It really isn’t that hard to make your own pattern for a cloth pad. Its even easier if you have a rough idea of what you want and a pad (even a disposable one) to use as a guide. I’ll show you how to do it.
First – get an idea of what you want. If you are currently using disposable pads, take one out of the pack and have a look at its shape. Then think of how different you would like it to be. Would you like it longer? shorter? Wider at the back? etc. If you have cloth pads you can do likewise with the ones you have.
So… with an idea of what you want… get some pieces of paper, a ruler, a pencil/pen and any pads you want as inspiration.
Step By Step – making a cloth pad pattern
Take your piece of paper (which needs to be as long as your pad will be, so if a sheet of writing/computer paper isn’t long enough – stickytape another sheet to it to make it long enough), and fold it in half, so that the fold is on the longest side. Work out how long you want the pad to be. You can measure an existing pad and use that as a guide. So work out the length you want, and add enough extra for a seam allowance. I normally use about 1cm (1/4 inch) seam allowance, so I’d add 2cm (1/2 inch) to the length of the pad. To account for that on both ends.
Mark on your paper the length of the pad (including the seam allowance). Just use a mark at the end – you won’t need to draw the line right across. Then cut any excess paper off.
Now you need to work out the width the pad at the front and back. Again, measure an existing pad to get an idea. Divide that number in half and mark that number from the fold line. Eg for an 8cm wide front, that measurement becomes 10cm including seam allowance, so you mark 5cm up from the fold of your paper. Mark the same for the back (which in this example will be the same as the front)
Fold your paper in half to find the centre point. Your paper should now have a fold in the middle and a point marked at the front and a point marked at the back. Instructions for making a pad with a longer or wider back section are coming up next.
Work out the width you want the crotch to be. The “crotch” is the narrowest point of the pad. Generally you’ll want this measurement to be a lot narrower than the front and back of the pad. Something around 6-8cm or 2.5-3inches is probably good. Half that number and mark it on the middle fold. So your paper should now have 3 marks on it.. Front, Crotch & Back.
Next is to work out the wing. This can take a bit of trial and error to get right. Basically from the fold line to your wing mark needs to be a little longer than twice what your fold to crotch mark is – because you need space for the wing to overlap to put the snaps/button/velcro on.
So if your crotch point is measured 3.5cm (1.5in) from the fold, then mark a wing point above this at about 6-7cm (2.5in) from the crotch mark, which should give enough overlap for 2 snap settings & seam allowance. This measurement defines what the pad width will be. If this is too short, the wings will pull the pad too far in, and you might get a bit of bunching… too long and it won’t pull the pad in enough, and the crotch will end up being wider than you planned.
Now to turn the marks into an actual pad shape. Fold the paper in half again. Starting from your crotch point, mark a line to the front mark. Even though you won’t be cutting this line (because your pad will have wings), it helps to get the shape of your pad if you do this. This will essentially be the line your pad will make once the wings are closed around your underpants.
Now you want to mark the line from the wing down to the front. Experiment with the curve. A good place for it to connect to the pad is between the crotch mark and the front mark. The wing can be any shape you like – remember though that you’re actually drawing only half the wing, and you’ll need to account for the seam allowance here, (of about 1cm (1/4 inch))
Because this pad will have the front and back the same, just fold your paper in half, and cut along the wing line then to the front of your pad. When you unfold it, you should get something like this (with the fold still on the long side of the piece of paper), and it will be exactly the same each end and symmetrical.
unfolded, it should look something like this. If you want to round the corners, fold it back up, and cut. All done! Sew one up and see how it goes. Make only one, if it works, then go back and make more. That way if it’s not right, you can change your pattern and try again. Have fun and experiment with different shapes.
A slight variation on the way you make your curves can result in all manner of pad shapes. The way the front and back shape goes, and the shape of the wing are important in how different the end result will be – and if you are using a pad as a guide for your pattern, use those areas to make your pad shape look different to the other one. You don’t want to be copying it exactly!
Remember though that some shapes are a lot easier to sew than others!
Also, the shape of a pad will also be determined by its size. A smaller pantyliner type sized pad will have the wings taking up most of the pad, and central (even distance from front and back). A longer pad will possibly be up to about 1/3 of the pad being wing, and again, wings central. But a long Night type pad, will generally have a longer and wider back, with the wings more towards the front.
Making a pad with a wider or longer back section
This is basically the same as above… but you have to remember to cut it out differently.
Firstly, you need to find where the centre point of your pad will be – if making a longer backed pad, this will not be in the centre of your paper (which you’ll have to join 2 pieces of printer paper for, or use baking paper or something). Basically the wings on a pad will naturally shift to the narrowest part of your crotch – directly below where your vagina is. So you can work out that for the front of the pad to be where you would like it to be, it has to be a certain distance from there. I find about 12cm, (4 3/4inch) to be good (from the fold line of the centre of your paper)… or even a bit more. So your fold for your crotch mark will be off centre in a long pad pattern. Once you have that – mark your back (generally in a long pad, this will be wider than the front. Mark your curved lines to make the pad shape, and your wing.
This shows how the pad pattern will be off centre on a longer pad. So you can’t just cut it out like you did for the shorter pad, otherwise you’ll be cutting the back out the same as the front. Only mark half your wing though, as this we will cut on the fold.
So, cut your wing on the fold, just until the point where it joins onto the pad. Then stop cutting! unfold the pattern then continue cutting out the front and back along the marks you made. This way your wing will be symmetrical. So after cutting out, and rounding the corners, your pad should look something like this, with the back end wider and longer than the front end – with perfectly even wings.