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Content Note: The following blog post contains frank discussion of menstruation as it relates to sewing. Only kind, respectful comments and inquiries will be tolerated.
Get period-positive or get out 🙂
A few years ago I began my journey to sew my own period underwear – undies which are absorbent and leak-resistant – that fit my body better than the commercially available Thinx, which I found to be expensive and not appropriately shaped to keep my tush covered. When I asked for material suggestions and sources in the Self-Sewn Wardrobe Facebook group it sparked so much controversial discussion that I became more determined than ever and made it a reality. From that discussion, the self-sewn version of Thinx came to be known as “Flowzzz.” The more absorbent the undies are the more z’s you add to the end.
At the time, I drafted my own base pattern using standard underwear that fit acceptably well, modifying it to have a lower cut around the back leg opening for better coverage. I then hacked the pattern into panels to create an absorbent center with sleeker sides. Not everyone is quite so adventurous in pattern making as I am, so thankfully there is now the SewHere Floozy Doozy Undies pattern. The Floozy Doozy Undie pattern lends itself well to adaptation for use as Flowzzz because you use the drafting guide to create underwear that perfectly fits your body and the design already includes a center panel.
Getting Started with Floozy Flowzzz Period Undies
To create your own Floozy Flowzzz begin with the basic Floozy Doozy pattern and make a test run of a regular pair of undies to ensure you have a good fit. Adjust as needed and desired before moving on. I created the standard high rise version as directed in the pattern and tried them on to make adjustments. I needed to scoop out the front leg opening to accommodate my prominent thighs which protrude forward more than my breasts. You may notice in the following photos that this causes my leg openings to look different than your draft of Floozy Doozy Undies and that’s okay. That’s the great thing about fitting it to your own body. I personally prefer a lower rise so I also made that adjustment to my pattern prior to proceeding.
Selecting Materials for Floozy Flowzzz
Now that we have our basic Floozy Doozy pattern, let’s turn them into Floozy Flowzzz by selecting appropriate materials. You will need:
- an absorbent core layer
- waterproof outer layer
- a wicking layer for lining
- side panel fabric with at least 50% stretch
- fold over elastic
For the absorbent core, I chose original Zorb, a brand name textile sold by wazoodle.com, made of bamboo viscose, organic cotton, cotton, and polyester for strength. This stuff absorbs 10 times its weight in under two seconds according to the manufacturer specs! It provides more absorbency with less bulk – more bang for your buck, if you will. I know other folks who use charcoal bamboo fleece in their absorbent core to reduce odors.
The waterproof outer layer is best in PUL – polyurethane laminate – the same stuff that modern cloth diaper covers are made from. Don’t worry – it’s not noisy and “crunchy” sounding like old fashioned cloth diaper covers. It is soft and flexible on the outside and laminated on the inside. There is a slight “swishy” sound if you rub it but definitely nothing to be concerned with when wearing. I chose a stretch PUL to maximize my comfort.
For a wicking layer you have a few choices as long as liquid will easily pass through it and leave that layer feeling dry against your skin. Some people like a fleece but I personally find that to be a bit bulky. I used an athletic wicking jersey and since I’m cheap, I grabbed a men’s large athletic shirt on the clearance rack at a big box store for $6. It was enough for multiple pairs of undies since the wicking layer only has to go in the center panel. If you prefer yardage or aren’t in the right place at the right time to score a deal, you can search online for various athletic wicking fabrics.
When selecting a fabric for your side panels, you may wish to go with a knit that has greater than the minimum 50% stretch that is recommended in the standard Floozy Doozy pattern, as there is reduced stretch through the center panels. For this pair of Floozy Flowzzz I just used the same athletic wicking jersey as I chose for the lining.
Finally, you will need some fold over elastic to enclose all those layers around the leg openings and finish the leg holes. I used basic black FOE for the leg openings but chose a gold chevron for the waistband, as I have found that it makes it easier to see the Flowzzz in the laundry – more on that later.
Once you have gathered your potential materials, give them an absorbency test. Layer them together and pour water onto the fabric sandwich, a la “blue liquid” in a pad commercial. If you are satisfied with the absorption and the table stays dry under the PUL, then you can be confident that you will have great Floozy Flowzzz!
Pattern Modification and Cutting
To make Floozy Flowzzz I chose to modify the pattern construction to avoid a crotch seam that would have landed in a rather unfortunate place. When the sewing needle punches through the PUL, it creates a tiny hole. Lots of tiny holes = lots of tiny leaks. For me, the standard crotch seam on the Floozy Doozy falls directly under my perineum. This would not work well for me so I chose to modify. If your crotch seam lands further back and/or you are a “front bleeder,” then feel free to proceed with constructing your Flowzzz with the standard Floozy Doozy directions, just basting the absorbent layer to the wicking lining prior to the rest of the construction.
If you need to modify the pattern, trace a copy of your well-fitted Floozy Doozy Undies, remove seam allowance and join the front and back panels at the crotch. Ensure that the cut-on-fold lines are both straight before taping down the pieces. The curves don’t perfectly align because they are convex and concave lines that are intended to be eased together slightly during sewing. The slight difference doesn’t matter to the finished fit, though. True the curve of the leg opening – I erred on the side of leak-resistant caution and went with the wider measurement while truing.
This will become your entire center panel – cut one wicking layer and one PUL layer. You can decide how much or little of the absorbent core you want to extend front and back. I didn’t like the feel of the Zorb all the way up to my waistband on front or back so I traced off the center panel and chopped off part of the front and back where it felt comfortable to me. This was the template I used for cutting the Zorb. If you want protection all the way up, then just use the entire center panel to cut your absorbent layer as well.
The side panels are cut only of the main fabric you chose.
Floozy Flowzzz Construction
To construct the Floozy Flowzzz with a modified single center panel, first baste the absorbent layer to the wicking layer along the leg openings. Permanently zig-zag stitch down the the top edge of the absorbent layer to the wicking layer on both front and back if you decided to cut it shorter as I did. These two layers will now be treated as one lining.
Sew the front side seams as directed in the Floozy Doozy pattern. Sewing the back seams to be completely enclosed requires a little bit of careful fabric manipulation and the burrito roll method. You can apply the method described in the pattern for closing up the crotch seam to these back seams or simply sew them with exposed seams – either overcasting or serging the edges. I had to make two attempts at enclosed back seams as the first try resulted in a Mobius strip! If you go this route, I suggest using lots of pins parallel to the edges (stay within the seam allowance to avoid holes in the PUL!) and checking to see if you can turn it right sides out with the way you have layered it.
I chose to topstitch along the vertical seams to keep all those fluffy enclosed layers laying flatter.
Now you can finish the legs with fold over elastic to fully enclose the raw edges of the absorbent, leak-resistant sandwich you have created. You can use FOE on the waistband as well or use another elastic or band of your choosing.
Care for Floozy Flowzzz
Once you have sewn a fab-fitting pair of Floozy Flowzzz, everyone’s next question is how do you launder them? Everyone has their preferred method of caring for reusable menstrual products but I find that a quick cold water rinse in the sink and air dry is enough to hold them over until laundry day.
Once I’m ready to run my regular load of laundry, I can just toss them in the washer with the other clothes – I have made all black Flowzzz so they go in my darks load. PUL doesn’t do great in the dryer for more than a few minutes so I make sure to pull the Flowzzz out to line dry before the rest of the load goes in the dryer. The contrast waistband comes in handy for quickly recognizing the Flowzzz and separating them from the other clothes. It also serves as a good visual reminder so I don’t forget what’s in the washer.
Are you ready to sew your own Floozy Flowzzz? Share your creations in the SSW Facebook group and tag them with #floozyflowzzz so we can celebrate your success!
About Our Guest Blogger
Erin Beauchamp has been sewing for more than 30 years. She worked as a professional seamstress in her family’s upholstery shop during college and graduate school. Erin has an exclusively self-sewn wardrobe now. In addition to her day job, Erin does custom sewing and alterations and gives private sewing and knitting lessons from her home in Virginia. She has coached five grand prize champion Original Sewing Expo Sewing’s Next Generation contest winners. Her sewing tips have been published twice in Threads Magazine. Find her on Instagram: @VintHillKnits