I'm cheating on this post. It's from Sunday, but I'm changing it to a Works for me Wednesday. So some of you may have read it already, but I thought it should have been Works for Me Wednesday!
Cloth menstrual pads. Okay. I know that sounds "Ick. You've got to be kidding me!". But hear me out.
Two years ago our family went to the Mulli Children's Home in Kenya, home to almost 1,000 abandoned and orphaned kids. One of the big problems they have there is periods. It seems that post-pubertal girls get them. And pads are horrendously expensive over there. They cost the same as they do here, but the income is so much less.
So what do you do when you have 500 girls menstruating? I thought about this for a while, and did some research, and found some patterns for cloth ones. I brought over a ton of fabric, and showed them how to make them.
And, being the good sport I was, I decided to test them first. Guess what? They are so much more comfortable than regular ones. So I stopped buying all the disposable things and went to pads, except for when I'm out of town. And they're cute to boot!
To wash them, you just rinse them under cold water, and stick them in a bucket beside your toilet filled with cold water, and maybe some baking soda or vinegar if you want to. You don't have to. Change the water everyday if you're not going to do laundry everyday. Then, when you do go to wash, just dump the water in the sink and the pads in the washer, and you're good to go. You don't actually have to touch them all that much, and as long as you get them in water pretty quickly, they don't stain. They're really cute!
So this weekend I finished making all the pads Katie will need when she starts her period. And then I experimented with some more. It was bliss! I love taking days and just sewing. So here's what I made (this doesn't include Katie's stash):
What you do is you put a layer of flannel on top, followed by several layers inside, or else some layers of old towels, and then fleece on the bottom. Aren't these cats cute?
These ones have wings on them so you can wrap them around your underwear. But as long as you have fleece on the bottom, you don't really need it, because fleece won't move. It rubs against fabric the wrong way and stays in place. So these long ones are actually my favourites, but people seem to like pads best. I made two of these, and you can see the "wrong" side with the fleece:
For materials, I've been experimenting to try to see what works best in Africa. For the inner core I've been sewing scraps of flannel together, and it works fine. I asked some sewers for their flannel scraps, and here's a pad made out of material my mother-in-law made pyjamas for Katie with years ago. Every sewer has scraps they can't get rid of:
If you don't have new scraps, you can also cut up old pyjamas. Here are some Winnie The Pooh ones I bought at Value Village made into a mini-pad:
I also read that if you don't have fleece, you can cut up old raincoats and use them for the waterproof layer (fleece is also water repellent). So I made this one out of flannel on top, flannel in the middle, a layer of an old raincoat with holes in it, and then cotton print on the bottom. How cute is that?
That's the flannel side. Here's the bottom:
And then this is my favourite. This is huge (you can't really see it from this picture), but it works great for those heavy nights. I have never leaked since I started using this. It's also great for post-partum. You can see it on the end with all the pads together:
I also made a few with a more angled shape that I'm going to try out soon. I want to go back to Africa with a few different patterns that I like best and that I find work best so we're more efficient.
They really don't leak. The only times they do is sometimes around the wings, which is why I like the wingless better. But that's just a preference. Most people like wings.
Anyway, I'm making a whole stash for a team that's going to Burkina Faso soon. They want to show the orphanage there how to do it, even if you only have scraps and not a lot to choose from. I'm not a very good seamstress, but I'm learning! And it is sort of fun.
My daughters, of course, think I'm the weirdest mother on the planet, but if you get Rebecca alone she will admit that the cloth are more comfortable.
If you want more detailed instructions on how to sew them, leave a comment, and maybe I'll post a picture tutorial soon. But it won't be for a while, because I don't know when I'll next get some time to myself!
And if you want to try one, or you like a pattern, let me know in the comments and I'll email you back. I can sell them for $5 for a regular pad or $2 for a mini-pad plus $2 shipping in total, and you can try them, too! If I make them for you, though, I'll put on snaps rather than velcro. They're prettier.
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Labels: cloth menstrual pads, crafts, sewing