nobis opus splendeat: we need more glitter

When I saw this tutorial floating around, I knew I’d found a winner. Being thrown head-first back into fertility treatments again I knew that my cycle was going to be all sorts of screwed up again and so I like to have spare “Princess Pads” at my convenience. I’ve been thinking about a bag for a long time but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. I made one for someone else last year, and it’s pretty awesome but not quite what was in my vision for myself. So when I saw the box bag, I knew this was it – I need something just as cute as the pads themselves to store the pads in!

My first try, last year.

My first try, last year.

Laminate inside, holds 2-3 Princess Pads.

Laminate inside, holds 2-3 Princess Pads.

I spent most of the last weekend on Princess Pads, but after completing 5 of them I decided to attack the bag. I knew I wanted something cute for the outside – probably something heavier than a quilting cotton – and something cute for the inside – something in a laminate for sure.

I ended up going with a Spoonflower kawaii-type rainbows-sunshine-rainclouds pattern in a cotton canvas for the outside and a rainbow-colored apples pattern from the greenhouse collection for the inside (left over from this project).

Cute on the inside AND the outside! Laminate is waterproof and easy to wipe.

Cute on the inside AND the outside! Laminate is waterproof and easy to wipe.

At first the tutorial was really difficult for me to get a handle on. I’m used to kind of glancing over the instructions and getting a feel for what’s going on, and then winging it myself in my own style. I actually had to sit down and read every word of this tutorial to “get it”, and even then my attention wandered periodically and I ended up ripping stuff out when I didn’t follow her directions.

Exceptionally cute handle and pull tab - the instructions worked perfectly.

Exceptionally cute handle and pull tab – the instructions worked perfectly.

Once I got the hang of what was going on, this bag come together beautifully. I went with the default sizes in the tutorial, just because I didn’t feel like I had a good enough understanding to make adjustments. Now that I understand the pattern I’m planning on making one of different dimensions for a different purpose – carting around my injectable vials of several medications and their mixing mediums, plus everything that goes with them – needles, syringes, alcohol swabs, transfer caps, sharps bag, plus all the other oral medications.

Fits about 4-8 Princess Pads - depending on size. There are 2 big, 2 medium, and 1 little in this one.

Fits about 4-8 Princess Pads – depending on size. There are 2 big, 2 medium, and 1 little in this one.

I just want to mention now that it’s Infertility Awareness Week this week. You can find out more about the disease of infertility, infertility etiquette, and what you can do to help at RESOLVE, or the Canadian support site IAAC (even though Canadian Infertility Awareness Week isn’t until May!)


I’ve mentioned them before here – they’re the thing that no woman wants to think about and no man wants to hear about. If you don’t even like to be subjected to tampon commercials, look away now. “Princess Pads” are what I’ve coined my own design of feminine pads. Ever since I started in fertility treatments two and a half years ago (has it really been that long???), I’ve found them to be both a comfort and a necessity, as well as a huge cost saver while feeling pretty darn good about my ecological footprint.

They’ve evolved from where I started – just a couple pieces of flannel with something waterproof in there – to a fine-tuned range of sizes, shapes, and materials to fit the need of the moment.

The Hell-raiser

This pad is the reason I started making my own. Before starting fertility treatments I had what I not-so-lovingly referred to as “8 days of hell”. Since the doctors have screwed with my hormones for years now, that’s changed, but my 8 days of hell was nothing compared to the 5 weeks I endured last year after a cancelled cycle left me with an imbalance that had me in such pain and such horrible bleeding that I was put on 4x normal dosage of estrogen/progesterone and iron supplements in an effort to stop the bleeding and make sure I stayed healthy while we waited for it to stop.

It's a beast, but at least it's on your side!

It’s a beast, but at least it’s on your side!

This pad was the only thing that saved me, and even then some days it was insufficient. I think the biggest one I have is 4 layers of flannel, 3 layers of batting, and a layer of vinyl. It’s about 6 inches inches wide at the widest point, almost a foot long, and with an 8 inch wingspan, the wings are big enough to allow this beast to be completely self contained after use. Not only is there no commercial pad on the market that I’ve found that comes close to the coverage of this monster, it just feels so gosh-darn good against the skin. I’ve recently started experimenting with cotton velvets which are just SO SOFT!

The Normie

This is the normal every-day sort of pad solution. I have about 20 of these, they’re 2-3 layers of flannel, a layer or two of batting, and a vinyl barrier. I like the fact that the vinyl goes right from wing-tip to wing-tip because it prevents leaks that occurred in some of my first tries. I like to try to pick flannels that feel very soft, the not-so-fluffy ones don’t seem to be as absorbent. When you’re washing the flannel (and I pre-shrink all of mine so I don’t have any surprises later), don’t use fabric softener or dryer sheets – it severely inhibits the absorbancy of the flannel.

At least it's something to look forward to!

At least it’s something to look forward to!

My favorite memory of these pads was when I was in the hospital last year. I went in for a laparoscopy/hysteroscopy where my dr surgically inspected the insides and outsides of all of my reproductive organs. This is done under a general anesthetic and they recommend you bring pads of your own if you don’t want to be stuck with icky hospital pads. Nothing felt better when I was coherent enough to get up, go pee, and get dressed than my pretty, comfy, familiar Princess Pad – I even remember the one I had with me was a dark blue with stars and cows jumping over moons.

The Spotter

Like I said, I’m REALLY screwed up from the last few years of hormones. I don’t know if I prefer my former “8 days of hell” or my current status of “cramp and spot for a week or two at a time for no apparent reason or purpose”. This pad is basically more than a liner but less than a pad. After a week with regular commercial pads I used to get a horrible rash… if I have a several week bout of this spotting garbage I would have been in severe pain. Because these still have wings, there’s still coverage to go on about your normal activities like hot yoga or rollerblading that would normally have destroyed a liner with the sweat and movement.

They're completely contained when you're finished.

They’re completely contained when you’re finished.

Perhaps my favorite thing about all of these snap-wing designed pads is that they’re not sticky on the back, meaning you can move them around as you need to, but because they’re flannel on the back, they don’t slide unless you want them to.

The Progesteroner

This is really a specialty pad for fertility treatments. During injectable cycles (IUI or IVF) your hormones are strictly controlled by medication and so progesterone will be replaced during the second half of your cycle. This involves a suppository 3x a day which makes a sticky mess – like you didn’t already have enough fun stabbing yourself several times a day for 2 weeks, now this?

They're "fun sized"

They’re “fun sized”

Normal pads are best covered by majority in a dark color, just because of the natural tendency to stain over time. Progesteroners are the opposite – they’ll take all the color out of your pretty little flannel, so I’ve opted now to use light colors. They’re also designed a little bit differently because unlike all of the former designs that account for “leakage”, this isn’t really an issue with Progesterone because it has more of a paste-like consistency.

So there you have it, everything from the Hell-raiser to the specialty designs, a pad for all occasions. So are they really worth it? Well I did some calculations last summer when I was sure I was going to bleed to death – I was on day 33.

“Almost all the materials that i’ve used have been from the remnant bins including flannel outers, flannel inners, and batting, but also leftover pieces from my own stash. The smallest piece I’ve used was about 6 or 8 inches (and full width) which allows a front center and a back center, and then i used a solid remnant for the sides (left overs from my sewing buddy project). Remnants from fabricland are usually 50% off (or more depending on if there’s any damage or staining) PLUS when you buy one you get another one free – and it used to be that you would get two free. I’ve also bought most of my snaps on significant clearance because I don’t care what color or really what size they are, so I just grab them for literally pennies. So I just bought some flannel with the express purpose of making pads, and it was on sale for between 4 and 5 dollars a yard. It takes less than 1/2 a yard to make 1 pad total, so even not getting the material for free, it costs about 2$ to make a pad (snaps and thread are negligible as they each cost pennies, even PUL was pretty cheap, I’ve bought it once ever). Considering the pads I purchased from the store were about 50 cents each and STILL SUCKED and I was going through up to 10 of my non-sucky pads a day in the worst part of the month, but at least 3 a day in the slowest parts, so lets say an average of 6.5 a day.

Prospective cost: 6.5 pads/day x .50 $/pad x 33 days = $107.25 but likely more because 10 pads a day couldn’t handle the flow I was having with the clots.

Actual cost: 20 pads x 2 $/pad = $40 but likely less because probably about 3/4 of the materials were free or remnant, some of them were pre-existing from before this month, and most can still be used later (a couple didn’t make it as my construction techniques were still evolving and they were in heavy rotation being washed 2-3 times a week).”

That was last June and I haven’t purchased commercial pads at all since then. I like to keep a couple around in my desk and in my overnight-bag, just in case but I still have most of that package left. Also remember, it’s Earth Day today! that’s $107.25 of plastic pads that didn’t go into the garbage, and a year more since then.

I just want to mention now that it’s Infertility Awareness Week this week. You can find out more about the disease of infertility, infertility etiquette, and what you can do to help at RESOLVE, or the Canadian support site IAAC (even though Canadian Infertility Awareness Week isn’t until May!)

Happy Easter!

These cuties were inspired by Lil Blue Boo’s sock bunnies

happy halloween!


Mock up:

6 yards of Laguna Stretch Cotton Jersey Knit in Turquoise
1 ball of Bernat Mosaic yarn in Calypso
1 yard of elastic for the pants
a really big needle for threading yarn
remnants of red, yellow, blue, and lavender sparkly fabric
an iron and enough wonder-under to get the stupid sparkly fabric to stick

Teasers during production:

Making Halloween…

A post shared by Tamara (@ninjadesigns) on

Making Halloween…

A post shared by Tamara (@ninjadesigns) on


Happy Halloween!

Beach Blanket Bingo!

Sew, Mama, Sew had this awesome challenge to pin a set of fabrics for a fat quarter bundle. They’re so sneaky – by the time I finished pinning them, I wanted to by them for a blanket of my own!

My set was chosen as one of 10 finalists out of almost 100 sets!!! So please, if you have time and see fit to vote for my set (lucky #7!), I’d really appreciate it! (You don’t have to log in or sign up to anything to vote!)

Here’s my set on Pinterest. And this is my favorite print from it:

coastal plus skirt

Inspired by No Big Dill’s Coastal Curtsy Skirt, I ordered some ruffle fabric from Marie Madeline. It very clearly in the listings says that ordering is by the 1/2 yard, yet I ordered 3 1/2 yards and ended up with 1-1/2 yards instead of the intended 3 yards.  So while I thought I’d have enough to make the single seam skirt, I now did not… not at all.  I was pretty sad because I was looking forward to wearing this skirt as an airy cover-up on our cruise and I only had a few days left!  So I did what any determined sewer would do… improvised.  BTW, the elastic from Marie Madeline in their ruffle section is AMAZING! I really really love it.

I called this the Coastal PLUS skirt because it makes a bigger (plus sized) skirt with less fabric (though not as long, which is okay, we’re going Caribbean!) but it’s ultra-fluffy in the back!

First, I split the fabric in half. MAKE SURE the ruffles are running in the right direction! Cut along the dotted lines, and use a pivot point for the second half, just like the original pattern (I know, mine isn’t very round).

cut sheet

So this is no longer a 1 seam skirt, it’s 3 seams. Make sure when you’re sewing the 2 side seams that the ruffles are pushed back or you’ll catch them in the seams and then they won’t flop properly… this isn’t an issue in the original because you can’t really see the seam in the end.

seam diagram

After the two side seams, finish as the original directions instruct, with a seam up the back. I attached my waistband at this point (purple in the diagram) and then sewed right up the back and up the waistband in one go… this saves you from having to try to distribute the waistband around the inside seam of the skirt, and any extra length in the waist that’s not needed ends up in more fluffiness in the back too!

Voila! Now action shots!!!

And it’s time for the second installment of Karavan Kloset! In the first part we saw a tank top in the pink/tobacco colors. Today we’re staying in the same colorway, but moving to a swirly sort of print for a maxi-sundress.

This dress uses a technique called “shirring” where you put elastic thread into the bobbin of your machine (hand wrapped! PITA!) and sew lines across the width of the dress. I used this technique previously on the death grip on summer sundress.

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