Pillowcases for Kids in the Hospital

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before and that is ask readers of this blog to contribute money to a project.  The TL:DR is my mother, friends, and I have been sewing pillowcases for kids in the hospital.  We’re looking for help covering the costs of materials and shipping.  Our goal is 600 pillowcases this year.  If you’d like to contribute, follow this link to our PayPal Money Pool.  Keep reading for the full story!  Thank you for any help you are able to provide.

Fabric that needs to be ironed and cut to size for pillowcases.

In March 2017, I took a class at the Florida Tropical Weavers Conference.  We wove fabric using rags and then sewed the fabric into cute purses.  I always knew that I was going to need to improve my sewing skills if I was going to weave my own fabric, but I didn’t have a specific plan for when I was going to do that.  After taking the class at Conference, I decided the time was now.

I took three classes at The Sewing Studio, an independent fabric shop located about 10 miles from my house.  Each class was once a week for four weeks.  In the first class, we sewed pajama pants.  In the second we sewed a tunic and in the third we sewed a dress.

After the fabric is cut, we make it up into kits. Each kit includes the main fabric, a contrasting trim, and a contrasting cuff. The sewists take a kit out of this box and start sewing.

About the time that I was starting the second class, my mother told me about the pillowcase project.  My cousin is a nurse on a pediatric oncology unit at Hartford (Connecticut) Children’s hospital.  Someone gave them a few handmade pillowcases to give to the kids.   The nurses gave them out on special occasions or if a kid had a particularly rough day.  They didn’t have many pillowcases, so they were careful about giving them out.  My aunt and mother had sewn a few pillowcases.  My mother wondered if I’d like to make some also, as a way of improving my confidence in basic sewing skills.  I said sure.

This me, sewing a pillowcase on the used sewing machine I found for less than half the usual retail price!

Of course it snowballed from there.  My friend Shellee wanted to learn to sew, so we taught her the very basics with pillowcases.  Shellee is a lot like me — if she’s going to get into something, she’s jumping in with both feet.  Before you knew it, my mother, Shellee, and I had acquired far more fabric than we could sew through ourselves and we started recruiting other people to help.

Shellee and I ironing and cutting fabric.

We’ve held a couple of sewing days for the pillowcases.  At first it was just Shellee, my mom, and me but in November we recruited as many people as we could in order to sew pillowcases for December holidays.

My mother’s neighbor Bonnie doesn’t sew, so she did a lot of the ironing. My mother and Shellee are in the background, measuring and ironing.
My mother’s friend Maria Elena does not know how to sew, so she helped with ironing.
In this picture, Fredi is preparing one of the kits for sewing. She is also a talented sewist and we were excited to have her helping!
Cris’s machine gave her some fits, but she got them worked out and sewed the rest of the day.
Shauna has been sewing a long time. Before she moved to Florida, she volunteered significant time with Girl Scouts of America. She was looking for a new volunteer opportunity here in Florida and was excited to sew pillowcases with us.
My parents’ dog Kallie supervising the sewing.

Stories from the Hospital

I wish I could share pictures of kids with their pillowcases, but I can’t due to HIPPA and general privacy.  I do have stories, though!

Two nurses holding up holiday pillowcases we sent to the hospital.

Avery tells us that one of the reasons they like to give pillowcases to the kids is because it is the first indication to the patient that their hospital room can be personalized.  Patients tend to assume that sterile = impersonal.  This doesn’t have to be the case.  The staff encourages the patients to bring in things from home, to provide familiarity and comfort while they are in the hospital.  When they receive a colorful, non-institutional pillowcase, it offers a concrete proof that the staff really means it when they say, “Make yourself at home.”

Some patients come in and out of the hospital.  Sometimes the patient comes in for regularly scheduled treatments.  They might stay in the hospital for a week every month or for a couple of days a week while receiving chemo or radiation.  Sometimes the patient comes in on an irregular schedule as symptoms wax and wane.  One boy received a pillowcase on a visit several months ago.  Every time he comes into the hospital again, he brings his pillowcase with him.  He can’t fall asleep without it, even at home.

Just before Christmas, another boy came into the hospital.  He loves Christmas and was going to be in the hospital over the holiday, so his family decorated his entire room for Christmas.  They were so excited when Avery brought him one of the Christmas-themed pillowcases as a finishing touch on the room.  His mother was so touched when she found out they were handmade.  She took a picture of her son sleeping on the pillowcase and had Avery sent it to us so we would know how much it meant to them.

While most of our pillowcases stay on the floor where Avery works, sometimes they make their way to other floors.  When we sent 8 or 9 pillowcases made from “Happy Birthday” fabric, the woman in charge of special events for patients commandeered them all so she could distribute them throughout the hospital to kids who had to spend their birthday as an inpatient.

About the Budget

When you click through to our PayPal Money Pool, you will see that our goal is $6,000.  I thought I’d break that down for you a little.

The primary cost is for fabric.  Each pillowcase takes about a yard of fabric.  We use three different fabrics — one for the body, one for trim, and one for the cuff.  The total body is about 3/4 of a yard, the trim is about 3” long and the cuff is 10” long.  We use quilting cotton to make them and are using nearly the entire width of the fabric.  We tend to cut out pieces first for the body, then for the cuff, then for the trim so we can maximize our use of the fabric and have very little waste.

At regular price, quilting cotton costs $4 – $12 / yard.  The lower cost fabrics are definitely lower quality.  We found that they are often skewed to an extent that it is difficult to make a pillowcase with them.  In addition, they tend to have smaller all over patterns and don’t necessarily have the visual impact we like.  The high end of the range is either a better quality fabric or one that has licensed characters on it.

So far, we have mostly purchased mid- or high-price range quilting cottons when they are on sale and, hopefully, in combination with a coupon.  As a result, we have kept our average fabric cost at about $6 / yard.  We usually make pillowcases using either licensed characters or holiday themes.  The pictures in this post are all Christmas and Hanukkah.  We also made pillowcases for the 4th of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.

The other costs are thread, which runs about $5 / spool for the sewing machine thread and $9 / cone for the serger thread.  In September and October, we went through several spools of black sewing machine thread!  We usually have one serger threaded in black and another threaded in white.   We use whichever looks best with a particular fabric and don’t try to have multiple colors to precisely match fabrics.  For the winter holidays, we had one serger in red, one in green, and one in white.  Since there is so much thread on serger cones, we haven’t gone through a complete set yet.  We also try to buy thread on sale and with coupons, and are usually able to get it at half price.

The remaining two costs are shipping, which runs about $0.50 / pillowcase, and sewing machine maintenance.  We haven’t had to do maintenance on our machines yet, but with as much as we plan to sew this year, we will probably need to do maintenance on at least three sewing machines and three sergers this year.  Maintenance is $50 – $100 / machine, depending on the machine.

In 2017, we sewed approximately 250 pillowcases.  As quickly as we sent them, they were distributed!  We could not keep up with the demand.  Our goal for 2018 is 600 pillowcases.  Our $6,000 goal gives us a budget of $10 / pillowcase.  This gives us a slightly more generous fabric budget than we’ve been spending, maybe $8 / yard, so we can use higher quality fabric and more of the licensed fabrics, both of which are less likely to be on sale.

About PayPal Money Pool

When we first decided that we wanted to do some fundraising so we could expand the number of pillowcases we were making, we researched all the popular options, like GoFundMe and Kickstarter.  We discovered just how much you pay in fees on these sites.  They all take 4.9% for them plus an additional 2.9% for credit card fees.  Some of these services also charge $0.30 / transaction, on top of the percentages.  Losing 8% of donations to fees seemed excessive.  We hesitated on starting the fundraiser while we looked at different options.

Then I found PayPal Money Pool.  This service creates a separate pool of money in my PayPal account.  In order to reimburse someone who purchased fabric for this project, I have to transfer the money from the Money Pool into my regular PayPal Account, then pay it out to the person.  This extra transfer step is always required before using Money Pool money.  Best of all, PayPal charges NO FEES for the Money Pool.  Every penny donated through our Money Pool will be used to make and ship the pillowcases.

Just like GoFundMe and Kickstarter, I get a list of the people who contribute to the pool and their contact information.  The landing page of the Money Pool will show a list of contributions — you can choose to be anonymous if you don’t want everyone to see your name — and will keep track of how close we are to making our goal.

Project Updates

Services like GoFundMe and Kickstarter provide built in means of providing updates to contributors.  I’m not sure yet if Money Pool provides a similar service.  If it does not, I will be creating a e-mail list so I can give you a running tally of the number of pillowcases we sew and a breakdown of how we spend the donations.  I will also write additional blog posts throughout the year.

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn to help.  If you haven’t done so yet, click through to our Money Pool and donate.  Every little bit helps and every little bit will be used for the project.

Since many of you are crafty people, I suspect some of you may want to donate fabric or make pillowcases yourself.  If that describes you, please see the Contact Us page and use one of the contact methods there to request additional information.

Thank you!!

A Year of Projects: Introduction and Week 24


I just stumbled across the Year of Projects group on Ravelry.  This is a blog-along group.  Participants make a list of crafting goals for the year and post weekly updates on their progress.  The Year of Projects runs from July 1 through June 30, so we are almost at the end of the year.  Some participants run on an annual schedule, however.  I decided that I will participate on an annual schedule.  I already made a list for 2015, but I haven’t been reviewing it or updating it.  Now you’ll get an update post every Sunday.  Since I already post a WIP Wednesday post, I think the Sunday post will probably just be a list with completed items crossed off, but that may change!

Previous Posts

Since it’s been awhile since I’ve written about my goals — and I haven’t really reviewed them myself since I wrote them — I thought I’d link to the posts I wrote back in January.

2015 Goals and Plans

UFO Inventory

Breed Specific Fiber Inventory & Breed Specific Fiber Inventory, Updated

Apparently, I never wrote a post about my Stashdown plans.  I thought I had!

Current Status


I set the goal of knitting from stash.  I would not buy new yarn, except for weaving yarn.  Uh, yeah.  turns pink  That hasn’t happened.  There’s been much acquisition of stash, and not all of it is for weaving.


Here’s the list again.  If I’ve finished or frogged the project, it’s linked to the relevant blog post.  If it’s not linked, I haven’t finished it.

After I made this list, I found another project.  I need to stuff and assemble a Baby Blue Monster.

2015 Goals and Plans


  • Knit myself a sweater
  • Improve my finishing techniques

I haven’t done a sweater yet, but I never intended to make one until the fall, so that’s okay.  In July, I’m attending The Knitting Guild Association meeting in San Diego, and I’m taking a two-day Finishing class with Arenda Holladay!


  • Learn to read crochet patterns
  • Learn all the basic crochet stitches.
  • Make at least one non-granny square crochet project

Yeah, I’ve done none of this.


The Cotton Candy Corriedale was a breed-specific fiber, but I haven’t been thinking of it as part of that project and I did not write a separate blog post about it. The Cormo that I’m currently spinning is the first fiber that I’m counting as part of the breed specific spinning project.  The updated Breed Specific Inventory is no longer correct.  I never received the fiber from Little Barn.  I ended up filing a complaint with PayPal to get my money back.  I’ve also bought some fiber from other sources since.  I’m no longer sure that I want to process the Mystery Fleece.  I’ve brought it to demos and it’s nice to have an unprocessed fleece for that purpose.


  • Continue playing with color and weave drafts
  • Learn pick up stick drafts

I finished the Ravenclaw and Slytherin Houndstooth Scarves this year, which goes to the color and weave goal.  My OWL proposal for the current term of HPKCHC was to weave 8 scarves using 8 different color and weave patterns.  I haven’t started that yet, but plan to start this week.  If I complete the 8 scarves, that will pretty much fulfill the color and weave goal.  I have not started on pick up stick drafts.


  • Finish dyeing the MAPLE LEAF Shawls
  • pH / water source experiment

None of this has happened.


I only had a few project goals for this year.

Other Finished Projects

This is a list of all the projects I’ve finished so far this year.  I’m omitting anything already listed above.  These projects don’t necessarily fit into any of the goals I wrote in January.  I was surprised that there’s so few!  I guess I’ve been more on target than I realized 🙂


Updated List of Goals

I’m collating the above list into one so that I can more easily post on Sundays.  I’m also adding some goals.  I’ve taken on additional projects and I’ve acquired a floor loom!  I’m not including a stash-related goal.  I don’t plan to acquire more yarn this year, but who do I think I’m kidding?


  • Knit myself a sweater
  • Improve my finishing techniques
  • Finish MHK Level 1
  • Dishcloth Advent Calendar
    • Tribbles
    • Leaves
  • Charity Knits
  • Do some test knits
    • Sand Tracks Scarf (in progress)
    • Raindrops on Roses Shawlette (in progress)
  • Finish or frog all UFOs
    • Traveling Scarf
    • Bigger on the Inside Hat
    • Evenstar
    • Quinn Bag
    • Baby Blue Monster
  • Socks
  • Other Projects
    • Liquid Silver (remaking from scratch, since I frogged it!)
    • Fountain Pen Shawl
  • Design at least one project from scratch


  • Learn to read crochet patterns
  • Learn all the basic crochet stitches.
  • Make at least one non-granny square crochet project
  • Dishcloth Advent Calendar


  • Breed Specific Spinning
  • Learn to spin on a drop spindle


  • Continue playing with color and weave drafts
  • Learn pick up stick drafts
  • Learn Inkle Weaving
  • Learn Kumihimo braiding
  • Explore Twill weaves on the floor loom
  • Make items for the Guild Sale
    • Slytherin Houndstooth Scarf


  • Finish dyeing the MAPLE LEAF Shawls
  • pH / water source experiment
  • Return to dye triangles project

Goals for the Week of June 14 – 20, 2015

  • Finish the Sand Tracks Scarf.
  • Finish the Raindrops on Roses Shawlette.
  • Finish half of the questions and swatches for MHK1.
  • Finish at least one color and weave scarf on the rigid heddle loom.
  • Cast on the Liquid Silver Shawl.
  • Knit the Grisou Scarf (another test knit).


In December 2013, I looked at my shelves of yarn and noticed how they runneth over.  My craft supplies, including most of my yarn, are stored on two bookshelves in my bedroom.  I originally designated three shelves for animal fiber yarns,  one shelf for cotton yarns, one shelf for my knitting books, and one shelf for finished projects waiting to be gifted and UFOs. Here’s what the shelves looked like when I first put my yarn on them:


By the end of 2013, 6 shelves were stuffed with yarn, and I had more yarn that I needed to put away but did not have space.  I updated my Rav stash to current, and discovered that I had 93,835 yards (that’s 53.32 miles) of yarn.  That is too much.  Something needed to change.

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