Here is my pattern:
It isn't the best pattern in the world, especially since I drafted it by hand, but it gets the job done. It should be true to size, but, before you print it out, check it - it should be just under 10" long. Also, I'm drinking sake as I write this, so forgive me if I'm not always perfectly clear.
On to the instructions!!!
good scissors (small ones for the curves)
terrycloth (old towels are great for this, just wash the living hell out of them first)
sewing machine (you can do it by hand, but you had better get a good thimble and a ton of thread)
snaps (I like the kind that you hammer in, but you can do the sew-on type. They're not as secure, though.)
1. Put a mark on one side of the pattern. It isn't perfect, so you should flip it over when you do opposite sides of a pad just to make sure that things line up properly.
2. Trace the pattern onto the flannel. Flip it over and trace it again. Cut these two pieces out.
3. Cut out a rectangular piece of terry that will fit nicely in the pad. I do strips that are about 8.5" long and narrow enough to just give me an adequate seam allowance on the sides. You don't want to stuff the flaps with terry, or they won't fold down properly, and I've found that widening the ends just adds bulk without making a better pad. Just stick with simple rectangles, but curve the ends of your strips so that you don't have sharp corners mucking up the curves when you're sewing.
4. Place the strip of terry between the two flannel pieces. PIN LIKE CRAZY, like anti-pin laws are going into effect tomorrow and you gotta fit a lifetime of pinning into one night. Seriously. These things tend to shift when you sew them, and that screws everything up. Do a line of pins right down the center, and then a line on either side to really hold down the terry and to provide a guide for the channels.
See those thick lines of stitching that run down the length of the pad? Those are channels. They do several important things: they hold together the layers of terry and flannel, they help the pad to assume a curved shape when you're wearing it, and, best of all, they guide the flow of *cough* liquids so that they stay in the center of the pad and don't merrily traverse the wings and go wherever else they please.
You can do anything you want for the channels - zig zag, crazy freehand stuff, or any cool decorative stitching that your machine supports. I'm particularly fond of a decorative vine pattern that my machine does. Just make sure that whatever stitch you use is wide and very secure. A simple straight stitch will not be enough.
Once you've picked your stitch, make your channels using the aforementioned lines of pins as a guide. They won't be perfect unless you're a god with the sewing machine, in which case I bow to your greatness. Don't sweat it if yours come out all cruddy - what kind of woman frets over the stitching on her pads, anyway?
6. Now that you have your channels, zigzag or serge the edges and install your snaps. Snip the loose threads and you're done! How awesome is that?
Note: Yeah, yeah, the edges are all raggedy. Why not turn them inward? Every seam in your most delicate area is an opportunity for chafing, especially when there's moisture involved. Simply zigzaging the edges may not be pretty, but it's MUCH more comfortable, believe me. If you do it this way, you'll barely notice that it's there. It feels like soft (but thick) undies.
Cloth pads will stain. They just will, and there's nothing you can do about it short of dyeing them every few months or bleaching the living hell out of them, which is really not good for you or for the Earth. However, you can minimize staining by rinsing them thoroughly and then soaking them in cold water until you can get around to washing them. Just make sure that you change the soaking water at least once a day. You can wash them on any setting - if you're anal about cleanliness (as I am), you can even put them on a super hot setting with a ton of borax, use vinegar as softener, and they won't suffer. I still use the first pads I ever made, and that was 3 or 4 years ago, back when I had no idea how to sew!
I hope this tutorial helped you. Please comment with any questions, and I will alter it to make things clearer.