I've been using cloth menstrual pads for six years now. A few years ago I was organizing a pad making party to make cloth menstrual pads for a group of school girls in Uganda. It was something that I shared on my blog and I am still getting emails from individuals and groups who have read that blog post or been given my email and who are organizing a pad making party of their own. I personally haven’t organized one in quite a while but I love knowing that the group of women (and a couple of awesome men) who were part of the first little sewing party have contributed to other people serving and loving other girls and women in the same way. It seriously gives my heart hope each time I hear from some one or think about it.
Well, as part of that effort, I shared my original pad pattern so that others could use it as a template. I’ve heard from a few who use it that they find that it works really well and is super simple to make. I think it is pretty great myself and have preferred that pads made from that pattern to any of the others that I used. Until recently.
Even though it is a simple pattern, it does require sewing which not every one does or feels like doing or has a sewing machine. So I’m going to share with you my super amazing no sew menstrual pad tutorial. I feel like my grandmother would probably be rolling her eyes in heaven if she knew that I was sharing this as if it is so amazing. Ever wonder where the term “Rag” came from? Well from the cloths and “rags” that women used for menstruation before the era of tampons and disposable pads of course! I’m not going to get into another tirade of why I don’t like those things, but you can go read about it in this post if you like. But, I’m getting off track from my new no sew method using my favorite material, wool.
Now before you think “ ewww, wool!! Itchy!!”, hang on a minute. While a lot of people believe that they are allergic to wool, they actually are reacting to the chemicals used to process the wool. I personally couldn’t stand wool for years but now love it and I’m pretty sure that is because I wash almost all of it which seems to get rid of the irritation for me. So if you are willing to give wool a try, this tutorial is for you. Otherwise, give cotton prefolds a try, they work as well just more costly.
Before I jump into the tutorial, let me tell you a few other reasons why these are my new favorite pads.
- These pads are a true reuse program on multiple levels because not only are they reusable but they are made from old wool sweaters.
- One of my complaints with pads is that I find them too warm, but because wool is body temperature regulating, I find them way more comfortable that way.
- An amazing think about wool is that it is antibacterial. When I started making cloth pads and especially the ones going to Uganda, I wanted them all to have wool cores because of their antibacterial properties. I’m blessed to have a clean water source and detergent for washing my clothes so it isn’t such a worry health wise for me, but the antibacterial properties also help with any odors that often are part of menstruation.
- These pads are also easy to clean.
- They stay in place without any irritating snaps. I usually just wear snug fitting cotton or cotton/nylon underwear and seriously, they stay put.
And most importantly, they are comfortable and
absorbent. Most heavy days I combine a Diva cup and wool pad but some days, just a pad feels more comfortable. I find them to be just as effective as the rest of my pads, including the ones with the waterproof backing.
Now, on to the tutorial! I prettied up my method a little just to make it look more legit for a tutorial. Really what I generally do is walk in to my sewing room grab an old sweater, eyeball it for the size I want, take my scissors and cut what I want, fold, and good to go. You can do that too but for those who like a little more order, I’ll pretend that I always use a system.
You will need:
Old Wool Sweaters: 100% wool is best but at least 85%. Minimal raised patterns such as cabling is preferable and a smaller knit is best. Cashmere is particularly luxurious.
Scissors or Rotary cutter
Measuring tape or quilting square: Unless you want to eyeball it.
- Felt the wool sweaters by washing them in hot water with laundry detergent and then drying in the drying. Ignore anything the tag says because right now you want to felt them.
- Measure a pad or yourself if you want an exact length; it’s easiest to just cut one first, try it and go from there. I usually like to have a few longer, thicker ones for night/heavy days so those are about 9 by 9 inch squared. That folds into three so for a really thick, long one do 9 by 11 inch. For smaller, thinner ones, I do about 7 by 7 inch. It also depends on the thickness of the sweater you are using.
- Now cut the squares out using a rotary cutter or scissors.
- Fold and voila, there you go. I get about 8 pads per large felted sweater.
For cleaning care, I just store them in a stainless steel can with a lid until washing. Do a quick cold water rinse and then a warm wash with laundry soap. I just toss them in with a load of regular laundry the way I do with all of my pads. Either hang to dry or dry in the dryer. If you use the dryer, they will continue to felt somewhat so use a lower heat to avoid that.
* If you are the sewing type and would like to try out my pattern, you can find it here .