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".