Sunday, January 2, 2011

NICU Gown Tutorial

Today I started 2011 out right--I cut and began sewing preemie gowns for the hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) where our little granddaughter was born last year.  At 2 lbs. 4 ozs. Catherine had a very small chance at life, but the caring doctors and nurses at Women's and Children in Lafayette nursed her to the magic number of 4.5 lbs!  She was so tiny at birth that touching her was scary for us and distressing for her little body because at 26 weeks she was not ready for the world.  Today she is a healthy 20 pound one-year old who is trying to go places by crawling, scooting, and furniture cruising.  She doesn't walk but she wants to.  

July 2013 update: Caki is a beautiful 3 year old able to keep up with her peers and her little sister, Sophie.  She loves to read, play outside, and swim.

April 2015 update: Caki is now 5 years old.  She is growing fast, is almost through her first year of school (pre-K) and is a happy, delightful little girl, a joy and a blessing!

After a few weeks of wearing a diaper only, Caki was finally able to handle being touched and we visited to see our little darling wearing a tiny little handmade cotton gown!  I remember crying because she finally seemed human.  We had held our breath for weeks before her birth in prayer that she could hold on until birth.  Then we held our breath in prayer that she would respond to the highly sophisticated neonatal care that Women's and Children's provided.  The afternoon that we saw her for the first time dressed in a little shirt was, for me, the turning point of our ordeal.  Although we had prayed for her, visited, snapped photos and stood looking at her tiny little hands, her small limbs and torso, it all seemed very dream-like.  

On my second visit after seeing her dressed, I asked a nurse to let me copy a pattern from one of the gowns.  She was extremely helpful, finding a pen and some paper, then handing me a gown so small that I was able to draw the pattern onto one sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper.  I made a few little shirts and dropped them off a week or so later.  Since then, I've donated a couple of packages.  It's not a great deal, I am aware.  But I think about the mothers and grandmothers who see their babies in tiny diapers, backs and stomachs exposed, and remember the feeling and emotion I felt when I saw Caki dressed in her little preemie shirt.  And I think about how I can help just a little every now and then.  I pull fabric from my stash and zip a few together and say a prayer for each child who will wear the little shirts I've made.  

2016 version of pattern--copy and enlarge so that it fills a standard 
8 1/2 X 11 sheet of copy paper. Each gown needs two 
pieces of fabric and is reversible when complete
I thought that some of you might be interested in making a few of these little gowns to donate to your local NICU.  Included below the pattern is a brief tutorial showing how I made the ones showing above.
Step 1-- With right sides together, sew all around the bottom 
starting at one top edge and going all the way to the other top edge.

Step 2--Sew the two top edges from the front to the armhole.
Step 3--Sew around the armholes completely.  
This will leave the back neck open.
Step 4--Turn right side out and press all sewn edges.
Step 5--Fold raw edges of back neck and pin.  
Stitch entire seam.
Completed stitch on back neck.
Step 6--Ready to add Velcro adhesive dots.  Close the 
gown as shown and place two dots down front.
Final steps, add Velcro adhesive dots to close the shoulders.  
I stitch am X on all Velcro dots with my sewing machine 
so they are not lost when the gowns are washed.
Contact me via email at if you have any questions.  Good luck and God bless.


Anonymous said...

Are there velcro dots closing the arm holes at the shoulders?

Mary Marcotte said...

Yes, it takes four sets of dots. I close up the gown to place the dots, otherwise, it's confusing.

Anonymous said...

How adorable! Thank you for sharing your pattern. Is this pattern for a small or medium preemie? I would like to try making some. How big are the seam allowances? Do I have to draw in the seam allowances or are they included in the template?

Mary Marcotte said...

Lynne, I generally make the gowns using my serger, which makes 1/4 inch allowances, but if you make them with 5/8 inch seam allowances, it should be okay. There's not that much difference. The template doesn't have the seam allowances drawn in, so you'd have to add them if you want them drawn on. There isn't really a size, just preemie. I got the original pattern from a preemie gown that my granddaughter wore and made a few little changes so that they sew up faster. The nurses have told me that they work just fine, so I guess they're okay. Please do make some for your local NICU and good luck. Email me at mary.marcotte@gmail if you have any more questions.

Mary Marcotte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Could you please measure the shoulder width; the length and width at which it begins to taper down (fron left to right), and then the widest width of the gown pattern (left to right of gown), to give us a better idea for cutting out the pattern on the 8 1/2" paper? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Do they use these for girls and boys?

Anonymous said...

What kind of material did you use? Cofrom or flannel

Mary Marcotte said...

The hospitals that I donate to use the gowns for boys and girls, so I make them in pink, blue and neutrals.

I use light weight cotton. The NICU incubators are strictly controlled so the gowns don't need to be warm. (Plus they are made with two layers of fabric.)

María Isabel said...

Buenas tardes porfavor me envías el patrón muchas gracias un saludo feliz dí

MaryJones said...

What size is the little square please? so we can check the print size. It's too blurry to read whether it is 1 sq in or 1 sq cm. Thank you.

Mary Marcotte said...

MaryJones, the square should be one square inch after printing. But it doesn't have to be exact. If the entire pattern fits on an 8 X 11 sheet of regular paper, using almost all of the paper, it should be okay. Good luck! And thank you for your donations.