Monday, March 6, 2017

WeeCare Gowns.....Because We Care!

February chapter meeting: 
WeeCare Workshop

February's monthly meeting was postponed because of inclement weather, but that didn't stop the Midnight Oil Smockers from showing up a week later than planned. Chapter members got to work on the group's philantropy: WeeCare gowns. These gowns are bereavement clothing for those sweet children that are either stillborn or don't survive to leave the hospital after being born. Sad? Yes. Comforting to those that use them? Absolutely. Knowing that, the chapter members lovingly construct and smock these sweet little gowns and bonnets for those parents that will need them in a very dark time of their lives.

Step 1: Cutting the fabric

We use Imperial Batiste fabric, which is a cotton/poly blend, and is a mainstay in the smocking world. It is a light fabric that has a wonderfully soft hand, yet is firm enough to pleat and smock easily. We begin by using a tried and true pattern to cut the fabric. The pieces are put in plastic bags for organization's sake. These then move on to the 2nd step. (This picture also shows Step 3 in the back: Ironing.)

Step 2: Beginning Construction

Members begin the construction process by sewing together the two back panels, the two sleeve scythes, and the front panel.

Although we take these projects very seriously, we don't take ourselves that way. There is always a lot of fun banter between members, as shown here by Nikki and Roberta. Barbara, wisely, is laughing, but staying out of the discussion! Somehow, we manage to get a TON of work done while having a great time doing it.
After this first construction step is finished, the gowns are sent ready for:

Step 3: Ironing (See picture above)
The gowns are pressed and readied for pleating.

Step 4: Pleating

The ironed gowns are rolled on wooden dowels and fed through the pleater, which pushes a set amount of needles carrying thread through the top of the gown.

For an interesting article on the fluter, the precursor to the pleater, read The Fluter Iron: Forerunner of the Smocking Pleater, by our own Tawn Hunka. You can find the article in the November 2016 issue of SagaNews (vol. 37 Issue 4).

Next Steps:
After this step, the gowns are either sent home with chapter members to be smocked or they are sent back to Construction to have the seams and hems completed. The gowns can be smocked when construction is completely finished, if preferred.

Once the gowns are smocked and all construction is completed, they are again ironed and packaged with a caring note to the recipient, then delivered to the Houston, TX area hospitals that give them to the families that need them.

Many Hands Make Light Work!
That old saying certainly holds true for the Midnight Oil Smockers. At the February WeeCare Workshop, 71 gowns were prepared for smocking, while 94 more were in some phase of the process when the workshop ended. 165 gowns is quite an achievement, but when you care about

 these families as much as the MOSmockers do, it's not work, it's a delight!

Upcoming Events

Saturday, March 18     Sew-in for Trisha Smith class/UFOs
                                                       Quiltworks 9 AM - 4 PM
                                                       Work on completing the Trisha Smith Peg Pocket dress or any
                                                        other UFO you have

Monday, March 20      March monthly meeting
                                                       Day meeting: Tracy Gee Comm. Center 10 AM - Noon
                                                       Night meeting: It Seams to be Sew 7 PM - 9 PM
                                                       March Challenge: Boys Will Be Boys!!

Remember: Keep smocking and creating, but most of all, keep smiling. Life's too short to spend it with a frown!

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