I came across the information about reusable items for feminine hygiene about the same time I found the information for reusable food wraps. There is an amazing plethora of information out there about reusable everything if you take the time to look. Well, after I made the food wraps, I got motivated to make reusable panty liners. I have had this in mind for quite some time.
There are quite a few places to purchase these items that make good, quality products. I have been sewing for over 40 years and knew I could make my own, but to start out, I bought a few from Glad Rags. They make a very good, quality product that I would recommend to anyone. I wasn't sure if I would like wearing them or not, but I do. Now, to clarify the purpose I have for these. I am not using them as menstrual pads, only as a panty liner for light urinary incontinence. It's not something I generally talk about with strangers, let alone my friends, but it is something that affects many women. And in my quest to eliminate as many chemicals from my body as possible, this is definitely a step in the right direction.
My initial plan for making my own panty liners was to follow the pattern of my Glad Rags liners. But I wanted them to be a little narrower and longer. So I went online and started looking for other folks that made their own panty liners or menstrual pads. There are many! Some of the sites I ran across have done a great job of covering the chemicals included in commercial feminine hygiene products and I strongly encourage you to read them. It will convince you to make a change in your life as well. The chemical absorption rate of the female body when using commercial, chemically laden hygiene products is astounding. It's just one more area where it is simple and easy to eliminate the amount of chemicals we expose ourselves to daily.
While I was in the midst of trying to make panty liners, Patrice Lewis over at Rural Revolution published this article, Product review: Naturally Cozy feminine hygiene. She included great pictures which gave me even more ideas as I made adjustments to my initial efforts. Patrice gives a great review of this company, and personally recommends their products.
Here is my journey at making panty liners that fit and absorb just the way I like them. It took about a month of trial and error before I was satisfied with my design and their performance.
I started off with my original purchase from Glad Rags. I wanted to make something a little longer than these, and not quite as wide. I found they tended to buckle a little in the middle when worn. So this is what I tried the first time.
I trimmed down the sealed sides of a commercial panty liner to get the approximate width and length I wanted, and used it as well as my original reusable to figure out my measurements.
I decided to try two different ways to determine how much and what kind of fabric would provide the best absorption. One, I made with two layers of flannel. The other I made with two layers of flannel and one layer of terry cloth from an old bath towel. To this I added the strap, from two layers of flannel, that wraps around the underwear.
I used a contrasting color of thread to show you how I stitched these together. It looks kind of tacky, I think, but when I finalize my preferences, I will use matching thread.
I have had this snap wrench for many, many years, I think since the 1970's when I was in high school. I had to find some new snaps to go with it, but it still works just fine.
Here is version #1.
I quickly found out that these were just not adequate. They were too narrow, the strap did not hold them in place, and they were too thin. There was a tendency to move back and forth, which defeats the purpose. After I made this version, Patrice posted her review of the products from Naturally Cozy. This gave me more ideas to work with, as well as the other sites I listed above.
On to version #2. This time I decided to make an all in one piece instead of having the wrap around strap a separate piece. I was hoping it would hold in place better. At the same time, I wanted more layers of fabric to provide more absorption, without being too bulky and uncomfortable.
I made the body of the liner out of two layers of flannel, while adding two more layers of flannel in the shape of the commercial liner in the middle.
I stitched the inner layers in place on one side of the outer body, before stitching along the same lines on the other side of the outer body to hold everything in place. I hope the pictures help explain this step.
I zigzagged around the outside of the body, then went back and straight stitched along the inside of the zigzag. This works well for keeping everything nice and flat and finished, and doesn't add any bulk or discomfort.
These liners worked much better than version one. They stayed in place better, but not as well as I would like. And they were more comfortable. I think it is because of the way they wrap around the underwear. But, I wasn't satisfied with the absorption rate. They were very comfortable, though. If absorption of liquid is not an issue, and just light protection were the goal, these would work very well.
So, on to version #3.
This version is almost the same as version #2 with a slight variation. I made one end of the body of the liner just a little longer so the wrap around snap would be just off center. The goal here was to hold the liner in place a little better. I also made them just a little bit longer overall than version #2. Here are the measurements of the final version.
|inner liner length|
|inner liner width|
The other change I made was to make one with four layers of flannel for the inside liner, with two more layers for the body, making this liner six layers thick overall.
The second type I made had two layers of flannel and one layer of terry cloth for the liner, with two more layers of flannel for the body, making this liner four layers of flannel and one layer of terry cloth. This time I used matching thread, and they look much, much better.
I am very satisfied with version #3. Either thickness will provide the absorption rate I want. If I have a cold with a cough or sneezing, the terry cloth version will hold out much better. Both types, flannel or terry cloth with flannel, are comfortable and effective. This design could easily be adjusted to accommodate a menstrual cycle.
Now that I am finished with my trial and error period, I will make up about a dozen of these, which will last long time. I am so grateful for a mother that taught me to sew by making my clothes when I was a little girl. I sat by her side and got to get the 'wheel' started for her sometimes. It was great. Share a skill with your family that will last a life time. It will mean more to them than you will ever know.
Please share any ideas or things you do to increase your self-reliance and health. We are all in this together and the more we can share and learn from each other, the better off we are. There are many different ways to teach and learn, and this is only one of them. All of us have something to teach. Everyone has something they can share with others. Your input is very welcome here.
In our efforts to become more self-reliant, we have learned so many new things. Things that will increase our safety, like radio communications. Things that will provide us with food, like gardening and canning. Things that will increase our physical health by eliminating chemicals and dead food from our bodies, like no shampoo and panty liners. This project is just one more step toward living life the way we want to, and not the way society dictates to us that we should. And while we still have the freedom to do so, we will continue to learn and do for ourselves the way we see fit. I pray you do the same.
Until next time - Fern