Reusable Pantyliners

This subject may interest women more than men, but research about the ingredients and the effects of the chemical composition of feminine napkins and tampons should be of concern for everyone. Men, in caring for the health and well-being of the women in your life, please research this information together. It can make a difference.

I came across the information about reusable items for feminine hygiene about the same time I found the information for reusable food wraps. There is an amazing plethora of information out there about reusable everything if you take the time to look. Well, after I made the food wraps, I got motivated to make reusable panty liners. I have had this in mind for quite some time.

There are quite a few places to purchase these items that make good, quality products. I have been sewing for over 40 years and knew I could make my own, but to start out, I bought a few from Glad Rags. They make a very good, quality product that I would recommend to anyone. I wasn’t sure if I would like wearing them or not, but I do. Now, to clarify the purpose I have for these. I am not using them as menstrual pads, only as a panty liner for light urinary incontinence. It’s not something I generally talk about with strangers, let alone my friends, but it is something that affects many women. And in my quest to eliminate as many chemicals from my body as possible, this is definitely a step in the right direction. 

My initial plan for making my own panty liners was to follow the pattern of my Glad Rags liners. But I wanted them to be a little narrower and longer. So I went online and started looking for other folks that made their own panty liners or menstrual pads. There are many! Some of the sites I ran across have done a great job of covering the chemicals included in commercial feminine hygiene products and I strongly encourage you to read them. It will convince you to make a change in your life as well. The chemical absorption rate of the female body when using commercial, chemically laden hygiene products is astounding. It’s just one more area where it is simple and easy to eliminate the amount of chemicals we expose ourselves to daily.

While I was in the midst of trying to make panty liners, Patrice Lewis over at Rural Revolution published this article, Product review: Naturally Cozy feminine hygiene. She included great pictures which gave me even more ideas as I made adjustments to my initial efforts. Patrice gives a great review of this company, and personally recommends their products.

Here is my journey at making panty liners that fit and absorb just the way I like them. It took about a month of trial and error before I was satisfied with my design and their performance.

I started off with my original purchase from Glad Rags. I wanted to make something a little longer than these, and not quite as wide. I found they tended to buckle a little in the middle when worn. So this is what I tried the first time.

I trimmed down the sealed sides of a commercial panty liner to get the approximate width and length I wanted, and used it as well as my original reusable to figure out my measurements.

I decided to try two different ways to determine how much and what kind of fabric would provide the best absorption. One, I made with two layers of flannel. The other I made with two layers of flannel and one layer of terry cloth from an old bath towel. To this I added the strap, from two layers of flannel, that wraps around the underwear.

I used a contrasting color of thread to show you how I stitched these together. It looks kind of tacky, I think, but when I finalize my preferences, I will use matching thread.

I have had this snap wrench for many, many years, I think since the 1970’s when I was in high school. I had to find some new snaps to go with it, but it still works just fine.

Here is version #1.

I quickly found out that these were just not adequate. They were too narrow, the strap did not hold them in place, and they were too thin. There was a tendency to move back and forth, which defeats the purpose. After I made this version, Patrice posted her review of the products from Naturally Cozy. This gave me more ideas to work with, as well as the other sites I listed above.

On to version #2. This time I decided to make an all in one piece instead of having the wrap around strap a separate piece. I was hoping it would hold in place better. At the same time, I wanted more layers of fabric to provide more absorption, without being too bulky and uncomfortable.

I made the body of the liner out of two layers of flannel, while adding two more layers of flannel in the shape of the commercial liner in the middle. 

I stitched the inner layers in place on one side of the outer body, before stitching along the same lines on the other side of the outer body to hold everything in place. I hope the pictures help explain this step.

I zigzagged around the outside of the body, then went back and straight stitched along the inside of the zigzag. This works well for keeping everything nice and flat and finished, and doesn’t add any bulk or discomfort.

These liners worked much better than version one. They stayed in place better, but not as well as I would like. And they were more comfortable. I think it is because of the way they wrap around the underwear. But, I wasn’t satisfied with the absorption rate. They were very comfortable, though. If absorption of liquid is not an issue, and just light protection were the goal, these would work very well.

So, on to version #3.

This version is almost the same as version #2 with a slight variation. I made one end of the body of the liner just a little longer so the wrap around snap would be just off center. The goal here was to hold the liner in place a little better. I also made them just a little bit longer overall than version #2. Here are the measurements of the final version.



inner liner length

inner liner width

The other change I made was to make one with four layers of flannel for the inside liner, with two more layers for the body, making this liner six layers thick overall.

The second type I made had two layers of flannel and one layer of terry cloth for the liner, with two more layers of flannel for the body, making this liner four layers of flannel and one layer of terry cloth. This time I used matching thread, and they look much, much better.

I am very satisfied with version #3. Either thickness will provide the absorption rate I want. If I have a cold with a cough or sneezing, the terry cloth version will hold out much better. Both types, flannel or terry cloth with flannel, are comfortable and effective. This design could easily be adjusted to accommodate a menstrual cycle.

Now that I am finished with my trial and error period, I will make up about a dozen of these, which will last long time. I am so grateful for a mother that taught me to sew by making my clothes when I was a little girl. I sat by her side and got to get the ‘wheel’ started for her sometimes. It was great. Share a skill with your family that will last a life time. It will mean more to them than you will ever know.

Please share any ideas or things you do to increase your self-reliance and health. We are all in this together and the more we can share and learn from each other, the better off we are. There are many different ways to teach and learn, and this is only one of them. All of us have something to teach. Everyone has something they can share with others. Your input is very welcome here.

In our efforts to become more self-reliant, we have learned so many new things. Things that will increase our safety, like radio communications. Things that will provide us with food, like gardening and canning. Things that will increase our physical health by eliminating chemicals and dead food from our bodies, like no shampoo and panty liners. This project is just one more step toward living life the way we want to, and not the way society dictates to us that we should. And while we still have the freedom to do so, we will continue to learn and do for ourselves the way we see fit. I pray you do the same.

Until next time – Fern

32 thoughts on “Reusable Pantyliners

  1. hi fern,tampons came out when i was in college. i tried them but they were too big for me and caused cramps.then i tried the little ones that came out and i got a yeast infection both times. end of tampons.not good for everybody.thanks to God i don't need them but i now do wear diapers due to major surgery.daughter has never used tampons. she is built like me and is also susceptible to yeast so she will probably never use them. she takes a lot of probiotics.i got her some of the cozy ones but she hasn't used them yet. i'm waiting for her report when she does.thanks for the sewing information. can foresee the day when we may all need it.

  2. These are easy to make and comfortable to wear. I thought about Velcro, but find it too hard to sew through. Have fun making your own, and thank you for sharing.Fern

  3. Glad to see this post, been planning on making some for myself for some time now, but wasn't sure how to fasten them so they wouldn't move around.Commercial panty liners have a waterproof backing that is just a cheap way to get away with less absorption. Liners are getting thinner and more cheaply made as years go by. I have the cough, sneeze problem, most mature women do, especially if they've been through childbirth. Those kegel exercises don't help, and I don't drink carbonated beverages much, either. It's sure embarrassing when out in public without some sort of barrier. I wonder if Velcro would work as well as a snap?

  4. Vickie, I hope your home sells quickly and your move goes well. In the meantime, enjoy your sewing project. The snap wrench can still be found at Wal-Mart and it's really easy to use. I was surprised they still carried it and the extra snaps as well.I'm glad you enjoy the humor. It's what makes life so…..funny! (-:Blessings, Fern

  5. C.M. I read a couple of places that used the PUL fabric you mentioned, but I had the same thought you did. What if the retained moisture causes a problem while wearing the liner? Or, will it make the liners harder to dry after washing causing a different kind of moisture problem? So, I chose to leave it out all together and go with simple cotton fabric. I could have gotten organic flannel to have a more natural liner as well, but I chose to use what I had on hand. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It helps me to continue thinking through the project and consider how I can improve it.Fern

  6. I have lots of those moments. LOLThank you – I hope she will! We are also hoping it will help her come up with ideas of what she'd like to do when she's older. A good tailor is always a useful person to have around!

  7. This post is perfect timing for me! I was just thinking about making myself some reusable panty liners for just the same reason as you! Since I don't plan to stop laughing or sneezing anytime soon, I need to get on the stick and get some made! We are cleaning up and clearing our our closets right now to get our home on the real estate market, and I have run across quite a few towels that have seen better days. I think I will sit down this weekend and make some pantyliners! Do you think the snap thingy you used is still made? It sure looks handy! Thanks for another informative post! I love learning from all my blogging friends, and your humorous and informational writing style is very much appreciated.

  8. I have been sewing for Haiti children for some time now. Just this past year we started making reusable sanitary products for the girls because they have never had anything available. We got our pattern from I've cut out and turned many. Those girls had never had anything, and this has been a huge blessing for them and for us to be able to make them.

  9. Fern, I appreciate your being willing to share your experience with making the panty liners. (Having a pseudonym helps with a topic like this, though, doesn't it? I don't have a dictionary handy at the moment so I hope I didn't misspell that too badly.)Your article was an interesting coincidence for me. My husband had to drive to a neighboring town today and agreed to stop by a Joann Fabric store to get a yard of PUL for me. It's a polyester laminated fabric if I recall correctly, one used for the waterproof layer in the panty liners Patrice wrote about. I had wanted to try making the panty liners for some time and his trip made buying the PUL possible. I have some concerns about it not being breathable, and thereby making a warm, moist environment that much more moist, leading to other problems, but I wanted to have it on hand in case of an imminent SHTF situation. Since they use it in their liners, hopefully it won't cause any problems.I can't go shopping except by internet, so the next item I'm looking for is a good quality flannel, maybe even with organic cotton, and hopefully with something other than clowns or penguins on it!I enjoyed your post so much. Thanks for the time and effort involved in sharing with us.

  10. thanks Fern! i was pretty sure that based on your living in Alaska that you would be familiar with family cloths! as for the diva/moon cup – so many women have had great experiences with them and you only need 1 for the most part so a $20 investment once is a great deal! and from what i have read, if you teach young girls how to use them, then they buy 2 and have them for the rest of their lives!!! and apparently if you learn how to use them, they are dead easy to use! but not me – i tried for months and just couldn't get them to work! but i am a bit of a luddite, i guess – bhahahahah!i can't wait for your post as i would be happy to do a post about family cloths as well and link to your post! people seem to like an idea better if a few people talk about it. i am just super glad that some of us aren't too hesitant to talk about things. things that really need to be talked about BEFORE poop hits the fan!i really enjoy the comments that you and Frank stir up…it makes for really good conversations!your friend,kymber

  11. Kymber, thank you for sharing your experiences with reusable cotton pads. I have never tried a diva cup, so I can't share any opinions one way or the other.We lived in a remote Alaskan village without running water for nine months back in 1990. We still used toilet paper for the most part, but after while, I began to use a washcloth when I urinated to prevent such a build up of toilet paper. We do have plans for when the poop hits the fan, and you're right, it would make a good article. Thanks for the idea. I will wait and detail the rest of our experiences in a post since it would be pretty long here. There are some things that people are hesitant to talk about, things that are usually considered rather private. Like panty liners. I wasn't even sure what to call this post, because I didn't want to offend anyone. But if things really do get bad, toileting issues will have to be addressed one way or another. Hygiene practices can keep you healthy or kill you. It's that simple.Thank you for sharing your ideas, Kymber. It adds a good measure to the conversation.Fern

  12. Fern – another great post as is evidenced in the comments! years ago i wanted to get away from pads and tampons because i knew of the horrible chemicals in them. my first try was a diva cup – honest to goodness i have absolutely no idea how women use them!!! i could never get mine in, couldn't keep it in, dumped it all over myself – i was a miserable failure!!! but some women really love them! and i am glad for them because they are much healthier than pads and tampons!then i moved on to re-usable cotton pads – i got a few from the internet, loved them and made my own. the ones i make and use don't have snaps – they are just long strips of old towels that i hand-sewed. i find if i wear certain panties with them, they don't move. yours look great and i am glad that you detailed how you make them with so many pictures.but now that you have \”gone there\” – can i ask if you use family cloths in the bathroom? it's a subject that i want to bring up on our blog because no one talks about them on their blogs…and i am sure that people who want to re-use, reduce and recycle would really appreciate a post about them. they would especially come in handy if Poop hit the fan! i would love to hear your opinion and find out what you think. your friend,kymber

  13. Good for you, Karin. They are simple to make, and you point out just how quickly you can produce a good supply. And, you're right, there are often times when we just need to do some of the things we know will benefit us, but we keep putting off for one reason or another. Very good advice. Thank you for sharing with us.Fern

  14. I have read some about incontinence, but not a lot. #1 won't work for me because I don't drink pop. I've heard of the other recommendation. Maybe it will help some of the readers that haven't. Thank you for sharing.Fern

  15. Garter belt hooky things, Kathy? You really are dating yourself. Those were going out of 'style' when I came along. If you make some of these I think you will be surprised at how well they stay in place, so no elastic or hooky things are needed. Thank you for making me laugh, and thank you for sharing.Fern

  16. Thank you, Melonie. This is one of those projects I feel like I should have done a long time ago. The sewing, for me, is very easy, quick and painless. I just never got myself to sit down and make them. Now that I have, and realize just how easy it is, it's one of those 'why didn't I do this a long time ago' moments. I think it's just great that you and your daughter are taking the sewing class together. She will remember that forever. Good for you!Fern

  17. Thank you for your inspiring routine. I don't have a routine in my sewing room at all. It comes it bits and spurts when I feel like it. I'm glad it doesn't take long to make the liners. Then I can be up and doing something else. Thank you for the kind words.Fern

  18. I really enjoy your straight forward, no nonsense comments, Tewshooz. I think most of us do change everyday, but sometimes need a little more protection so our clothes don't get wet. And by the way, when I was a young woman, there were no such things as panty liners either. I guess that means we are 'older'. Thank you for sharing. Take care.Fern

  19. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Goodwife. It appears from your blog that we have some things in common, like loving to milk goats. I hope your liners turn out well. Fern

  20. This was also on my to-do list for preparedness and better health, when I also read Patrice's post. I finally decided it was time to just get on with it, and using a pattern from the Internet and some scrap flannel and fleece, I made up 10 in about an hour and a half. I am thrilled with them, pleased about the lack of chemicals on tender areas, and realizing AGAIN that I just need to get on and do these things! As you say, yet another example of a product that society has convinced us we can not produce for ourselves, to out detriment. Thanks for posting about it!

  21. For female incontinence have you read much about it? I ran across a book…two things stood out. 1)Stop drinking pop/cola products and 2)When you do go to the restroom, sit on the toilet and hold it as long as you can. IOW, practice holding your urine back till the count of ten for instance. Hope this info helps someone!

  22. Thank you for the information, I have thought about this for awhile now and have it on the list of things to try. I don't have to worry about the monthly use anymore, just the sneeze, cough and laugh problem. 🙂 These liners look doable, remember eons ago when we began our periods we had those belts? For those looking for a way to keep the pads in place for menstrual use the old belt might be a viable item. Don't remember them being the most uncomfortable part of the process! (and I think we could make one out of soft elastic and maybe snaps instead of the garter belt hooky things.) Egad I am getting old!

  23. Thank you for posting this, especially with your awesome photos and measurements. My daughter and I are taking a sewing class this month and I was thinking something like a pantyliner would be a great next project for both of us. (We'll be making totes in class, so straight lines – this will be perfect for learning to curve/turn the material.) I have some of the GladRags pantyliners too and I like them a lot, but do dislike that buckling in the center that you mentioned above.One of the concerns I've had for a while now has been feminine products, and now that I'm living in an area with several family members who are elderly, I've been trying to research incontinence needs as well. I've knit some little personal wipes (like dish cloths but with a much tighter gauge) but wasn't sure where I wanted to add to my \”stash\” next of reusable cloth personal items.For all the things we (societal \”we\”) throw on TV and social media, you'd think we'd discuss issues like this more frequently and professionally. So thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to share and inspire with this post.

  24. I have a routine in my sewing room. I make 2 of these panty liners, then 2 projects and then I clean the space up. Then I do it again, and again, and again. The panty liners are easy to make but I can't imagine sitting there and doing a couple dozen of them at one sitting. At this point I have 12 panty liners. It's time to make 2 more. Good article and tutorial. Thanks.

  25. What's up with panty liners, anyway? When I was a young woman there was no such thing….that's what panties were for. You line your panties and then wash your panties. Never made any sense to me as I was taught to change my underwear daily. Luckily I am past the monthly cycle, but if I weren't I still would never change from tampons. Used them for 30+ years and health is still great. Some things were great in the olden days, but washable menstrual pads were not, imho. No way, Jose.

  26. Thank you for posting this! This has been a project on my to-do list for quite some time. I haven't blogged about it, but for my monthly cycle I use a Moon cup (sometimes called a diva cup). They are a blessing and a boon to women everywhere, and I only wish I'd discovered it sooner in my life. I've been using it for about 6 years or so and it has truly changed my life! I do still use panty liners along with it though, and have wanted to make my own. Your post will make that easier for me to do! Thanks again! 🙂

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