If you have ever wanted use your gift of sewing to help others, know that there are heaps of organisations out there that would appreciate your help. These range from large national/international organisations, to smaller, local groups in your town.
Sometimes, it can be hard to know where to start. So I want to list some of the options available to guide you on your way.
If you are part of a sewing group, then a charity like Days for Girls, could be just for you. This organisation works with sewists around the world, to create menstruation packs for girls. Lack of menstrual hygiene products is a large reason that girls in some countries stop going to school. There are quite strict guidelines for making the kits, and it is a hard ask for a lone sewist to make kits by themselves- but not impossible.
Another place to look is your nearest neonatal intensive care unit. Some units accept donations of sewn and knitted garments. Tiny Sparks WA accepts knitted hats and little boys and girls outfits- they even supply the patterns. They do have specific requirements, but these are all to facilitate the care of the wee bubbies in the unit. A lot of other NICUs also take donations of sewn clothes, but it is best to contact them before you start, as they may have their own patterns and requirements.
If you don’t have any NICUs in your area then consider the local birthing unit. Some mums and dads can’t afford sweet new things for their little bub. Most units will have a little stash of baby goodies for those less fortunate. Give them a call if you want to find out what you can do for them. These tend to have a more relaxed approach to donations, as babies born in these units don’t have high care needs.
Now, if you aren’t a fan of sewing baby clothes, then homeless and women’s shelters are also looking for help. New clothes, blankets, toiletry and self care items are among items on the wanted list. In winter, especially in the southern regions, knitted items are very welcome! If you don’t knit, then you can head to Fleece Fun, and find plenty of snuggly sewing patterns for fleece!
Lastly, there’s a good chance your local animal shelter will gladly accept donations of blankets, especially in the cooler months. Wildlife centres may also have need for sewn goods- give them a call to find out what they need!
Currently, I donate to local womens shelters. I mostly make childrens clothes, but also blankets and carry bags. My favourite patterns to use are:
- My simple skirt pattern: Quick to make, but easily embellished.
- Tumble Bums by Pattern Emporium: A staple pattern for boys and girls shorts
- Halloween Hat pack from Fleece is fun: Super easy and super cute fleece hats with lots of character. I have made these with cat and the bear ears- too adorable.
- Raleigh Romper and Dress: This Blank Slate pattern is really easy. I use snaps instead of buttons to close, and I can whip these up quickly. The lined bodice is perfect to add embroidery to.
- Hoodie vest by Tie dyed Diva: Easy and cute reversible hoodie. Great for children’s winter projects.
- Reversible bag pattern: The pattern by very purple pattern comes with a printable pdf, which I love. The bag becomes very quick to make when you get the hang of it.
- My Large Grocery Tote Bag
- My Drawstring Backpack pattern
- Blankets: These make warm and comforting gifts. The quality of donated quilts can vary from patchwork wonders, to cheap store bought fleece throws. I like to do something that is a little bit more special than a cheap throw, but is definitely not as time consuming as a quilt. I get some flannel, and some matching fleece and sew them together to make a quick and cuddly throw. See below for a quick demo…
Start with pretty flannel (this is some Riley Blake I got on special). Grab some matching fleece. Any fleece will do, but in this case, I have some minky. Polar, husky, cuddle and micro fleece are all suitable. Even faux fur, if you find it at a good price, can be used. I usually buy a metre of both the fleece and the flannel for each blanket.
Next, decide which side of the fleece you want to be on the outside of the blanket.
With my minky, it only has fleece on one side, so this is a no-brainer. Place it right side up on a large surface. I use my floor! Place the flannel right side down on top of the fleece, lining up the edges as appropriate. Pin the fabrics together. If you used thick fleece, quilting pins would be better to use than normal ones. My fabrics are quite thin, but I have demonstrated using quilting pins.
If you do it like I have, then you will find that often the width of the fleece is greater than the width of your flannel. I trim of this excess, and use it to make the Halloween Fleece Hats.
Once it is pinned, stitch around the blanket, leaving a 5 inch gap for turning. Clip corners. Turn the quilt to the right way out. Finally, top stitch the blanket all the way round, closing the gap that you left earlier. And it is done!
I would love to hear any other sewing for charity suggestions. <3