Sewing for Endorphins

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Earlier this week my local quilt shop hosted a charity sewing event. I think it was the highlight of my week.

It wasn’t that it was a morning sewing with others in a fabric store, no less, which could easily be the highlight of a typical week for me. No, the highlight was what we were doing that morning. Not the thing we were sewing or where we were sewing them but that the finished projects were going to make many people’s lives a little more comfortable.

The charity we were sewing for was Four Seasons Hospice which serves 11 counties in western NC, that’s a lot of ground and that’s a lot of people. If you’ve ever known anyone in Hospice you know one of your main goals is to keep them comfortable and so we sewed a little comfort. We sewed butterfly pillows. (The other goal, as I see it, is to spend time with them)

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The pillow design is simple to sew and clever in it’s use. They are able to fold in half and are shaped to fit under or around the body’s curves letting the person be more comfortable in whichever way they need; to place between torso and arm to keep skin away from skin, to raise up and support a leg or to help prop a person up on their side.

The event was listed in the quilt shop’s newsletter just days before it was to take place. Usually, I don’t even open the newsletter since I don’t want to be tempted by fabric sales (and I don’t quilt – yet) but I opened this issue and I scrolled down.

Everyone was asked to bring their machine, scissors, and pins but we were told non-sewing activities were needed too like cutting out and stuffing the pillows. Oh please, don’t let me be the cutter, I thought. I can do it but I rather not.

The organizer of our sewing party was a Hospice volunteer, quilter, and sewer. She spends much of her volunteer hours sewing Hospice gowns but she knew, when it came to getting a bunch of pillows sewn up quickly, to call in some backup.

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There were at least 20 women there, all ages and almost all brought their machines. Perhaps no one wanted to be on cutting duty. I was happy to see that my machine was not the oldest machine there. Of course, I had a pang or two of machine envy but it’s not always the machine, I tell myself, it’s the skills too.

Everyone had a job to do, some of the women even volunteered to cut, and soon we fell into a working group. Some of us pressed, some cut, some sewed the two pieces, or the center, divide. There was also pressing and clipping seam allowance, turning the pieces and stuffing the pillows. Quickly we figured out who was doing what job so we knew where our pillow needed to go to for the next step.

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My job ended up being the finisher. I sewed the two openings together after the pillow was stuffed.

This wasn’t the easiest job. You have to hold with some pressure the pillow and the edges of the opening to all stay together. You have to sew right up to the edge without being forced off the edge by the stuffing. The other sewers were dropping this task like a dirty kleenex. It hurt their shoulder (and it was hard and the tables seemed a bit tall so it was an awkward angle, so I believe them. Vanity will have me claim it’s the years of strength training building up my shoulder muscles, that made me the right woman for the job.)

The pillows started stacking up in front of me. One by one, with my blue thread and bobbin, I sewed them shut. And that is maybe why the morning was so satisfying. I had the finished project in my hands after sewing just two seams. I got to hand over, or put in the pile myself, pillow after finished pillow.

Come on now, you know the best part of any sewing job is finishing it. I felt like a rock star.

I didn’t miss the point of the event though. It felt really good to finish the pillows but it felt even better to sew for someone else knowing it will help relieve a little of their pain and help provide them a little comfort.

It was a great reason to gather with other sewers. There was laughing, and stories and meeting new people. And after three hours we had sewed enough pillows to provide comfort to a lot of people. (I wish I could tell you how many but I didn’t get a count. It was a LOT.)

Bonus: Patterns for the pillows were available to take home if you wanted to make a few pillows on your own. I did, so I took one. That stash of fabric I’ve been holding onto finally has a destiny.

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There will be another Sew for Hospice day coming up in September if you live near Asheville Cotton Co. but there are other opportunities to sew for charity no matter where you live.

Check your local fabric stores to find an event or think about organizing an event yourself. You could do this in your home with a couple friends, your church, your child’s school with other parents or a local fabric store with their customers.

Here are some online sources for charity sewing.

I know we all say we enjoy sewing, and I do, but this small bit of sewing for charity was a higher level of enjoyment. As the saying goes, “Try it. You’ll like it.”

Do you participate in sewing for a charitable group? If so leave us the details, please.

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