The Kenya Pad Initiative has begun and I couldn't be more excited. This weekend I had a group of people come together at Crossroads Nazarene Church in Chandler, AZ to help make menstrual pads for the women in Lodwar, Kenya. I wanted to wait to post this tutorial until I had a chance to have people test it. Changes have been made and now I think it is ready for all of you to see!
We need 600 menstrual pads for our first distribution to the Lodwar women. We are hoping to have three washable, reusable pads, three pair of underwear, and a bar of soap in each kit to give out to 200 women. They will be required to get their kits from the local counseling center (Wings of Hope) where they will learn to take care of their pad kits, how to use them and how to clean them. Our hope is to equip 200 women, including school-aged girls, with these kits and get their feedback for how we can adapt the pattern to better suit their needs. Once we have feedback from these women, we will be making many more to hopefully reach all the girls and women in need in this area of the world.
If you are interested in making pads for this cause, please contact me to let me! I can let you know where to send them when you are finished. If you can't make pads but have some extra flannel or fleece or thread lying around that you would like to donate, please let me know! We are taking donations! If you don't want to make these for others, but want to make them for yourself, feel free to use this pattern.
DOWNLOADS ON MY GOOGLE DRIVE:
(1) Fleece outer piece for the bottom
(1) Flannel outer piece for the top
(1) PUL liner
(2) Flannel liners
Rotary cutter/Cutting mat (optional)
1. Prepare your templates
Print and assemble your templates. The outer pad template spans four printed pages. Cut out each piece and tape them together to create one outer pad template. Cut out your templates and trace onto cardboard, then cut out the cardboard templates. This is especially helpful if you will be using the rotary cutter to cut the fabrics.
2. Cut the fabric
MAKE SURE YOU PREWASH ALL FABRICS BEING USED FOR THIS PROJECT.
Using your cardboard template, trace the pad shape onto the appropriate fabric and cut it out using scissors.
If you own a rotary cutter and cutting mat, you can rotary cut through multiple layers of fabric at a time, using the cardboard cutout as your straight edge. Be sure to use a sharp rotary blade so you can cleanly cut through the multiple layers.
3. Assemble the liner
The liner of the basic menstrual pad is made with two (2) flannel liner pieces and one (1) PUL liner piece. You will need to lay the PUL on top of the two flannel pieces, waterproofing side down toward the flannel. (The waterproofing side is the shiny, smooth side.)
Pin the stacked liners to the wrong side of the flannel or quilting cotton outer piece. To reiterate, place the outer flannel pieces right side down, place the two flannel liners on top (right side or wrong side is fine), and place the PUL liner piece with the smooth, shiny, waterproofing side down. I like to use four pins to hold my layers in place. The PUL is super slippery and will move around if you don’t secure it in some way.
4. Stitch the liner to the outer piece
Using about a 2.5 stitch length, topstitch around the liner (about 1/8” from the edge). Backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitch path.
Clip the thread tails.
5. Assemble the menstrual pad
Place the fleece outer piece pilled (or rough) side up. If your fleece is anti-pill, you will not need to worry about the direction of the fabric. It may be nice to place the side with the clearer image (right side) up so the design will show on the final product. Place the quilted, top outer piece on top of the fleece bottom outer piece, right sides together.
Pin around the edges of the pad. On one end (shown on the right side in the photograph above), place two pins about 3/4” from each of the corners. This will mark your starting point and ending point when stitching around the perimeter of the pad. Between the two pins will be left open (unsewn) so the pad can be turned right side out. It is important that you stitch around the corners here. It makes the opening easier to close after you have turned the pad right side out.
Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitch path to lock the threads in place. Stitch around the perimeter of the pad, turning at the corners. Use between ¼” and 5/8” seam allowance.
Clip the thread tails.
6. Turning the pad
You will need to clip notches at the corners of the pad, both inward and outward. This will help give the pad crisp points when completed. In the photograph above, the lower portion of the pad has been clipped while the top portion has not. The top portion has been marked where notches should be cut. You will need to clip close to the stitches. Be careful not to clip through any stitches.
Turn the pad right side out through the opening you left on the end.
Use a chopstick to press corners outward. Press carefully so you do no rip through the stitches in the corners.
7. Closing holes: intentional and not
To close the opening you used for turning, fold the seam allowance for each fabric into the hole and pin shut.
Sometimes you will end up with a hole in the seam after turning the pad right side out. To remedy this, fold the seam allowance for each fabric into the hole and pin shut.
Once all the holes are pinned closed, topstitch around the edges of the pad, closing the holes and giving the pad shape. Remember to backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitch trail.
Clip the thread tails.
Here, you can see the hole from the aforementioned photograph is closed.
A note about accuracy: You do not have to worry about unstitching if you overstitch your mark. Due to the nature of these menstrual pads, there will be slight discrepancies in the construction and that is okay. They are utilitarian and will not be rendered unusable by slight variations in stitching.
The above picture shows the completed sewing project. If you would like to stop here, please feel free to do so. The last step is applying a snap closure to the wings, which can be completed by people who already own the tools and supplies at the collection site.
If you would like to add snaps, here are some images to show how to install. Directions for installing snaps can be found on the package for snap installation pliers. We are using size16 (11 mm/.43 inch) snaps. These can be found in the cloth diapering section of Jo-Ann.
How can you help?
Even if you are unable to help cut or sew, you can help by donating the supplies or tools we need to make more menstrual pads.
We need fleece, flannel (including receiving blankets), and PUL, which can be found in the cloth diapering section of Jo-Ann. We are looking for these specific materials, so please do not donate items like curtains or tablecloths. We will need yardage of the above fabrics for these pads. If you are purchasing to donate, try to get a flannel that does not have a painted design on it, as these designs affect the absorbency of the fabric.
If you would rather donate notions or tools, we can use any cotton or polyester thread (this is a great thread stash buster project!), snap pliers, and coordinating snaps. Snaps and pliers are found in the cloth diapering section of Jo-Ann.
Please feel free to share about this on your blog or other social media. I would love to get as many people involved as possible!