Saturday, August 4, 2007

Menstrual Madness!


So, there's a thread over on PR on the Miscellaneous board right now about "alternative, reusable menstrual products." This is a topic near and dear to my heart, so I'm going to go ahead and get all TMI on your ass.

I <3 cloth pads. That's right, I said it. I am not a hippie dippie (well, i am a vegetarian who uses cloth pads) armpit-non-shaving pagan moon goddess. I'm a bougie yuppie (except for the vegetarianism, cloth pads, walking everywhere, etc. etc.) with a cute wardrobe and conventional grooming habits. What I'm saying is, there's room for cloth pads in every woman's life. It doesn't have to be a political or a feminist statement (though for me it is both), it can just be because they are so much freaking more comfortable than plastic disposable pads. They are more absorbent, too, believe it or not. Three layers of cotton flannel lasts three times as long as a disposable pad before it needs to be changed. And, hello! So much cuter! Check out the adorable ones above, made for a friend who is curious to try them.

I didn't start using them until I had a washer/dryer in my own home. I will exempt anyone who doesn't have that luxury from my request that you just consider it for even a split second. I will also exempt you if you have a really heavy flow; mine is light enough that I don't have to change during the workday so I don't have to carry a used pad around with me. Everyone else: just think about it.

I rinse them out and let them dry after use, and then wash them whenever I'm doing laundry. They don't smell bad or do anything scary while they're waiting for the wash.

They're really easy to make and so much more comfortable than disposables. No chafing! No inadvertent bikini wax when the adhesive catches you! No crackly embarrassing sound when you walk! No landfill-filling! (Ok, that last reason is kind of hippie dippie, but that's ok by me.)

If your first reaction is: Ick, I get that. When pads are being demonstrated on television they use blue liquid because OMG MY PERIOD IS SO GROSS!!!!!!! I WANT TO DIEEEEE!!!!!! But try to have a second reaction. Why is your menstrual blood soooooo disgusting that it has to be mummified and hidden at the bottom of the trash can and thrown to the unspeakable depths of the landfill? Do you take that much care with the tissue you use to sop up the blood when you stick yourself with a pin when sewing? Probably not. Blood is blood. Menstruation is normal, not shameful or embarrassing or gross or a terrible, horrible thing that happens to you every month (easy for me to say, I don't get cramps when I'm on the pill--if you get cramps I'll give you the terrible horrible bit).

To make, just trace around your favorite brand of pads, cut out three layers of flannel, make wings, zigzag, flip over and zigzag from the other side, add velcro, and voila! In wearing and making them for a couple of years I have learned that (1) the wings need to be long compared to the length of the pad to keep them from riding to the back of your underwear when you walk, and they need to fasten at the front and the back of the wing, not just in the middle. Someone on PR suggested using corduroy for the bottom layer to stick them more in place, and for people with a heavier flow you can use PUL for the bottom layer. (2) When fastened, the wings need to be slightly narrower than the pad to keep it from crumpling up inside your underwear. (3) You can use velcro if you round the edges of it and overlap the two velcro pieces *exactly* when you put it on.

13 comments:

Vicki said...

Well I have never heard of such a thing!! I suppose you could go one further and make special "time of the month" undies.

I am not sure I could convince my two teenage daughters to use these but it would sure save a lot of money!

And you don't need plastic on the bottom to keep you safe?

narcissaqtpie said...

Thanks for the TMI I have been curious about these and I may venture into this territory. I will look for that thread on PR to find more tips.

akimbo said...

Thanks for posting this! I'm no hippie either but I've also been pondering cutting down on what I put in the trash.
Its nice to see someone successfully using homemade pads. My TMI is I need a pantyliner a day. That adds up to a lot of plastic in a year!

Actually, the special "time of the month" undies are not a bad idea at all!

LauraM said...

Well anyone who has never heard of such a thing isn't thinking back to what our great grandmothers might have been doing :wink: Great idea! Don't think I could talk my teen into them, and menopause came early for me - but I do love the idea!

Hannah said...

I am so impressed! You sew well, are environmentally conscious, and have the courage to go public with your cloth pads. We need people like you to speak up so the followers can participate in changing the world. Thanks for acting on your courage!

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Thanks for the positive comments, everyone! Vicki-I have a light flow and don't need plastic on the bottom. For people with a heavier flow (like my SiL) you can use a layer of PUL on the bottom, which you can get from wazoodle.com. Akimbo-I hope you can find a reusable solution for pantyliners! I can so totally relate--when I am not on the pill, I spot every.single.day. I have been moving my period around to try to schedule it around my upcoming trip to greece, and my uterus became angry with me and bled/spotted for 60 days straight. It's so frustrating.

mamafitz said...

LOL, i liked your little feminist rant there in the PR thread. :D i feel the same way.

Annika said...

Before menopause I used to use them - they're great! I would always get so chafed and raw from the paper ones that I switched to
homemade cloth pads and never looked back. I'm glad I'm not the only one. BTW, I am slightly hippy-dippy - it's my upbringing - can't escape that... ;)

patsijean said...

http://www.geocities.com/thixle/diypads_tutorial.html

Here is a link for some very cute professional looking flannel pads with thicknesses for different days. Would ripstop nylon act as a moisture barrier???

Since menopause, I don't need these any more bout I sure could have used them before. There comes a time in one's period when the flow is too light for tampons and they stay too dry and can be painful to remove. As my period got lighter and spottier, I would have loved these pads.

I also saw instructions on one of the blogs I read just a little while ago, but I cannot find them right now. I will post again with the link if I do find it.

Melody said...

Wow! I just discovered your blog and I love this post. I've been making these for years and while most people I know think I'm weird for doing, others totally get it. So, I totally get it. And it saves oodles of money and isn't at all a big deal. You're so Freakin' cool for writing this post. Thanks

yaiAnn said...

Thank you for posting that! I've been wanting to buy some to try, but heck, if I can make my own! Thanks for the push!

Katharine in Brussels said...

Hey, reading up on cloth diapering and velcro 'diaper chains' in the washer, I saw that many cloth diapers have a cover to pull over the hook side during washing to prevent it catching. Google 'Ottobre cloth diaper' and you'll get their .pdf which has a picture (and pattern) of said velcro cover. Thanks for the info on the absorbancy of flannel vs disposable pads, I've heard about lochia and this could be just the ticket. Have loads of flannel left over from making diapers, hmm! Just have to find the pads that I put away in storage :)

BrusselsSprout_Katharine said...

Aunt Flo is back after a brief postpartum interruption. I am totally making these! Jan Andrea also has a cool tesselated design. I do cloth diapers without a dryer, so these are feasible. For toting around diryt nappies in my bag, I bought a € 2 poly-lined large zippered cosmetics bag. No problems. After use I just put it overnight in a sink of warm water + liquid soap, then drip-dry over the shower head. No rinsing. Just an idea for carrying around used pads!