Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Giving Tuesday

When I booked the pillowcase sewing day a couple of months ago, I had NO idea that I booked it on Giving Tuesday. Yes - Giving Tuesday is a real day! Trying to counter all the hype of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There's even a website for the day!  Who knew? Anyway - it was a perfect time and I think I'm going to book the date for 2020 to do the same. In case you want to book the date - it's December 1st. It's already on my calendar.

Not only was it a day of giving, but it was a day of sharing. We had many laughs yesterday and it's a day I'll remember for a long time. And even better, I (and several others) was able to reduce the size of the stash by a wee bit.

So how did this all come about? A while back, I received an e-mail from Claudia, who is the Coordinator for the Toronto Chapter of Ryan's Case for Smiles. She must have found my blog and noticed what we've been doing for the Community Projects with quilts. She asked if we wanted to make pillowcases. I did ignore the first e-mail. Not really an ignore, but rather no time to answer it or think about it. She e-mailed me again. Hmm - maybe we can do something with this. I booked the date, sent out a notice and I got volunteers.

While I did go through two buckets of fabric, there were fabric donations from Nancy, Rose, Ronda, and Sophie. Jan donated some thread. What a team! Any of the fabric that was donated had to be washed and ironed. Hey - there's only so much prep work that I can do by myself. Then I proceeded to cut 100 pillowcase kits. Once I got into the groove, it wasn't so bad. I ended up with two boxes of prepped pillowcase kits. I had to wash more fabric to help match up some towards the end.

I had Studio B all prepped - two sewing machines, three sergers, two ironing stations, a station for cleaning up the serger tails and several for pinning. The first person arrived shortly after 8 AM and the rest came in when they could make it. I believe there were 12 of us involved in the day.

So what happened?? Have a look....................

It took a bit to get people settled into their jobs and they were told they could switch, but no one did. Once all the stations got filled and no person had to move around, we became a machine!

Here's the pinning area.

Pinning the bands to the pillowcase bodies
Here are the two pinners. This is Sophie's hands. And lovely hands they are!

Sophie at the pinning station
Loretta was the second pinner.

Loretta pinning the pillowcases

We had two sewing machines going. Nancy, Rose, Diane, Ronda, and Shelly manned the sewing machines at various times during the day.

Rose is manning one of the machines
While some of them had serious faces when I snapped the photos. HEY - there was no time for posing with a smile. We had a job to do and if you didn't keep up, the next person was waiting. It was hilarious. I'm not sure anyone even took a bathroom break! But Nancy obviously had time for a quick smile when I snapped this picture.

Nancy at the other sewing machine

Shelly - we would have been lost without her. She was the serger supervisor and well, she's a jack of all trades. Once we had two pinners, the two sewing machines couldn't keep up, so I whipped out another sewing machine for her to operate. She was tucked into the corner with a sewing machine AND a serger. She was happy!

Shelly with TWO machines
Before the pillowcase was serged, the body was pulled out of the band and pressed. Here's John (Rose's husband) doing the honors. He's got a pretty mean ironing hand! DH was shocked that we had husbands here. Perhaps he was a little jealous??? I loved it because as Rose finished sewing, she tossed the pillowcase across the room to John so he could turn it! Very efficient!

John turning the band inside out 

There were three sergers going. Here's Diane at one of the sergers.

Diane serging the pillowcases
Here's Shelly who had nowed moved back to the serger. Great - that thread stand is centered right in the middle of her eyes. I couldn't have planned that any better (or worse).

Shelly serging

So here's a better picture. As I said - we all had many, many great laughs.

Shelly has a good laugh at something

After the pillowcases were serged, they went to Kathi, who tucked in the ends of the serger thread. OK - so that damn efficient Shelly did that too! Of course at the beginning, until all the stations were manned - some of us had to do several jobs. Diane was sewing, then serging and did a lot of pressing as well (as did Shelly).

Kathi - tucking in the ends of the serger thread

Once they left Kathi's station, the pillowcases were turned inside out. Here's Ronda doing a magnificent job of that.

Ronda turning the pillowcases inside out

Then they came to me - I was the final presser! I folded the pillowcases and they got put in a pile on the table. Of course, there's no picture of me pressing because I was taking the pictures.

Here's the main set of work tables. Notice that there's nothing extra on the table. We were very focused.

Pretty intense assembly line

As we worked that pile of pillowcases grew. First, there were five.

Five completed pillowcases

 Of course, at any given, the actual number was always higher because there were many in various stages of completion around the room.

Then there were 45 completed pillowcases. I think we hit 50 right around lunchtime.

Forty-five pillowcases are completed

 By this time, we were a full complement and everyone had the full hang of their job. The rest went fast.
72 finished pillowcases

Then there were ninety finished pillowcases.

90 completed pillowcases

As we drew near the end, we decided to follow the last pillowcase through the various stations.

Here's Sophie opening the LAST pillowcase kit.

Opening the last pillowcase kit

It got pinned and was waiting to be sewn together.

The last pillowcase waiting to be sewn

Here's Nancy sewing up the first seam on the band.

Sewing up the first seam on the pillowcase band

 I think it went back to Loretta to pin the second seam of the band. That's a tricky one so best to pin it to avoid any issues. 

Pinning the second seam on the pillowcase band

Rose then took over and sewed that second seam.

Rose sewing the second seam

Ronda turned the band inside out.

Ronda turning the band inside out

Over to John to give that band a press.
John pressing the pillowcase band

 Then it got bounced to Shelly for the serging.

Shelly serging the last pillowcase

WAIT!!!!!  Shortly before this point, we took a count of what we had done. I knew we had 100 kits, but Pat (from Orillia) had given me a bag of finished pillowcases and I thought there were 17 in the bag. Rose brought two completed kits and we had pulled one more kit that Rose had brought so we could make the total donation equal 120 pillowcases. It was discovered that there were only 16 in the bag that Pat had given me. So we very quickly had to make up one more pillowcase BEFORE I could press this last one! It was hilarious as most of the machines had already been turned off. HEY - who turns off a sewing machine? I leave them on all the time. Well - when I'm working. I guess they thought we were done!

Anyway, we were soon back on track and at last, I could press the LAST of our 100 pillowcases.

That's me pressing the LAST pillowcase

There it is - the 100th pillowcase in one day. FOLDED and FINISHED. We finished at 1:30 PM.

The last pillowcase - DONE

There they are - all 100 pillowcases that were sewn in one day (actually, we sewed 102, but who's counting).

100 pillowcases

OMG -- it was the BEST day ever!!!!  A HUGE THANK YOU to all who came out or donated items. The day was perfect!!! One that I'll remember for a long time.

Here's the gang (or most of us) in front of the total donation of 120 pillowcases. Thanks to Pat for donating 16 and Rose for her two pillowcases and with our 102 - that rounded out to 120.

What a TEAM!!!!!

Claudia, the rep for the Toronto Chapter of Ryan's Case for Smiles showed up and she took all the pillowcases with her. They'll be donated soon to the local hospitals in the GTA.

Pillowcases packed up and ready to go

I want to thank Claudia for being persistent. It was so wonderful to be able to give back to the community in this way and knowing that we'll bring a smile to a child who is stuck in the hospital. Well, it doesn't get any better than that.

After everyone left I took stock of the situation. You see, Rose and Nancy both brought kits. And I have a tub of fabric to be cut. I counted - there are TWENTY-FOUR kits ready to go for the next session and I must have enough fabric for another 25?????  That's a huge start for the next session. I did say June, but I like the fact of doing it on Giving Tuesday.

Pillowcase kits and fabric for the next round

As I was working at the cutting table this morning, I saw this magnet on my board. Actually two magnets. I think they are very appropriate. While I'm won't forget self completely, I look at this process in several ways.

Magnets on my bulletin board

Think of your stash. Think about how long it takes to make a project. A LONG TIME. Think about how much longer you're going to live. Do you have time to use up all your stash? Of course, you don't! That's how I'm now looking at my stash. There's way more fabric there than I'll ever use even if I sewed 100% of the time until I can no longer sew.

I have certain parts of the stash set aside for the community quilts that we're working on, but I've decided to dig through my stash and remove what can be used for pillowcases. I'm not going to go through the entire stash NOW, I'm going to work my way through it. But this is a FAST - I mean FAST way to make a dent in your stash.

So as Christmas is approaching, why not think about how you can give back to your community and DESTASH at the same time. What I love about yesterday - it was the most fun I've ever had to get rid of fabric. I could have donated it, but big deal. Surrounded by friends and sewing and destashing - it just doesn't get any better than that.

Here's your homework assignment. Think about your stash. If you have pieces of fabric that would work - (check these guidelines), and you do NOT want it, think about donating it for a cause like this. If the print is directional - you need 43" of fabric before washing. That will yield one band and one pillowcase body. If the print is non-directional, then 1 meter (39") will yield one body and one band.

Even better - why not volunteer a couple of hours so you can see your fabric being made into pillowcases. I heard so many "oh my - that's so cute" during the day, I thought I was going to have to frisk everyone as they left to make sure that no pillowcases went missing. I'd be happy to help out. Got a group and have no space? Talk to me - I could provide space if you're interested.

I must say that after everyone left, I kind of felt empty! It was such a whirlwind day! I can hardly wait until the next time, but until then, I'll be destashing and cutting!

Again - a HUGE thank-you to everyone who came out yesterday and those who donated finished items or supplies. All of it was very much appreciated!

Have a super day!!!!!



  1. What a wonderful way to give back. Great job ❤️👍🏼

    1. Thanks Kayster - it was a win win for all!!!

  2. I love reading about your pillowcases! When our Sewing Expo, held in Puyallup, was collecting pillowcases, I made almost all boy print pillowcases as I had noticed that most people brought girl or floral prints.

    Are the pillowcases you made given to the children? I thought ours were, but a friend told me her son wasn't given the pillowcase. That made me sad.

    1. You're right about the boy pillowcases although we had loads of Disney characters including Spider man. Lots of sports stuff so we tried to balance it.
      According to the rep for Ryan's Case for SMiles, the pillowcases are given to the children. Not always chosen by the children, (sometimes by the parent or sibling - depending on the circumstances). But they are supposed to go to the children.
      I think the demand is greater than the supply. Perhaps that's why the son didn't get one???

    2. He got to use one, but not keep it. At least, that is what the mother told me.