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.
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.
Eg for an 8cm wide front, that measurement might become 10cm including seam allowance, so you mark 5cm up from the fold of your paper at each end (in this example the front and back of the pad are the same width)
Fold your paper in half to find the centre point. This is where the tip of your wing will be. Then you can unfold the paper again. If you wanted to have your wings more towards the front or back (eg the front or back is longer than the other end) instructions to do that are here.
Work out the width you want the crotch to be (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 (eg 3cm for a 6cm crotch) 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 shape of 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 foldto 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, 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 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. Not a straight line – it needs to slowly curve. 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 about halfway 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. This cuts both the front and back sections out at the same time, and it should be perfectly symmetrical. When you get to the edge of the paper, round the corner off nicely.
All done! Before sewing it up though, carefully (without ripping your paper) test to see how the wings fold over. They will need to overlap by about 1-2cm, ideally no more than that. If the wings aren’t folding over nicely, then you may need to trim the shape of the wing to make it sit flatter. Once you think you are happy with how it looks, 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!
See how different pads can look just by changing the shape of the wing! and by changing the overall shape of the pad, you can get all sorts of nifty and interesting pad shapes. Let your imagination go wild!
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, because the back is longer.