baby kimonos, burp cloths, and giving back

A few months ago my friend Katherine and I hosted a service project with the ladies at our church. We weren’t sure what project to choose but wanted it to be sewing-related and wanted to use the project for a need right in our own community.
So Katherine had the brilliant idea to get out the Craft Hope book!–a book dedicated to giving hope and love to others through handmade crafts.

If you’re not familiar with the Craft Hope site, every few months they host a project to inspire crafters and sewers to get together, make their own version of the project, and ship the items to charities in need. Simple love.
And after the items have been sent, Craft Hope posts pictures of the handmade items being used in their new homes, which is a real treat to see. The first time I saw this photo of a blanket my cousin had made and donated, swaddled around a babe in India, I just started to cry. That blanket was just in our house! And now it was giving love to another family across the world! Amazing.
The Craft Hope book is set-up with a variety of project ideas for groups of friends or individuals to work on. Each project has a charity attached with info about where to send your finished project items. But you can give your items to any charity that needs craft love.

So Katherine found a place right in our town in need of baby items. It’s a house for young pregnant moms to live before and after having their babies so they can learn new skills and get back on their feet. We decided to help these new moms out by making infant gowns.
We used a kimono pattern in the book designed by Maya of Maya Made
If you’ve never been to her site it’s a lovely place. All sorts of inspiring ideas.
These beautiful kimonos looked so soft and perfect for a newborn babe.
Our goal was to make 25 gowns.
To make it as cost effective as possible, we bought XL T-shirts from Old Navy Clearance (3 T-shirts will make 2 gowns) and everyone browsed through their own fabric stashes at home, donating solid colored knits to the cause. We came up with a pile of this–T-shirts, fabric, and jersey knit bed sheets:
We printed a few copies of the pattern from the book.
PATTERN UPDATE:
Please note that the pattern in the book has been revised to make the printing process easier. You can now print the pattern in REAL SIZE to standard paper from your home printer. Click HERE for the updated pattern and additional info.
And we set up shop at the church. Everyone brought their sewing machines. And those who weren’t into sewing, organized and cut out all the gowns.
We chatted, laughed, sewed, seam ripped, sewed some more, ended up with thread in our hair, and had a really fun night.
We ended up with about 20 gowns from a few hours of work. We were pleased!
And the gowns were really cute! I used Soule Mama’s simple hat pattern (also in the book) and made a baby hat from the discarded sleeves of the XL T-shirts. For the girl gowns, we sewed a sweet twill tape tie in the side.
The boy gowns were left plain, in boyish fabrics.
My favorite parts are the little neck openings (don’t worry, the kimono style expands for a head to get through).
And these little hand cuffs. They fold over to keep tiny hands warm.
The sewing isn’t perfect but that’s also what I love about the project–people creating and giving regardless of skill level. Gowns are a great project to work on; something everyone can help with. You could also draft a pattern using the 90 Minute Shirt as the base. Just extend the length of the shirt and add an elastic casing! Simple.
We haven’t delivered the gowns yet but I’m looking forward to the outing. It’s a joy to see others enjoying something you made.
Other projects in the Craft Hope book include, handmade soap, baby toys, blankets, hats, dolls, and so much more. If you need a very simple project I was honored to have one of my designs in the book as well. I took a pile of T-shirt scraps,
and created bright, cheery burp cloths and infant crib sheets.
If you’ve made something from the book or any sort of charitable craft I’d love to hear about it! A while back we also made Pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer. It was a very fast, fun, easy project and a great way to jump in and get your feet wet with craft-giving. I created a tutorial for the pillowcases here.

Happy Crafting and sewing!
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Check out these cool scavenger bags over at Made by Rae today, designed by Make it Perfect.

  1. 1) Brownie

    I’m curious as to what size the template for the gowns printed out for you. I’ve just printed and taped the (new) template, but it looks enormous. Not something that I could make out of an XL t shirt. I think I’d need 2 yards of fabric to make one of these. Do you have the rough dimensions of the back and front pieces. I’m thinking that I’ll need to scale this pattern down if it’s to fit a newborn…

    • 2) Shanna

      I thought they looked enormous too. But I re-read what she had said about the tshirts. She said 3 XL shirts will make 2 gowns. They do look a little large for a newborn. I couldn’t find the instructions on how to piece the gown together. But I’m guessing the book has the instructions.

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