Sewing pillowcases for kids with cancer

For the past four years, I have spent a Saturday in April sewing pillowcases for my friend Paula's Pillowcase Project.  Paula's oldest son Gary was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma.
While Gary was being treated at Children's Hospital in Seattle, the itchy scratchy hospital pillowcases were downright uncomfortable for a bald kid going through chemo.
Once Gary was finished going through treatment, Paula started Paula's Pillowcase Project with some soft flannel fabric purchased on black Friday and cut and stitched with loving hands from her friends in the community.
The planning for the event starts long before the sewing even begins!
Paula still waits in line on Black Friday with her sons getting the best deal on fabric that she can.
She recruits those people willing to wash bolts and bolts of fabric to have them ready for the Friday before so that "kits" can be cut and put together.

Here are the "kits" cut and ready to be pinned together before they get sewn.

There are so many fantastic fabrics and prints ready to appeal to any age kid!

Pinning is done to get the several layers of flannel together.
The most genius process of making these pillowcases is the first step where you make a hot dog with the fabric.  

There are many hands ready to help on Friday and Saturday.
And lots of machines to help stitch!

If you don't sew, those who can cut with a rotary cutter and those who can iron are just as important as those who can sew a straight stitch!
Paula says that in the past five years of running this project she has a 100% success rate for finding a job for volunteers young and old.
Many of the volunteers are parents of children with cancer and I have been honored to work along side children battling cancer as well.

This is Paula's youngest son Sam sewing the decorative stitches on one of the top layers of the pillowcase.
Over the years they have found that once the pillowcases are washed, the decorative flap gets rumpled, so sewing a decorative edge not only makes it more fun to look at, put serves a purpose.

One of the rooms happily working!
There is one other sewing area and another room where pinning and card making takes place.

Once the pillowcases are finished, each of them get a handmade card and a ribbon on them.

This years final pillowcase total was 222!

Throughout the year Paula pops into the oncology unit and personally delivers the completed pillowcases or leaves a stack that says "please take one".
She also has the help of a social worker on the floor now who can pick out a pillowcase that is hand delivered to the young patients.
All of the pillowcases are free of charge for the kids, and the smile that lights up their face is priceless!


Nicole said...

Every year, I always hear about this after the fact and I am so bummed because I would LOVE to help out. Does she have a website? Or how do I get on the "contact me, I want to help" list? Thanks

Craftcherry said...

What an amazing project! Such a wonderful way to help out the kiddos.

Amy J said...

I just started sewing and don't have much money but I would love to help out some. Is there anyway to get an easy tutorial on how to make one? I would love to make some throughout the year to donate!

Unknown said...

That is so amazing, what a fantastic project. I'm sure the kiddos are thrilled for something so special, so soft, and so personal!

Unknown said...

Nicole, remind me in February next year, and I will make sure you get on the list! It's usually in April.

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