Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Handmade Moontide Washable Period Pants

 
If you're a period haver, do you use period pants? I must admit that I'm not an early adopter of anything, which includes period pants when they came out a few years ago. I'm so used to making my own undies, that buying undies from a shop, even if they have a distinct purpose, felt weirdly wrong. So I stuck to my usual period-management set up, despite hearing positive previews about them from friends and colleagues. More recently I'd heard talk in the sewing community of people making their own which peeked my interest. But it wasn't until I was approached a few months ago by Yelena from Sew Projects to see if I'd like to try her products in exchange for free, that I finally gave the whole thing a try. Yelena is an underwear designer who has developed washable period pants patterns that she sells along with kits that contain all the materials required to make them. 

(image source: Sew Projects)


The pattern:

The Moontide period pants pattern is a pretty standard undies style that include SIX different types of gusset so you can tailor your undies to your own specific needs. The gusset options are: light flow, regular flow, heavy flow, heavy flow with wings, very heavy flow and very heavy flow with wings. Phew. You also have some control over the absorbency levels of your undies by adding additional layers of the absorbent material inside the gusset itself. Seeing as this was my first pair, I went with the regular flow option. The sizing of the undies themselves runs from a 34" to 50" hip. 

The instructions are very comprehensive, with lots of useful information about the various materials you'll need (even if you haven't bought the kit) and what they're for. The construction steps are illustrated with clear, colour photographs. I also love that she's thought to include tips for laundering to hep you get the most from your investment of time and money going forwards.

(image source: Sew Projects)

The kit:

Part of what had prevented me from trying to make period pants sooner was knowing what types of materials would work best, and finding where to source them. With these kits, you don't need to figure that stuff out at all. I also really like that most of the layers are made from natural fibres as far as is possible, thus minimising the release of microplastics during laundering, which I know isn't true of all reusable period pants and pads that are available to buy out there. The kit contains the following: cotton/Lycra fabric for the main part of the undies, 100% cotton absorbent layer, bamboo/Lyrca moisture wicking layer (that sits against your body in the gusset), PUL waterproof layer and wide fold over elastic. 

The kit is £43.50 (excluding the pattern) and I found that there was enough for of the main fabric and elastic for two or three pairs, plus enough of the other items for at least five of the regular flow gussets. Yelena has also very cleverly put together packs to purchase that just include the materials needed for the gussets, available with or without the fold over elastic. The full kits come in a variety of colours for the main undies. I chose the teal colour, which is a colour I adore but always struggle to photograph accurately. The picture below shows the colour most successfully.


Findings:

Right. I have given these undies a go through two periods now so I could give the most accurate and honest review. Firstly, the construction. The way these undies are constructed is only slightly more involved than regular undies making. So having made many, many pairs of pants in the past, I found the construction very easy and satisfying. If you have never made undies at all, I would DEFINITELY recommend making a couple of regular pairs of undies constructed with fold over elastic first. It would help to get the hang of applying the elastic before complicating things by adding these additional layers for the period pants. 


When I first put them on, I must admit that I did NOT like the feel of them! It felt like there was a lot of padding around my bum that, as a tampon user, I'm not normally used to. But I stuck with it and the gusset layers softened up within a couple of hours, and I haven't noticed any weird sensation when wearing them since. Each element of these undies feels really good quality, and the bamboo jersey gusset lining, in particular, is lovely and soft.   

I did come to the conclusion, however, that this shape of undies just isn't the perfect one for me. This is no criticism: having developed my own undies pattern and tried some of the others out there, I fully believe that no undies pattern can be The One for everyone. Every bum is different, and everybody's tastes and preferences are also different. I definitely find this style wearable, but going forwards, I'm going to try adapting my own undies pattern using the Moontide pattern as a guide to make more pairs. 


Having tried these at different points of my period, I have also found that I still much prefer wearing tampons on the first two days of my period, but prefer wearing these pants over washable sanitary pads for the remaining days. Not only are these more absorbent than my self-made washable pads, but they are more convenient. For example, I wore these undies on a day when I went with my daughter's class on a school trip. It was great not having to factor in changing tampons or pads during the trip when time was very limited. 

So for me, these undies (and the future pairs I will make going forwards) are going to part of my period-management set up, rather than completely replacing all other methods. But I have found that I've been using fewer single-use, disposable products, so that is fantastic! 

Friday, 1 October 2021

Free Pattern Friday: Bombazine Oven Mitts


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.

Ugh! I hate to be the one who mentions the C-word so soon (I'm talking about Christmas! Get your mind out of the gutter) but somehow it's October. If you've ever decided to make a bunch of Christmas presents, or presents for any other holiday you celebrate, you know that starting too soon to the actually event always results in masses of stress. So I'm dropping this post well in advance in case you decide to give this project a go in time for Christmas. Massive thanks to Bombazine for doing all the work to make the perfect oven mitt pattern and sharing it with the world of us to enjoy for free. 

For the record: I only condone making presents for anyone if you absolutely want to, not because you think you should, and ONLY if that person has a history of appreciating handmade items AND values your time and skills. 


(image source: Bombazine)

Pattern type:

I love the description on the Bombazine website: 'This oven mitt is a quick and easy project designed to use up your fabric remnants and scraps. Perfect for beginner sewists, scrap hoarders, or any maker with an hour or so to kill.' The pattern and tutorial are combined in the same file that consists of four pages for home printing. It is clear and beautifully designed, and accessible by adding it to the cart on their website (no payment necessary). 

Sizing info:

This pattern is one size, and fits most adult hands. If you need to tailor the fit, you could try altering the scale on your printer settings to make it smaller or larger. 

Fabric info:

This is the absolute ideal project to bust some of your fabric scraps and leftovers that you may have hoarded from previous projects. For the outer layer, natural fibres are going to be your best choice to avoid any accidental melting when they come into contact with heat. The pattern recommends medium/heavy weight fabrics like drill, denim and thicker linens, however I think you could go as light as quilting cotton (or Ankara/wax print cotton like I've used for mine) if your insulating layer is pretty thick. If your pieces are large enough, you could cut the whole mitt from one fabric, or if the pieces are smaller, combine two fabrics for the different sides (as I have done). If your scraps are even smaller, you could go the extra mile and make a pieced-together/patchwork effect like the example above. The pattern also encourages decorative sashiko-style stitching if you have the time and patience (I do not).

For the middle/insulation layer, the pattern recommends using scraps of wool coating, felted wool blankets and so forth. For mine, I used scraps of wadding leftover from my Tamarack jacket project. My wadding is synthetic, so I'm guessing probably not suitable for use near flames. 

For the lining layer, pretty much any light-weight woven fabric would be suitable. I used some woven poly/cotton that used to be tablecloths that my mum made for our wedding venue! Once again, you could use one complete section of fabric, or piece together scraps if you have nothing big enough. 



Findings:

I really love how nicely designed and accessible this project is. It really is suitable it is for all levels of sewing experience, because you can make it as simple or as complicated as you wish. Aside from the patchwork and sashiko stitching, you could also amp up this project by hand- or machine-quilting the two sides before joining them if you wished. 

I actually made this batch last winter, so if I'm honest, the sewing experience is no longer crystal clear in my memory. I saved posting about them until now because it turned out to be such a fun, quick gift project, I wanted to share it in advance of another holiday season. I kept a pair for my own home, and the other three pairs were Christmas gifts for friends of mine (all of whom appreciate my time and skills!). I batch-sewed this lot over a couple of evenings, hoovering up pretty much all my leftovers of Ankara/wax print cotton.  




Would I make it again?

Definitely! It's great to have a project idea for a useful item that can be busted out at will, whenever the need arises. It's a great gender-free gift for pretty much any adult, and you don't need to know the tastes of recipient particularly well like you would if you were making something to wear. It would be a lovely last-minute house-warming present as well, now I come to think of it.... 

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