Hi! So I've been lurking for awhile, and this is my first post. I was going to just reply to this http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=18462.0
but it's been almost a year since it was talked about and there are 78 pages, so I figured I would just get lost if I replied there, and I'm starting a rather complicated adventure so I think maybe it deserves it's own thread? I would love to continue that conversation here.
Anyway, I kind of by necessity started an adventure I have been meaning to start years ago: Making my own cloth pads.
So far I have made 6, 4 different kinds: 2 pantyliners, 2 regular heavy flow pads, 1 backup pad, and 1 super super long overnight pad. 3 have been tested. I'm the kind of person who looks at a million tutorials then goes and still figures it out like I'm reinventing the wheel. I have NOT perfected it. I'm having problems with wicking down the sides, even with a fleece strip sewn on as a barrier. And the thicker AIO pads took AN HOUR to dry. That's not environmentally friendly, seems to miss the point! So I have some glitches to work out.
So I tried my pads. I want to always wear flannel against my skin now, it is so nice! And they absorb better than even the ultra super overnight maxis so hey, bonus!
My next trick? Why not just appropriate a whole pair of undies for an overnight thing? My flow is so heavy and I toss and turn so much I've been known to just sleep in depends on my heaviest nights. (My poor boyfriend!) So why not make a pair or two of washable period panties, with a leakproof layer and absorbent padding that goes all the way front to back?
So here are the basics I learned reading the above thread and several other threads:
*Why cloth pads? Many reasons: Expense, environment, allergies, comfort, making something custom, being in touch with your cycle, better smell, reduced yeast infections, just not liking the feel of plastic and paper.... Did I miss any? Oh yeah, if you say this is gross, my response will be: Not as gross as the millions of pads and tampons thrown away every year. Imagine them washing up on the beach from those landfill boats on the ocean. Ew. You wash them, like you do your underwear. It's OK really. Our ladybits aren't gross. Your cycle isn't gross. It's the very same stuff you were suspended in for 9 months before you were born. It is what makes you a woman. It washes out, don't worry. And the smell only happens with the disposable pads, it's not a natural thing.
* Pads need an absorbent layer and possibly a waterproof barrier, and sometimes an upper wicking layer against the skin.
* The absorbent layer can be made of practically anything, flannel, cotton, something called Zorb (Haven't tried it but people make washable diapers out of it), and some thick cotton/poly heavy coat lining stuff I have that someone gave me. Really they call it on the rag for a reason. Women have used rags as long as there have been rags.
* The leakproof barrier can be made out of anything from an old umbrella or raincoat to Gore Tex, though someone said that's probably overkill. Most people recommend PUL. I had a roll of plastic woven fabric stuff that was a bit stiff but it worked fine, except it doesn't allow the pads to dry well after washing.
* The top layer can just be part of the absorbent layer or it can be separate. Minky and Suedecloth have been mentioned. I like the flannel, but I'm gonna try some minky.
* Most of them snap around the underwear or are fastened with a button or velcro, some are just slipped in and hopefully don't shift too much, and there is the rare belted pad, but really, why not just appropriate a pair of undies if you are going this route?
* There are everything from thin little pantyliners for thongs to postpartum mamacloths with gussets and minky lining.
* There is a ton of info about washing and methods of dealing with them. That's it's own subject.
* Carrying the dirty ones while out was mentioned. I made a pouch out of the sturdy plastic cloth I have, and stuck a couple zip bags in it. I figured a zip bag alone might get punctured in my purse (ew) and the carrying bag alone might not be enough, also I wanted a place to store the clean one.
* So many people sell these on Etsy I think it's practically a saturated market. I'm broke and can sew, and I'm picky so I'll make my own.
* There are homemade tampons. I made a couple crochet ones but even though they open out so they are washable/dryable, there are mixed ideas about whether it is safe regarding TSS. One gyno said it would be fine if they were sanitized, another said she was concerned they wouldn't get clean enough though I don't think she knew that the filling was cloth that came out so it would dry easily. I have a diva cup so I don't need them. But it's a thought.
* Most people don't have heavy flow like I do. I learned this by reading forums about menses for hours lol.
Ok so if there is interest in this thread I will post pics and maybe even another tutorial once I get my pattern down. There are some other tutes out there that are probably just fine though so I don't know that you need another one!
Anyway, happy periods!