Archive for the ‘Fabric Scraps’ Category

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:


  • 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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Last week feels like a dream. The days spent drawing and thinking on the beach, nothing but blue skies and open waters in front of me, seem like years ago. But the rasp in my voice, the slight swell in my ankle, the sour smell of my clothes that still haven’t been washed… it all reminds me it was in fact just days ago that I was still on vacation.

The stories from the week since I last wrote are too many to tell here. But what I will say is that my week ended with the Hillside Festival – a beautiful weekend of music, dancing, food, laughter and inspiration. I’ve been attached to my ipod ever since, trying to maintain a reality where there is always music playing. The new sounds floating past my ears include Horse Feathers, Shane Koyzan, Bent by Elephants, Brasstronaut, The Acorn … the list goes on … 

But, it’s back to reality. And right now that reality comes in the form of rag rugs. I will post the end of my self-portrait adventure shortly, a project that unfortunately got derailed last week by the lack of necessary art supplies in the tiny town near my cottage. I did, however, perfect the art of upside down drawing, and experimented with understanding depth and perception through drawing on glass… not half bad, hey?

In any case – rag rugs! Wonderful, glorious rag rugs. This is what my attention turned too after the drawing couldn’t be finished.

A few months back, my sister gave me this book called Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt. For the most part, the transformations involve just changing the style of the shirt, but there are a few wicked how-to’s the create completely different end products. One example? The rag rug.

Now, before I get into this, there needs to be a disclaimer. This project takes FOREVER. Make sure you’re addicted to a really good TV show, or have a marathon of movies to watch before embarking on this.

The Materials

  • Loads of material, wripped into 1″ wide strips
  • Scissors
  • Needle & Thread

How to

1) You’re going to need lots of fabric scraps. Enough to make a 1000 inch long braid of fabric. So start wripping up those old curtains, t-shirts, and anything else you have lying around. An important note though. It’s really, really, incredibly, super hard to braid with scraps that are too long. The book told me to sew the scraps together and then ball it up, as though you’re making a ball of yarn. This was nearly disasterous, as everything got tangled while I braided. So instead, I would suggest using scraps that are 1″ wide and no more than 2 feet long.

2) Once you’ve got a pile of scraps at your side, it’s time to start braiding. To start, sew the top of your three fabric strands together to anchor it. Then start braiding. If you’ve never braided, check out this clip for instructions.  

3) You want to make one continuous braid, so you’ll have to add more fabric strands on. You can either sew them on, or slip knot them. See the picture here? That’s what your slip knot should look like. (Note, you can also use a regular double-knot, but they are bulky and harder to work with later on).

4) Braid, braid, braid. Watching movies while braiding is a good way to pass the time. I watched Arsenic and Old Lace while doing this… highly recommended!

5) When you’ve got about 1000 inches of braiding done (congratulations!) you’re ready to start sewing. This is pretty simple in theory — you’re just spiraling the braid around and sewing it in place so that it lies flat. But it’s deceptively hard. If you sew it together too tightly, the rug will buckle, causing it to not lie flat. This is what happened to me. Make sure you let the material relax and lie flat as much as possible.

This stage also takes ages. Stick another movie on. Do it on the bus. Listen to podcasts. It takes a while. A long, long while.

But… when you’re done, you have a wonderful product! Tie off the ends, and gaze down at your beautiful carpet. You did it! Hurrah!

Ultimately, I was really happy with the outcome of this project, but I really can’t overstate how much time it takes. I would guess I spent upwards of 20 hours on this sucker. A great, but time consuming, way to get rid of those ol’ fabric scraps!

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