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Wrapping Up Pillowcase Palooza

These lovely ladies responded to the newspaper article.

On January 1 I started my birthday service project of making pillowcases to be donated to Utah Foster Care. My first goal was that I would personally sew 62 pillowcases- two for each day of the month. Then I started thinking a little bigger and mused that maybe I could get some of my friends to sew we could get 100 pillowcases done. My secret goal was 200 pillowcases. . . but I didn’t dare utter that craziness to anyone!

The project grew beyond my wildest dreams and we have done some serious good.

Here are some stats from the project:

  • 52 people come to my house during the month to help sew pillowcases.
  • 5-6 people sewed at home and donated completed pillowcases.
  • 12 people donated fabric. A couple of people donated a LOT of fabric. And I used EVERYTHING in my stash that was not specifically earmarked for a project that was over 27″ long.
  • 6 people donated money to the project equaling $440.00.
  • WE MADE 391 PILLOWCASES!
Some of the young women from my church came and sewed.
They (with a little help from their leaders) made 43 pillowcases

I am pretty good at organizing events, but I did learn some things that could help someone else who is interested in sponsoring a similar event. This is a good place for me to collect my thoughts in case I need (or want) to do this again!

  • Before you start, contact the charity and make sure there is a need. I had two groups who were interested. It may end up that both groups get pillowcases since we made so many!!!
  • Set your schedule and use Sign Up Genius to allow people to sign up for specific time slots. I used both 1 and 1.5 hour slots depending on the day. I had sewing days on different days of the week and at different times throughout the day so that people had more opportunities to find a good fit. I collected e-mails so I could send out a reminder complete with directions to my home on the day before the shift.
  • Post about the event on social media. We had an article in the local newspaper and that brought in five volunteers that I didn’t know. Post links to your website and to the sign-up page.
  • About 20 minutes before the end of the shift announce that it is time to shift the focus into finishing all the pillowcases that are already in the pipeline. That may mean that people need to help at a different station. Do not run long. Volunteer time is valuable. If they are having fun they will probably sign up for another shift.
  • I had 5 machines set up on my 14′ dining room table (yup. . .it is big.) There was plenty of room for additional machines on the days when people brought their own machines. I covered the table with felt backed vinyl tablecloths and had extension cords and power strips in the middle of the table. We used two sergers, two domestic machines (that had zigzag stitches) and one Singer Featherweight that only does straight line stitching. Most of the time we were only using 3-4 machines.
  • We had the ironing station on my kitchen counter and the trimming station on a folding table in the middle of the kitchen. A full-time pressing person is really helpful.
  • It is best to have the fabric ready to go. The main part of the pillowcase was cut to 27″ x WOF. The cuff was 9″ x WOF and ironed in half the long way so that it appears to be 4.5″. I had coordinating main pieces and cuffs folded up together and standing in a Rubbermaid tote so that people could grab a few and take them to their machine. I did not let anyone take “kits” home because I didn’t need to and because I didn’t want to have to chase people down.
  • I used shopping bags from JoAnn to organize the completed pillowcases. 50 fit nicely in a bag. I was a little neurotic about how the pillowcases were folded (I refolded after the shift) because it made it much easier to count and store the pillowcases. At the end of the event, I packed them into boxes so that they were stackable.
  • Try to keep yourself free- you may need to give sewing lessons, thread machines and fill bobbins.

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