My Journey With Cloth Pads (months 1 and 2)

If you’re a guy, this post probably isn’t for you….unless you are interested in the female reproductive system.

I have always had very rough periods. They are heavy, they are painful and the mood swings are just plain nuts! While in college, I was put on birth control pills to stop my periods, so that I wouldn’t suffer every month. In the 7 years I was on continuous birth control I had a total of 4 periods. When my husband and I decided to start trying to have a baby, I naturally went off the pill. All the horribleness of being a woman came back, with an added perk. Apparently while I was on a period hiatus, maxi pad companies began putting something in their pads that caused a nasty chemical burn between my legs every month. It was a vicious cycle of a week long period, followed by 3 weeks trying to heal the chemical burn…..rinse and repeat.

Something had to be done. Thanks in large part to how my uterus sits in my body, I can’t wear tampons. Menstrual cups are too long (even the shallow ones) so those are out and the thought of free bleeding grossed me out (no offense to any free bleeders out there, it just isn’t for me). A few months ago I stumbled across a diy cloth menstrual pad pattern and finally got up the courage to try it.

I found a cloth pattern Here that had rave reviews and got to work. After weeks of research, I gathered some supplies and got to work.

Month 1:

Materials used: Luna Wolf pad pattern printed out, flannel purchased from Joann’s, 100% cotton towel purchased from Walmart, sewing machine.

Having never used a cloth pad before, I cut out the patterns and made one of each size. Each one was the same: flannel for the top and bottom, 2-3 layers of towel for the core and 2 pieces of flannel to wedge the towel between to ease sewing. I followed the pattern and did a hidden core for this month. This is the finished products, ranging in size from panty liner to 11.5″.

I used buttons to hold the wings down, but should have made the button holes smaller because they didn’t like to stay fastened.

I was surprised by how well these worked. I only leaked through once, but it was hardly even a leak. The end result was a bit thicker than I would have liked, but was still thinner than an overnight pad. Once it was on I barely even noticed it was there, and no one could tell standing behind me that I even had a pad on (I asked). The only real problem I had was that they weren’t the easiest to rinse clean. I would rinse in the sink and then put them in a bucket of Oxy Clean to soak for the night before tossing them in the laundry the next morning.

Month 2:

I used the same pattern for month 2, but only made the 8.5″ pad. Instead of a flannel top and bottom with a terry core I decided to try a mixture of cotton and flannel, with an exposed core. Each pad had a flannel back and 4 layers of flannel for the core. The top of the pad and the top of the core were either flannel/flannel, cotton/flannel, flannel/cotton or cotton/cotton. Instead of buttons, I used sew on Velcro. They looked like this:

I loved the way they turned out!

Here’s what I learned:

  1. exposed cores are significantly easier to sew than the hidden core. I used a straight stitch to sew the core layers together and then used a zig zag stitch to secure the core to the top.
  2. Cotton tops are WAY easier to rinse clean than their flannel counterparts.
  3. Cotton tops were “cooler” to wear and seemed to wick the wetness away better than the flannel ones do.
  4. Velcro is a much better idea than buttons. It was easier to put on and the pad stayed in place.
  5. If you’re going to do an all flannel core, you need significantly more layers. I thought 4 was plenty, but leaked through a lot. (Thank the Lord for black pants) Even with frequent changes, the leaks were crazy.
  6. I need something longer than 8.5″ on days 1 and 2, and at night. I also need to skinny the pattern up a bit. It’s too wide for me, so the pad bunches up a bit between my legs.

Plans for next month:

  • I am going to try a few new patterns in different shapes and sizes. The rounded pattern is great and super easy to sew, but I have had my eye on a squared pattern that looks super easy.
  • I am going to stick with the flannel for the topper and backer. It’s cheap and easy to get in a variety of patterns and colors…..and works really well.
  • I am going to continue with the exposed core. I think it looks just as cute, and is so much easier to sew (and lets face it, with 2 boys I need to spend as little time as possible at the sewing machine).
  • I am going to continue with the cotton top on the core. I like the way it wicks the moisture away from my skin and washes clean easily.
  • I am going back to a cotton towel core. I need the absorbency that a towel offers and can get terry cotton towels for $2.50 at Walmart.
  • I am going to continue with Velcro. It’s cheap and easy….and why make things harder than they have to be?

Stay tuned to see how month 3 turns out

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