How-to: Make Cloth Pads from Reclaimed Fabrics

how to make cloth pads

I know, there’s a little bit of an ick factor when it comes to reusable menstrual supplies, but stay with me, you guys! It’s super easy to make cloth pads, and caring for them isn’t very gross or a lot of work.

Why Cloth Pads?

If you’re new to the reusable menstrual products thing, you probably are used to tearing off that used pad, tossing it in the trash, and swapping it for a new one. It’s convenient – I won’t lie! The problem is that we’re cutting down acres of forests just to make our periods a little bit easier.

Plus, paper pads are kind of uncomfortable. They always make me feel like I’m wearing a diaper. I love the feel of a cloth pad in comparison. There’s still a little bulk, like with a paper pad, but they’re less crinkly and rigid, and I find them way more comfortable.

Paper pads might seem cheap when you pick up a single box, but how many of those boxes do you use in a year? Those costs add up, and with a cloth pad you don’t have to buy new ones every month. You’re also significantly reducing the amount of landfill waste you create. There are mountains of used paper pads rotting in our landfills. How gross is THAT?

Making Cloth Pads Work

The trick to making cloth pads work is being prepared. I’d suggest stashing a spare in your purse, just like you would a paper one, and put that spare into a little drawstring bag, so you’ll have somewhere to dispose of the used pad.

If you have to change your pad in a public bathroom, just fold up the used one – er…messy side in – and stick it in the bag to wash when you get home. Simple! You can make your own bag or check out these carry bags from Lunapads, made just for stashing your used ones.

When you remove a soiled cloth pad or get home with one you removed and stashed in your carry bag, just give it a quick rinse in the sink before you toss it in the hamper, and you can wash and dry these just like usual!

Sewing your own cloth pads is super easy, and you don’t have to buy new fabric to do it! I recommend a dark or patterned fabric, so stains won’t show so readily.

How to Make Cloth Pads

Materials

  • Old t-shirt
  • Old, clean dish rag or towel
  • Disposable pad with wings that you like the size and shape of – this is your pattern!
  • Sewing machine, thread, scissors, and pins
  • Small snaps and snap kit to attach them

Directions

1. Use your disposable pad as a pattern and cut out 2 pad shapes from your t-shirt and 1 from your towel or rag. This is for a panty-liner. If you’re wanting to make a maxi-pad, you’ll need 2-3 pieces of the rag cut to pad shape, but for the extra pieces of rag, don’t add wings.

2. Stack ‘em up! Sandwich the rag(s) between the pieces of t-shirt fabric, and pin everything into place.

how to make cloth pads pinned

3. Use your machine’s zig-zag stitch to sew around the whole outside of the pad, then trim off any excess fabric.

4. Time to quilt! This is especially important if you are making a maxi-pad, because the quilting will help keep the extra layers in place. Start by sewing a line down the center of your pad, then sew a few more lines until you get to the start of the wings. Your quilted pad will look something like this:

how to make cloth pads quilted

5. Add your snaps! You want to fold the wings over, so they overlap and your pad is a nice, straight line on either side. That way, you can be sure that you won’t have weird bunchy wings when you wear it. While it’s folded over, use an awl to pierce through both wings where you want your snaps to go. This will mark your snap placement, so everything fits just how you want when you’re done.

how to make cloth pads snaps

That’s it! Easy peasy. Once you get the hang of this, you can whip up a new pad in 20-30 minutes. When I decided to bulk up my stash, I just sewed one or two a day until I had a nice supply.

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