Sewist’s Name: Pam Baker from Ohio/West Virginia border
Type of Project: Garments
Pattern: Original Design
Featured Date: 5-10-23
Hi, I’m Pam Baker and I want to tell you about memorial gowns that we make for babies. We take donated wedding/prom dresses and create beautiful burial gowns for pre-term babies. Below is an article that was featured in a local company’s newsletter. The company provided the plexiglass to make our patterns. We are located on the Ohio/West Virginia border.
MOV Memorial Gowns was started in 2016 by a Marietta, Ohio, resident, Nicole Fortune, in memory of her son Samuel. Samuel was a full term baby, but unknown circumstances caused him to pass away in utero. The number of losses is extremely surprising. One in four pregnancies results in the loss of a child.
Nicole felt a calling to reach out and provide services that would help other families during this devastating and emotional time. Since she had no experience with sewing, Nicole contacted experienced sewers, Lesa Casto and Pam Baker. Both of these ladies became very passionate about the ministry. They quickly modified an existing gown pattern, recruited friends to help cut and sew, and asked the community to donate wedding dresses.
Some babies are too small for commercially made, off-the-rack clothing, so the group decided to make three sizes of burial wraps (S-M-L) and four sizes of burial gowns (XS-S-M-L). The wraps range from 8” to 10”squares and have a pocket to hold the smallest of babies. The gowns are for babies weighing two to eight pounds. These garments are specifically designed to aide in the ease of dressing a baby, protect their fragile bodies, and provide a beautiful covering for these sweet angels.
Pre-COVID, the group met at least twice a year to cut, design, and sew gowns. The group comprised of 10 volunteers with all materials being donated by a community member or paid for by the individual group member. Seeing the increasing need for this type of garment, the group is now meeting once a month in a local church.
The process of cutting gowns and wraps was recently made more efficient and consistent when Plaskolite donated acrylic for the master patterns. Previously, the group was using thin, flexible plastic film as a master pattern for the gowns and wraps. This plastic material was easy to cut with scissors, therefore, altering the pattern with nearly each use. Since using the acrylic, the hard edges of the acrylic master pattern allows for uniform pattern pieces to be cut and, therefore, true to size gowns are sewn. As an added benefit, the clear acrylic facilitates optimum placement of the master pattern to utilize the decorative elements of each individual wedding dress. Instead of pinning and cutting with scissors, the ladies now use rotary cutters which expedites the cutting process.
The gowns and wraps are donated to hospitals, funeral homes, and midwives. Many parents have expressed gratitude to see their angel in a beautiful gown and/or wrap, instead of buried in an impersonal hospital blanket or something found in a hospital donation bin.
Current MOV Memorial Gown members include: Pam Baker, Lesa Casto, Jan Cooke, Christy Hockenberry, and Pat Ralston.
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