Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Case of Charitable Crafting

We had a very nice Christmas, full of many blessings. Very few people should have been disappointed in our house. True, the kids did ask Santa for those traditional, early elementary school gifts: iPhone 4S and iPads, etc. Santa laughed.

Despite their lack of connectivity, they did score some highly desirable toys, games and experiences. It is tough sometimes to see the value in gifts when your dad works for a toy company, but we have worked hard to ensure that they don’t live like Ricky Schroder in Silver Spoons (yes, I’m that old and yes, I mean Rick Schroder if you aren’t that old). Still, at Christmas, we go a little crazier than normal.

This year, I sensed a dash of post-Christmas malaise, complete with a pinch of ungratefulness. I decided that we needed to focus a bit more on those that are not us. I came across a magazine ad for an organization that makes pillowcases for others. American Patchwork and Quilting is trying to give 1,000,000 handmade pillowcases to others. These can be foster children, cancer patients, victims of domestic violence, etc. I thought it would be a perfect project for us to tackle. The girls can learn sewing skills and soul skills. Crafting and creativity can serve many functions, and this was the chance for us to use those for others.

My plan is to tackle one charitable project each month. This month will be the pillowcase project. After doing a bit of research, I found many more organizations that translate creative endeavors into joy and comfort for those who need them.

The girls were very enthusiastic when I explained the project to them. They immediately agreed that it was the perfect plan for us. The kindergartener determined that we had much more ambition than I think we really do.

“We can make 100,” she told us.

“Maybe less,” I told her.

“Yeah, maybe,” she agreed.

Last night we picked out the fabrics and downloaded the pillowcase patterns from the organization. I wanted everything to be ready for our much-needed, long-awaited four-and-a-half day January break. (Does it sound like I thought one day extra off would have been sufficient?) Anyway, I also downloaded the rules, which were key, because our enthusiasm included statements like, “Once we finish sewing them we can paint a really big, pretty design on the front!”

I explained that the rules don’t include painting the front and that the pillowcase might not feel comfortable to sleep on that way.

Once again, the kindergartener piped up with a suggestion.

“It’s simple to make a pillowcase,” she said, in her infinite wisdom. “Step one, get your fabric, step two, sort it out and step three, make it. Three easy steps!”

She then launched into a little happy dance, singing the little song from Special Agent Oso as she spun around the kitchen.

In a wacky coincidence, when you get on the charity's website, the first thing you see is:

"In 3 easy steps, turn your love of quilting and sewing into messages of comfort, hope and love..." and then they list the three easy steps. Wow, the kid is freaking me out!

Tonight we will experience perhaps a few tiny additional steps, but I think they won’t mind. They certainly didn’t mind ravaging the four boxes of fabric I got out. There was a lot of “Ohhh, look at this one,” and “This is SO going on mine.”

Here is a pile of what we will turn into four pillowcases:

I was contracted by one child to make a preliminary sketch for one of the pillowcases:

I was then told, “I want all those little squares around the cow print to be a different fabric and I don’t want to repeat even one time.”

I said, “I want a vacation.”

I was met with a blank stare. I said, “Never mind. We’ll see about the fabrics tomorrow.”

Stay tuned to see if we can turn a table full of fabrics into four pillowcases. One mom, three kids, one sewing machine. We have four and a half days to make it work!

If you want to make your own pillowcases, go to


Anonymous said...

Way to go Emily! One of my boys' favorite Christmas gifts (sort of?) was the year she made them each a stack of homemade pillowcases for each holiday. It is easy to find fabric for each holiday, but she went one step further and hunted for special ones to my cowboy santa.

Have fun, but a take a break for yourself sometime this weekend. I can't wait to see the results.

By the way, your background for the blog today is looks like my grandfather's skin super-magnified.

Andrea B

Emily said...

ewwwww! now feel like I have to change the background! Thanks!

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