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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Craft Projects > Sewing & Quilting Projects

Cloth Nursing Pads

Nursing Pads


  • Absorbant 100% cotton cloth - good materials include birds eye weave fabric, Chinese cotton pre-fold cloth diapers, terry cloth or flannel.
  • Soft 100% cotton flannel
  • Compass or template circle (at least 4" in diameter)
  • Protractor or quilter's ruler
  • Fabric marker, fabric chalk or soft lead pencil
  • Fabric scissors
  • Sewing machine or serger
  • Thread to match flannel


  1. Pre-wash all your fabric to shrink. Wash Chinese cotton prefolds at least twice or better yet recycle old ones.

  2. The examples were made using the inner layers or a worn pre-fold diaper. Six layers of cloth were used for the inner part of each pad. These pads appear to be the same thickness as store-bought cloth pads. If you choose to use terry cloth you may want only one or two inner layers depending on the thickness of the cloth.

  3. Draw a circle with at least a 4" diameter.

  4. Cut out the desired number of layers.

  5. Cut out two pieces of flannel for each pad.

  6. If you want flat pads skip to step 11.

  7. To make contoured pads, mark the center of each circle and draw one radius.

  8. Using a protractor or quilter's ruler draw a second radius at a 30-degree angle to the first. Cut out the "pie piece." (See Picture A)

    Nursing Pads - A
    picture A

  9. Stack half the inner layers for one pad (3 layers in the example) and bring together the two edges of the pac man shaped piece. Sew together flat using a two or three step zigzag stitch. I also chose to shorten my stitch length for a more secure stitch. You should end up with two cones. (See Pictures B and C)

    picture B

    Nursing Pads C
    picture C

  10. Using only one layer of flannel at a time repeat step 9.

  11. Stack your four layers in this order: flannel, two layers of 3-thick cotton and flannel again. Be sure to alternate your seams so you do not end up with a thick place in the pads.

  12. Overcast the edges on either a regular sewing machine or a serger. Be sure to use needles and stitch settings appropriate for thick woven material.


I found by trial and error that it is very difficult to serge multiple layers. If you are using a serger I suggest cutting your circles 1/2" larger in diameter than the final size you desire, then cut off approximately 1/4" of fabric when you serge. The thickness and multiple layers are difficult to move through a serger. The layers slip and not all layers were caught in the overcasting.

Choose your flannel colors to match your skin tone. The examples were done in white, but white pads often show through clothing, particularly light clothing. For a light skinned mom pink, beige or peach flannel will hide the pads. For darker skinned women look for a darker beige, tan or brown flannel.

Flat pads make for a quick project; however, they don't lie as nicely as contoured pads and they show more through clothing. The 30-degree angle cut-out works nicely for a large busted woman, but a smaller busted woman may choose to use a larger angle to shape the pad more closely to her shape.

These pads can be wash with mild or regular detergent and machine dried. To preserve the absorbency of the fabric do not use fabric softener or chlorine bleach. Bleach can be used occasionally, but it will break down cotton fibers. These pads are designed to protect against between nursing leakage, be sure to check and change your pads regularly if you are prone to heavier leakage.

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