DIY Period Panties

I've been trying to reduce my single-use plastic consumption over the last year, buying in bulk and seeking out plastic-free options wherever possible (Lush is wonderful for this!), and generally trying to lessen my impact on the planet. But one area where I am just not ready to give up the convenience of single use plastics is my period products.

I’ve been trying to reduce my single-use plastic consumption over the last year, buying in bulk and seeking out plastic-free options wherever possible (Lush is wonderful for this!), and generally trying to lessen my impact on the planet. But one area where I am just not ready to give up the convenience of single use plastics is my period products.

Let’s just lay this out there – I hate having a period. Hate. It’s a drag and feels deeply unfair, and if I could just magically make it go away, I would (oh, and I’ve tried). The thought of dumping out a mooncup in a public sink makes me gag, so there’s no way I’m giving up applicator tampons, but one place I could conceivably reduce my plastic is in panty liners and pads.

So when I saw that Sophie Hines was selling period panty kits, I was intrigued and ordered myself a black “mini” kit, which only contains the crotch materials, not the fabric for the body of the panties (I’ve got plenty of those!). The colour refers only to the exterior fabric of the crotch, which looks like regular jersey on the outside but with a fully waterproof coating on the inside.

I figured this was a good way to try out the concept without having to source all the materials myself! I also bought some of her wide, 1 in FOE at the same time, and I’m glad I did, because regular FOE would be almost impossible to stretch around those layers (as it was, I had to baste the edges together just to get it in the thick FOE).

So for those not aware, period panties are underwear that have special materials in the crotch to absorb blood and fluids, wicking them away from the skin and into an absorbent layer, but not allowing them to leak through to the outside (and potentially stain your clothes!). They’re advertised to be able to replace a whole day’s worth of period products, and are fully washable and reusable.

Sophie provides pretty comprehensive tutorials on how to layer and construct the crotch fabrics here, but the gist is that there are three layers: first, against the skin, is a breathable wicking fabric very similar to DriFit running shirts (this layer is always black so you don’t need to worry about ugly staining). The second layer is a quilted wicking jersey with bamboo wadding inside (always undyed/natural), and the outer layer is the waterproof jersey, which is where your choice of colour comes in.

Just like with my last few pairs of underwear, the pattern I used here is a slightly modified Runderwear brief from our Threshold Shorts pattern.

I made two pairs here, and I’ve just enough crotch materials leftover to make a third at some point (I could’ve made three now but thought it better to wait in case I need to tweak it). I used a thin FOE on the waistband of the kitties pair so I’d have enough of the wide FOE for a third pair around the legs, where you need the width more (you might recognise this green FOE from my recent workout tank!).

The floral fabric is leftover from this dress I made last winter, and the Lucha Libre kitties are leftover from this teeshirt (of course!)

I’m really hoping that this will mean I’ve bought the last pads I’ll ever need, cutting down on costs but primarily to send less plastic materials to landfill (because it’s not as if they’re recyclable!). I think it’s important to cut down where we can and not stress about cutting out everything all at once. Make small changes often and make them permanent habits!


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  1. 1

    I never heard of “period panties,” but what a great idea! I don’t envy you, or any other women, enduring this monthly curse. I’m also proud of you for trying to cut back on your waste into landfills!

  2. 2

    Nice knickers! Those kitties make me smile. I could do with some cheery underwear.

    It’s brilliant that there are more waste-free options for periods now. I do use a mooncup – it only needs emptying twice a day, so generally it’s pretty hassle-free. I’ve wondered how often a pair of period panties need changing? I suppose there’s loads of discussion if I googled!

  3. 4

    I’ve been trying out “nappy knickers” as I call them, for the last year. At the time I bought mine I wasn’t aware that there were any DIY kits on the market, so mine are RTW. They are advertised as wearable for 4-6 hours, but I find that mine last about 3 hours. So they are not much good (unless you want to take a whole underwear drawer) for a day at the office. That said, haven’t had many office days lately so they are getting good use. Sadly, though they are going to replace the disposable things completely. Big plus – they are really comfortable, much the best solution on that front:)

  4. 8

    Have you tried applicator-less tampons? Not only are they better for the landfill, they don’t have applicators. You know, not the plastic ones that pinch or the cardboard ones that melt

    • 9

      Tried them years ago and found them fiddly and awful, sorry! I’m grumpy and miserable enough on my period, I really don’t need any more hassle (see also: mooncups)

  5. 10

    I used washable pads for about ten years and loved them. (don’t need them now) I also tried croched tampons – don’t go there. I did use a cup as well and loved it. I suspect I would also have loved these panties. Let us know how they go!

  6. 12
    Fellow sewist

    An alternative solution: it’s perfectly possible to take the pill continuously and have only one or two periods a year (my doctor okay’ed it last year and I’ve been feeling much better).

    • 13

      I used to do that, but you still have to bleed now and then. I’m not prepared to go into medical details on a public site, but let’s just say that isn’t an option for me anymore.

  7. 14
    Jan Q

    Cute panties and great idea. for foe I bought single fold binders of differing widths to apply. They work on my coverstitch and sewing machine. I just tape the binder down on the machines

  8. 15

    In case you are looking for a UK supplier for more of this stuff, check out Cuddleplush Fabrics. Haven’t tried them myself, but heard good things about them.
    I have this topic on my list as well. I am mostly okay with my period, but it’s true, you do go through a number of pads if you look at a whole year. I’m not sure these panties would work for me on a “peak day”, but I often waste quite a few pads at the start and end where I’m wearing them just in case.

  9. 16

    I had thought about making some of these and in my online searches realized I could source everything or almost everything from Wazoodle Fabrics. They had this fabric called “Zorb” that works for the absorbent layer. I didn’t end up doing it, but I saved all the info for the future just in case. Good luck making these! The ones you have done are super cool!

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