Interlabial pads are a relatively uncommon menstrual product worn externally and held in place by the labia. They are not very absorbent and are generally used with another period item. Examples include: back up for tampons or menstrual cups, an added layer with a pad either used between the labia or just laid on the pad for extra absorbency, or being used to slow and direct absorption by a pad (to mitigate gushing issues). They can be worn folded lengthwise, rolled on the long side, or rolled on the sort side. Interlabial pads can be difficult to find but are very easy to make. These instructions will show how to make your own reusable cloth interlabial pads.
Notes on interlabial pads: They cannot be used while swimming. They must be removed to urinate, being careful not to forget about them and drop them in the toilet. Some people have issues with them drying out the skin if flow is very light and/or they are not changed often enough, moistening them with water can help.
Notes on washing: Interlabial pads are reusable and can be hand or machine washed. The most common method is soaking in cold water before machine washing in a delicates bag. If you hand sew you may want to hand wash as the pads may be more delicate. For more on washing visit the washing page of Clothpads.
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
Before you get started, gather the materials.
I did not have my sewing machine for these instructions pictures will show hand sewing, but if you have a sewing machine making the pads will be faster and easier.
- Needle and Thread
- Sharp scissors
- A piece of paper
- Straight pins (recommended)
- Sewing Machine (optional)
Notes on fabric: Flannel is soft and thin, making it the typical fabric for interlabial pads, For these instructions I use 100% cotton flannel, but the choice of fabric is up to you. Mixing and matching works as well, if you want higher absorbency, you can make the core out of cotton fleece or some other layer of fabric, but still use flannel for the outer layers. For more on fabric choices visit the fabrics page of Clothpads.
Step 2: Make Your Pattern
In general interlabial pads are between 3.5 and 5 inches long and 1.5 to 2.5 inches wide (at the widest point). This step is very much up to you, 4.5" by 2" might be a good choice if you don't have an idea of what you want. Also feel free to cut toilet paper or a scrap of fabric to a sample size to see how it works with your body.
Fold your paper in half, measure your length on the fold line.
Then measure half of the width out from the middle of the fold time.
Add some dots between these measurements to get a smooth curve that will form the leaf shape. It does not have to be perfect.
Connect the dots to get the curve and cut along this curve.
Unfold the paper: this is your pattern.
Step 3: Cut the Fabric
Pin the pattern to your fabric (near the edge to save space). Cut it out. Repeat until you have three of these cloth "leaves."
Note: The number of layers is also up to you, three flannel layers is sufficient for my use so the instructions assume three layers. If you only need really light absorbency, only do two layers. If you want more absorbency cut one or 2 leaves in a different, more absorbent, fabric.
Step 4: Sew the Pieces
Lay the three pieces on each other, with the patterned side of the fabric facing out. Pin or clip these pieces together. Make a zigzag stitch all the way around the edge of the fabric. This will both keep the layers together and finish the edges so that they will not unravel. Since I was hand sewing and using thin thread I double layered my thread.
Step 5: Sew on a Pattern (optional)
Sewing a pattern on the pad can help keep the layers in place through washing and use. It can also help to keep the layers from billowing if you are doing one of the rolls.
Using a straight stitch, sew a pattern through all layers of the pad. Here I did an X with 2 horizontal lines, but you can do any pattern you like or simply a line or two, the point is just to anchor the pieces together in a place besides the edge.
Straight Stitch - The most basic stitch. A dashed line visible on both sides of the fabric.
By Hand - tie a knot in the end of your fabric to anchor the thread, bring the needle out through the front of the fabric, push the needle out to the back of the fabric about an 8th of an inch (or however wide you want your stitch) away from where you brought it out, pull the needle back to the front another 8th of an inch away from that point (in a straight line), repeat
With Machine - chose the straight stitch mode, should look like a dashed line, sew forward and back a few stitches to anchor, continue forward until you are done, sew forward and backward to anchor the end.
Step 6: Wash and Use
Done! Wash your pad(s) and they are ready for use. The above pictures show the three rolls described in the intro.