**Story, names & photos shared with permission**
People who know me know that I am passionate not only about sewing (!), but also about pregnancy and birth. Sometimes these events don't unfold as we have planned. I think it's then especially that our access to timely and appropriate services and how we are supported, that makes all the difference.
Recently Jen, an old friend of mine, and her husband Adam had their first baby arrive unexpectedly early. Their daughter Billie was born via emergency caesarean at only 29 weeks. She has since spent several weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Nursery at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA) in Sydney.
At the RPA the premmie babies sleep in humidicribs on top of a tiny sheet, which is draped over a nest of bunny rugs. The babies are then covered by a strip of material that the nurses call a seatbelt. This is my friend's gorgeous girl:
Jen asked me if I had any pretty offcuts lying around that I could spare to make a couple of seat belts and/or sheets. The sheets are 60x50cm and the seat belts are 10x50cm. Cotton, t-shirt material and flanelette are best. Being glad to be able to do something to help from afar and bring a bit of colour into the lives of families in a pretty tough situation, I whipped these up. I hemmed them by ironing under a quarter inch, then folding and ironing another quarter inch, then top stitching:
Doesn't Bille look gorgeous?
The prems also wear tiny dresses when they progress and the nurses don't have to monitor their breathing and skin tone. Jen sent me this pdf pattern from the Miracle Babies website.
She said the nurses at RPA have told her that at the moment they have heaps of these dresses but can always use the little sheets and seatbelts.
If you do want to make some, here are some photos I took during the process. Use the pattern to create three simple pieces. This fabric is one of the new Japanese lawns at Spotlight (pic from Spotlight's buyers' blog The Warped & the Weft).:
Sew the pieces down the sides. Iron the seams out.
Create another identically for the lining (this is voile, also from Spotlight):
Pin the front and back right sides together. Sew together, leaving a gap at the bottom to turn it:
Press and edgestitch, including catching the opening where you turned the dress. Hand sew snap fasteners as per the pattern.
I'm on my way to making twelve, these are the first six which I posted off yesterday:
If any quilters in blogland want a quick new project, then quilts are also appreciated - with dimensions of 24 inch by 24 inch. They are used for the cots, when the babies come out of the humidicribs.
I also crocheted a couple of beanies for Billie, one in newborn size (I mucked up my first attempt and made it too big!) and the other premmie. I used this free pattern from Crochet Spot. I used Debbie Bliss cashmerino aran yarn (55% merino, 33% microfibre & 12% cashmere) in 610 red, bought from Tangled Yarns.
If you do feel moved to make any of these items, you can post them to the RPA as per the address below, or approach your nearest hospital with neonatal intensive care facilities.
Women and Babies
Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Camperdown NSW 2050
I hope that these families can feel the love and support in each of our stitches and that, even from afar, they are not alone in their journey.