"I call them my little butterflies. They flew in just long enough to steal a part of my heart, and then flew away to Heaven."

Monday, April 30, 2012

Preemie Quilts - A new idea for Angel Ensemble

For a change, (and to give my poor fingers a rest from constant crocheting), I decided to make a couple of Angel Ensembles with coordinating fabric quilts rather than crocheted afghans.

The quilt is a simple 9-Patch design.....
Using the same fabric as was used to make the angel gown, I cut a total of four - 5" blocks.  Then using a coordinating pink solid, another five - 5" blocks were cut.  Since I wanted to pair lavender crocheted booties and bonnet with this gown, I chose a lavender print to make the borders (2 1/2" wide strips).

A very soft pink dot on white flannel was used to back the quilt....

 A very thin batting was used between the top and bottom layers of the quilt.  To keep things simple, I used the "quilt in the ditch" method to outline the blocks and border.

Since my brain tends to think in "pairs"....I then put together another Angel Ensemble appropriate for a baby boy....
Once again....I used the same fabric in both the gown and quilt.
Soft coordinating blue dot on white flannel backing....

Blue crocheted hat and booties were added to complete the ensemble.  (Needless to say, coordinating crocheted butterflies are also included in each set.) :)

Until next time,
Theresa (Grandma)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Butterfly Memories

Having wonderful friends who think of brilliant ideas is a wonderful thing to have in life!  My dear friend Marianne contacted me a few days ago.  She recalled reading a comment my mother had made after we lost our Morgan and Meghan. 

My mom's comment....

"I call them my little butterflies. They flew in just long enough to steal a part of my heart, and then flew away to Heaven."

Marianne suggested that as part of each Angel Baby Ensemble created and donated, we should include a crocheted butterfly as a gift for the mother of these precious tiny ones.  This simple gift will be something she can hold close, or even pin next to her heart....hopefully, something to bring a touch of comfort to her as she grieves the loss of her little one.

Free crochet patterns for butterflies can be found by the hundreds online, simple ones and complex ones.  I took ideas from numerous patterns and came up with this extremely simple one that can be finished in 10 minutes or less.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to pin a butterfly to each card included in the individual Angel Ensemble packages for the NICU nurses to share with the parents.


Round 1:  Chain 6, sl st in 6th ch from hook to form ring.  Chain 3 (counts as first dc).  Inside of ring work 2 dc, chain 2 *3 dc, chain 2.  Repeat from * 6 more times. 
Join with sl st in top of first dc (beginning chain).    Chain 3, turn to work in opposite direction on next round.

Round 2:  (2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next chain 2 space. *(3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in each remaining chain 2 space.  Join with sl st in top of beginning chain 3. Do not chain or turn.

Round 3:  Sl st in next 2 dc, sl st in next ch 2 sp.  Ch 3, 9 dc in same sp. * SC in next open space, 10 dc in next ch 2 sp.  Repeat from * around.  Join with sl st in top of beginning chain 3. 

Fasten off but leave an extra long length of yarn to use when sewing butterfly together and attaching antennae.


Make a chain the length you'd like the antennae (I did 10 chains)...the chain will be folded in half to create the antennae. Fasten off. I tied an extra knot on both ends of my "chain".

Fold motif in half to create butterfly....

Use the long piece of yarn to sew your butterfly together along the center.

With the remaining long piece of yarn, sew your antennae in the center of the beginning circle.

Whenever possible, wouldn't it be nice to make the butterfly in the same yarn used to make the hat and booties?

Do you have ideas to share?  Please do!!!

By the way...if you find any errors in these directions...PLEASE let me know so it can be corrected.  I'm known to make mistakes! :)

Theresa (Grandma)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Our Own Preemie Twins 20 Years Ago

I think it's appropriate to use this forum today to celebrate the life of another set of preemie twins born 20 years ago today! Happy 20th Birthday to our own Amanda and Emily, born at 33 weeks gestation on April 23, 1992,  3 minutes apart, each weighing a little over 3 lbs. 
Amanda Sue
Emily Ruth
Amanda and Emily were born at the same hospital as my grandchildren Morgan and Meghan - Johnson City Medical Center in Johnson City, Tennessee.  As you can imagine, the NICU at this hospital is very dear to me for many reasons. 
Me holding Amanda

Me holding Emily

Do you see the stylish pink baby bottle earrings I was wearing! :)

Adoption is a beautiful word in our home, as it has been the way our family has been built.  My husband was career Air Force and was stationed in Myrtle Beach, SC at the time of Amanda and Emily's birth.  Due to their birth mother requiring complete bed rest, (and an earlier scare that they were coming early), I was thankfully in Tennessee staying with my parents when the twins were delivered by emergency c-section.   Ray, along with our oldest daughter Shannon, was in Myrtle Beach and had to make the 7 hour drive after receiving my call letting him know he was a new daddy of twin girls.
Amanda with Daddy

Emily with Daddy
Just another day in the NICU!

Here they are when they were 3 days old.  Amanda weighed 3 lbs. 2.5 oz. and Emily weighed
3 lbs. 11.2 ounces.

We called Amanda our little unicorn for a while when the only place that her I.V. could be placed was on her little forehead.

Sweet Emily had difficulty nursing for a while and had to be tube fed.

Once the doctors and nurses realized that we were NEVER (literally) leaving the hospital while the girls were there, and after the girls proved that even though they had a few issues to deal with that they would continue to grow and thrive each day, they were able to leave the NICU after only one week and were given a room to share where I could stay 24/7 and care for them.

The pediatric floor hallways were painted to look like a little town...with the outside of each room painted to represent businesses, buildings, etc., commonly found in a small community.  Imagine our surprise to find that their room (#4519) was the "church"....very fitting for our family since their grandfather was (and still is) a pastor! :)

We were prepared for a longer stay, but were thrilled to learn that the girls were being discharged when they were 20 days old.
Dressed in new clothes and waiting to be discharged.

They only weighed 4 1/2 pounds each and my mom purchased the smallest two dresses she could find.  She also went to a specialty doll shop and bought doll shoes for them to wear home.  (The doll shoes still were huge and almost fell off their feet!) :)

The girls were sent home with heart monitors, which they continued to need until they were one year old.  Ray insisted on carrying both his girls, with both heart monitors on his shoulders, out of the hospital all by himself!! :)
Ready to roll!

Finally out of the hospital, safe and sound!
This photo was taken last year on the girl's 19th birthday.  Of course we'll take new pictures this evening when everyone is home to celebrate their BIG 20!
Emily and Amanda - 2011 - 19th Birthday
I must admit that I took a break from sewing and crocheting preemie items for donation this past weekend in order to finish up afghans for Emily and Amanda.  I just finished Emily's this morning!!!

Amanda's requested color.....orange(s)
Emily's requested color.....red

It's going to be a busy day celebrating, but tomorrow I'll get back on track making items for Grandma's Promise.  I can't wait to share new photos and information with you in a few days!


Friday, April 20, 2012

Volunteers and Donations!

I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of others.  There are now family, friends and complete strangers offering to crochet and/or knit hats, booties and afghans, sew quilts and gowns.  There have also been monetary donations to purchase supplies to create these items.  God is good, and I am humbled!
Crocheted by Candy
Within the last couple of days, two ladies have e-mailed photos to show what they have started creating.  I'm so excited!  They are doing such an awesome job.

Crocheted by Marianne
I know there are others who have started crafting or will be soon and I can't wait to share your creations with everyone.  Please send photos so I can brag on you! :) 

Because of the interest in donating funds by those who do not consider themselves crafty people, I have been keeping track of the expense involved to do certain items (and will continue to do so for future updates).  Keep in mind that I am one of those people who never pay full price for anything....sale items only....to say that I'm a frugal person is an understatement! :) 

Below are a few examples of how far the money can go:

$ 20.00 = 48 preemie hats in 3 different sizes  
 Depending on sizes, preemie hats on average can be completed for 35 - 55 cents each.

$ 7.00 - $ 8.00 = Complete Angel Ensemble
(Gown, hat/bonnet, booties and afghan/quilt)

For larger sizes, the cost may be slightly more.

For those who donate funds, I will supply photos of exactly what items were created with your gift.

Before closing, I'd like to share a new pattern I found for making a preemie bonnet.  I used this pattern as part of the pink Angel Ensemble pictured above.

This free pattern is for the Micro-preemie size only (1 - 2 lb.)...I'll use a different pattern for larger preemie sizes.


It's time now to get back to sewing, laundry and housework!  I'm working on new projects and can't wait to finish them and post pictures in a few days.

Until next time...have a Blessed Day!

Grandma (Theresa)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

So Much Information to Share!

Today's post has tons of information to share with all of you!  You just may want to grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. :)

I found a couple very helpful sizing charts on-line that will help all of you have a better understanding of how small preemies (of all sizes) can be.  Unless you have personally seen or held the youngest of preemies, I believe it is difficult for most people to truly imagine their tiny sizes.  This chart gives measurements for EVERYTHING (head, arms, chest, torso, legs, feet, etc). Click on these links below:



Next, the Angel Ensemble is now complete.....

My heart is happy to see this idea coming together. Along with individual items (hats, etc.) that are needed and used on a daily basis in NICU units, one of my personal hopes in creating "Grandma's Promise" was to also supply complete angel/burial ensembles that could be packaged together in a gallon size zip-loc bag, labeled with the size and appropriate sex, easy to store which will make it easy for the nurses to find everything needed when a precious child has passed away.

The entire ensemble consists of an angel gown/outfit, coordinating hat/bonnet, booties, and afghan/quilt.  I'm also creating a "Grandma's Promise" card to slip into each bag, and whenever appropriate, I'm hoping the nurses will pass the card along to the family just to let them know that whoever crafted the items did so in love and sympathy for their loss.  By creating a Grandma's Promise card, those of you who prefer to make items for hospitals near you, will still be able to associate yourself with this new ministry.

Let me share some additional information concerning individual items in this ensemble....

Details about afghans or quilts....

An appropriate size to crochet preemie afghans or sew preemie quilts (will soon share quilt ideas and photos in future posts) is anywhere from 18 inches to 28 inches square.

IMPORTANT:  If you are crocheting preemie afghans to be used on a daily basis with babies as they grow and thrive, you will need to use a pattern that is fairly SOLID in its construction. Babies can get their fingers, etc. caught in any "openings" in an afghan.

On the other hand, if you are crocheting afghans to be used as part of a angel/burial ensemble, you can use other patterns such as this simple granny square that I used.  If you are new to crocheting and would like me to share how easy it is to add this very easy scallop on the last row, just let me know.

I found the EASIEST crochet pattern for preemie booties imaginable....

you can see and print this FREE pattern at the following link:


I forgot to take pictures while I was making these blue booties, so I made a pair of pink ones to show you how easy it is to construct them with this pattern.  Each bootie is made in one piece....

Then you just fold it over and stitch the foot section together with yarn....

Then flip the bootie inside out which helps give it "shoe" shape....add ribbons in the ankle section for ties (or you can crochet a chain to use instead)....

Until next time,
Grandma (Theresa)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Angel (Burial) Gown

When the decision was made to begin Grandma's Promise, I knew in my heart that although the ministry would include many items needed for preemies (hats, booties, quilts, etc.) that on a personal level, my desire was to 'hopefully' concentrate on angel (burial) outfits.  Actually, I want to make more than simply the angel clothing, but an entire angel ensemble.  (I will explain more about that in a future post.)

Why is this so important to me?  It may be hard for you to understand unless you have experienced something similar, but when our Meghan and Morgan passed away there was an unexplainable appreciation and peace when the hospital wires and tubes were finally removed from their precious bodies, they were gently bathed, and the NICU nurses dressed them in donated, hand-made clothing that was small enough to fit their tiny one pound bodies.  Did the clothing take away any of our pain, grief and sorrow from having lost them?  No, but there was a measure of comfort in being able to hold, touch and kiss them, dressed in their precious tiny outfits. 

It was obvious that the NICU nurses did not have a huge selection of clothing to choose from that would fit such tiny babies.  Our little Meghan passed first and was dressed in a beautiful lavender crocheted gown, hat and booties.  Five hours later, when our little Morgan passed away, it became obvious that they didn't have an outfit that was undeniably "boyish".  Morgan was dressed in a long white cotton gown covered in white lace and ribbons.  The matching hat was actually a bonnet with lace around the edges and there were no booties.  Please don't misunderstand my heart.....I am SO thankful for his outfit, so appreciative of the time that was taken by a complete stranger to create an item that was small enough to truly fit, yet, at that moment, I also realized that there was an obvious need for more tiny outfits AND there was a need for "boy" clothing as well as "girl" clothing.  Just think, you can't just run out to the Mall and purchase baby clothing to fit a 1 lb. preemie either.

Hopefully, now you are able to understand my desire to make "angel" clothing.  On a personal level, I KNOW how thankful we were to see the babies dressed in outfits and I want to help other families who will sadly experience the same loss. 

So....I have the heartfelt desire....now I just need the talent! :)  Unfortunately, I'm not the seamstress of the family.  I quilt and use a sewing machine for crafts, but that's about it.  My own mother is the true seamstress who can turn a simple piece of fabric into a work of art.  There's just one problem...my mother lives 11 hours away.  :)

Now I will bravely share with you my first attempt of making an angel outfit to fit a 1 lb. little boy.  It's not perfect by a long shot....but it's finished. :)

I should probably explain that when making any outfit intended for burial clothing, the ENTIRE outfit must be open down the back.  You can use ribbon ties, snaps, buttons, etc., to close it in back.  Clothing CANNOT be used if it opens in front.  This simply means that unless you use a pattern that was specifically designed for a preemie baby burial outfit, you will need to "play around" and possibly design your own (which to some extent is what I did this time).

I needed something very simple to start with, but if you are a seamstress and know how to really sew, there is a lovely, more elaborate preemie burial gown pattern FREE online at:


The above link is a pattern that you can print out and has 3 size choices.  Size A (1 - 3 lb. preemie), Size B (3 - 5 lb. preemie) and Size C (6 - 9 lb.)

My sewing skill level is not ready to attempt the above mentioned gown....so back to my simple attempt. :)

First I purchased a cotton fabric that is white with a light blue flocked dot.  Using the basic design of the gown that was provided for our little Morgan as inspiration, I drew off the pieces and worked up the courage to actually cut the fabric.

Once the pieces were cut out, I had to lay it out on the table to get a clear understanding of what seams were needed (remember...I'm taking this slow because I don't know what I'm doing!) :)

Seeing the pieces like this, I realized that I needed "something" to make it look "boyish".  I called my mother and asked for her advice.  She lovingly reminded me that my sewing machine had embroidery capabilities and suggested I embroidery a small design that would be suitable for a little boy on the front chest area.  (If you don't have an embroidery sewing machine...using a small applique you can find at any fabric shop would also do the trick.) 

I chose a small 1 inch sailboat design....

Step one:  Sew all four shoulder seams....

Step two:  Hem sleeves and around neck....

Step three:  Side seams.....

Step four:  Hem back opening, turn up and hem bottom of gown with a seam wide enough to insert ribbon....

Step five:  Finish by threading ribbon in bottom hem, apply your choice of closures up the back of gown (ribbons, snaps, buttons, soft velcro, etc.)

Making this gown was fairly simply EXCEPT for sewing around the neckline....that was HARD because it was such a little opening to work with and around!  I've got to figure out an easier way to do that. :) 

I hope that by sharing my own feeble attempts of sewing, many of you that may not consider yourselves seamstresses either, will feel encouraged to give it a try.  I know it's not perfect, but it is filled with love.  Each moment spent cutting the fabric, sewing, (ripping out and re-doing seams), and even taking the photos to share with you was completed with prayers for the family of the angel baby boy who will one day wear this.  My heart's wish would be that all babies would live and thrive and there would be no need for outfits like this.  But until that day, I hope to bring some measure of comfort to the grieving families who suffer the same loss as we have experienced.

In my next post, I hope to share my ideas for an entire "Angel Ensemble".

Theresa (Grandma)