As I tumble more and more into the world of "green", I'm learning just what that means for some people. Not long ago, I came across what is referred to Mama Cloth. Considering that most of the forums, groups, or blogs that I follow are cloth diaper related, these cloth menstrual pads are cloth for mama--Mama Cloth!
Before we get to the tutorial, I just want to take a moment to discuss mama cloth. When I first came across this concept I couldn't imagine myself even think about making the switch. The only words I could think of to describe it was gross. Guess what folks, you may just be considering this as much as I am once you finish this post.
Mama cloth is easily customized to to specific shape, length, width, absorbency, and even what fabrics are used. The fabrics used are soft against the skin and you don't have that "icky" feeling of the plastic mesh-y stuff found on conventional pads.
Mama cloth is said to help reduce the cramping that is associated with PMS. How can simple cloth really help cramps? The decrease in cramps is actually from the absence of chemicals that are in conventional pads and tampons. Tampons put you at risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome, infertility, endometriosis, and the fibers left behind from tampons can cause odor and inflammation and give rise to tumorous growths. Pads are made with chemicals, fragrances, and are also often made with a dry-weave plastic cover which can cause rashes, irritation, sensitivity, and allergic reactions.
You also have the whole saving money thing which, face it, is a HUGE factor for many of us these days. Like cloth diapering, there is some investment up front, but untold savings to be had in the future. I used materials that I feel were on the pricier side and for a set of 10 would cost me around $15 to make myself. Granted, you would need a larger stash than 10, but I figured that would give you a number to compare if you want to make the switch but can't afford the handmade ones available. I'm also really big on using coupons at JoAnns so in reality, I spent half of that estimate using 50% off coupons.
Now to the good stuff...
OKAY, don't be scared away if you think you have to buy these fabrics or use snaps (which means having snap pliers, etc.) You can use velcro, I just happened to only have snaps on hand. Since I dabble in making cloth diapers I used what I had on hand because for me mama cloth is a LOT like cloth diapers. You could use velour, flannel, suedecloth, microfleece or anything along those lines as the fabric on top. I had suedecloth laying around so that's what I used. It's also a polyester so it does a nice job letting moisture go through it and absorbing into the flannel. If you don't have flannel you could also use batting, or anything else that will be absorbent. I chose to back mine with PUL just to build in a waterproof guarantee. You could leave this layer off for more of a pantyliner or use another fabric such as fleece or wool.
Here's the pattern I drew. You should be able to click & print on a regular 8 1/2 x 11 paper.
We will use the pattern as is for our absorbent layers. You will need to cut 3 flannel for every 1 mama cloth you plan to make.
I used a piece of masking tape to hold back the wings or tabs. This is the pattern piece for the suedecloth and PUL.
I'm a tad OCD so these are just lined up in the order they will be layered.
Pin you suedecloth to the top of the flannel and sew around edges. If you have a serger, this is a great project for it. For these specific pads I just used a zig zag stitch set at the highest width and about 1.5 on stitch length. I sewed first around the edges of the suedecloth then again around the edges of flannel as well.
(This photo was apparently taken at an odd angle because it makes the pad look way weird. In reality, the wings are lined up quite nicely.) Carefully pin the PUL with shiny side towards flannel, but make sure pins are right along edge. Since it's a waterproof fabric you don't want to go poking holes everywhere.
I then used my snap pliers to add snaps to keep secured around the underwear. If you don't have snap pliers you could use velcro, or you don't have to even have the tabs at all. Told you they are easily customized. ;)
I did stitch around the outer edges once more before being finished.
From the top.
From the back with snap secured.
From the front with snap secured.
I wanted to touch on one last thing that might be holding you back from giving mama cloth a try. They're gross right? and something you can't keep up on the go? WRONG. You just fold the ends towards the middle to contain the mess and snap around the front. it forms the little pouch you see below.
And because nobody wants soiled mama cloth floating around in their bag.. a wet bag! This should fit 4-6 mama cloth inside. =)
I just wanted to add that I've also made these using a turn and topstitch method. It does give nicer edges but I wanted to start with a tutorial that a basic sewer could do. Besides, it doesn't really affect the function at all.
So, something you think you could do?