Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cloth Bra Pads!

Today we are making cloth bra pads! These are great for yourself or for your mommy-to-be friends. For most of my Mommy-to-be friends I made a little "Mommy Essentials Kit" with a pair or two of bra pads, a nursing cover, a changing table cover, and a few matching burp cloths. I will show you how I make all those things but today we will just work on the bra pads!

They are so very simple yet so useful. Before I made these I was going through 2-4 pairs of disposable bra pads everyday! Now I can get through a day with just one pair of cloth pads and we eliminate the waste of a disposable pad! You can use any material you want (when I am doing a new mommy kit I like to use all matching finished material) but I really prefer using hemp for my bra pads. What ever fabric you are using you may want to wash it to preshrink it or not... I don't typically prewash/preshrink anything and instead I just cut things a little bit bigger to allow for shrinking.

Hemp is antimicrobial and it will really cut down on the sour milk smell that your disposable or other cloth bra pads tend to hold. Now if you do use hemp (or any other natural fiber material) be sure that you prep your bra pads (just like a natural fiber cloth diaper) before you use them. Because hemp is a natural fiber it contains natural oils which inhibit its absorbency so you will want to wash that oil out really well to ensure proper absorbency. Once hemp is prepped it is VERY absorbent! Just messing around I found that the hemp pads I make tend to hold about 2oz without leaking. Another benefit to cloth pads is that they dry as the day goes on and will be able to absorb more later. A disposable pad will not dry and absorb more later, you will just have to throw it away after it is full. But also like cloth diapers your cloth bra pads can become non absorbent if the fibers get stuffed up with detergent and soap build up. You can combat this by boiling your bra pads for a few minutes then dumping the water and repeating a few times. You know your material is prepped when your put a few drops of liquid on it and the liquid is absorbed right away!

The bra pads I make do not use PUL or TPU which is a waterproof polyester with polyurethane backing. Instead I like to use fleece because it is water resistant but still breathable. I have never had a bra pad with fleece backing soak and show through my shirt or bra... I have however not prepped a pad before and had the milk just trickle down right under the pad!

I also do not have a fancy serger (Santa, if you are reading, I want one for Christmas this year and I have been such a good girl so I really deserve one!) so instead I use a zig-zag stitch all around the edge of my bra pads to give them that serged look without having any fraying. To make my bra pads lay as flat against me as possible but still have many absorbent layers I use 4 different sizes all sewn together. The middle (closest to my nipple) is the thickest. I sew the three most inner layers together and then sew them to the outer layer before sewing the whole thing to the fleece layer. I sew each layer because if I don't when I wash them I will have a bunch of balled up pieces of hemp inside a little hemp fleece pocket and that just wont do!

Here are my 4 different sizes, I just used these little bowls as a guide the largest is about 5in round and the smallest about 2in round. I also cut my fleece layer with the same largest (5in) bowl.

Here you can see me sewing the 3 inner layers together

and here we add the fleece layer using a zig-zag stitch all around the edge.
 When sewing in the round you want to take your time at first. Until you become more comfortable and know your machine well. If you go too fast your lines will be really sloppy or straight for that matter and that's not what you want. It wont affect the functionality (unless you really get sloppy) but it wont look so pretty!

I did make a few that were coned a little and more conformed to fit your breast but in all honesty they really didn't make the pads any less noticeable and was just another step that wasn't worth it for me. If you want to give that a try anyway then I would sew the whole thing like you normally would and then cut from one end to the middle then overlap the part you just cut to form a cone shape and sew that cut part.

If the pictures didn't help you here is a video. Sorry it is long because I show you how to do it basically from start to finish!
To give a more finished look or to have it match all the other stuff you are giving your new mommy friend you can add another layer (of whatever material) on the outside of the fleece if the fleece doesn't match the other fabric you are working with. When gifting these I like to put a pair or two together and then tie them together with some ribbon to make it look nice. I hope you enjoyed making these for yourself or your friend! These see so much use at my house! I like to have about 4 pairs on hand because then I only have to wash every other day or so. If you made these let me know how they turned out for you! Do you have any suggestions or other tips that I didnt mention?

Happy crafting everyone!


  1. You are SEW Awesome! lol I have been wanting to start an Etsy Shop selling cloth items like this, but I've been nervous to get started cause I'm not that crafty... Although I know it's something I could learn. I figured I could figure these out on my own, but I'm having trouble with "lady pads" because I'm not sure which style to go with...

  2. Hi Sabrina,
    There really is no right or wrong way for you to make anything. I am +not perfect when making anything I make but everything I make still works just as well! I am working on an Etsy shop but I want to build a little bit of inventory first. Though I do sell my things on craigslist and to friends. I have made a few menstrual pads (I am assuming thats what you mean by "lady pads") before but I am still perfecting the design. I am nursing my nearly 6 month old so my cycles are still very sporadic so I dont really have a need for pads. If you want to use any of my designs for your Etsy shop feel free but please link to me or give me some credit somewhere. If you need any help let me know! My goal is for anyone who enjoys sewing to learn new things. And for anyone who thinks they can't sew, to realize that they actually can!

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