5 Tips on How to Host a Charitable Sewing Event

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This last week I was in charge of a church activity where we sewed dolls for the hospital.  It was something that was close to my heart because of my experience at the hospital earlier this year.  My daughter underwent corrective eye surgery.  The procedure itself is not a complicated one, however having my child go under general anesthesia is nerve wracking (I think it is for any mom).

At the Primary Children’s Hospital I was very impressed about how they handled my little girl.  From the very beginning they gave her choices to make her feel more in control of the situation.  They let here choose what “flavor” she wanted in her gas mask (bubblegum).  They let her choose if she wanted to ride in wagon or wheel chair (wheel chair).  They also let her draw a face on a little doll that was in a hospital gown.  This little doll she was allowed to take back with her to the operating room.  It was there when she fell asleep and it was there when she woke up.  My daughter, who isn’t overly sentimental about toys, clung to it and kissed it while she woke up.  I remember thinking how grateful I was to the person who had made this simple doll.  You see I couldn’t go back with her, but the doll could.  That little doll helped through a scary point that I couldn’t be there for.  After my experience there, I knew that I wanted to make some of these dolls for the hospital to show my appreciation.

When the opportunity presented itself I organized a service night through my local church.  Here’s a couple of things and ideas I had while organizing it.  I hope it inspires you help out your local hospital and local charities.

Tip#1 Use fun cloth

Think about it from the kids perspective.  Use cloth for the gowns that is bright, fun and happy.  With the pattern I used you could get 4 gowns from a 1/2 yard.  So check the remnant bin for popular characters like Frozen, Angry Birds, Mickey Mouse, etc.  Cloth for the dolls should be new and clean – NOT upcycled.  It is for a hospital – so be aware of that.doll1


Tip #2 Have some of the work done in advance.

doll 2Before our event I had people sign up to cut out sew up some of the doll bodies and gowns, so they would be ready for stuffing.  This was a HUGE time saver and made it possible to make more dolls.  It is also more pleasant for people to sit around and talk while stuffing dolls.  This also makes it possible for people to help out when they can’t make it on the designated night of the event.

Tip#3 – Have stations

doll 3Have a stuffing station, cutting station and sewing station for efficiency.  This helps with work flow.

Tip#4 – Know that everyone has their own sewing level

Some people are great, some are average.  Kids are not going to refuse a doll because the seam isn’t straight.  Be flexible with your standards.  And have a fleece tie blanket station for people who don’t sew but want to help.

Tip #5 – Have multiple machines ready

doll 4I was lucky that my church has sewing machine we could use.  But if you don’t have access to that consider approaching a sewing shop and asking them if they would host.  Odds are they wouldn’t mind since it’s good PR for them and they get a bunch of sewists in their shop for a couple hours.

You can find the pattern I used here.  There are also a lot of other good ideas on this page too.

Sewists are some of the most generous people I know when it comes to sharing their talents and know how.  I hope this inspires you to ask your local hospital what items they need.  You could give comfort to a little child (and her mom) with just a little bit of your time and stash.  I don’t share a lot of pictures of my kids faces for their privacy.  But will leave you with this one of my little girl, holding her doll while she was waking up.  This little doll made a difference that day.  Thank you to the person who made it.  You gave comfort to my little girl.  You made a scary experience a little easier.  Honestly, thank you doesn’t seem to express my gratitude enough.

little girl hospital

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  1. Angel, when I was first married I worked at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City for 2 years before our first son was born. I’m so happy to hear that the caring staff there is as it was when I left. Always with the patient and family comfort first in their minds! The little doll is very cute and appears that it would be easy enough to make. Was there a pattern .. or can I get one? I’m looking for this kind of project for the hospital in Duluth Minnesota. Thanks so much. Laura

  2. Thank you, Angel, for this article. I will be looking for something I can make and donate here in OK.

    I love your blog. Keep up the good work.

  3. Thanks for this very helpful post! During Christmas vacation my Pocatello Sewing School hosted a free workshop for kids where we made “critter pillows,”, animal-shaped pillows with animal faces appliqued on, to give to CASA, the organization that works with children in the foster care system.The kids had fun making the pillows, and I’m sure the foster kids enjoyed getting something special made by another kid. You’ve got suggestions here that will make my next Critters for Kids day easier. Many thanks!

  4. I make blankies for our local children’s hospital PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). I have been fortunate in finding an organization which is in a start up phase, Snug as a Bug Blankies (Elizabethtown, KY), and we share our passion for creating blankets and quilts for children in the hospitals. I am trying to get others involved, in any capacity, from church members, to Facebook friends and family; whether it be donations of time, talent or resources.
    I love this idea to make dolls for them as well, I don’t know how thin I can stretch myself but God keeps putting these opportunities and interests in my path! God bless each and every one of you that gives, in any capacity

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