Thursday, December 20, 2007

Home-sewn 'feminine protection" - pads

Earlier this week Sarah ask me how I made my feminine supplies. I forgot that I was going to do a blog on that. Thank you Sarah for reminding me.

I'm at that season of life where I need feminine protection infrequently, but I do sometimes need protection from wetting when I sneeze. sigh Ain't having had kids great. The little left-behind damage done to a woman's body. More stuff your mama never told you about!

I was wearing a disposable "incontinence pad" because I never knew when a sneeze would cause a little dampness. I started out with it happening once in a while then went to it happening a LOT. I found that over time, I was having a continuing problem that seemed to be getting worse, so I was wearing pads more and more often, until I was always wearing them.

I came to be using cloth as part of a challenge. The challenge was to try cloth wipes for the bathroom. I did and really liked using the cloth for wiping. I had already started using cloth napkins instead of paper towels. Which got me thinking again about cloth for feminine needs.

After thinking about this for a while and reading the praises of others, I decided that I would make myself some pads and the result was AMAZING. After a couple of weeks, I noticed that I wasn't leaking when I sneezed - until I was sick and sneezing REALLY hard and a lot of times in a row. When I got really sick with a respiratory illness and was just sneezing my head off and the cloth pads weren't enough, I went back to the disposable ones. After several weeks, even though I wasn't sneezing as much, I was still having problems. So I went back to my cloth pads and in less than a week, I wasn't having constant leakage with sneezing. I guess there's something in the disposable pads that causes me to have MORE of the problem. In fact, most of the time, I don't have any problems at all.

The pads I made were very easy to make and I like them a lot. The only thing I would do differently is that I would cut up a piece of those "diaper changing pads/crib mattress protection pads" that I used with my kids and use that to back 1/3 of my pad - as a leak protection. I had even found one of those old crib pads while cleaning my daughter's bedroom. And I put it ??? I've hunted high and low and I have NOT been able to find it. I decided to go ahead and make the pads without it. So sometimes I do leak through my pads. I don't have the money to just go by some PUL to use. My solution is to just change frequently.

To make my pads I used polar fleece and flannel. I found both in the remnant bin at Wally world. From 1 yard of 60"wide fleece and about 1 1/2 yards of 35" wide flannel, I made 14 pads. Oh, the last 2 pads I used a couple of old diapers I had left instead of the flannel - I ran out of flannel. If I had had it, I would also have used PUL or mattress protection padding.

What I did. First, I looked online at all the different patterns/sites that dealt with this subject. I decided what style I liked. Then I looked at how fussy the pattern was going to be and decided that, I really didn't need a "shaped" pad. Also, I didn't like the sizing on the pads. I'm a large size and the tiny pads that were out there would never work for me. So I got the bright idea of just going my own way and measuring myself so that the pad would fit ME.

I used a measuring tape to take 2 measurements. Measurement 1 was from where I wanted the pad to cover from front to back and the second was the inside of my legs - as in how wide was my pelvic region from the inside of one leg, across to the other leg?

I like a lot of coverage. I've always hated having leaks - front or back - because of skimpy pads. I hate side leaks because the pad was not wide enough or too wide and bunched up.

My starting point with the tape measure was in the back at the point that I wanted the pad to start, then I pulled it gently up between my legs (over my underwear so it wasn't tight) to the front where I wanted the pad to stop. That was the first measurement and for me, it was 18". Others might want/need it longer or shorter. It depends on a lot of factors, most of them personal choices and likes/dislikes. Just measure yourself - or if you have a commercial pad that you just love, measure one of them and make it that length. If you're not sure how long you'd like it, try different measurements and make 1 pad of that length. See what length you like best, then make your pads that length.

For width, measure yourself like you do for your inseam measurement, only instead of going down your leg, you're going from the crease of one leg, across your nether region to the crease of the other leg. Again, measure over underpanties. For me, 3" is about right.

So I made my pads 18" long by 9 inches wide. Why 9" instead of 3. Well I fold my pad in 3rds, which makes the 1/3 part be 3".

First, I washed and dried my material in hot water and in a hot dryer. This way, it's shrunk all it's going to. Next, I snipped into the selvage and tore the flannel off across the top, until I had the top squared, then did the same thing at the bottom of the piece. Then I cut my fabric into 18" lengths and then across to 9" widths. (Actually, I snipped into the selvage edge and just tore - YUP tore! the fabric across. Made nice straight pieces that way.) Now the fleece doesn't tear and it is sort of a pain to cut - unless you're fortunate enough to own a rotary cutter. Scissors are a pain, but that's how I had to cut mine. Things don't have to be exact. Who's going to see it?
Any way you do it, you want to end up with pieces of fabric and fleece the length you want by 3 times the width.

If I had found the crib pad or had some PUL, I would have cut it 18" x 3".

I did have some 18" x about 3" sections of "leftover" fleece that I used - why throw it away?

I made a "sandwich" of the 18x9 fleece on the bottom, then the 18x3 scrap I put down the middle of the fleece. If I had the PUL/pad, I would have put that next to the 3" fleece section, so that as I looked at it, there would be on the left edge the PUL/pad, next to it in the center 1/3 would be the fleece (those two together, side-by-side, would be the middle layer) and then the right 1/3 section would be the bottom layer of fleece showing up with nothing on top of it. The top layer is the flannel and it goes right side up.

I didn't bother to pin it, I just started sewing around the edges with a zig-zag stitch, near the edges. I used a small zig-zag stitch about 1/8" in from the edge. That made a large rectangle. The edges are not all "even", but they're close enough for my needs.

Next I sewed 3" in from the edge on both long sides of my rectangle. So I was sewing 3" from the edge of my material and down the 18" length. I turned it around and sewed down the other side, 3" from the edge. I did use a straight stitch to do these guidelines. After doing a couple of these, I got smart and marked 3" out from the side of my machine needle and it made it so much easier and my line is straight. Yup, right on Mr. Machine himself! You could use masking tape - if the kids haven't absconded with it. But failing tape, a Sharpie does a great job and won't smear off onto the fabric - just give it a minute or two to dry.

This straight stitching divides your rectangle into 3rds, so it makes it easy to fold and helps it to not unfold. When folded it makes the pad as wide as you wanted it by the length you wanted. By doing a trifold, you have at least 6 layers to better absorb moisture. (The ones of mine that I used the scrap piece down the middle is 7 layers thick and when I find that pad, I'm going to open up the side and add that so it will then be 8 layers thick.)

To use: just fold it in 3rds along your stitch line, lay it in the bottom of your panties, pull up and you're ready to go. Snug panties are a help in holding the pad in place. Also, if you used the PUL/pad - which I would REALLY recommend if you can at all afford it, make sure that the 1/3 section that has the PUL is in the bottom third. That way, it's farthest from your body. The flannel will keep it in place in your panties and the next layer will be the PUL/pad which will keep the pad from leaking. (or in other words, fold the 1/3 section without the PUL/pad in towards the center of the pad first, then fold the 1/3 section with the PUL/pad towards the center next. That way, the center 1/3 of the pad is on top and next to your body, then the second section is next, then the section with the fleece - pad- flannel is last. When folded properly and with a middle layer of PUL/fleece, you're pad will be: flannel, fleece, fleece, fleece, flannel, fleece, PUL, flannel.)

Nicest thing about this pattern is that it unfolds to wash and dry so that it doesn't take forever for it to wash and dry. I toss them in with my whites. I wash with 2 Tbs of grated Fels Naptha soap, 2 TBS of washing soda (this is NOT baking soda, but the box is similar to the baking soda box - the same company makes it.) and white vinegar in the rinse spot - where you'd put the fabric softener. I wash them in hot water and dry in the regular dryer. They've been being washed once a week since about Oct. and I've not had any trouble with them raveling or coming apart. I've got a couple that have a bit of very light staining, but that's my fault for not treating them or at least putting them in some cold water or rinsing the blood out. I was in crazy mode from the comings and goings I was having to do, and just tossed them in a special container I use and the blood dried on them. I then forgot and washed in hot without pre-rinsing them or treating the stain.

Some people worry about "germs". The soap/washing soda is alkaline and the "germs" don't do well with that. The vinegar is acidic and the "germs" don't like that. Then there's the heat from the washer and dryer and they don't like THAT either. By the time the laundry is done, you've got more bacteria on your hands than you do in the clean pads (or clean cloth wipes, even ones that you've used to wiped after a #2 with!)

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Thanks so much for this blog!!! This will be such a money/life/environmental saver :)