Friday, 5 February 2021

Free Pattern Friday: Washable Sanitary Pads

Welcome to my monthly 'Free Pattern Friday' feature, where I road test a free sewing pattern or tutorial: sometimes a children's one, sometimes an adult's one. I publish these posts every first Friday of the month, timed to provide inspiration for those who plan to get their sew on over the weekend. I firmly believe that, if you pick your projects carefully, sewing doesn't have to be a crazy-expensive way to clothe yourself and your family. Thanks to all the amazing pattern designers who have offered up their hard work for us to enjoy for free.

As I mentioned last month, I've decided to revisit some free patterns that have appeared on this blog in the past. The free cloth menstrual pad patterns and tutorial by Luna Wolf is, in my opinion, so good and so useful that it deserves to be highlighted again for anyone who missed it the first time (or needs reminding of it!). I published my initial post about the pattern/tutorial over two years ago, and features the pads that I've been using regularly ever since. I returned to the pattern recently to make a batch of pads for the Pachamama Project, a UK-based organisation that distribute reusable pads to refugees. The goal, as I understand it, is to help make the refugees' difficult lives a little bit easier, by easing the worry and problems caused by not having access to sanitary products each month.  The Pachamama project is super interesting and worthwhile, if you can help out by making a few pads, or donating some funds for operations, then please do. 

If you're interested in using this pattern/tutorial, then please check out my first post. This time my aim was to make 'proper' pads, rather than pantiliners, so I did things a little differently....


The Luna Wolf pattern is very helpful because it includes templates for pantiliners, 8.5" pads, 9" pads, 10.5" pads AND 11.75" pads. Each size pad also has its own corresponding core template. I chose the 8.5" size, as that most closely resembled the dimensions of disposable pads I've bought in the past. 

Fabric info:

The pads consist of three sections: the top layer, the core, and the bottom layer. A lot of info is included in the tutorial about what types of fabric are suitable for which section, depending on the absorbency level you're aiming for. It's a great guide, but I would argue that doing a bit of experimentation to find out what works best for you is the best plan. It's very likely that you'll be able to use some scraps or leftover fabric from previous sewing projects, so these can work out quite a cheap project. 

For the pads pictured here I used cotton jersey for the top layer (from personal experience I find this to be more absorbent than woven cotton fabrics like quilting cotton that is often used). The cores are made from scraps of cotton towelling left over from my dribble bib making days, plus three layers of cotton jersey harvested from old T-shirts. For my bottom layer, I used woven cotton (scraps of African wax fabric and gingham from my stash) for the layer that sits against your undies, and a layer of PUL on top of that. (PUL is a plastic coated fabric that creates a barrier to prevent leaks. It is often used in washable nappies, rainwear and has various medications applications. At the start of this project I bought some PUL from Plush Addict when I saw they had a discount. Shortly after placing my order, a lovely lady who lives locally offered me two bags of offcuts from the scrubs she has been making! I'm now swimming in PUL, so I plan to send some along with the pads so that Pachamama can distribute it out to others who are making pads for them.) So these pads are made from seven layers in total. 


I'd like to repeat my previous finding that two pairs of press studs are better than one, otherwise you may start to feel the corners of the tabs brush against your inner thigh. Some people have commented that they find reusable pads tend to shift around, but if you test the pads in the gusset of some undies when deciding where to position your press studs (or velcro, snaps, buttons or whatever), then you should be able to make the pads fit of the pads sufficiently secure. 

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