As I mentioned in my YouTube video about making underwear, one of the reasons I wanted to have a go at making underwear, and pants in particular, was to make some period pants – it seemed like this is a rare instance when making something could be cheaper than buying it!
Sophie Hines has some great tutorials on her website to help you know what supplies you need and how to alter your favourite pattern to be period pant friendly.
The main change you’ll want to do is to lengthen the gusset so you get better coverage than a standard gusset. I guess if you have some really light days you might be able to use a standard sized gusset for some pairs. I made 5 pairs in total, all with the lengthened gusset so I’d have flexibility for when in my period I choose to use them. I also bought a menstrual cup to have a fully sustainable period and I’ve been using that on the first couple of heaviest days, then the pants when it’s lighter towards the end.
You’ll also need to change the front and back pattern pieces by an equivalent amount to take account of the new longer gusset. I added around 6cm to the back and 5cm to the front of the gusset, then reshaped the other pieces accordingly. I made the size 2 of Megan Nielsen Acacia Pants, which is a free pattern and goes up to a 48″ waist and a 58″ hip. I already added around 4cm to the rise as I like my pants to sit a little higher than the pattern is drafted for.
The next thing you need to do is collect your supplies. This was the part I was most anxious about as I didn’t want to order the wrong things and discover at an inopportune moment that the pants didn’t function as I wanted them to. Muna and Broad also have a lot of good information about the kinds of supplies you need, which helped me a lot. Basically you need 3 layers: a moisture-wicking fabric, an absorbent later and a waterproof layer. Bamboo jersey, which I used for my underwear is actually a great moisture-wicking option. For the absorbent layer I ordered Zorb, which is a popular fabric for resuable nappies and period pants alike. I ordered a metre and I definitely didn’t need that much – you could definitely get away with half a metre (or maybe even less) for 5 pairs.
For the waterproof layer I ordered PUL (ProSoft Waterproof) in black – again I ordered a metre, and again I didn’t need anywhere near that much! I ordered both fabrics, which I’ve also linked in their names, from Cuddle Plush Fabrics, which I had not heard of before but they have lots of niche performance fabrics, so it would definitely be worth a look if you’re after some high performance fabrics (and you’re in the UK). Looking at their website today, it looks like they now have some recycled fabrics now, which is pretty exciting! The waterproof fabric has a right side and a wrong side, btw, and should not be pinned – I used some of those handy clippy things.
And here is the finished article – they’re not the most glamourous thing, and they look kind of badly made flat on the table, but they look okay on. I did have some wider fold over elastic for some of the pairs (but I ran out before I could do them all), also from Cuddle Plush Fabrics, and it was definitely better for the leg seams as they end up quite bulky and trying to neatly enclose everything with narrow foe was rage-inducing to say the least!