Sewing pillowcases for kids with cancer

That's it folks. Another Paula's Pillowcase Day in the books.  This year marks seven years of my friend Paula gathering her friends and her friends friends from near and far to spend a weekend cutting, sewing and wrapping up handmade fleece pillowcases for kids with cancer.

Paula's son was diagnosed nearly ten years ago with a rare form of cancer called Sarcoma. While he was in the hospital getting treatment they realized how uncomfortable the pillowcases were on bald Chemo heads.  A handmade pillowcase that was a gift from a friend became a treasured item and Paula's Pillowcase Project was born.

Paula is one of the most organized people I know and she has mastered the art preparing for this event.  Paula and her two sons line up ungodly early on black Friday morning picking up bolts of fabric when it's at it's lowest price. Volunteers wash the fabric and iron the bolts and then a team gathers on Friday night to cut out the several pieces of fabric that is required to piece together the pillowcases.

I'm a show up "sew your buns off" Saturday gal so pardon my lack of pictures from the Friday night events.  Lots of prep work goes in to make the event run smoothly so as many pillowcases can be made as possible when the team of ironers, sewers and trimmers comes in.

The morning starts off and continues with pinners.  People who put together the several pieces of fabric in a hot dog shape so that they can have their first seam sewn.

There are lots of different steps involved in making these signature Paula's Pillowcases.

After the hot dog step, the pillowcase is turned and opened and ironed. The fabulous trimmers with rotary cutters in hand trim down the cases so that they are ready for their french seam.

Paula says she has yet to find a volunteer that she can't use! People who can't sew pillowcases have just as important part in the day.  Ironers keep the process moving along and are a sewers right hand man.

The famous Paula giving instructions before lunch.

The crew

Who knew you could work up such an appetite sewing all day!  That's when the food crew comes in.  They provide delicious goodies from breakfast to snacks to lunch and desserts.

It sometimes feels like a slow process, but after lunch things really start to pick up as pillowcases in their various stages start to come to completion.

This little girl loved running from sewer to sewer grabbing completed cases and ringing the bell to let the group know a case was finished.

Then we keep track by changing the number on the board to keep count of the cases that have been completed.

 A group works on making cards and writing messages to the pillowcase recipients.

Each pillowcase then gets a card attached and a lovely ribbon tied to it.

Rows and rows of completed pillowcases ready to be delivered to Seattle Children's hospital.

I am so thankful for Paula and her willingness to put together this event every year.  I am blessed just by being a part of it.

Last year I created a sew along for those of you who are reading this and can't be here in person.  If you are interested in following along with my tutorial and sewing a pillowcase or two or ten for Paula's Pillowcase Project, I'm happy to send along an address for you to mail them to. Just let me know at  Or feel free to whip some up for your local children's hospital, nursing home or family friend.  

1 comment

Nicole said...

Great write up of a great event. Sorry I missed it this year! Plan on making it next year though. This reminds me that I need to get fabric!

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