Saturday, April 2, 2016

April 2016 Sew Simple Saturday!

 Hi everyone!
   Welcome to the April 2016 Sew Simple Saturday Link up Party!
One thing that I know about quilters, seamstresses and women in general is that we like to help each other! Sew Simple Saturday is a time where we can come together and share out tips and techniques for sewing and crafting!

 A little while back I announced my annual Little Dresses for Africa Sew Along. If you haven't heard about the LDFA Sew Along,  you can read more info here and see how you can be involved.
    Last month I shared my tutorial and the Nancy's Notions Pattern on how to make the little dresses from yardage. You can read that tutorial here!

   I recently found out about another need through the Little Dresses for Africa website. Re-useable Sanitary Pads for young girls!

  The following is from the LDFA website and from UNICEF explaining why these pads are needed:
"According to UNICEF, one in ten schoolgirls in Africa miss classes or drop out completely due to their period, and substitute pads or tampons for less safe and less absorbent materials such as rags, newspaper or bark.
There are many aspects that link girls’ attendance rates to their menstrual cycles. Firstly, the lack of affordable sanitary products and facilities for girls and women keeps them at a disadvantage in terms of education when they are young and prevents their mobility and productivity as women. Secondly, the lack of clean and healthy sanitation such as toilets and running water means that girls often do not have anywhere to change or dispose of pads safely and in privacy at school. Thirdly, the taboo nature of menstruation prevents girls and their communities from talking about and addressing the problem; raising awareness and education to eliminate the stigma of menstruation is a large part of the battle.
UNICEF reports that “in countries where menstrual hygiene is taboo, girls in puberty are typically absent for 20% of the school year”. Most girls drop out at around 11 to 12-years-old, and miss school not simply because they fear being teased by their classmates if they show stains from their period, but also because they are not educated about their periods, and their need for safe and clean facilities is not prioritized. The idea that monthly bleeding is something shameful, polluting, or taboo may also encourage girls to avoid social contact during their period. Additionally, the cultural implications of menstruation as a stage in a woman’s development may be used to take girls out of school – the idea being that if a girl is ready for motherhood, then she is ready for marriage.
From LDFA:

Little Dresses for Africa has seen the need among the young girls and women and encouraged our sewers to take part in sewing and sending what we call “sani-panties”.  Improvements in sanitation can go a long way to combating the problem. The distribution of these washable pads along with adult sized panties lead to very helpful discussions surrounding their use and general health.  The resulting good hygiene enables the girls to manage their periods more easily.  Thank you for joining us in this life-changing project


Can you imagine living under those conditions???  I can't. But I do know that I can sew some simple reusable, washable pads!  I tried several patterns on the internet and finally settled on making my own.
I would like to share a tutorial for making these reuseable pads.
Please just skip the tutorial if you find this information offensive in any way. 
Here is what we will need:
1. Sanitary pad with wings to make a pattern. ( if anyone wants my pattern, I will try to upload it to you)
2. Flannel for outer covers (or quilting cotton) 
3. Absorbent cloth. You can use terry cloth, flannel or diaper material.
4. PUL fabric  (polyurethane laminate) ( this is the same fabric used in Diaper covers. Readily available at Joann's Fabrics & Crafts. I used a 40% off coupon. I also bought a PRINTED PUL version to help me keep track of  the waterproof side easier.)
5. Snaps or velcro for the fasteners. I've tried both and prefer sewing the Velcro on by machine.

So let's get started:

First open up a pad and trace around it onto cardstock or cardboard. Include the wings.

Cut out the pad and cut the wings off. We will use the center to make the absorbent center of the pad and realign the wings to make the outer covers. Mark on the center template where the wings will re- align.

To make the center absorbent pad:

Cut the following rectangles wider than the center pad and longer. Cut one rectangle of the PUL cloth, One rectangle of the flannel that will be next to the skin AND instead of cutting 4 to 8 individual rectangles of the absorbent cloth, I cut one large rectangle and folded it to get 4 - 8 layers. This eliminates so much cutting . 

Layer all your rectangles in the following order:
1. PUL on bottom with printed side down ( I flipped up a corner so you could see it in the photo below)
2. 4 to 8 layers of absorbent material in the middle (terry cloth, flannel, diaper cloth)
3. Flannel that will be next to the skin on top.

Lay the pad template on the top of the flannel and trace around it. Sew ON the traced line through all the layers:

Trim close to the sewn line: This is our absorbent center pad.

To make the covers and assemble the pad:

Cut two large rectangles of flannel. 
Trace the pad template laying the wings back in position.  Cut out ADDING A SEAM ALLOWANCE. I added a good 1/2" or more!

The PUL or waterproof side will not be visible once the pad is completed. So in order for the girls to know which side goes down or next to the panty,  I sew a small strip of the PUL fabric on the bottom piece of flannel from wing to wing.  This will let them know which way is bottom so that the waterproof side is not next to the skin and which way to snap or velcro the wings closed.

Next, attach the absorbent center pad  to the other flannel cover with a zig zag or blanket stitch, pul side down toward the flannel.  ( I forgot to take a photo of this step so this photo is from the next one that I made in pink :) 


Now you have the top and bottom made.

Layer the top with the bottom wrong sides together. ie -BOTTOM PUL STRIP face down, absorbent pad face up.

Zig Zag or blanket stitch all the way around. 

Add snaps or velcro to the wings. MAKE SURE you attach them to the correct sides of the wings. 


Some notes:

  I used flannel for the outer layers to help with absorption.
  I used red or pink to help hide staining.
  PUL fabric is slippery. If you use it as the bottom layer, then the pads will slide around. Therefore,  we enclose the PUL inside the pad below the absorbent cloth layers. You must mark which is the top or bottom of the pad. We don't want them wearing the pads with the absorbent pad next to the panty and the PUL side next to the skin.That is why I sew a strip of PUL to designate the BOTTOM. 
  The blanket stitched edges are less bulky compared to several that I made stitching right sides together and then turning right sides out and slip stitching the opening closed. Those were just too bulky around the edges.
You can cut all the layers the shape of the center pad and attach the layers to the top cover all in one step, but all those layers slide around too much for me to get them sew on straight. therefore I make the absorbent pad first and then attach it to the top cover with wings.

When these are distributed, each girl will receive only two. One to wear and one to wash. They also ask for new panties to distribute with them. Each girl gets one pair of panties! Most don't even have one pair!
   I purchased a 6 pair package of 100% cotton panties in women's size medium. I hope to make at least 12 pads. 
Please wash the pads before sending them. Do not use fabric softener or starch as this makes them less absorbent.

There is also a Sani Pad pattern on the Little dresses for Africa website. You can find it here!

Here are all my trial and error pads: They are all still useable ,but I like my method above best.

I do hope that you will consider making some of these pads After all, we are women helping women! 
 I have also been making some little dresses and I made a little pair of boy shorts. I hope to get lots more made before our Little Dresses for Africa link up party on May 7th! 

 I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. 

This months Sew Simple Saturday linky Party is being sponsored by AurifilThe Fat Quarter Shop and Featherweight Quilt Company! Do you have a tip, technique or tutorial that you would like to share. If so, follow the Linky Tools below to link up and be entered into the chance to win one of 3 prizes.

One lucky participant will win this beautiful 10 Spools Collection of Aurifil 50wt threads:

Another participant will win a Gift Certificate from the Fat Quarter Shop!

And a third person will win an adorable 2016 Cozy Cottage Calendar from Featherweight Quilt Company!

Woohoo! So you have a chance to win one of three prizes!!

Here are a few tips and guidelines!

1. Using the Linky tool below,  link to your blog post or face book post.
2. Be sure your face book post is set to public so we can all see it.
3. Be sure to link to your actual blog/facebook post not your blog/facebook homepage. We want to be able to find your Sew Simple link!
4.Please post the Sew Simple Saturday Button ( the button and HTML code are on the right sidebar of this blog)  somewhere on your blog OR include the text link in your post. It helps to spread the word. The more people that link up, the more fun and encouragement we will receive! And please SHARE!!!
5.Visit as many of the other link ups as possible. Everyone loves to gain feedback on their hard work. And be sure and spread the comment love far and wide!
6. Following my blog is not a requirement, but it is greatly appreciated, plus you won't miss a thing!
7. Be sure and stop by our sponsors , Aurifil  and Fat Quarter Shop, and let them know how much you appreciate their continued support and giveaways! They are the most awesome companies that truly love our community!

The Link-up will be available Saturday April 2nd through 10:00 pm EST Monday April 4th!!! So you have an extra day to link up! 

Please stop by and visit as many people as you can! And leave them some comment love!  Who knows what neat idea or tip you may come across!
Now,  Let's make some friends and let's PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And don't forget to be working on those Little Dresses for Africa. We will have some fabulous rpizes for that Linky Party on May 7th! 
xo jan


  1. Very interesting--makes one count their blessings, for sure!

  2. indeed.
    I'll be checking through my stash this week to see what may work:)

  3. On the"Simple Sewing Chair Redo" the link takes me to the main flickr page instead of the page for the chair so I can't visit and see your link up. Can you try it again?
    thank you
    xo jan

  4. Jan, I don't know why this is happening, because when I click on your link, it goes to the chair album :(. I'll look again, but am not sure what to do. Any suggestions from others?

    1. Hi Donna, - I can see the album now from the second link but can't leave a comment on flickr for some reason. I need to redo my chair with some pretty fabric. It's just plain old black with lots of threads on it. lol! Yours looks great. Thank you for linking up.
      xo jan

    2. Thanks, Jan. Did you try clicking on "Open Album Page"?


Hey yall!
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today! Your words mean so much to me. Thank you for taking time to leave me a comment and if you have a blog, feel free to grab a tractor button from the sidebar and plow along with me! Ain't no tellin what we'll get in to.
xo jan