The Golden Dozen of Garment Construction©
The Golden Dozen of Garment Construction©
Thank you for deciding to create clothing for those who need it so
desperately! Your decision to help others is a blessing for all involved.
To make things easier and to help answer common questions, we have composed this list of things to do and not to do when sewing for these special babies.
These rules are generally thought to be standard in most hospitals but
please check with your own hospital to make sure you meet their individual
needs. If you are uncertain whom to contact, try starting with the volunteer coordinator for your hospital.
1. Always tie / bind / cut loose ends
Loose ties can wrap around fingers, toes, and male genitalia. It is not
uncommon for amputations to occur as a result of loss of circulation because of ties and threads wrapping around appendages.
2. Always use hypoallergenic materials
Newborns, especially preemies are particularly prone to allergies. Please
avoid wool for preemies. Burial items in soft wool are welcome.
3. Always use skin friendly materials and avoid Velcro
While some clothing for newborns use Velcro without any problem, most
hospitals ask that Velcro not be used for preemie clothing. The corners are
sharp and can cause skin tears and the sound is upsetting to some babies.
Nylon snaps are suitable replacements as are ribbon ties.
4. Always use non-metallic snaps and accessories.
For babies in warming beds, this is extremely important! Metal accessories
can heat up and burn tender skin. Also, nickel in these accessories can cause allergic reactions or irritations.
5. Remove all pins and needles
As obvious as this sounds, we all tend to forget. Do a once over before
donating your items to check for pins and needles.
6. Make sure all decorations are securely fastened.
Do not use fabric glue or basting tapes (like heat and bond) for clothing on viable babies. Always sew on any appliqué that is used. Not only is it a choking hazard for it to come undone but it’s not a sign of a good quality garment. That being said, consider adding lace or ribbons to gowns (especially burial gowns) for an added personal touch. Even a plain gown can be a beautiful work of art with a trailing bow or piece of lace.
7. Do not use glitter or paint.
Both can be toxic in infants and can be peeled and consumed.
8. Wash all donations before donating to remove any pet dander or
other allergens from your home.
It cannot be stressed enough to wash your garments, especially in homes of
smokers. The allergens contained in unclean clothing can be fatal to a
preemie or newborn. If you are a smoker or pet owner, please indicate so on your package.
9. Consider sewing items inside out (with seams on the outside) so that it
won’t scratch the tender skin.
This is usually reserved as advice for preemies but keep these guidelines in
mind when sewing for any baby in the NICU.
10. Avoid yellow!!!!
Most NICUs hate using yellow on babies. It makes them looked jaundiced
which can have a couple of unwanted results. First, they look terrible.
Yellow just isn’t a flattering color for premature newborns. Second, the jaundiced look can warrant undo alarm and cause the infant to have to be unnecessarily tested for jaundice.
11. Make sure that any burial gown opens in the back – ALL THE WAY DOWN –
and avoid long sleeved gowns with elastic at the wrist.
To make this clear: When someone dies, their bodies become stiff (a
condition known as rigor mortis). Since a newborn’s/preemie’s skin is thin
anyway, having to manipulate a child into a gown without proper openings can
cause the skin to break open and separate. The easier it is to open a gown
for dressing, the better the appearance of the baby to be presented to the
parent for a final good-bye.
12. Use the rule of dressing your own child.
If you made a garment that you wouldn’t put on your own child, please
consider how the recipients of that gown might feel. They are accepting a
charitable gift, that’s true; but no one should have to see their child one
last time in something unbecoming.
No part of this document may be used without the expressed written permission of the author. This document may not be altered in any way. This document can not be used in whole or in part as part of any other document without expressed written consent of the author.