How can I donate a gown?

Last spring, we paused our gown donation program because we had so many wedding gowns in house that we felt it was our obligation to donors to use what we had before soliciting more gowns. The only exception then was for mothers who had recently lost a baby and for whom such a donation is part of their way of coping with grief. We started a waitlist of donor names in the hopes that we could soon reopen the donation program. However, we still have so many gowns that this has not yet been possible. In fact, the waiting list is so long that we have stopped maintaining a waitlist altogether as of 11-26-16. If you contacted us PRIOR to that day AND you gave us permission to place you on the waitlist, then you are on the list.

We sincerely appreciate all the support this project has received and we are so very grateful for the gowns, materials, and supplies that so many generous people have donated to help us. Please do not think us ungrateful for not taking gowns at present or for suspending the waitlist. We are attempting to keep the project manageable so we can focus on what we need to do – clothe babies in a beautiful garment for the last time they will be held by their parents.

We will reactivate the Donate button on the website’s Donate page when we are able to accept donated gowns again. Thank you.

What baby items do you provide?

We provide different baby items depending on the size and gestational age of the infant. For babies who are about 1.5 lbs or more, we provide a gown, a matching bonnet, booties, and a blanket.  Typically the bonnet is made of the same material as the gown, but both the bonnet and blanket may be knitted or crocheted.  For infants less than 1.5 pounds, we make small buntings or cocoons along with a knitted or crocheted bonnet. These items can be seen on our photo page. The majority of items are made from donated wedding dresses, but we also use white linen or very fine cotton material (batiste or lawn cotton) to make simpler, unembellished baby items for those families whose religious beliefs require it.

In addition to wedding gowns, what other items of clothing can you use for your baby gowns and buntings?

We can use an assortment of dresses and even blouses if they are made of the right materials. Acceptable types of dresses include christening gowns, first communion dresses, or pastel/pale blue, pink or green bridesmaid dresses (these do not need to be in perfect condition — can have stains or tears). Other items are acceptable if they are made out of white linen and fine white cottons, such as batiste, dotted Swiss, and antique-style fine lawn cotton. See our wish list for other items that we can use.

Can I order a gown from you directly?

Unfortunately, we are not set up at the present time to provide gowns or buntings directly to families. All of the baby items we make are donated directly to the Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center (Strong Memorial Hospital) in Rochester, NY, and are provided to families through the labor and delivery unit or the NICU. The local chapter of the Threads of Love organization provides baby items to the other hospitals in the Rochester area. There are some national organizations that you might wish to contact if you would like to obtain an angel gown or bunting for a family member who resides outside the catchment area of the Rochester hospitals.  These organizations are listed in the grief resources section of our website and some have provisions for emergency purchases and overnight shipments.

I was hoping that my daughter might use parts of my gown in her wedding. Can I still keep parts of my gown?

Absolutely! Every woman who donates a gown to us is asked if there are specific parts she might like to have back for just such a purpose. We can carefully look at your gown and even make some suggestions for ways you can recycle parts of it for your daughter.

I would like to volunteer, but I can’t sew, knit, or crochet. Is there something else I can do to help?

Certainly! One need we have is for someone to help take the gowns apart. We recently had one lovely gown donated to us that had an exceptionally long train. The entire gown had appliquéd lace. It took a very long time for the seamstress to take apart the gown and carefully remove each applique – time she could have spent actually sewing up items. And even if you can’t volunteer at this time, you may well know someone who would like to help out.  Please let them know, or to mention us online or link to our site, so more people can know about what we do.

Are the sewing patterns that you use difficult?

Our patterns are simple and the majority of our baby items sew up very quickly. However, some more advanced sewers in the group love to get into complicated heirloom-style embellishments as well as hand-beading and embroidery — being able to do this is definitely not necessary to be part of the group, but it’s still gorgeous to see. We love adding these items to our donation stash!

I have a favorite sewing (knitting/crochet) pattern for babies. Can I use that to make items for Caring Hands for Angels?

Perhaps. We would need to look at the pattern. We have already adapted some of our patterns according to feedback we receive from nurses. For example, we now know that it is easier for nurses to dress a baby if the back of the gown is left completely open and if the arm holes are larger than is typical in the patterns. For booties, we need to make open-heel booties for early preemies because their skin is very fragile. While we would always be happy to consider other patterns, we need to ensure that each one in our repertoire of patterns meets the needs of the baby, family, and medical staff. In addition, a number of our patterns are specifically sized for preemies as small as 1 pound and we try to keep all items within a size and style range that’s easy for nurses and for us to track for supply and demand purposes. Contact us if you have questions about your pattern.