I get a few looks, but I’m more likely to get looks for wearing a hijab. The just assume the apron is par for the course, HA!

Half apron or full apron is totally up to you. It’s sort of like the pants/dress/jumper debate. I prefer loose pants because I do a lot of floor time with my son, but in the winter, I’m too cold without a few skirts on. A lot of it depends on your height. I’m 4’10” (you read that correctly- I’m legally a little person.), so everything is up higher, which means that a task like laundry or dishes means I’m going to get my midsection quite dirty. But if you’re taller, you may find that you benefit more from a half apron. Half aprons are good for time in public as well, as they attract less attention, and your children aren’t wiping their boogers and banana fingers (fruit is fast food AND fits in a purse) on your skirt or jeans.

But if you can’t get your hands on an apron, no worries, there are a LOT of basic apron tutorials online if you can sew. If you can’t, I again recommend Etsy. Please don’t visit a big box store. There are so many artisans that make so many affordable and beautiful creations, and there are so many overflowing thrift stores like Goodwill. My grandmother and daughter used this pattern to make this lovely apron for me:

And this one came from a local artisan:

And this one came from my gram’s closet, it’s a tunic style:

I may or may not make a post about a small apron I intend on making for my daughter if I get around to it. But in the meantime, happy hunting!

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Learn how to quilt: Cold on the homestead

My daughter is turning 9 in a few weeks. Among her request for Paper Jamz (*le sigh*), was a request for an $80 quilt from Target that had owls on it. My heart ached because I REALLY wanted to buy it for her- it was beautiful, and I understand that the combination of moving to a new room (new apartment) this month, with her blossoming maturity prompted her to request something a little more interesting than her frilly hand-me-down bedspread. After all, what child requests new decor for her room? Mine. *heartbeat*

I can’t justify buying a quilt from a factory for 3x’s the cost of making it. And let’s be real- it feels impersonal, and it’s not as cute. By now you’re probably wondering why it’s June going on July and I’m thinking about quilts. It’s still in the 50’s and 60’s here in Maine, with heavy rainfall, and we will still require a light blanket straight through the summer, ending in September. For fall and holiday crafting, this is when to start as well, because quilting is a bit of a process.

Now let’s get down to business- one of the most useful and enjoyable skills my mother ever taught me was how to quilt. And by taught me, I mean, bought me “Quilts! Quilts! QUILTS!!!” by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, and spent hours with me in JoAnn Fabrics.

The best part about this book is how it’s structured. It walks you through the entire process, from choosing your fabric to gathering materials. The quilt patterns are easily legible and set up like a recipe.

This book should walk you through everything you need to know. My mother says though, that there is one skill that is hardest to learn, and that is picking your fabric. The book is very helpful, but one tool that I’ve begun to use is actually my camera and computer. When picking out your fabric, you must have adequate contrast and pattern variety. Sometimes fabrics that don’t seem to match or go together can make your quilt the most interesting. When first gathering your fabric, think about the colors you want, and make sure you have both light and dark colors. Then, variegate our patterns by making sure the graphics are not all the same size. And lastly, make sure your graphics are both geometric and organic. That means you’ll need both flowers AND stripes! To make sure I’ve got this process down, I gather up my fabrics and take a picture. Then I use my photo editing software to make the photo of the fabric black and white, and then turn up the contrast. It will look like this:

As you can see, I may need to mix up my pattern SIZES for the top row, depending on the pattern I choose. I am considering doing a simple nine patch. I also think I could use a couple more very dark fabrics. What do YOU think?

And last but not least, go easy on yourself. Fabric stretches, seams fall out, quilts sometimes don’t lay flat, etc. Here is a natural progression of my quilts since 2003. Try not to laugh πŸ˜‰