Sewing has done so much for me. When I started to sew, I thought I would be lucky if I could sew a couple of cool clothes. Today, many years later, I have a closet full of handmade garments. My clothes are a representation of my personal style, one that I have cultivated in spite of what’s trendy at the time. But more than fun clothes, I have garments that fit my body. I read somewhere that your clothes should fit your body, not the other way around. Sewing my own clothes makes this happen.
For some time now, I’ve been looking for a way to give back with sewing. I have lots of fabric and fabric scraps that can be put to good use. It was just a matter of matching my skills with the needs of a nonprofit organization. It turns out there are many ways to use sewing to help others!
If you too feel like giving back, there are many great organizations that are happy to accept your handmade donations. Here is a list of some that you can help with your sewing.
The Anti-Cruelty Society works to raise awareness about the needs of animals. You can use their collection of DIY projects to create enrichment items to donate to shelter pets. Each item you create and donate will help a shelter pet feel a bit more at home during their stay.
Binky Patrol is a nonprofit organization that provides homemade blankets nicknamed binkies to children and teens in need. Binkies range in size from 3 square feet to twin size, and they can be sewn, knitted, crocheted, fleece tied, or quilted. Binkies must be sturdy enough to go through many washes. There is even a note on seam allowance size (⅜” to ½”, in case you are wondering) to guarantee stability through many washes.
Enchanted Makeovers seeks to beautify shelters as a way to improve the quality of life of the women and children who rely on them for safety. “Beauty heals,” and the goal of the organization is to provide beautiful physical spaces so that the women and children who find themselves in a shelter can feel protected and empowered. There are many ways to use your sewing skills to help, from sewing capes for kids to donating your time and skill to teach other women how to sew.
Project Linus provides handmade blankets to US children 0 to 18 who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. Blankets of all styles and sizes are welcome, but they need to be new handmade items that are washable, free of pins, and from smoke-free environments due to allergies. Peeked your interest? Check out their page with the most popular blanket patterns and styles, and connect with a local chapter.
Hospitals are a scary place—even more if you are a kid. With a mission of “helping kids feel better to heal better,” Ryan’s Case for Smiles makes this difficult experience a little less scary for children and their families by creating cheerful pillowcases to brighten their rooms. This is how you can help: Use their pillowcase guidelines to sew 100% cotton, 100% fun and colorful pillowcases to be donated to a child currently hospitalized. It’s that easy!
The Snuggles Project brings snuggles—handmade blankets and pads—to shelter animals. But the impact of a snuggle goes further. When the animals feel safe, shelter workers can better care for them. When visitors come into the shelter, the colorful snuggles create a more vibrant, homey environment, making it easier for prospective pet parents to see the pets as future family members. And you, the sewist, can feel good that your make has caused such an impact.
Other ways to Help
These are just a few of the many organizations that you can help with your sewing skills. If there is a nonprofit organization in your community, you can always give them a call and ask if they might be in need of a sewist. Some places will take fabric donations, so you can give away what’s been in your stash for years (and you know you’ll never use). It goes without saying that you can always donate cash, and if you have a skill other than sewing that can be put to good use, it might be a great way to give back.