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I figured out how to make these DIY washable nursing pads almost five years ago when Little A was a newborn. They are so easy to make and are so much more comfortable (and better for the environment!) than disposable nursing pads. I love to make these reusable nursing pads with a fun flannel cotten print on the front and then the rest of the fabrics used are upcycled or repurposed. These can be made with a breathable fleece backing or my preference is to make them with an upcycled wool backing since wool is more natural than fleece AND it can absorb moisture. I made five sets of reusable nursing pads in less than an hour. They’re so easy! Are you ready to learn how?
When Little A was a newborn, someone gave me a hand me down box of dispoable nursing pads that had about half the box left. I hadn’t seen or heard of reusable nursing pads at that point even though we were cloth diapering. I started using the disposable nursing pads until one day one of them went through the washer. I couldn’t believe how gross the disposable nursing pad was- the inner gel had absorbed as much moisture as it possibly could in the washer and it looked and felt really bizarre and gross.This got me wondering about what exactly was inside the disposable nursing pads that made them do this. I was pretty grossed out and appalled that I was putting these gross things next to my skin right where Little A was nursing from!
This experience with the disposable nursing pads inspired me to figure out how to make my own washable nursing pads. I scoured my sewing room and came up with some fabrics I thought would work for the reusable nursing pads. To make a pattern, I simply traced around one of the disposable nursing pads. My first washable nursing pads were a life saver. I eventually improved my pattern and began selling reusable nursing pads in our Etsy shop and wholesaling them at a natural baby/kid shop in town.
Now with a new baby homesteader on the way soon, I figured I’d better make some more sets of washable nursing pads since I seem to have misplaced the ones I made and used when Little A was a baby.
How to make washable nursing pads:
I now make my washable nursing pads with my beloved serger (this is the one I have and LOVE!). When I first started making these when Little A was a newborn I didn’t have a serger and used a regular sewing machine so you can make them either way. I explain at the end of the post how to make them with a regular sewing machine if you don’t have a serger.
-100% cotton fabric for top layer (I prefer soft flannel fabric in fun prints)
-100% cotton thick absorbent fabric (I cut up an old sweatshirt for this layer)
-Fleece or wool for the backing (I prefer using felted wool from old sweaters)
1. To create a pattern, draw or trace a circle that is 4″ in diameter and cut it out. I like to make my patterns out of cardboard since they’re more durable and easier to trace around on the fabric.
2. Lay the flannel fabric out in a single layer with the right side up. Lay the circle pattern on top and trace around the circle with a pen or pencil. Roughly cut out the fabric, it doesn’t have to be perfect since the excess will all be cut off later.
3. Lay out the thick cotton absorbent sweatshirt fabric. Place the circle pattern on top and rough cut out a circle for each nursing pad. I like to leave about 1/4″-1/2″ around the outside of the circle pattern when cutting out.
4. Do the same thing as in step #3 but on the backing material of either felted wool or fleece.
5. Lay the top flannel fabric layer face down, lay the sweatshirt circle on top, then lay the wool or fleece circle on top of this with the right side of the wool or fleece facing up. This makes a sandwhich of all the reusuable nursing pad materials.
7. With the flannel fabric facing up, make sure the cutting feature is switched to “on” on the serger and serge around the edges keeping the outer foot guide on the pen line you traced on with the pattern. Overlap your stitches at the end about 1/2″ then cut the strings and you’re all done!
If you don’t have a serger, you can sew these with a regular sewing machine and a zig zag stitch. This is how I first made then when Little A was born before I had my beloved serger. If you’re going to zig zag stitch them, cut the fabric sandwhich (preferably with pinking shears) on the ink line of the circle pattern you drew on the top layer of fabric. Then zig zag stitch around the edges of the fabric, sewing through all three layers. I sewed just on the inside edge of the fabric and sewed twice around the circumference of the nursing pads to hold them tight and prevent too much fraying.
Do you have other ideas of DIY projects for baby? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments!