Become a Wrap Pyjama Fairy: a volunteer sewing project

Ever since I started my journey in dressmaking 3 years ago, I’ve mostly been sewing for myself. Occasionally, I get asked to make faux fur snoods or to make a dress for a friend. As you probably already know, I also did several sewing projects for myself and the bridesmaids. I’ve always wanted to sew for others and couldn’t have found a better choice in volunteer charity Wrap Pyjama Fairies.

Co-founder of Wrap Pyjama Fairies, Chelsea

Disclaimer: All photos in this post are copyright and property of Wrap Pyjama Fairies and consent has been given by parents of the children shown for the charity to share these photos. This post has also been seen and approved by the charity before being published. Photos shown here should not be used without prior permission from the charity.

The charity relies on volunteer sewing bees to help improve the quality of life of children and their families as they undergo surgeries and treatment by sewing surgical gowns and pyjamas approved by staff at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. Sadly, there is a high demand for suitable surgical gowns and pyjamas for children. They are designed in such a way that children can still remain fully dressed when the medical team need to examine their abdomen, complete observations and administer medication.

My eldest child was placed in Special Care Baby Unit when she was born late but poorly. I remembered how sad she looked in her little incubator. It made me feel vulnerable too. When the Wrap PJ Fairies idea came up, I thought, ‘What a brilliant idea’. The website had pictures of smiling children – could I help this happen for more children? These are their PJs and gowns, they are as fun as I can make them. It helps make children and their parents more relaxed as they undergo their procedures. Any little thing to help

Maggie, Wrap Pyjama Fairy

Pyjama set made by a volunteer for Wrap Pyjama Fairies

Surgical gown made by a Wrap Pyjama Fairy

It’s not difficult to imagine the fear and anxiety children experience when brought to a hospital, their clothing removed while a team of medical staff examine them. Adults are given the respect and dignity by being provided with surgical gowns which can be easily put on and removed if needed and are covered with a sheet when surgery is required to a particular area of the body. Why should this be different for children?

There is a mindset that children are young and there’s no harm in examining them while they’re naked. The truth is, allowing them to remain clothed while in the company of unfamiliar adults give them an emotional boost and reminds them that they are not defined by their illness.

I happened across a Facebook post from Love Sewing magazine looking for volunteers to participate and I couldn’t be happier to sign up. Sewing has always been a creative outlet for me. I’m not an artist, but I wanted to know what I could make with my own two hands. The thought of sewing for children in need, to give them the comfort while being examined for the price of fabric, is something I’m happily willing to give. The joy of the children’s faces when they receive pyjamas or gowns made especially for them has never failed to bring smile to my face as well as other fairies.

So how exactly does one get involved? Everyone, no matter whether you have experience sewing or not can contribute by:

• Sewing pyjamas or gowns from newborns to children aged 12
• Donating fabric for pyjama fairies to use, or
• Making a monetary donation through the Wrap Pyjama Fairies donation page

Most volunteers happily buy their fabric themselves to support the endeavours of the charity, but when fabric donations start to dwindle, the charity relies on donations to provide fabric to meet demand – the average cost of a pair of wrap pyjamas is £15.

My son and [his] partner had a premmie baby. It was heartbreaking to see her naked in the incubator. Little Daisy made it home for Christmas, but sadly died suddenly last March aged 7 months. Anything that could have brightened a moment throughout their ordeal, I would give 100 fold. I hope that these little gifts of love from fairies to the children will do that for other parents too.

Shirley, Wrap Pyjama Fairy

As all garments must meet hospital health and safety requirements, new prospective fairies are required to read the FAQs and make a set of 100% cotton pyjamas and/or a surgical gown for inspection by one of the Wrap Pyjama Fairy admins. Patterns which meet these requirements for the gown, wrap kimono top and PJ trousers are available for fairies to use. Once your gown and/or pyjama set are approved, you’re then free to make more of that for stock. Fairies are also encouraged to check what orders are still outstanding and make some for children already scheduled to go into hospital.

I haven’t yet started sewing to get my wings, but I’m hoping to get started on it soon. If you’d also like to get involved for a great cause, get in touch with Wrap Pyjama Fairies to find out how.

For more information on the charity in the news, see here and here.

I’d like to say a big thank you for to Amanda, Chelsea, Kaylz, parents and Pyjama Fairies for contributing to this post and for all the work and support I’ve received through the WPF – Fairies group.

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