Friday, January 28, 2011

Sew... What?

Since Hubby Dear and I became parents eight years ago, our home has grown to resemble less a place where civilized people live and more a daycare center. Some of that is to be expected when you have more kids than adults in the family. It doesn't help, though, that our kids' grandparents lavish them with more toys, gewgaws, and plain ol' plastic junk than we know what to do with. Our once spacious-seeming house is becoming overloaded. A garage sale or giant donation to the Salvation Army definitely needs to be in the works.

So when my mom emailed and told me that she was giving The Thinker a sewing machine, my first reaction was less than pleased. The Thinker loves craft projects and has been learning how to sew with Grandma over the past few months, so it wasn't totally out of the blue, but still! Something else to take up MORE space!

When I related my frustration to Hubby Dear, he gave me a wicked grin and said, "Don't you want to learn how to sew? Won't that be good for when the SHTWXYZ?" (He loves to tease me with his own creative prepper acronyms.)

I stopped mid-complaint. He had a point. Perhaps this sewing machine wouldn't be such a bad idea. Maybe I should learn sewing basics along with The Thinker.

Now, if you knew my mom, you'd know that she's not going to just go off and buy some plastic piddly kid's sewing machine. Nor is she going to get a brand new adult sewing machine. My mom owns an antique store and estate sale service and spends untold hours at auctions. That is where she came across our family's newest preparedness tool. (Not that Mom knows I prep or even what prepping is. I'm still strictly on the down-low.)

My The Thinker's new sewing machine was made about 1951. Mom assured me that it works fabulously, even better than her own sewing machine (which is a young'un made in the late 60s).

She had a brand new electrical cord installed on it and it came complete with instruction manuals and with a bunch of gadgets that I can't identify. When we're not using it, the machine slips right inside and we can use it as a desk.

The only problem is that I don't have a clue how to use it. I can sew on a button and do some basic mending, but the sewing gene seems to have skipped me. The manuals that come with the machine are pretty easy to understand, though, so I think I can figure this out.

It didn't take me long to come up with a candidate for my first sewing project. This project is definitely something I would NOT have considered a year ago. You'll never believe that I am getting so excited about sewing....... (wait for it....) .......

my own menstrual pads.

(I can hear all of my male readers clicking their browsers in a panic and finding something else very manly to read. I know I have a few guys that read my blog. Sorry dudes. This topic had to come up sometime.)

Cloth pad from
You can try to store a lot of feminine hygiene products, but in a SHTF situation, they will run out sooner or later. My journey toward self-reliance has also made me more aware of how much I'm spending on plastic crud that will sit in a landfill forever. I have also read testimonies from many women that say their periods became lighter, shorter in duration, and they experienced fewer cramps when they started using cloth pads.
You can buy cloth pads in several different places -Amazon, Ebay, Etsy are a few of them - but they are expensive. That's what started the whole train of thought that led me here. Things are about to get interesting.

Now I need to:   

A) figure out how to use this sewing machine
B) find a pattern for cloth pads that is easy for a beginner like me with an ancient sewing machine and
C) get brave, buy the materials and get started.

Wish me luck!

Do you sew? Do you use cloth pads? Have you sewn your own cloth pads and have some tips for me? Have I lost my mind?


  1. Hi! I have a sewing machine too....or a tv table. lol I found a pattern for pads and printed it out for future reference(when I move my tv).
    They also have some great bread recipes! Hope that helps. Good luck

  2. What a gift!!! Can't wait to hear about all the creations!

    SO -- I have been using cloth pads for years (I got some GladRags about 20 years ago). (TMI ... I have some "issues" so they only work for a few days of the month for me ... )

    Anyway -- a few years ago I decided to sew my own pads. WARNING! Use cotton flannel! I thought that fleece would be *even* *softer* ... until I realized that fleece is not absorbent. Oooopsie!

    Best of luck ... and have a happy period ;-)

  3. What a great gift! I have 3 sewing machines - one almost brand spankin' new, one from the 40s, and a treadle machine. It can be very rewarding to sew your own, but frustrating when things don't go right. Homemade pads should be a perfect start - no one's going to care if they're perfect!

    Now to the TMI section - I recently bought a Moon Cup and love it! My next venture is to make my own reusable pads for back-up.

    Keep us updated on the sewing venture!

  4. Thanks for the comments and encouragement, y'all! I'm going to make a trip to the fabric store next time I drive to the Big City. If these work out, I'll make a ton of them since I have three daughters! (The oldest of whom is only eight, but we'll be ready for that day when there are four of us who get PMS!)

  5. Then I wouldn't worry about zig zaging. The soaker is a hidden layer and people won't see it. So you can still use my tutorial with a straight stitch. And I would use fleece as your waterproof layer instead of PUL, since your machine doesn't have a walking foot. But I would see if you can get one for it.

  6. I get "Instead" which is like the Moon cup or Diva cup, except disposable. I use one per period and then toss. They're at Walgreens, So I've cut back my landfill deposit. Hadn't thought of making my own pads! You can use all those scraps to make TP too. (I'm still buying TP though)

    Love your blog. Keep opsec! LOL at the hubby's prep acronyms. We have a lot in common!

  7. There's a really nice simple pattern for a "women's cloth" in the book "The Creative Family" by Amanda Blake Soule ( I got the book at the library.
    It has wings! She recommends snaps, and if you don't want to buy a snap setter, you can also get sew-on snaps, which I am going to use next time (the snap setter is a PIA)
    I used an old prefold cloth diaper for hte inner layers (cut 3 from one prefold) and would recommend flannel for the outer layer. Periods are definitely lighter, and since we are already used to cloth diapering, really we got over the ick factor a long time ago. TMI, but they also are not nearly as stinky as the plastic kind.

  8. I know some quilters who would give a lot for that machine. It's very popular as old school quality. My quilts aren't nearly worthy of that machine, but it's a goody one!

  9. Thanks, Mermaid! If I have any issues, I guess I won't be able to blame the machine. :) And knowing my mom, you can bet she got it at a rock bottom price.

  10. Wow, I thought of this, but not too much. I was going to stock lots of disposable stuff. hmm, now I am thinking! :) stopping by from survival-mom blog ring!

  11. I'll admit that I rarely pull out my nice cloth pads. i use a diva cup most of the time, but when I need a pad, I either fold up a square of flannel or grab a washrag. The thin ones that sell for about $3 a dozen work very well for me.