Sew This Easy Gift Bag for Toy Donations This Holiday Season

The winter holiday season is a difficult time for hospitalized children and their families. It can be a time fraught with stress and anxiety and disappointment in not having everyone healthy and  at home.

Knowing this, many organizations gather gifts for the hospitalized children, to help bring joy to  the season.

My friend, Laurie, and the others  who work at the same quilt shop designate a 2-hour period and sew as many of these simple gift bags as possible.  They give them to Children’s Hospital for the staff  to hand out gifts. I timed Laurie to make sure this was as simple as it seemed. Laurie is an expert sewer but the sewing requirements are very rudimentary. She finished from beginning to end in 35 minutes with plenty of time to chat while working.

I also took photos of  each step and  will lead you through step by  step. You will want to have access to a sewing machine for this project.


First off, choose colorful fabric. You need a yard for each bag. Do not remove the selvedge. I chose Christmasy fabric, but one thing is certain, you  will find fabric you love at any quilting or fabric store. Buy a wheel of grosgrain ribbon for the drawstring.

Turn under the top edge 1/2 inch and press. Also do the same down a few inches on each side.

Then turn the top under another 1-1.5 inches and press. This  will be the tunnel for the drawstring. Stitch across close to the folded edge to make the tunnel. Backstitch a little at the beginning and the end.

Fold the fabric in half, right sides together. Stitch the bottom together 1/2 inch from the bottom. Then sew up the side, encasing the selvedge if you have it.

Turn the bag right side out and cut 2 yards of the  ribbon.

Use a drawstring threader or large safety pin  to run the ribbon through the tunnel. Knot the ends  of the ribbon.

And, voilà, gift bag finished!


Knit Your Own Infant Cap. Make a Few More and Donate Them to a NICU!

Newborns often have difficulty regulating their body temperature right after birth. Most hospitals recommend skin-to-skin, or kangaroo, care, in which the naked baby (with diaper) is place on her mother’s bare chest, between the

breasts, with the baby’s head turned to the side. They are then both covered with a light receiving blanket or cover. Mothers should not fall asleep while doing skin-to-skin, so I always suggest having someone else in the room who is planning to stay awake and alert.

But things can be a little more difficult for babies in the NICU. While in many cases, the infants are still encouraged to be held skin-to skin, there are some instances when that contact is limited or delayed because of medical care.

The staff will make sure  your baby is kept warm and monitored and  will put a

cap on your infant. We’ve all seen those cute little blue and pink  striped stocking caps the hospital gives you.

But if your baby has  a protracted stay in the NICU, or  you just want an individualized look, or maybe your baby is born in winter so you need a cap for outings, you might want to knit your own (or ask someone to do it for you!). And you (or your friend) might have so much fun doing it, you want to knit a few more to donate to your nearby NICU. A cap  you donate is given to a baby who takes it home at discharge time.

My neighbor, Maire, knit  these caps using multicolored yarn. She is donating them to our local hospital.

Of course, because it is a NICU, it’s important to follow specific guidelines. Maire used the pattern and instructions (“the infant cap”) at You do have to join but it’s free.  There is a $4 download fee for the pattern.

I am not a knitter but am assured it is not a difficult pattern at all.

Maire suggests, if you are planning to donate them, calling the NICU you are planning to donate  to and get any specific guidelines they have, especially about yarn type and washing before you start.



Crochet an Octopus for a Preemie

Photo: My Nomad Home

If you’re a crocheter, or maybe someone looking for a new hobby, here’s a heartwarming idea — crochet an octopus for a preemie.

This idea was first started in Denmark, where staff in the NICUs observed that hospitalized premies had improved breathing, heart rate and blood oxygen levels when clutching the tentacles of the crocheted octopus. The idea is the curly tentacle reminds the infants of their mother’s umbilical cord.

Thus, the Octo Project was started.

If you want to try, for your own child or to donate to a hospital, you can get some ideas  and download a pattern from blogger Gosia’s website My Nomad Home. Get ready to see some really cute octopii!

The specifications, including the length of the tentacles, are important to ensure that the octopus is not a hazard for the infant.

If you would like to donate the octopus, check out this list to find out which countries have a group to collect them.