Mama Cloth Tutorial

I will restrain myself from trying to convince you of the positive benefits of switching to cloth products for your personal needs, however I must say that it is worth trying. I hope that this project will prove to be a very simple place to start. These pads are great for regular menstrual cycle use and the pantyliners are particularly useful anytime a little extra protection is needed. If you need a longer (overnights, postpartum, etc) or shorter pad, you should find it easy to add or subtract length to the pattern to adjust it how you would like it. The pocket opening on the back of the pad has a few benefits: 1) You can use scraps of PUL for the backing, 2) You can add a doubler for heavier times, and 3) It allows for water to flow freely through all layers so the fabric can be cleaned and dried thoroughly.

Begin by downloading and printing the pattern (.pdf format).

Download Free Pattern

{Click on pictures to see a larger view, use arrow keys to move between pictures, click and drag to move, click once to close, and you can have more than one photo open at a time.}

Mama Pad

[Step 1] Using a ruler and the 1" guide on the pattern you printed, check to make sure the size is correct. You should be able to see this line that the pencil is pointing to in the picture. If you cannot see it, then your printer may not be able to print so narrow a margin, therefore you may have to trace in the part that was cut off. Since the pattern is symmetrical, use the other side as a guide. Otherwise, cut along these lines and tape your pattern together.

[Step 2] I transferred my pattern to thin cardboard so that I could use a rotary cutter to cut it out.

[Step 3] Cut out the fabrics. In my example, I have cut two layers of PUL from the line indicated for the bottom layer. Next I cut one layer of suedecloth on the fold for the top layer (I have tried velour, flannel, and microfleece, but suedecloth is my personal favorite). Finally I cut 2 layers of bamboo/cotton french terry for the absorbency. This is good enough for a "normal" day, and with the pocket opening in back I can easily add a doubler for a heavier day.

[Step 4--optional] Sew a narrow hem down the edge of either one or both of the pieces that overlap on the bottom pocket.

[Step 5] Serge/edge finish the soaker pad.

[Step 6] Sew the soaker pad onto the underside of the top layer. Normally it makes sense to sew with the soaker pad facing up so you can see where you are sewing, however when I do this with suedecloth it nearly always stretches and pulls and doesn't lay flat after sewing, no matter what I do (see the picture to demonstrate what I mean by stretching). So I have learned if I sew with the suedecloth side up, going slowly and feeling for the edge of the soaker so I make sure it is sewn down, then the finished product looks very nice. You might try using a walking foot instead of this method to prevent the stretching.

[Step 7] If desired, you may draw a design and then stitch it in with a straight stitch, sort of like a simple embroidery or quilting.

[Step 8] Layer the pieces with right sides together to stitch. If you hemmed the edge of only one PUL piece, make sure that the hemmed side is on top (as in the picture below).

[Step 9] Pin the layers together along the edge.

[Step 10] Stitch with a straight stitch.

[Step 11] Turn right side out and topstitch. I used a longer stitch with a slight zig-zag to it for a pretty effect.

[Step 12] Add snaps for closures. I put a stud snap on one wing, then two socket snaps approximately 1" apart on the other. The pad folds up neatly and discreetly, making its own waterproof case!

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For the pantyliner, I usually prefer to use microfleece for the bottom/waterproof layer. Microfleece provides just enough protection for light days, yet is 100% breathable. This means that I stay cool and dry--yay. In my example I decided the PUL was too pretty to pass up, so I used PUL instead. I wish I hadn't. I was in a hurry, and my results are, well, less than perfect. Kristin and I laughed that I can't even give it away. :) But at least you get the idea of how to put it together. And be encouraged--even a less-than-perfect pad is perfectly useable! These are great as back-up to a menstrual cup, for "drippy" or spotting days, or for light incontinence issues (such as in pregnancy).

[Step 1] Cut out the desired layers you need for the pad. I am using 1 layer PUL on the bottom, a hidden layer of bamboo/cotton french terry, and a top layer of cotton velour. Unlike on the mama pads, for everyday light use I prefer cotton velour for comfort. For the tabs, I like to use microfleece for these since the edges will not need to be finished at all (they will not unravel). I cut each tab two layers thick so the snap will be stabilized.

[Step 2] Layer all the pieces to the pantyliner together as they will be when it is finished. Serge/edge finish the pantyliner (I should have pinned, and possibly sewn with the PUL side up to help keep it all straight).

[Step 3] Line up the wing tabs where they will go on the tab. In my picture they are pinned only to each other, not through the PUL layer (didn't want to put any unnecessary holes in my PUL). Stitch each edge down with a straight stitch on the regular sewing machine.

[Step 4] Add snaps for closing. ***IMPORTANT*** I use size 16 snaps for the wings on the pantyliner. Size 20 snaps seem to be too big and hold too tight. If you don't have size 16, then you may want to make the wings a little bigger so they will be easier to pull open.

As an alternative to snap closures, you may use a safety pin to hold the wings shut. Or just lay the pantyliner in. I also used a strip of 1" wide FOE (unfolded), sewn along one side to the pantyliner with a snap on the other side to attach that way.

Use & Care

There are at least 2 different methods for caring for pads that I have tried. The first method is a wet pail. The wet pail you choose should have a lid that can be fastened tightly, and a spot to go out of reach of children. Used pads are placed into cold water in the wet pail. The water should be changed every day. This was too much work for me. So now I use a dry pail. I have a small bag made from PUL that I place used pads into. I only rinse the pads if I feel they are heavily saturated and really should be rinsed, otherwise they go as they are straight into the bag. I usually wash at the end of my cycle (4-5 days).

When I am ready to wash my pads at the end of my cycle, I wash them on a cold water cycle with a small amount of detergent. I use a prewash/prerinse cyle and an extra rinse cycle at the end. For pantyliners used on non-menstrual days, I simply wash them with my undergarments on a warm water cycle. I dry in the dryer.

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