Saturday, February 20, 2016

Small finishes: NICU Gowns

I've been quietly working on more NICU gowns to donate to St. Francis Cabrini Hospital. It's the closest hospital that addresses the needs of neonatal babies and is a Children's Miracle Network hospital. 

I'm not sure how many are ready to go, but there are quite a few. I've sewn these on and off for the last few years as a simple way to make the world better. Catholics believe that we should give of our talent, time and treasure during the Lenten season. Making these tiny gowns is a way to live the life of a Christian. 

Because I try to work on lots of gowns at a time, I make them in assembly line fashion. I cut out about 25 or so gowns for step one. In step two, I sew the lining and fabric pieces together leaving only the neck open for turning and clip the threads. Then comes step three: turning the gown right side out. 

Cut, sewn, turned, ready for neck closure
Step four is consists of sewing the neck opening, which is perhaps the most difficult part because there's a slight curve to deal with. Adding the Velcro is step five. Pressing is step six. Sometimes I mix it up a little, but really this is my best procedure when making 20+ gowns.  

Next step: sew on the Velcro pieces
I'm adding another step after pressing. That is to sew a fast top-stitch to the body of the gown after pressing. I find that the cotton wrinkles and requires so much pressing after washing that I just need to try a new approach. If top-stitching saves me from having to pick the seam out of a wrinkle inch by inch, it will be worth the few seconds of sewing. 

I've top-stitched a few gowns and will wash and dry them to see whether the stitching helps. Either way, ironing is the last step because I always wash, dry and press before I deliver the gowns.  

If you're interested in making some of these NICU gowns, you can find the tutorial and pattern here.  Someone asked the size of the gown, but I don't think it matters so much. I drew the pattern on a sheet of  X 11 paper and just filled the entire sheet. 

I've never measured the gown, but babies come in all sizes. They may weight only four pounds when they first wear clothing, so even if the gowns seem really small, don't fret. If the pattern is too big for the paper, it's too big for NICU babies, and you'll need to resize it.

Much more important is that you use small pieces of hook and loop tape (Velcro) for closures--I use about ¾ to 1 inch--and remember to wash in mild detergent. I always use two rinses to make sure I remove all of the detergent (even though I use All Free). I want the babies to look cute and cuddly, not have an allergic reaction.

Linking up with 
Crazy Mom Quilts (go check out her cute pixie basket)


Karen S said...

These are a lovely idea and look wonderful in the cheerful colours. I do forget how tiny these babies can be.

jenclair said...

So tiny, but so cheerful!