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Sew Goodness – a monthly charitable sewing challenge

Hi everyone! I hope January is treating you well!  At the end of 2017 I shared a new idea I was working on – a monthly charitable sewing challenge. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been mulling over how I wanted to do this. It’s still a work-in-progress and subject to change, but here’s the basic gist of it:

I want more goodness in my life. I’ve felt emotionally drained by the negativity and drama in the world. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. So I decided I wanted to set a goal making time for more sewing that would make a difference to folks in real need.  After finishing my 2017 monthly quiltalong blocks, I realized I could treat this challenge in a similar way- some small, simple “Sew Goodness” project each month and by the end of the year, I’d have hopefully accomplished some real good!

Thus was born the idea of having a simple, monthly project for a good cause.

And instead of hosting a quiltalong of my own this year, I’m going to offer a simple project idea each month with an invitation to anyone else so inclined to join.

The main goal is to keep this simple, not-political, and do-able.

You’re welcome to participate or share as you so desire. You can make something for the cause shared, or you can make something for a cause near and dear to your own heart, or one you are already working on!

This is a “no pressure/no guilt” challenge. If any month you have a baby/puppies/the flu/a much deserved vacation/anything-else that is filling your plate, you should know that your good thoughts and a smile to someone who could use is just as meaningful toward the cause for good!

Also keep in mind: if you don’t have time to sew, financial contributions to many of these causes are often even more valuable than the goods themselves and can go a LONG way. Costs are always needed for shipping and transporting the goods to those who need them.

This month’s challenge:

Make a pillowcase or pillowcase dress.

A simple pillowcase is a quick and easy project to make and often finishes in under an hour. They’re also a great stash buster if you have fabric that you no longer love or need. (see what I’m using below.)

American Patchwork and Quilting has hosted an on-going 1 Million Pillowcase challenge.  You are welcome to donate your pillowcase anywhere you like! If you don’t have a local place in mind to donate, APQ has an extensive list of places to donate your pillowcases.

Here are two simple tutorials for making a pillowcase: This one from Simple Simon and Co. has a great video tutorial.

Melissa has a simple variation here too.

APQ also has a list of other free pillowcase patterns.

Another variation: Make a pillowcase dress!

 A few years ago I was able to hear Rachel O’Neill, founder of Little Dresses for Africa, who started this foundation to provide clothing to children in Africa who have no clothing to wear. (You can read more of her story here.) I was so impressed. Mrs O’Neill was on a service trip to Africa, saw a need, and figured out a way to make a difference. Over the years they have received thousands of donated dresses – and yet they will always need more.

Here are the Pillowcase Dress directions.

UPDATE: Ana is an experienced maker and has helpful downloadable PDF instructions for cutting and assembling dresses here.

Melissa at the Polkadot Chair has a chart with multiple size options plus a great tutorial.

Here’s Nancy Zieman showing how simple it is to make a pillowcase dress. You can make a new ‘pillowcase’ from fabric, or use the same technique to cut out armholes in a pillowcase you already have or one from the thrift store.

(Boys shorts are also in high demand.)

Here is the information for sending the pillowcase dresses (or shorts) to Little Dresses for Africa. They will hand deliver the dresses to children in need.

Here are my projects ready to sew. In doing a recent clean-out I found a few pillowcases we don’t need – those will be made into dresses. The fabric is for pillowcases to go to my local children’s hospital.

Monthly prompts to sew a little goodness for those who need it.

Quilter’s have the best hearts. I’ve seen so much good come as quilters work together to contribute their love and skills to a good cause. I’m excited to see all that we can do this year! Feel free to pin or share this graphic to help spread the word!

I have ideas for the months ahead, but if you have any great causes that come to mind, please feel free to share them in the comments – or send me a private email (amy@diaryofaquilter.com).

I’m thinking of having a couple of quilt block drives in coming months. I’m looking to find quilting groups or guilds who would be interested in sewing the accumulated blocks together. Let me know if you’re part of a group who would be interested in something like this!

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69 Comments

  • Reply
    Jmj
    January 16, 2018 at 5:34 am

    Fantastic idea!!!

  • Reply
    Mary Lindberg
    January 16, 2018 at 5:51 am

    My 2018 sewing goal this year is to make 3 quilts for charity. You are offering just the encouragement I need to follow through. This is an awesome idea, Amy!

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 16, 2018 at 9:59 am

      That is fantastic, Mary!

  • Reply
    Emilee
    January 16, 2018 at 6:37 am

    Love this idea! That Star Wars fabric is so cute!

  • Reply
    Sue
    January 16, 2018 at 7:45 am

    Thank you Amy. Inspiring Idea!

  • Reply
    Sharon
    January 16, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Great idea! I’ve been feeling the same way as you. I’m joining in. (FYI – there is a tiny miss in your graphic – I think you mean “stitch”, not “stich”)

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 16, 2018 at 9:59 am

      Yes! (doh). Thanks!!

  • Reply
    Ana Sullivan
    January 16, 2018 at 8:04 am

    This is a great idea to do a monthly sewing charity project. I did a group project making these dresses. I made my own instructions that made it easier for those that are new to sewing. My easy instructions for Little Dresses for Africa: http://www.thelostapron.com/2012/08/little-dresses-for-africacontd.html

  • Reply
    aquilterstable
    January 16, 2018 at 8:10 am

    What a great idea – thanks for sharing. I’ll link back in my next newsletter to help spread the word.

  • Reply
    Donna Campbell
    January 16, 2018 at 8:42 am

    Great idea!! As an editor by profession, I couldn’t help but notice a typo in the red logo. “Stich” should be “Stitch”

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 16, 2018 at 9:57 am

      Fixed! *face palm* Thanks so much for looking out for me!

  • Reply
    Carolyn S
    January 16, 2018 at 9:40 am

    I love this idea! I started sewing for another charitable cause back in Nov. with my mom and the commitment we have given is going to last us a few more months. So, even though I’m committed to that now, when we finish I will be excited to join in your SewGoodness projects. You’re a great example of keeping things in balance, with a giving heart and I love that about you!

  • Reply
    Sharon Groves
    January 16, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Bless your heart! What a wonderful way to decrease the stash. Have long planned on doing the APQ challenge. Time to follow through.

  • Reply
    Amanda
    January 16, 2018 at 10:51 am

    I think I left this comment before, but if not Days for Girls is an incredible organization. They make reusable feminine hygiene kits for women in need around the world. A whole kit would require gathering a lot of supplies, but individual components are simple and great stash busters. 🙂

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 16, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      Yes!! I love Days for Girls! That would be a great focus one month. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Reply
    Linda
    January 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    This is so awesome!! You have inspired me to join in! I would be totally willing and love to help sew blocks together or do some longarm quilting to finish up quilts! Thank you!!💕

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 16, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      Wonderful!! Thank you, Linda!

  • Reply
    MARY D
    January 16, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    I am currently finishing up 25 pillowcases, some will go to the Ventura MQG collecting for the CA Thomas Fire affected and some will go to my local foster care coalition along with 10 fleece blankets I will also make. All will be made this month. I agree there is a need to balance all of the negativity that is currently surrounding us worldwide. We need to create our own little corner of happiness.

    There is currently two people on IG that are collecting 10.5″ Plus blocks to create 17 quilts for girls that are aging out of foster care in Omaha. The quilts will go to Girls, Inc. who are providing shelter for the young ladies. You can read Stephanie’s post regarding this collection at @stephkucera on IG. She is collecting blocks through August 2018. I will be sending her blocks also.

    I have 2 nieces, 2 nephews that were adopted from foster care so this organization will always be near and dear to me.

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 16, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      Wonderful, Mary!

  • Reply
    patsydoodle
    January 16, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Amy,
    That is a great idea. I alsodecided to make some things for people who need them.
    One thing I have been making out of scraps lately is a port-a-cath pillow. People having chemotherapy can have a port-a-cath inserted in the upper lower shoulder area, which is where the seat belt goes and it hurts. If you put the pillow on the seat belt above the port area, it feels much better for them. Just an idea to add to your list!
    Thanks,
    Patsydoodle

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 16, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      What a great idea!

  • Reply
    Jocelyn
    January 16, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    I made 26 pillowcases before Christmas for Ryans Smiles. It has been a great fabric buster, so I am working on making more. Thanks for the incentive.

  • Reply
    Hail
    January 16, 2018 at 9:04 pm

    Great idea!

  • Reply
    Pam Jolly
    January 16, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    What a great idea! I have more fabric than I can use in my lifetime. I have been wanting to trim down my stash. Now I can do that by making pillowcases and pillowcase dresses and shorts. Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Rose Anderson
    January 17, 2018 at 12:57 am

    Thanks Amy! This is just the little push I needed to get going. Last year I donated yards and yards of fleece for my grandson’s Eagle project. The scouts used the simple tie 2 pieces of fleece around all 4 edges for a blanket. They managed to send almost 200 blankets to Kenya pre-school and school aged children.
    You are right there are opportunities all around us and even the donation of 1 dress will make a big difference for 1 little girl.

  • Reply
    Lana Stewart
    January 17, 2018 at 3:00 am

    I love your Sew Goodness idea. I, too, am wanting to do more for others. I have been thinking of sewing a small prayer quilt for those going through difficult times to encourage them, provide some peace, and let them know they are loved. Any ideas Amy?

    • Reply
      Victoria
      January 18, 2018 at 1:53 pm

      You could freehand machine embroider a bible quote onto a small quilt. Or perhaps just the bible reference on a fabric that matches to the quote. Perhaps beaded tassel on a corner to give the fingers something to fidget with. Or some of the quilt shapes in faux fur so nice to stroke?

  • Reply
    Toni Vitrano
    January 17, 2018 at 4:37 am

    This is a wonderful idea, Amy! I did several charitable sewing projects last year and plan to do so again this year. The pillowcases are a great idea and work up quickly. I’m looking forward to seeing your project suggestions as the year progresses. One of the projects I did was make “busy bags” for Sadie’s Dream for a Cure. Here is the link in case anyone is interested http://www.sadiesdreamforacure.org/sewing-for-us. Thanks for inspiring me to continue to keep others in mind.

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 17, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      Wonderful! Thanks so much for the link, Toni. xo

  • Reply
    Darlene
    January 17, 2018 at 5:59 am

    This is an awesome idea! I think a monthly charitable project is wonderful and I love the idea of sewing along with a group. And this is so needed and will be so appreciated. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Nancy
    January 17, 2018 at 6:06 am

    Such a great idea. Will add a little structure to my charity sewing. Sometimes I make book bags for the local library, which sells them to raise a little extra money. I would think that women and children in shelters would like tote bags as well. These projects are good stash busters too.

  • Reply
    Laura T
    January 17, 2018 at 6:50 am

    Thanks Amy for the prompt. I’m also in on a monthly charity sewing challenge!

  • Reply
    Adrienne
    January 17, 2018 at 6:57 am

    Amy, what a fabulous idea. I’d love to help.

  • Reply
    Material Girl Quilts
    January 17, 2018 at 7:53 am

    What a wonderful idea!! Count me in. I have way too much fabric in my stash and will be happy to make some quick pillowcases and maybe shorts 🙂 Thanks for spreading the love Amy!
    Amanda

  • Reply
    Judy King
    January 17, 2018 at 8:03 am

    I live in central Mexico, near Guadalajara. Each Christmas a young man – a waiter – delivers small gifts to children in hospitals. It fulfills the pledge he made when he was 9 and a man brought little toys to the hospital. This year I got out quilt guild involved. We made pillowcases…about 40… And allowed him to make almost 160 sick kids happy instead if his goal if 120. He nearly cried when he saw all the bright colors and kids prints. Well do it again!

  • Reply
    Sandra Woods
    January 17, 2018 at 9:23 am

    I am always amazed by the desire to make things for charity and am also appalled that we are always encouraged to use fabrics we no longer love. As well, it is often suggested that we use “charity” quilts to “practice” our quilting. Instead of using leftovers, and fabrics we don’t like anymore–why not put our very best into these charity projects? Why do we assume that charity items don’t deserve the best and not simply a way to get rid of stuff?

    • Reply
      Nancy
      January 17, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      Amen

  • Reply
    Sandy Tyson
    January 17, 2018 at 9:52 am

    Thank you for organizing this Amy! I’ve tried each year to do several “selfless sewing” projects, but have needed more focus. I’m so glad to have a monthly reminder to keep me going! You’re awesome!

  • Reply
    AMcGrath
    January 17, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Every time I make a quilt for a loved one or friend or coworker, I make one for charity. I hate to say this but I also use the charity quilt to practice new techniques and patterns. I have to say that I love making the charity quilts because not only do they go to someone in need but also I get to use up all the little scraps from other quilts made and relive the joy of using those fabrics again. It gives me good vibes and good memories. What a wonderful thing you are promoting. I am in total 100% agreeance (is that even a word) about getting the negative out of our lives. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Doris Werkman
    January 17, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    I love this idea and will be participating when I can!

  • Reply
    Judy Valentino
    January 17, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    I have been making Quilts for Kids for our Children’s hospital for about 5 years. This year it has been so cold here in the Midwest I am making felted wool mittens to be given to the homeless. They are lined with fleece so they aren’t itchy and the wool keeps them warm. I had made them for all my cousins for Christmas some time ago and decided I could make some to donate from my large stash of stuff.

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 18, 2018 at 8:33 pm

      Great idea, Judy!

  • Reply
    Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting
    January 18, 2018 at 8:16 am

    Hi Amy!!! I was inspired by Laura @ Slice of Pi Quilts to do 52 charity quilts this year. I’m donated to Jack’s Basket–they celebrate babies with Down syndrome. How great is that?! Jacksbasket has a video up on Instagram right now saying she needs more quilts/blankets. Approximately 36″ square. Can I suggest you consider Jack’s Basket for one of your monthly causes? https://www.jacksbasket.org/ I love that you’re highlighting different places to send items this year–thank you!

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 18, 2018 at 8:24 pm

      Oh, I love this idea!! My husband has two biological brothers with Down Syndrome. We love them so much. Thank you so much for making me aware of this one!

  • Reply
    Marlyn
    January 18, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Love this idea. I just pulled fabric and patterns for children’s quilts for charity. Last year I made 25 pillowcases. I wanted to make 2 a month but some months I made more and others I skipped. It still yielded 25 and I donated them to a woman who organizes a monthly meeting to make pillowcases.

  • Reply
    Allysgrandma
    January 18, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    Dear Amy, I have had a burden or calling to make quilts for military babies and kids since my own first grandchild was born in 2008 at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina. My daughter was given a hand crocheted blanket as did all the other young mom’s in a seminar for adding a baby to your family. Right then I thought someday I will sew quilts and donate them. I met a young girl last summer who was diagnosed soon after I met her with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I made a pretty quilt and a local long arm quilter donated the machine quilting. Then I met a lady this summer who lives in SoCa and her and some friends make quilts for the babies born to the military families at 29 Palms. I work one day a week in a quilt shop and she happened to come in on a day I was working. I feel that God sent her to me because of the burden that is on my heart. I love you idea and will do my best to rise to the challenge. God bless, Cheryl

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 20, 2018 at 9:28 pm

      It sounds like you’re already doing more than your share, Cheryl. Thanks so much for your inspiring example! xo

  • Reply
    Deb Simich
    January 19, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Thank you Amy for inspiring us to be a part of the solution, not the problem!

  • Reply
    Shirley Clark
    January 19, 2018 at 10:06 am

    This is a great post! I try to do some charity or donated sewing every year. Our mission groups helps sponsor another group that visits Honduras every year at the end of January. One year I made 40 pr of boy shorts as many of he boys don’t wear pants of any kind until they’re older. It’s such an extremely poor area.
    The last couple of years I’ve been making care bags for a local domestic abuse shelter, and the other people in my group buy the supplies. I wish I wasn’t the only one that sews. I had fabric donations for a lot of the bags as I’ve used the majority of my extra stash.
    I also sew some for my little great granddaughter so I keep the rest for her. I’ve never been one to buy a lot of extra fabric. Now I wish I had when I was working. LOL

  • Reply
    Sheila Woofter
    January 19, 2018 at 11:28 am

    Love your idea! Can I put in a plug for Days for Girls, International? They make sustainable sanitary products that keep girls and women in school and at work. An empowered woman raises the standard for everyone, everywhere. Website: daysforgirls.org. They sew bags, sanitary shields, and sanitary liners. You can probably find a local chapter or team that will see that they get distributed – saves you the hassle of packing and postage. They also take monetary donations as well as in-kind donations, such as underwear and washcloths.

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 20, 2018 at 9:26 pm

      Yes! I love Days for Girls. I definitely want to make that a monthly challenge!

  • Reply
    Cheryl Smith
    January 20, 2018 at 8:25 am

    I have been doing this since I retired…local NICU, local Peds Hospice, homeless,…plenty of need in my local community. Our Senior Center also has a group that quilts every Thursday; mostly donated fabric, all for charity. I am blessed in my life and it feels good to give to those less fortunate! What a wonderful idea you have for the year! I will be watching, participating, and encouraging others to do the same. As a side note…if you have friends that don’t sew, bring them into your home, teach them cutting, pressing, and sewing…it makes this even more fun!

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 20, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      What a great idea!

  • Reply
    Sharon
    January 20, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    This is such a timely post! Yesterday i was looking through fabric and thinking of ideas, and pillowcases are at the top of the list. They are perfect gifts and I hope to get a pile of completed ones to the local children’s home. It is a little thing, but having something of your own…that is fun and holds special items…can help a little!

    I will watch for your other ideas! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Karen B
    January 20, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    thank you so much for doing this. I will make your little hearts into placemats for nursing homes. I make pillow cases regularly and give them away. I also teach young people at my church to sew, and our first project is always pillowcases. Look forward to next months challenge.

  • Reply
    thatfabricfeelingcom
    January 20, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    What a great idea. I sew each month for two charities and now I’m working with my 1st and 5th graders on pillowcases actually!! This coming Monday, those kids who made one to take home will now be making a second one to donate to kids recovering from heart surgery overseas. Your timing is perfect!!!

  • Reply
    Liz
    January 21, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    This is such a great idea – thank you, Amy! You have a huge heart and I love your positive, warm approach to everything. I want to contribute more and the structure and fresh ideas is going to help me.

  • Reply
    Steph
    January 22, 2018 at 10:00 am

    I appreciate your idea! I just wanted add that many girls are without pads for their periods. Littledressesforafrica.com will also take washable pads for girls. Super easy and such a good cause. I try to do a big project each year ( last year over 100 pads and the year before over 60 dresses) in addition to a few charity quilts for the hospital. That reminds me, if people want an easy project, preemie quilts or blankets for babies who don’t make it are also accepted at some hospitals. And some can be super small! Thank you for doing good and inspiring others to do the same!

    • Reply
      Amy
      January 22, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Great suggestions!! I definitely want to do sanitary supplies one month. Such a GOOD cause.

  • Reply
    Ella
    January 23, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    I sew with do.good.stitches (run by Rachel over at Stitched in Color). My circle does quilts for hospice. I also do hospice quilts on my own. I’m the regular drop off person at one of my guilds for orphan blocks. I also often collect orphan blocks at retreats. I have fun puzzling together kitchen sink quilts and folks clear out some blocks they’ll never turn into quilts.

  • Reply
    Cheryl Schultz
    January 24, 2018 at 10:50 am

    What a wonderful idea! I am joining in, too! May I make a suggestion? Check with the individual charity you choose to donate to, in order to make sure they are still accepting pillowcases, quilts, etc. I already found one that was listed but doesn’t accept pillowcases anymore. I found a Ronald McDonald House that accepts them, and a children’s hospital I am still waiting to hear back from.

  • Reply
    WriteAndQuilt
    January 31, 2018 at 7:56 am

    Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Reply
    Jan Horn
    February 5, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    When do you post the February challenge idea? I’ve made some pillowcases for January. Waiting.

    • Reply
      Amy
      February 5, 2018 at 7:04 pm

      I’ll be posting February mid month. Great job on the pillow cases!

  • Reply
    Debbie Grifginy
    March 3, 2018 at 2:24 pm

    I am making pillowcases for my local Ronald McDonald House… I’m glad I found your page to keep me inspired! 2 acquaintances of mine have boys with brain tumors… I want to do this in their honor!

    • Reply
      Debbie Griffin
      March 3, 2018 at 2:25 pm

      Last name is Griffin….

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