Sewers are blessed with many skills and those skills can be shared in many ways to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Here are 10 tips for organizing a charity sewing project:
- Consider working on charity projects with a group of sewing friends. Whether you’re an organized group like the American Sewing Guild, or simply a group of friends and neighbors, working together is a way not only to have fun, but to make more items to donate.
- Find out the needs of the group. Whether you’re donating things to a homeless shelter, hospital, senior center, animal rescue group, veterans, preemie babies or kids in a third-world country, every group has some “rules” to go by to insure safety and use of the items. Call and ask how you can help and what the specs are for donations. You can often find this information online at the charity’s website.
- Decide on what to make. Everything from chemo hats to kids’ quilts, walker bags, pillowcases, shawls, etc. are needed by some social service group, so decide what you or your group can realistically make. Consider the skill level of participants and the cost of materials. An online search will provide a lot of free patterns available for charity sewers.
- Make a plan. Before you launch your sewing effort, sit down and map out a plan. Where will the pattern come from, who will pay for the materials, who will deliver the final items, etc.?
- Ask for donations. Before you purchase fabric, consider asking local businesses for donations. Some fabric stores will be happy to donate items for charity. Think about also asking national companies for donations of thread, fabric, batting, etc. Worst case scenario, the answer is no; but you might be surprised. Ask sewing friends for donations of fabric as well—many people are happy to have their overstock put to good use.
- Pre-wash project components. Allergies and compromised immune systems offer challenges, so be sure to pre-wash all the project components using detergents without additives or perfumes.
- Cut out in quantity. Having projects ready to sew is a big timesaver and cutting out lots of things at once is a boon. Group the cut pieces together and keep them that way through the construction process.
- Set up an assembly line. To make the most of your time, set up an assembly line cutting/sewing effort where each person specializes in doing one task multiple times. The repetition increases speed. Rotate jobs to avoid boredom.
- Finish properly. For a professional looking (and safe) donation, be sure to clip threads, neaten seams and remove all pins. Some groups request donated items be rewashed and sealed in zip-top bags.
- Deliver with pride. Take or send items to the receiving group as instructed. Request a receipt if you need one for tax purposes. Some groups will allow photos of the items being delivered—perhaps for a group newsletter or publicity in the local or neighborhood paper—a way to get more volunteers for your effort.
Here are some examples national groups that accept donations:
About the Author
Linda Griepentrog is a writer, editor and designer who lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband (a long arm quilter) and dog, Frank. She loves all things fabric! Linda also leads fabric shopping tours to Hong Kong. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.