Monday, September 6, 2010

Cake!...And Pads

Okay, so I initially promised Bill that I wouldn't blog about this experience, but how could I not?? I've had so much fun and laughed so hard that I just had to share. Guys, I'll give you the same warning I gave you the last time I wrote about pads: feel free to bail out at any time.

A couple of years ago, while I was researching the benefits of cloth diapers, I stumbled across something online that made me laugh until I cried. It was positively ludicrous, and I couldn't believe these people were for real. They were selling.... reusable menstrual pads! I thought the whole idea was so hilarious that I printed out some information on it and mailed it to a friend as a joke.

I did decide to try the cloth diapers, though, and absolutely loved them. They were so comfy and soft and cute, and they saved us tons of money. Also, all of Allyson's battles with diaper rash ended abruptly when we put her in cloth diapers. I was surprised to find that washing the diapers was really no big deal. I just soaked them in the washer, ran them through a cycle, and then fluffed them in the dryer for a few minutes. And then came the part I loved for some reason: hanging them out on the line to dry. I loved seeing those pretty colors flapping in the wind, and every time I did a load of diapers I felt so happy about doing a little something for the environment.

But I didn't think about the cloth pads again until I stumbled across them again last week. Bill and I had just started on a budget plan, and suddenly the idea of saving some money every month caused me to take a closer look. The pads looked so incredibly soft, made from soft flannel and fleece. So much nicer than paper! I spent a couple of hours online reading about other women's experiences.  Over and over, I read, "Once you try them you'll never go back to disposables" (which was exactly how I felt once we switched to cloth diapers).

So, I was convinced. There was only one problem: our new budget. The pads ranged in price from about $10 to over $20 each. I was sorely tempted to just order them on my credit card and deal with the bill later, but I'd made a promise to myself and even to God that I would stop making impulse buys--no matter how desperately I might think I needed something.

The next morning, this past Wednesday, we met Gentle, Liam, and Grace for a playdate at McDonald's. While our kids played, I told Gentle, "I just have to tell you about my latest temptation to make an impulse buy. You're not going to BELIEVE what I wanted to buy...."

Her eyes wide with shock, Gentle sputtered, "Sarah, that's crazy!!"

"But you just have to see them!" I persisted. "They look so... comfortable!" I went on to explain that I'd found some patterns that I hoped my mother would be able to make for me. "If only I could sew," I said.

I actually saw the light bulb go on in Gentle's brain. After a moment's silence, she said, "I know how to sew. And this might not be such a bad idea."

I knew she was hooked! One of the things I love about Gentle is that she excels at craftsy projects, and she's so creative and talented with making things. Once I'd planted the idea in her head, she was helpless to resist the challenge. Before we left, I agreed to email her a few links for pad patterns.

By bedtime, she had emailed a link of her own and a picture of some patterns she wanted to try. I replied, "I'm so tickled that you're on board with me on this. AND EVEN MORE EXCITED THAT YOU CAN SEW! You're probably the only girl I know that would be game to try something so off the wall. I'm excited too! Maybe we could arrange an outing to the fabric store tomorrow! You know, things like these are urgent. Just can't wait too long. ;-)"

Now Gentle is a very busy mom of a toddler and a preschooler, and she's also very organized. So I figured there was no way she'd be able to head to the fabric store on such short notice. But she was fired up! She called me on Thursday morning to arrange our shopping trip for that afternoon. Her husband was home with the kids, so it was just her, me, and Allyson.

We walked all over the store looking for 100% cotton batting (quilt stuffing), poly fleece, and a waterproof fabric called PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric). Several times we had to ask for help, and we were very evasive. Yes, the batting had to be 100% cotton, we said. One sales clerk surmised, "Oh, you must be wanting to make something organic. Here's what you're looking for. A lady came in the other day looking for 100% cotton batting, and she was making a cover for her coffee pot. Are you doing something like that?"

"Yes, organic is good," I replied, avoiding eye contact. "Thank you so much."

Next we tried to find the PUL, but as we weren't even sure what it looked like, we were soon asking for help again. We asked a different employee this time, and her answer was, "What?"

"P.U.L.," I said.

"Or maybe it's 'pull'," Gentle said.

The lady gave us a blank stare. "It's a waterproof fabric," I explained.

A couple of customers who were passing by jumped into the conversation. "Oh, you mean that stuff you make raincoats with," one said. "It's up front," the other gestured, pointing the way. "They call it pleather," the second lady added.

As soon as our backs were turned, I whispered, "Yes, that's it. We're making pleather raincoats." And I giggled at the idea of wearing a pad made of pleather. Gentle stared straight ahead and walked purposefully behind the clerk.

When we got to the right aisle, the clerk still wasn't sure which fabric was the PUL. She showed us rip-stop canvas, which would probably be waterproof, but also rather noisy. Gentle tried to give a bit more detail without being too specific. "You know how you can make a purse with a window for a photo on it? And you can throw the purse in the wash? We're looking for something flexible and light and washable."

"Oh," the lady said. "I think we have something like that back here."

We trailed behind her, and though I avoided Gentle's eyes, I still couldn't stop snickering. She showed us something that looked like clear see-through red plastic. "It's not too clear, though," she said apologetically.

"Oh, it doesn't necessarily have to be clear," Gentle said, and the poor clerk looked extremely confused. So we were making a photo purse but we didn't care if the photo window was transparent??

"We'll just keep looking around," Gentle said.

Back at the rip-stop canvas aisle, I discovered a tiny label on one of the bolts of pleather, which came in an array of pretty colors. "Look! It says PUL!" I said. But then I read the care instructions: wipe with a damp cloth. "Maybe it's not washable," I said, crestfallen.

While we hemmed and hawed, yet another saleslady came along. Without consulting Gentle, I took matters into my own hands. It was time for a more direct approach. "Excuse me," I said, leaning in close and cupping my hand around my mouth. I could feel my face burning, and I could barely speak around the laughter that spilled out. "We're making.... p-pads!"

"Oohh," the lady said.

"And we need something called PUL. That's PUL over there, but we need to know, is it washable?"

"Oh, yes! Lots of women buy that for cloth diapers. So it has to be washable." She smiled encouragingly. "What a great idea. If you're ever back in the store, you'll have to tell me how it goes!" 

At last, we carried our 100% cotton batting, pale pink PUL, and fuchsia poly fleece to the fabric counter. Thankfully, the woman who cut the cloth showed no interest in our matching fabrics. The lady at the checkout, however, was a little more nosy.

"What craft project are you girls making?" she asked cheerily. I was tempted to say, "Raincoats," but Gentle answered first. "Just some crazy stuff." She finished in a voice that was barely over a whisper. "It's too embarrassing." I wonder what that lady's imagination came up with. She must have thought we were a couple of kooks. (We are, I know!)

I had a feeling that Gentle would be up all night making a prototype, and she probably was. On Friday she sent a series of photos documenting her progress.

Layers for Main Pad

Layers for Insert

Man, I wish I could sew!

So yesterday we had our first pool party (more on that later). After everyone else had left, I had to tell my sister Emily all about our scheme. Her initial reaction was the same as Gentle's had been. "So Gentle wants to make menstrual pads?" she repeated.

"Well, it was actually my idea," I clarified. "But she's on board with it!"

"So you're the mastermind."

Bill rolled his eyes. "I don't know if mastermind is the right word."

"I just couldn't deal with it," Emily said. 

Her husband Paul shocked me by saying, "Hey, why not? It's no different than cloth diapers."

"Exactly!" I agreed.

"I couldn't deal with cloth diapers either," she said.

"Yes, but you never tried them," I reminded her.

I kept extolling the virtues of cloth pads--which I've yet to try, mind you--until I'd almost won her over.

"If Gentle can sew so well, she should start her own business," Paul said.

"Yes, maybe she should!" I agreed.

Emily told me then that she plans to take some cake decorating classes, and then she wants to start her own business.

"You could start a business together," Paul said.

"A sisters' business! And I know just the name for it." I said, laughing until tears rolled down my cheeks. "We'll call it Cake!... And Pads."

I'm not sure anyone else thought it was so amusing. I'm sure Bill was trying to avoid encouraging me. But I was still laughing as we walked them out into the cool night air. "Remember, Cake!... And Pads."

Paul said we should get a business plan together.

I emailed Emily the pictures, and she really liked the design. "Paul says you should definitely market these," she said. And she hasn't even gotten to feel the cushy softness yet. Today I went over to Gentle's and caressed the prototypes. I can't wait to try them out!
Liner and Insert

And then there are the circle pads. Aren't they cute?

Okay, enough about pads already. But seriously... want to buy some?


Anonymous said...

It is 1:00am and I am in the office laughing out loud and crying!

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Two questions:

What did women do before disposables were invented - e.g. in Biblical times?

When are you going to supply the rest of America? I could be your European importer and distributor.

God bless.

Melissa Irwin said...

oh my goodness. i laughed out loud. but i'm so intrigued. maybe i could be a product "tester".

Jara said...

You guys crack me up!!!

Victor S E Moubarak said...

I commented yesterday and because of technical computer reasons the comment appeared for a while and then vanished.

I'm glad you've already got a product tester.

When your business expands throughout the US you may wish to consider me as your European importer/distributor of this product. I'm already looking for offices in London, Paris, Rome and Berlin.

Another thought occurs to me ... what did women do before disposals were invented? In Biblical times for instance?

God bless.

Kristina said...

Sarah, I just laughed out loud at this post. Way to go gals! I hope it works out for you. Sewing your own stuff is awesome and I'm so happy you're taking a stab at this. You'll have to let us know how it goes, even if it's privately... ;)


NC Sue said...

Be sure you check my blog tomorrow (url below) after 6:00 AM EST. I've tagged you for a meme I ran across the other day. Those I've "tagged" are special to me... a special part of my online day. This meme is different from any I've seen before, which makes it rather interesting.

I look forward to seeing what you have to say!

Sarah said...

Great question, Victor. I don't know why it is considered weird to do what women have done for centuries!

Crunchy Diva said...

what a GREAT post i loved reading it. i'm an avid cloth pad user & would never look back. can't wait to hear how you like using them. & yes i would buy cloth pads check out ETSY a great site to easily set up shop.

Sarah said...

Thanks for visiting my blog, Crunchy Diva. Yes, I have tried the pads now, and I just love them. I can't believe how much more comfortable they are. No way I'll ever go back to disposables now!


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