Mama Cloth Tutorial

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As I tumble more and more into the world of “green”, I’m learning just what that means for some people. Not long ago, I came across what is referred to Mama Cloth. Considering that most of the forums, groups, or blogs that I follow are cloth diaper related, these cloth menstrual pads are cloth for mama–mama cloth
Before we get to the tutorial, I just want to take a moment to discuss mama cloth. When I first came across this concept I couldn’t imagine myself even think about making the switch. The only words I could think of to describe it was gross. Guess what folks, you may just be considering this as much as I am once you finish this post.
Mama cloth is easily customized to to specific shape, length, width, absorbency, and even what fabrics are used. The fabrics used are soft against the skin and you don’t have that “icky” feeling of the plastic mesh-y stuff found on conventional pads.
Mama cloth is said to help reduce the cramping that is associated with PMS. How can simple cloth really help cramps? The decrease in cramps is actually from the absence of chemicals that are in conventional pads and tampons. Tampons put you at risk for Toxic Shock Syndrome, infertility, endometriosis, and the fibers left behind from tampons can cause odor and inflammation and give rise to tumorous growths. Pads are made with chemicals, fragrances, and are also often made with a dry-weave plastic cover which can cause rashes, irritation, sensitivity, and allergic reactions.
You also have the whole saving money thing which, face it, is a HUGE factor for many of us these days.  Like cloth diapering, there is some investment up front, but untold savings to be had in the future. I used materials that I feel were on the pricier side and for a set of 10 would cost me around $15 to make myself. Granted, you would need a larger stash than 10, but I figured that would give you a number to compare if you want to make the switch but can’t afford the handmade ones available. I’m also really big on using coupons at JoAnns so in reality, I spent half of that estimate using 50% off coupons.
Now to the good stuff…
Mama cloth liner tutorial

Materials Used:
Plastic snaps
OKAY, don’t be scared away if you think you have to buy these fabrics or use snaps (which means having snap pliers, etc.) You can use velcro, I just happened to only have snaps on hand. Since I dabble in making cloth diapers I used what I had on hand because for me mama cloth is a LOT like cloth diapers. You could use velour, flannel, suedecloth, microfleece or anything along those lines as the fabric on top. I had suedecloth laying around so that’s what I used. It’s also a polyester so it does a nice job letting moisture go through it and absorbing into the flannel. I chose to back mine with PUL just to build in a waterproof guarantee. You could leave this layer off for more of a pantyliner or use another fabric such as fleece or wool.
mama cloth pattern template
Here’s the pattern I drew. You should be able to click & print on a regular 8 1/2 x 11 paper.
We will use the pattern as is for our absorbent layers. You will need to cut 3 flannel for every 1 mama cloth you plan to make.
folded template
I used a piece of masking tape to hold back the wings or tabs. This is the pattern piece for the suedecloth and PUL.
cut fabrics
I’m a tad OCD so these are just lined up in the order they will be layered.
fabrics layered and sewn
Pin you suedecloth to the top of the flannel and sew around edges. If you have a serger, this is a great project for it. For these specific pads I just used a zig zag stitch set at the highest width and about 1.5 on stitch length. I sewed first around the edges of the suedecloth then again around the edges of flannel as well.
back side of pad
(This photo was apparently taken at an odd angle because it makes the pad look way weird. In reality, the wings are lined up quite nicely.) Carefully pin the PUL with shiny side towards flannel, but make sure pins are right along edge. Since it’s a waterproof fabric you don’t want to go poking holes everywhere.
liner with added snaps
I then used my snap pliers to add snaps to keep secured around the underwear.  If you don’t have snap pliers you could use velcro, or you don’t have to even have the tabs at all. Told you they are easily customized. 😉
front view with snaps
I did stitch around the outer edges once more before being finished.
From the top.
wings snapped
From the back with snap secured.
front with wings snapped
From the front with snap secured.
I wanted to touch on one last thing that might be holding you back from giving mama cloth a try. They’re gross right? and something you can’t keep up on the go? WRONG. You just fold the ends towards the middle to contain the mess and snap around the front. it forms the little pouch you see below.
folded and snapped
And because nobody wants soiled mama cloth floating around in their bag.. a wet bag! This should fit 4-6 mama cloth inside. =)
mama cloth wet bag
I just wanted to add that I’ve also made these using a turn and topstitch method. It does give nicer edges but I wanted to start with a tutorial that a basic sewer could do. Besides, it doesn’t really affect the function at all.

So, something you think you could do?


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27 Responses

  1. This definitely seems interesting. my only thing is what about ladies who have a heavy flow. Will these hold for them? I am visiting from Tip Junkie link up.

  2. Carrie @ The Internet Made Me Do It says:

    I’m not sure if I’m there yet, but I remember coming across something like this a few year back (I want to say Amy from the Tightwad Gazette). I think maybe I’d make a few as liners, and see where I’d go from there! Thanks for posting this and re-introducing this – obviously woman have been doing this long before Kotex was born!

  3. Kassie Groll says:

    @ Carrie: I haven’t actually made the switch myself. I made these for a craft swap on I plan to start by using them as liners along with tampons.
    @ Downing Delectables: All you have to do to customize the absorbency is add layers of flannel. you could also use different materials such as hemp or bamboo for a higher absorbency but still keeping it trim.

  4. Becky says:

    Actually a very cool idea. Because I have many allergies, this info would have been good to know in years past. However, I don’t need ANYTHING like this anymore…yippppeeee! But I’m glad you put this out there for others 🙂

  5. This is excellent. I have actually been looking for a tutorial of this sort. I’ve been thinking about making the switch myself. It’s not much different then cloth diapering. Once you get used to it, it’s not such a big deal. Thanks for the tutorial. I think I may give it a go! PS, visiting from Trendy Treehouse’s Create and share!

  6. This is such a creative idea. I would love for you to link up at my linky party via:

    Mrs. Delightful

  7. Sher7753 says:

    I don’t need the regular monthly pads any more, but do like having a light pad to absorb occasional leaks. This pad would work great and be a money saver for this as well. Thinking ahead there is probably an adult diaper pattern around somewhere as well.

  8. This was a helpful tutorial. I personally don’t need to worry about this because I rarely have a cycle unless I am on hormones to conceive, which is why I only have my daughter. Those hormones made me crazy! Thanks so much for sharing at Whimsy Wednesdays at The NY Melrose Family.

  9. This is a neat idea…I’m just not sure I’m there!

  10. Sola Hadi says:

    very helpful!..however, could i use material only from flannel?that material i can see easily here compare to flannel can absorb very well?

  11. Kassie Groll says:

    @Sola–You could definitely use only flannel. I would still have some sort of backing material just in case, but you could use fleece for the backing if you want something more breathable & more affordable than PUL.

  12. folkhaven says:

    This is something I’ve been considering trying for some time now. Perhaps it is time to take the jump now that you have reminded me again. I have a lot of old t-shirts to recycle. Would they have about the same absorbency as layers of fabric would?

  13. Rose :: Fine Craft Guild says:

    Remember mom using those made from old towels. Terry cloth seems like the perfect fabric to me for this purpose. White, which can wash real hot…

  14. Rose :: Fine Craft Guild says:

    btw Thank you for linking your ideas up at our party at

    Would you please be so kind so as to link back to the blog? So appreciated!

    Have a happy day,

  15. Congrads! This was the most viewed link last week at the Whatever Goes Wednesday party. I am featuring it today at Grab my “featured” button. You’ve got a lot of ladies thinking:)

  16. Zimms Zoo says:

    I have tried different versions of this several times because I have 4 daughters and not excited about them using all the chemicals. It doesn’t seem to bother my 13yo to use these but she does ask for the regular ones when she is going to spend the night somewhere. And I let her.
    It saves a lot of money.

  17. Kassie Groll says:

    @Folkhaven: I’m sure you could use t-shirts but you will probably have to use more layers.

    @Rose: Terry cloth might work. I would personally want something a little softer to be toughing my skin but to each his own and it would at least be a great absorbent!

    @Michelle: Yay, how exciting!!

  18. Claire Jain says:

    In my experience, once you go Diva Cup, you never look back 🙂

  19. Elin says:

    I sooo agree with Claire Jain! I love my little cup.

  20. anji beane says:

    I’ve been considering this for a while now. Basically, I don’t want to have to hear it from my husband 🙂 Thanks for the tutorial… Definitely a good use for the large scraps of PUL left over from making my girlie’s diapers 🙂

  21. Melanie says:

    Looks like a maxi pad! But it’s genius! Found you over at Fingerprints on the Fridge! I’d love for you to come link this up at my Tuesday Time Out Party – open all week!


    Reasons To Skip The Housework {The Blog}
    Tinker B Boutique {The Shop}

  22. Julie says:

    Fantastic post! I’ve been using ones I bought (without PUL), along with a diva cup, for many years and I will NEVER go back. Bookmarked so that I can supplement my stash with home made!

    To answer the heavy flow question, yes, if you use enough layers with good absorbency (no fabric softener, please :)) then you can get the same amount of time with a fabric pad as with plastic. I have never had even super heavy overnight flow go through all the layers.

  23. Gee says:

    How interesting to come across this! I am past that stage, having just finished having periods, but after I had my children, I actually used cloth diapers occasionally, just folded in 3 inside underwear because they were so comfortable. Good for you gals! What an excellent idea!

  24. Melissa says:

    I’m not against the idea of using cloth pads, because I have very sensitive skin and can only use soap that I make myself. I currently use Instead cups “instead” of tampons, because I get severe cramps with tampons. My question is what is your method for washing your cloth pads? I know that hydrogen peroxide can remove blood stains (quite wonderfully, in fact) but I also worry that it would cause the material to break down over time. Do you use a specific laundry detergent? Do you rinse the pads the same way you would rinse poo from a baby diaper? I hope I’m not being too graphic..These are just things I would like to be informed about before I sew up a stash for myself. 🙂

    • GreenGrizls says:

      Sometimes I’m lazy and don’t even rinse. Most of my cloth pads have a top layer of minky though and I haven’t had a single staining problem. I have enough to last a full cycle so I keep them in a wet bag and wash with diapers. I do a hot rinse, hot wash with detergent and cold rinse or two. I also like to add tea tree oilto the mixed load for a little extra disinfecting so that mixing the pads and diapers isn’t an issue.

  25. PaytonB says:

    Using regular pads do not cause cramps. Ever. You can’t even show any actual scientific evidence to back up your absurd claim. If you want to encourage people to use this route, at least don’t use scare tactics that are nothing but lies.

  26. Kylynara says:

    I find it odd you made your absorbent layers bigger than your waterproof layer. Don’t you get leaking around the PUL this way?

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