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a basket of fun!

I tend to not be much of a TV watcher, let alone a reality TV watcher. But in 2009, when I was living in the UK, I became obsessed with a reality TV show …  Victorian Farm. (Yup, I just gained about 100 nerd points).

Victorian Farm follows three Brits for a year while they attempt to live life Victorian style. From brick making to hay harvesting, lambing to life in the dairy, it really is a DIY/history nerd’s dream come true.

In one of my favourite episodes, Ruth learns about basketry. An incredible basket maker shows her not only how to make the most beautiful basket, but one that is so sturdy she can stand on it!

Ever since, I’ve been dreaming of making such a basket. And while I’m a long way off, today was a good first start, and appropriately done on a rainy Sunday, bringing waves of nostalgia for Britain…

Materials

  • #2 reed (1.75mm). You’ll need 16 spokes that are 26″ long, 2 spokes that are 13″ long, and a bunch of long weavers (keep reading for an explanation)
  • Scissors
  • Warm water and something to soak the reed in

After calling several craft stores in and around Toronto, I had the epiphany that I should google “basketry supplies Toronto” (d’uh!), and amazingly the first place that came up happened to be less than a block from where I work! For anyone looking for supplies in Toronto, I highly recommend Bamboo Bazaar at Davenport and Symington. Lovely service, great supplies, and for me at least, the perfect location!

How to do it!

I borrowed a basketry book from my favourite Toronto craft store (Wise Daughters) and made my first basket using instructions from there. The book is called Wicker Basketry by Flo Hoppe, and is full of not just great instructions but helpful pictures to follow as well. I’ve only done the one basket so far, but highly recommend it!

  1. When you’re making your baskets, you use reeds in two different ways. Your spokes run vertically on your basket and create the structure for your basket. These should be sturdy. Your weavers are the strands that run horizontally (the ones you weave!). These should be more malleable. Every piece of reed has its own quality. You’ll be able to tell which are sturdier and which are floppier by soaking them. Place just the ends of your strands in hot water and separate out the ones that go floppy like spaghetti from the ones that have more rigidity to them.
  2. Cut up your pieces. As mentioned above, you’ll need 16 x 26″ spokes and 2 x 13″ spokes (remember these are the more rigid ones!) and then a whole bunch of long weavers (the floppier ones).
  3. Soak the spokes so that they lie flat.
  4. We’re going to start with the base. Because this was my first basket, the book suggested an interwoven base. To begin, separate your 26″ reeds into groups of four and mark where the centre is. Overlap the sets of four to make a small square in the centre. Look at the picture to see how they should overlap (which sit in front and which are behind).
  5. A word about soaking. Soaking your reeds is really important to make them easier to work with. Finding the right balance of moisture for your weaving is tricky. I was told before I started to not soak too many reeds at once, or for too long, but had no idea what that meant. I wound up soaking the weavers one at a time, as I needed them, for about 5 minutes each. My recommendation? Play it by ear.
  6. Now it’s time to start weaving! Beginning at 12 o’clock, weave clockwise going under the first group of four, and over the next. Continue for four rounds. 
  7. Then alternate the pattern. To transition, keep your strand behind the top 2 groups of four and then continue on for four more rounds.
  8. Next, we’re going to weave in groups of 2 instead of four. Starting with your second group of four, start separating out the strands into groups of two. I fretted about making sure they were evenly spaced at the beginning (which I found hard), but it all just worked out in the end. So don’t fret!
  9. As you start to weave with groups of two, you’re going to stick another pair of spokes in (the two 13″ ones). This creates an odd number of spokes, which is important later. See the photo for how to add the spokes in.
  10. The pattern of “over, under, over, under” is called randing. Keep randing, trying to keep the weave as tight as possible. Because there are an odd number of spoke pairs, the weave will automatically alternate, creating this beautiful pattern.
  11. You may have already come to the end of one of your weavers. When you add another one, just over lap the two weavers a wee bit and keep going. Come back later and trim them back.
  12. For this basket, we’re aiming for a base of 4″, so once you get to that point, you want to start building up the sides of the basket. Basically, just start pushing the spokes into a vertical position. I found it helpful to weave with the spokes facing the floor. Keep on going until you have about 1″ of siding done.
  13. Next comes weave style #2 – slewing! Slewing is the same as randing, except that you’re doubling up the weave. Add a second weaver, and pretend that the two weavers are one. 
  14. Continue alone until you have 6 rows of slewing done. Then go back to randing (1 strand) for another inch or so. Look how much great work you’ve done!
  15. Last but not least comes the border. This one is called a “trac” border. Basically, you fold over one set of spokes and weave them through 3-4 spokes (over, under, over, under) allowing any excess length to flop into the inside of the basket (we’ll trim off the ends later). 
  16. Do this all the way around.
  17. Trim off any extra bits, and you’re done! Hurrah!

This was a simple, easy, cheap and totally satisfactory project. Like knitting and crocheting, it’s all about getting the pattern down, and once you have that, you can weave while listening to podcasts, watching your  favourite show, or chatting with a friend. I’ve been catching glances of my wee basket all day, and think I may be hooked.

It seems an odd time to be felting hats. Outside, I am convinced that spring has sprung. Sure, there may still be some snow on the ground, but since the clocks sprung forward and the glorious sun has decided to stay later in the day, it feels very spring-like indeed.

Our soon-to-be veggie garden!

These past two weekends have been gloriously un-scheduled for me – a rarity after the past 3 months, and a luxury that I have been bathing in. Each weekend morning has started with roommates congregating in the sun room, books and big mugs of tea in hand, to laze around in the morning sun. Last weekend, Ashleigh and I got a bit ahead of ourselves and even started our seedlings (probably not the best timing, but we were riding the wave of spring-excitement and nothing was going to stop us!). And this weekend, it’s been all about crafting.

After felting with the Barter Babe a few weeks ago, I started reading more about other felting methods, like needle felting (still to be tried) and felting by knitting an item and throwing it in the wash.

I’m a big fan of knitting, and have become a bit of an expert at beanie hats. This winter along I churned out 6 of them – they’re fast, easy, and everyone can use them. But truth be told, I was ready to spice things up a bit. Enter the idea of making a oversized beanie hat and felting it down.

Materials

  • 100% wool yarn
  • A pair of size 9 needles
  • A pair of size 6.5 needles
  • A large eyed hand sewing needle
  • Laundry Soap
  • A washing machine

How to do it!

  1. To start, you need to knit your hat.

    Big Hat!

    I had read that when you felt in a washing machine, things shrink about 30%, so I took my favourite hat pattern (see the end of the post for the pattern) and made it about 30% bigger. This was WAY too big.

  2. The hats I tend to make are on straight needles, so at the end you need to take your piece of yarn and use a hand sewing needle to stitch it together to become a hat. Kind of like this…
  3. The basics of felting are just like those described in my previous felting post. Hot water, soap and agitation basically causes the wool fibres to cling to each other for dear life and thus shrink in size. Last time, we did this by hand, but this time I tried using the machine.
  4. Put your machine on the smallest size setting, and the hottest water setting, add some soap and your hat and get started.
  5. In retrospect, I should have not allowed the washing machine to complete a full cycle, but instead should have kept it on the agitation cycle until the hat was the right size. But, this didn’t occur to me until later. So I just kept putting it into the wash over and over again and watched its progress. (I shudder to think of the amount of water I wasted in this process… yikes!). In any case, the progression was fairly amusing…

Before starting to felt. The hat was REALLY big.

 

After machine wash #1. Not much smaller.

 

After machine wash #2. Getting there. But I still look like a mushroom.

 

After machine wash #3. A fuzzy army helmet.

 

It totally almost fits!!! (This is after I caught on and kept the machine on the agitation cycle for the equivalent of three washes)

 

Woo! The Finished Product!

Other than the incredible amount of wasted water that occurred (which I feel completely and utterly guilty about), this was a totally hilarious project. In retrospect (again), I would have knit a hat somewhat smaller in size (maybe 15% bigger rather than 30%) although the density of the hat upon completion is fantastic!

The only real downside was the state of my washing machine after the process was over…

how cool does this look?

The Hat Pattern

For those who want to make a beanie hat, here’s the pattern. The initial numbers are for a regular sized hat, and the ones in brackets are for the one I made to felt (not necessarily recommended)

Cast on 54 (80) stitches on Size 9 needles.

R1: K2(4) P2(4) to end.

R2: P2(4), K2(4) to end.

Repeat until ribbing is 2″ (4″) long.

Then, switch to Size 6.5 needles. Follow the pattern of knitting a row, and purling a row until you have completed about 6″ (10″) from the bottom (ie included the ribbing).

Then you start to decrease. **K6 (10), k2 tog.** Repeat the pattern between the ** to the end of the row. Then purl a row. Next **K5 (9), k2 tog**. Repeat to the end of the row. Then purl a row. Continue in this way until you K2 tog for each stitch. You should be left with ~10 stitches on your needle.

Cut a long end off your yarn, and use your large-eyed hand sewing needle to pass the yarn through the remaining stitches and sew up the hat. Voila! You’re done!

The Master Maple Maker, Jen V!

This week, 52 Projects features a guest blogger. You may recognize Jen V. from such posts as “A Mallow Day Off“. A former roommate and constant partner-in-silly-crimes, Jen has always been a source of DIY inspiration to me, especially in her life as a designer of recycled clothing. This week, Jen takes us through her experience as master-maple-maker, taking over her dad’s backyard maple syrup operation. Trust me, it’s worth sticking around for the ride.


Three years ago, my Dad and I decided to turn his yard into a maple syrup factory. He lives on a lot that is 75 metres by 75 metres with a bunch of maple trees and enough room for a fire pit (it wasn’t until year two that we discovered the importance of boiling the sap outside) which was the perfect combination for the establishment of a makeshift sugar shack.

In our first year we tapped one tree, boiling all of the sap over the stove in the house. The end product was runny, and we turned the house into a sauna. (Note: You have to boil off an average of 40 litres of water from the sap to get one litre of syrup!). But the excitement of creating this sweet tree nectar from our own backyard gave us enough incentive to increase production the next year.

Each year we’ve added a few more taps, and this year when my Dad announced that he was going down south for the second week of March – prime maple syrup time! – I declared myself  head apprentice of our production which now has 14 trees.

Materials

Drill (with a 7/16” drill bit – auger works best)

Hammer

Tap, bucket & lid*

Big bucket or container (holds 5L or more)*

Pan & lid (the bigger the surface area the better)*

Screen (the kind that you put over a frying pan when you’re frying bacon)

Fire pit with a rack

Kindling and firewood

Candy Thermometer*

Stovetop pot

Filter

Jars or bottles & lids*

Funnel

*If you don’t already have these and can’t find them at your local hardware store, try a rural hardware store. If it’s in an area with a lot of maple trees, odds are they will sell all of the maple syrup making supplies that  you could ever need.

How to do it!

When to tap

Maple trees pump their sap from their roots up to their branches as the weather starts to warm up at the end of the winter. In Ontario, this usually starts in early March, and when the sap is flowing, it’s time to start tapping. I don’t have a surefire trick to know when it’s time to tap, so I keep me eye on the temperature and use that as a guide. When the temperature starts creeping above  freezing in the day time but stays below over night, I’ll tap a tree to test. If it runs, all of the taps go in and stay in until the sap stops running which can be anywhere from a week to three weeks later.

Tap the trees

Find a sugar maple tree. You can use other types of maples, but these have the highest concentration of sugar in their sap. Make sure the tree is at least 18” in diameter. Pick a spot that is chest height and drill a 4-inch deep hole into the tree, pointing slightly upward so gravity will draw the sap down.

Insert the tap, and use a hammer to tap it in to the tree until it is snug. Hang the bucket, affix the lid and you’re ready to go.

Boil the sap

Use the big bucket or container to collect the sap from your trees. The sap will keep for about a week if it’s refrigerated, forever if it’s frozen, and only a few days if it is left out. Set up your pan over the fire (an outdoor stove or bbq will also do the trick), fill it halfway with sap, pouring it through the screen to filter out debris.

Place the lid on top, leaving it slightly ajar so that the steam has a place to escape. If your pan doesn’t come with a lid, a slab of plywood will work. Check on the sap level every 30 to 45 minutes, and continue adding sap to the pan. As the sap gets darker (after 12-14 hours of boiling), start keeping your eye on the temperature. When it reaches 102-103 C, take the sap off the fire and pour it into a stovetop pan. The rest of the boiling will happen inside over a stove so that you have control over the temperature.

Filter the sap

Before boiling it down to syrup, pour the sap through some kind of filter. You can buy a special re-useable maple syrup filter (we prop ours up with a metal tomato cage), or use coffee filters.

Turn it into syrup

With the sap in a stovetop pot, put it on your stove on high heat. Turn your overhead fan on so that the fan (as opposed to the walls of your house) absorbs the excess moisture. Once the sap comes to a boil, lower the element to medium heat, and keep the sap at a rolling boil. Using the thermometer, bring the sap up to 106C – this will leave you with a nice thick syrup.

For your first batch, let the syrup cool to room temperature. If the end product is too runny, you’ll need to bring it to a higher temperature. Experiment with one degree differences until you find the perfect temperature to get the consistency of syrup that you like.

Preserve it

Because syrup has such a high sugar content (which acts as a natural preservative), I don’t worry too much about canning it perfectly. Having said that, I lean more towards glass jars and bottles because you can sterilize them easily in the oven.

If your syrup storing containers are glass, sterilize them by putting them in the oven at 200F for 10 minutes. Make sure the syrup is hot. Using the funnel, fill each jar with syrup. If your containers are plastic, make sure they are washed out, that the syrup is cool, and then fill them up using the funnel. If you are using actual maple syrup bottles, you can buy brand new lids each year that will seal when you first put them on. Mason jars are another easy option, and snap lids can be found in almost any hardware or grocery store.

Thanks Jen! For those in the Toronto area, check out this amazing organization Not Far From The Tree that taps maple trees in the city!

Is it just me, or has there been a surge of absolutely incredible DIY-type projects lately?

My latest find (and by far the coolest project I’ve seen to date) is Barter Babes. For one year, an incredible financial advisor is bartering her services with 300 women in Toronto. No money is exchanged. You offer her a barter, and in return you get a 1-2 hour financial consultation.

I could (and possibly should) write a whole post about how great my experience with Shannon was — the advice she gave, the empowerment I felt, the concept of making sound financial advice available free of charge for women all while making bartering a more “mainstream” concept? Absolutely incredible.

My bartering offer to Shannon was a night of DIY fun — a sampler of 3 different DIY projects, a-year-from-scratch style, all in one night. Last night happened to be the night, and let me just say, it was totally fun.

We started off with a little butter churning. This remains my hands-down favourite project so far. If you haven’t checked out the post and started shaking up some cream yourself, go and do it now. It only take 20 minutes, some cream and a jar, and it’s tremendously fun.

Next up was lip-balm making. Another personal favourite. One batch made 14 containers, meaning that I have a new batch of little birthday and hostess presents on hand for future needs. Always good.

And finally, we felted.

About 5 years ago, I spent a summer working in BC for the Sierra Youth Coalition. Part of my job included offering felting workshops for young kids. I remember it being really fun, but somewhat nonfunctional. Each kid make a felt picture, and we had lots of ideas of turning them into a yurt, but in the end, nothing happened with them. It never really occurred to me that you could do other things with felt, until last night.

After a bottle of wine and with two successful projects under our belts, Shannon and I waded into the world of felting. For starters, we each just felting a rectangular patch (easily turned into a change purse or pouch). I’ve got plans for a hat later today, but that will be for the next post.

In the meantime, here’s what you need.

Materials

  • Wool fibre. You want un-spun wool to felt. Not yarn. I got several bags of “roving” (long, narrow bundles of fibre, often used for spinning wool) of various colours from my favourite Toronto store, Romni Wools. If you can get big swaths of wool that’s great too.
  • 2 pieces of bubble wrap or screen (like the screen you’d use for a back door in the summer time)
  • Hot water
  • Dish soap

But wait, what is felting?

Good question! Have you ever accidentally put a wool sweater in the wash, and had it shrink? If you answered no, I don’t believe you, because I’ve done this a few too many times.

Basically, each wool fibre has little microscopic hooks on it that like to cling together. When wool is subjected to a combination of soap, hot water and agitation, these hooks are activated and cling to each other for dear life. This causes the wool to shrink down and become dense and compact.

When you’re felting, you’re basically trying to make this happen by hand. How do you do this? Good thing you asked…

How to do it!

  1. To start off, cut 2 pieces of screen to be of equal sizes. Ours were about 1 ft x 8 inches. Your end product will shrink down about 20-30% of its original size, so you want your screen to be about 20-30% larger than your desired finished product.
  2. The next step is to lay your wool out on your screen in the desired pattern you want. To do this, hold the roving in your dominant hand, about 5-6 cm from the end. Using your non dominant hand, grab the end of your roving and firmly pull a piece off.

    Holding your roving, ready to pull!

    The wool fibres will naturally want to hold onto each other (remember the hooks?) but the hooks haven’t full bound to one another so you should be able to pull tufts of fibre from the end fairly easily.

    The tuft, after having been pulled from the end of the roving.

  3. Lay your fibre tufts down with the fibres all going in the same direction. This means that the hairs of the fibres should all be either vertical or horizontal. The layer doesn’t need to be too thick (you can pull the fibres in all directions to thin them out a bit) but feel free to layer different colours over each other to make a complete layer.
  4. In total, you want 3 tiers of fibre, layered on top of each other, alternating the direction of the fibres. So if you did your first layer with all the hairs pointing vertically, make the next horizontal and the final one vertical again.
  5. Remember that you’re going to be able to see the pattern of the wool on each side, so if you want to create designs, layer colours, etc. go ahead and do this!
  6. Once you have your three layers, put the second piece of screen on top, making a sandwich (screen-fibre-screen) and move to a location where things can get messy (we used my kitchen counter).
  7. Now it’s time to become a human washing-machine. Take the top layer of screen off, and drizzle dish soap over your wool. You don’t need a ton, but want to get some good suds action going on. You can see how much I used here.
  8. Dribble about 1 c. of hot water over your wool and replace the top screen.
  9. Start agitating. You want to be gentle at first, to ensure that the wool stays in place. I suggest doing ciruclar motions, with a good amount of pressure, using your fingertips all the way around your material. You’ll probably notice bits of the fibres coming through the screen. That’s normal. Make sure to lift your piece of screen up every few minutes to make sure your felting isn’t getting bound to the screen.
  10. Keep doing this for about 10 minutes on both sites, increasing the pressure and the ferociousness of your movements as you go. If you aren’t getting many suds, add more soap, and when your material starts cooling down, add more hot water.
  11. If you have bits falling outside the edges of your screen, try to work them inside your screen as you go, tigthening up the edges.
  12. You can try different agitation techniques by rolling up your screen-fibre sandwich and ringing it out light a dishtowel. Feel free to get creative with your agitation techniques.
  13. The way to test if you’ve done enough is via the “pinch” test. Remove one layer of screen, and pinch your felt. If the fibres pull up easily and on their own, you need to do more. If, however, when you pinch it, the whole pieces starts to pick up, then you know you’re almost ready.
  14. After the “felting” comes stage two of agitation – the “fulling”. This is basically just increased agitation to really get your piece tightly locked together. (It’s also my favourite stage). To do this, take your piece of felt out of the screens and rinse off the excess soap. Then, basically, start beating it up. You can throw in against the ground. You can hit it against your kitchen counters. You can scrunch it up, twist it. Anything to get super-intense agitation happening.
  15. Finally, try to find a rough surface (I’ve seen people using washing boards and corrugated shoe mats before) and rub each part of your felted piece against the rough part of the mat. See a pattern here? It’s just another way of ensuring even and strong amounts of agitation.
  16. Finally, rinse out your piece of felt, and look at what you’ve created! You have a thick, water-resistent textile.
  17. What you do next is up to you. I’m planning on adding a button and sewing up the sides to make a wee purse.Stay tuned for the next felting post – felting hats in different ways! And don’t forget to check out the Barter Babes Project!

Let’s recap:

We left off our characters on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, smiling, scheming and crafting. The plan? To make rice krispie squares from scratch – i.e. with all ingredients made from scratch. The epic success of the butter created a somewhat inflated sense of how easy this was going to be. The marshmallows had worked in the past too. All that was needed was puffed rice. How hard could that be?

… little did they know.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

After deciding to take on this challenge, the Fraser sisters started googling away to see how to puff their rice. Surprisingly, the usual plethora of google options weren’t coming up. But, in between the conversation forums talking about “gun puffing” techniques (scary!) we found this video.

Ginger ale!” I exclaimed after watching it. “I know how to make that too! This is amazing!”

Except that it totally didn’t work.

Before - when I was still so sure this was going to work.

After. Enough said.

Our next attempt was trying to pop rice like pop corn. I’ll save the polemic and skip to the chase – it failed too.

So, friends, please – your thoughts, ideas, and help on this one. How on earth do you make puffed rice? I’ve read more about getting more moisture into the kernel in order to pop it like pop corn, but have had absolutely no success.

Help!

I love Sundays. The possibility, the creativity, the calm. They make me smile.

This Sunday was spent with Chris Kay, laughing, making sock monkeys and eating too many chocolate covered almonds.

At one point in the afternoon, riding the wave of one of our sugar highs, we had an absolutely incredible idea. We decided we would make a batch of rice krispie squares from scratch!

Ok, I realize this doesn’t sound all that radical, but by “from scratch” we meant making our own puffed rice, and butter, and marshmallows, and then turning them into the squares. It would have been the first 52 Projects project where we went 2 steps back in the production cycle with the “from scratch”-ness. Except for the epic failure that happened.

But that comes later. First, the epic success…

Making Butter

Materials

  • 500 ml whipping cream (preferably organic)
  • A big jar
  • 2 strong hands
  • A strainer

How to do it!

  1. Carefully pour your whipping cream into a large jar. Close it tightly.
  2. Start shaking.
  3. Shake it. Sh-sh-sh-shake it. Shake it like a polaroid picture.
  4. Watch as the transformation happens.

Minute 1.

Minute 7.

Minute 13 and 21 seconds.

Keep on shakin!

Ah! It's coming! Minute 16.

The end is nigh. Minute 21.

Once you’ve got your butter in the jar, strain it out. The leftover liquid is buttermilk, and fantastic for baking! Chill the butter for a bit, and enjoy… It really is amazing!

The Final Product!

I think this has truthfully been my favourite project to date — so simple, so fast, and the transformation over those 21 minutes was like magic.

… if only the next part had the same success.

To be continued…


DIY Menstrual Pads

I remember so clearly going to visit my brother at university when I was growing up. There are 13 years between us, and it was such an adventure to get a glimpse into his adult world as a little kid.

When I think back on those trips, I have some incredibly vivid memories — of dancing home from a Blue Jays game along Bloor singing Spirit of the West songs, of getting walnut-shaped cookies for my train ride back to Ottawa, of walking in on Evan’s roommate eating hands down the biggest plate of spaghetti and meat balls I have ever seen. 

It’s with these thoughts in mind that my sister and I decided to start organizing similar trips for Evan’s kids. Last weekend was our first trial with my niece, Nina, and let me just tell you, from the aunties perspective it was an epic success. Skating at harbourfront, sundaes in bed while watching movies projected onto a wall, getting our nails done, going to see a musical… for all parties involved it was totally great.

So, how does this tie into DIY Menstrual Pads? Well, after Nina left, I started on this week’s project, and as I was making these little diddies, I remembered another moment from my own trips to Toronto to visit Evan. His girlfriend (now wife) Christine was hanging out the laundry, and she hung out her re-usable menstrual pads. I remember being completely fascinated by this, and spending a ton of time (probably 5 minutes, but it seemed like a ton then) asking her questions and trying to figure out whether these things were totally cool or completely disgusting. The verdict, about 16  years later, is that they’re totally cool.

And here’s how to make them:

Materials

  • Flannel (or flannellette – I’ve never really known the difference) material
  • A sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Snaps
  • A needle for hand sewing
  • Terry towel (optional)
  • Pencil

How to do it

  1. A preamble – I made mine my without the terry towel for extra absorbency. Instead, I made my own flannel insert. If you have a particularly heavy cycle, you may want to double up with the terry towel. If so, check out this great pattern for details.
  2. Now, to the instructions! Trace and cut out your three pieces of flannel, in the shapes shown here. I often use different sized pads, so I experimented with making different sizes. Remember – when you’re cutting your pieces, you want to give yourself extra for the seams. The first pad that I made measured about 9″ both north north to south and east to west when I cut the piece out and about 8.5″ x 7.75″ when sewn. The other was 12″ north to south and 9.5″ east to west when cut and 10.75″ x9″ when sewn. 
  3. NOTE: When cutting your two “half” pieces, make sure to leave lots of room (~0.75″) for them to overlap in the middle – this creates the pocket where your absorbent insert will go.
  4. Take your two “halves”. Press a 1 cm seam down the straight edge of each one and sew. It should look like this.
  5. Next, lay the pieces on top of each other, right side to right side, and pin it all in place.
  6. Then sew carefully around the edges. Turn it inside out. Look at how amazing this looks already!
  7. With the pad flipped right way ’round (ie the pattern facing out), top stitch around the whole thing to hide the seams. Translation – sew around the whole thing about 1cm from the edge so that all the seams on the inside are hidden. This will prevent fraying.
  8. Next come the inserts. For this, take a rectangular piece of flannel (just smaller than the north-south dimensions of the pad, and about 4x as wide as you’d like your absorbent insert to be – mine was about 8″ wide for a 2″ wide insert) and folded it in half with right sides facing each other. Next, sew it all the way ’round, except for about 1.5″ at the end.
  9. Turn it inside out, using the hole to push the material through. Hand sew up the hole.
  10. I wanted extra absorbency, so I then folded the material again, and sewed it up. You can layer as many extra pieces of flannel in your little absorbency pouch as you’d like. I made a variety of thicknesses to use on different days.
  11. Last but not least, hand sew your snaps on to keep those wings in place. And Voila! Your very own menstrual pads!

    The Finished Product!

Author’s Note: I haven’t actually tried these out yet, so use this pattern at your own risk. You know your absorbency needs more than anyone, so experiment around. Also – for all you ladies looking for menstrual alternatives, I can’t recommend the Diva Cup more highly. It doesn’t work for everyone, but it does for me, and I love, love, love it!

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