Channel lines or "quilting" are lines of stitching that run along the top surface of the pad. This serves a few purposes, depending on how the pad is made.
- It can be done to secure the core of the pad to the top layer, where the stitching prevents the core from bunching up or moving within the pad.
- It can help direct the flow, by creating slight depressions along the top surface of the pad, menstrual flow may be directed to follow these depressions rather than spreading out over the surface of the pad.
- It can be used to provide stability and a little stiffness to the pad by sewing through all the layers, ensuring nothing inside bunches up and so that it keeps its shape.
- It can be purely a decorative feature.
Some women find they need channel stitching to keep them from leaking off the edges of the pad. Other women can prefer the smooth top of pads that do not have channel stitching. To have them or not can be personal preference and there are pad makers who offer this and those who do not.
Pads that do not have channel stitching are usually made in a method that secures the core to a hidden internal layer, so that the stitching that holds the core in place is not visible. Pads that do not have this internal or external stitching lines holding the core in place, may allow the core to move or bunch up inside the pad. If this happens in a pad after washing, it can often fixed by working the core flat again with your hands.