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Reusable Cotton Pads Tutorial

I don't feel that cotton wool itself is not a bad thing and I used cotton wool instead of wet wipes exclusively for the first 4 months of my little dudes life. I think the environmental impact was far less for doing this but they still come in plastic packaging that cannot be recycled. It is also something I would throw away everyday to remove my makeup and when I have baskets full of fabric scraps it seemed like an obvious choice of plastic reducing swaps. I also used the same towel I have been using for a lot of these other plastic alternative makes. I decided against binning it when it got a hole "just in case I could use it for something".

The actual makeup remover products come with their own environmental factors too so I have swapped to a couple of options. I made my own moisturiser recently following this blog. I have also started using this charcoal face soap which I love.

This is a simple project that will take no time at all, it really depends on how many you want to make.


  • Cotton scraps at least 3" square

  • Old towel or flannel

  • Sewing machine

  • Free motion foot (optional)

  • Over locker (optional)

  • Compass rotary cutter (or a circular template and scissors)


I tried a couple of methods but found this worked best. I tried without the quilting first and it made it really tricky to sew the edges as it moved around too much.

1 - Pin Scraps to towel - Pin your cotton to your towel. I used bits of scraps from other projects.

2 - Sew - Have fun practising your free motion quilting! If you don't have the correct foot and can't do free motion on your machine, you could do straight or wavy lines. I have done done examples of each. I have also seen people use their embroidery machine for super pretty face pads too.

Make sure you have a good covering across the fabric with no more than 1/2 - 1" spacing.

3 - Cut out circles - I bought this rotary cutter compass years ago, I can't even remember why but it is perfect for this project and meant that I could cut out lots of circles accurately and the same size. Good old fashioned scissors and a circular template will do the trick just fine though. Mine measure 3".

4 - Finish edges - To stop the edges fraying you will need to over lock them. I have an over locker foot attachment for my regular sewing machine which also works. It is worth checking if you have one. It was a while before I realised what it was used for. I have put a picture of mine. For little projects like this I actually prefer it but it is a lot slower than the over locker so it can be tedious when making bigger makes.

Failing that you could zig zag the edges. I have pictured an example of them all below.

5 - Sew in your loose threads.

All finished! I throw mine in the wash basket and they go through the washing machine and tumble dryer with everything else. I have found around 10 means I don't run out and I have used a jar decorated with a bit of ribbon that I had flowers in for our wedding to keep them in. They look really pretty sat on my dressing table.

If you are inspired to make your own, I would love to hear from you and see your pictures use #thefabricsquirrel and don't forget to subscribe to the mailing list for more free tutorials, special offers on fabric and my latest arrivals.

#reusablepads #plasticalternative #sewingblog #wipes #cottonpads #scrapprojects #sewingwithscraps #makeupremover #freemotionsewing

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