Making Your Own Cotton Flannel Feminine Pads

If you’re into the environment and saving money, this is a great tip–imagine never having to buy disposable menstrual pads again!

Even though I don’t faithfully use them, I did sew a large stack for myself (with a complimentary drawstring bag to hold them in) and packed them away in a “survivalist kit” to have on hand in case I ever needed them.

For women who suffer from regular yeast infections or find manufactured napkins irritating (causes itchiness or skin irritation), these are definitely something to look at trying. They’re so soft and comfortable, but I had a hard time dealing with the washing aspect. I didn’t find them to be as “gross” as I thought I would, my problem was finding a place to keep these soaking that was convenient and out of the way until I could wash them (our bathrooms are tiny).

*Some designs look similar, but there are subtle differences in each. Mix and match to find a favorite.
With Inserts: Designed for custom absorbency and there is no need to have a serger machine for these. These are turned and topstitched with custom absorbency sewn in, and there’s also the ability to add in extra inserts for heavy days.

Circle Version: When the sides fold in they form a wing unlike any other design out there, pdf download available.
With Wings: Cover with folded liner insert, find the download here.

With Nylon Moisture Barrier: (updated link to web archive since original page no longer available) Instead of paying sooo much money every month, these are pretty cheap, really easy, and last for years.
With Beveled Layers: Several layers sewn together for inner piece.

Snapped: Includes a template, can be waterproof using a quilted crib pad for lining.
Foldable: These are quick and easy and very comfortable to use. They can be folded then snapped together to keep them compact for toting.

Flannel & Toweling: Snaps on each side, flannel and toweling for the inner part.
Mama Cloth: An easy project where the liner is attached to a “square” of fabric, folds up nicely for easy toting.

Another Circle: Features a water-proof layer and felt strips to hold in place.
PUL Backed: (updated link to web archive since original page no longer available) This tutorial will walk you through making a serged edge, PUL backed AIO Mommy Pad with wings (say all that in one breath)!

Panty Liner: Fleece and flannel, this snaps underneath (on either side of liner).

If interested in making these for your own use or would like to learn more about their benefits, here’s some good information. Treehugger has a great article on this page too, includes a few more patterns and tutorials found on the net.

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    • Snygg

    This is a great idea – and I’ve got another one: menstrual cups. They are very earth friendly, reusable, and easy to use. Just google menstrual cup and you’ll find tons of info on the various brands. I have a diva cup and I love it. I haven’t used a pad or tampon in years, and at around $20, it’s a great investment. You just put it in and forget about it for the next 10 hours or so, take out, wash and repeat.

      • Monkey

      I use an old enamel pot to hold my yet to be cleaned items which I place on the floor behind the toilet. I also use a shaker (the kind made for parmesan cheese) filled with baking soda to sprinkle on the pads in the pot. I wait and wash them all at once. The pot can be boiled to be clean again and stores the washed items until next time.

      • Jamielynn

      I covered a large plastic Folgers coffee container in pretty fabric and set it behind the toilet with 1 part white vinegar and 3 parts water. I use cloth pads for bladder leakage, since I use pads EVERY DAY I find the vinegar mix neutralizes and freshens. I also made a matching cloth pad holder similar to the elastic bottom plastic bag holders. I was spending about $30 a month for super long overnight disposable pads! I made my own cloth pads, but even if you buy them from someone else think of the money you’re saving year after year.

        • Kris

        I store my used cloth in my master bathroom, so only the hubbs & I know… But I put it in a decorative teapot on the top of our toilet.

        Water should be changed daily & is easily poured on plants 🙂 & it’s pretty too 😉

    • Shelle

    I love cloth pads…Soooo much more comfortable. I have never had a leak, have saved a ton of money in the last 3 years, and have to say…not at all gross, or stinky. I actually find that the snap bottoms on old, or stained onesies work great for the snap part. Two or three snaps seem to lay a bit flatter. And I don’t have to put snaps in, love sewing, hate doing snaps even with good tools. Might help others.

      • Shan

      Thank you!! This snap idea is great!

      • Bek @ Just For Daisy

      That’s a fabulous idea! 🙂 Definitely going to help me! x

      • Kim

      I love the snap idea from the onesies!!!! I would not have thought of that, but I defiantly have old onesies around that can be recycled 🙂

      • Janet

      awww.. this is a great idea, now I’m wishing I hadn’t donated all my kids old onesies! argh!

    • Bright

    I am doing a project to help young girls in making reusable pads, and hope that the ideas i got from here will help

      • roselynn iga

      You are doing something good.that’s what I love to do more so forthe girlsinthe slum areas.

    • Pammy

    I didn’t have this information, and certainly don’t need them now at this point in my life, but…
    I used cloth diapers on my sons. I kep the diapers soaking in an enzyme laundry additive in a covered container. When it was time to wash, I just dumped them into the washer on the final spin to get the water out, then washed in hot.
    This would probably work for these pads as well.

      • Rita

      This is exactly what I did when my daughter was in diapers. For diapers that had a bowel movement, I rinsed these in the toilet, and then soaked them in a bucket with some water and the enzyme laundry additive (I used Biz). I too spun out the soaking water and then washed the diapers in hot water. There diapers were always so clean and white.

    • Ruth Mukisa

    Am from Uganda. Working with teenage girls.

    I would very much love to start up a project to teach teenage girls on how to make pads. How best can i be helped.
    I would be so glad getting your feed back.


      • Tipnut

      Hi Ruth, just click on the project links above and they’ll show you directions that you can print off and use as patterns/tutorials. Good luck!

      • Joy

      maybe you could contact Days for Girls organisation – they make these products and may be in a good position to help you learn and then teach others how to make your own.

    • Ami

    I’ve been using old washcloths for years & really getting tired of them. They fray badly in the wash and I don’t enjoy using them in general. I’m looking forward to spoiling myself for once by making some new pads! The circle pattern looks like a fun one to make.

    • Abby

    Hi, I made a pad out of the socks used for flats. Since they are small they are a good size for smaller females just fill it with what you wish to use for the core and its a no sew option and fast to make~ Hope it helps anyone that doesn’t want to or can’t sew

      • nichelle

      Hi…thought about doing something besides the whole buying pads thing, and would love for my daughters to know that there are better options available to them ( I never thought about, nor was ever told there was something besides disposable pads and tampons)

      Abby, I don’t have a sewing machine and I’m not sure what you mean by “the socks used for flats’.

      Thanks for all the info ladies.

        • Jane

        no show socks-ankle socks

    • sally

    hi the socks for flats is just that sock that only go up 2 ur toes and not 2 ur ankles. one way to make reuseable pads is 2 take 1 regular pad and sew some fabric over it but leave the top open and stuff it with cotton. then sew some fabric on the bottom of the pad and add a button and a buton hole now place the pad on your underwear and button the button on the outer side of your underwear. after you are done with that pad just throw it in the wash[ still buttoned to the underwear]

      • marla

      I am trying to figure these out the size to cut how exactly there used I think I finaly figured out the reason for the snap does it go around the croch and snap to stay in place? I was asked t make some for a orphanage in Africia as many of the girls are becoming that age and have no access to pads as I am coming across a few different styles I would appreciate any and all suggestions

        • Autumn

        Look into the “Days for Girls” project. There is a great YouTube video about it as well. Lots of great info and patterns available. Wonderful project for countries without access to disposable pads or the resources to manage the trash made from the disposable pads.

    • frugalmouse

    I am glad to see this blog.
    Long before it was really talked about, and women used to scream “gross”, I secretly did what this blog is talking about.
    But working full time, working to keep money in my pocket, I came up with a simple solution, I just folded a wash cloth to pad shape, wore snug elastic underwear to keep in place. Done! I soaked my pads in the sink, blood sank to the bottom, then into the laundry when time to do a load.
    A snug panty can be make of cut off panty hose ( use the ones with runs in them to cut down on investment.

    And why not? It is not toxic waste or radio active! Less crap in the landfills, money in your pocket, and yes it is a lot more skin friendly.

    Now, I guess I may in the future have to look for “poise” pads, home made.

    If we can think, we can solve all sorts of dilemmas, and we can pat ourselves on the back! That feels good!

      • Mamabear

      I use homemade pads as “poise” pads.. I just add an extra liner or two and cut up an old shower curtain to line the backer fabric with. No skin irritation and easy wash up.

    • Ulrika Herzog

    I love the idea of not having disposable in my bathroom. I have some ideas that might make the pads able to hold more blood. My grandmother in Germany used felt 100% wool underpants as over “undies” for diapers. So I plan on making the base of my inner pad of 100% felt. You can also find this material at second hand stores in the cloth diaper section. May also be a good idea for recycling and redesigning diapers into menstrual pads.

    • mazz

    hi, this is really a great idea! Homemade feminine pads! I think it will be a good online business for some! I must try making it myself first.

    • Chelsea

    I’ve used both cloth pads and my menstrual cup all through college and for three Pennsic trips (ultimate Ren faire + camping for two weeks). My flow has been a lot lighter, and I’ve had less discomfort since I started using these.

      • HRS

      You know, barely started using cloth strips for pads. I noticed a lighter flow also. It’s really great not to have so much of a flow problem, and cloths are so much less irritating and expensive!

    • Kylie

    OMG this is a god send! I suffer from vulvadynia and i find store bought pads a pain. They either dont stick well or have that “odor removing technology” (which if you ask me, stinks worse) which my skin reacts badly to.

    Will be researching on these, cause i love sewwing and like making my own stuff.

    Thank you!

    • raven

    reusable menstrual cups are also amazing and you can keep the same one up to ten years.

    • sara

    Thanks for compiling this. I recently discovered cloth pads and haven’t bought any yet. It would get a bit expensive to buy for both my daughter and me. I’m going to try out a few of these patterns and see how we like them. I just wish I had had some cloth postpartum pads when each of my 4 kids was born!

    • Marilynn

    Disposables were causing sores on my heinie. I remember wishing for cloth pads, then googling it!
    Wonderful items. I love Gempads because they stay in place. Lots less “flow” with these wonderful items. Slowly working on my own pattern. Highly recommend cloth of any kind.

    I hate to think what those chemicals on disposables are doing to our lady parts!

    • MJ

    Use layers of flannel. Use wings or narrow straps to anchor to your underwear. I use colored plastic snaps with conventient gripper by Kam who includes instructions .I like the vinegar soda idea.MJ

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