Angel Clothing Tips

Hi again!

This page is a great starting point for anyone that is wanting to start making items for Preemie's and Angel Babies, but needs some guidance. A collection of everything Ive learnt from my work making such small items, communication with organisations and feedback from parents, hospitals and other community places. This is just stuff Ive picked up and in no way a hard and fast rule. Every place you donate to is different so when in doubt, ask them. This page is a work in progress. More information will be added as I gather it.

To clarify, throughout my blog, I use 2 terms. Angels and Preemies. A preemie to me is any baby born before 40 weeks gestation that is living. Angel babies are any baby born before 40 weeks gestation that was born still or passed shortly after. I know there are a lot of other terms available, but these work for me. 

You will find I don't often make items for 38-40 week bracket, simply because there are so many available commercially.

First Id like to share my size chart with you. This is an accumulation of lots of research on various medical pages and charts. All measurements are in centimetres. 


Its not very pretty, but it is what I have printed out and stuck on my wall behind my desk for easy reference. It does the job just as well as a fancier looking chart.

You will notice there are no measurements for bubs feet under 18 weeks. This is simply because at that small, it is not practical to use booties. Booties are probably a good place to start.

BOOTIES:
Babies born pre-term have very very delicate skin. A lot of the time, angel bubs have broken skin as well. Getting booties on such small bubs can be a problem, and so I recommend using a bootie pattern that opens at the heel. This makes placing the bootie on the foot a lot easier and less stressful. They simply tie back to secure. Again, not a hard and fast, but it does make things a little easier. Smaller booties can also be made, but would be more of a keepsake then a wearable item.
I would not recommend using yarn thicker then DK (8ply) for booties, as it is too thick and heavy for tiny feet.

COLOUR CHOICES: 
This is a bit of a stickler for me personally. I know a lot of organisations that simply wont accept items of certain colours, and I know of others that are happy with anything. The parents I have talked to, have said that they appreciate items that are a bit more colourful and decorative for their angel babies as they make them feel more "normal" 12-16 week items, most of the time are in pale colours, and a lot of white. Over that, I think more colour use is ok. 
Personally, I feel almost any colour is ok, with the exceptions of black, navy blue, dark purple and red. However, having said this, some clever use of contrasting colours can make most colours ok. A pale blue gown would look striking and individual with a deep blue stripe around the midriff or lower near the hem. My general rule of thumb is dark colours for decorative sections and not the entire piece, and not on a section that would be an edge against a bubs skin (hems and bottom edges of hats for instance, should be lighter in colour)

SEWING ITEMS:
I don't currently have any sewn items on this page but I have used other patterns. A lot can change between making an item for a preemie in a NICU and making an item for an angel being buried. Angel items give you a lot more free reign with style and decoration options.
For Preemies, NICU smocks and kimono's are your best bet. They are lightweight and easy to put on and off bub and give access to cords and tubes.
Light cottons and flannelette are great materials for these and come in a huge variety of colours and patterns, steer clear of heavily textured materials that may rub. Ties and velcro should be kept to a minimum, and any velcro use needs to be sure that it wont come in contact with babies skin. A simple button would be ok, but larger decorations and embellishments are impractical for a NICU item. Do not use anything metal on a NICU item, such as metallic threads and closures. 
Another thing to be aware of is seams. Keep them short and neat so as not to rub on a baby. Zigzag edges if you do not have an overlocker. 
Some places ask for items pre washed and some do not, so check with the organisation or hospital you are donating to. If you do decide to wash, then find something gentle and non chemical to use. Lux flakes are great for this. 
Sewn items for an angel bub can be a bit more decorative. Lace trims look delicate on bottom and arm hems. Gowns generally are longer then the legs would be, to give a christening gown type look. Small boys wear gowns also, so don't forget to make some in all colours. Open fully at the back is best for angel bubs, as it makes getting them dressed a lot easier for parents. Ties, velcro or buttons can all be used for closing. 

BLANKETS:
Blankets generally come in 3 sizes for angel bubs. These are 30x30cm for up to around 20 weeks gestation, 60x60cm for 22-30 weeks gestation and 90x90 for 30+ weeks gestation. Blankets can be knit, crochet or sewn. I have also seen some beautiful thin quilts as angel blankets and they work well too. As well as a main blanket, it is also ok to include a wrap, in muslin or flannel in the same size to swaddle bub in. 

CLOTHING:
Clothing an angel bub under 20 weeks can get hard because they are so very delicate and small. It is best to use cocoons and wraps for these small bubs so as not to damage them. It would be incredibly distressing for a parent to put an item of clothing onto their bub and damage them in the process, so keep that in mind when making very small items. 
I would not recommend using anything over DK weight yarn for angel and prem items as it is just too thick and bulky. Pick your yarns carefully. You don't want to use coarse or itchy yarns for angels or preemies. If your yarn is feeling a but stiff, try washing it inside a lingerie bag on a gentle cycle using wool wash. 
Gowns should be fully open at the back for up to 30 weeks to make dressing easier. 
You can add other embellishments to angel items that you would not beable to add to preemie items. 

HATS:
Babies heads grow in leaps and bounds as they are developing, so it is important to make hats in all sorts of sizes. My sizing is just an average estimate and not set in stone. When I make my own packs, I often add 2 beanies to them, one slightly larger then the other. Hats are the one item of prem and angel clothing that needs to be pretty close to right size. Too small and it won't go on (or worse, could damage the head), too big and it will fall down over bubs face, or just fall off. 
Beanies should be soft and stretchy. By all means, add decoration to angel baby hats. It will be something a parent will cherish forever, so pretty is fine. Crocheted flowers and hearts, little animal appliqués  gems and felt shapes, bows. You can find a lot of fantastic embellishments that would work perfectly for angel hats in craft isles and scrapbooking stores.
Some places do not like ties on hats (earflap hats) however, these are the best for bubs born with Anencephaly as it helps keep the hats on their heads. I don't see anything wrong with ties for angel babies. I would not however, recommend ties for a bub in the NICU as it could pose as a strangulation issue or get caught in wires and tubes.
Fluffy yarns and pompoms are also not recommended for NICU bubs as the fluff from them may float into their airways.


There is plenty more I'll update with as time allows. I hope these little bits help you with your journey. 

36 comments:

  1. Hi your website is brilliant and with lots of helpful hints/tips to help us knitters/crochet along. Thanku

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  2. Thank you for all of your wonderful tips and free patterns

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  3. WONDERFUL site! Discovered looking for Barbie clothes for my granddaughter. Had no idea there were such charities. What a blessing!

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  4. Thank you for alllllllll of this info. i am just starting and I appreciate it. I love your patterns and will try to post pics when I'm done.

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  5. Thank you for your wonderful patterns. My friend and my self just delivered 26 crochet blanket to our local hospital for the wee ones. I was asked if I would make some sweaters. I am new to your site and found the cocoons. Just love them. I will start one tonight. Do you have any sweaters in sport, or worsted weight. Thank you again, Charlotte

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    1. Hi there Charlotte,
      I don't have access to worsted weight yarn where I live, so I doubt I'll ever have any patterns for that particular weight, sorry.
      I can definitely add sweaters to my list of things to work on, but they would likely be in DK or Fingering weight yarns.
      Myshelle

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    2. thank you for your reply. Dk sweaters will do just fine. fingering I can double. I will make them work. Your site is the best I have found. Lots of helpful hints. Keep up the great work. I will looking for more sweaters. Charlotte

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  6. I am so glad I found this blog! I am a new "hooker" and so finding how easy I can follow your patterns to do something so precious for someone who would appreciate it is awesome! I started with preemie beanies but I wanted to do more...you're patterns are perfect! I am doing the items I find in bulk and donating to the local centers. :) Amazing job <3

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    1. Hi there,
      I am really glad you are able to follow along with the patterns. I always try to write them in a way everyone can understand, as I know when I first started I had a horrid time trying to make head and tails of a pattern.

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  7. Hello, and may I say I love your website. I'm also just starting to crochet clothes for the preemies and angel babies. I've crocheted for years, but recently learned about making clothes for the nicu. My problem is that I didn't leave the back open on the little dresses. I used a button in the back and I have made a ton of them with matching hats and blankets. Will this be a problem? I hope not as I said, I have made a lot of them. Please help!

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    1. Hi there Cindy,
      Glad to hear you are making and donating lovely items :)
      I don't think it would be a problem. Open backs do make it easier but thats not to say closed ones wouldn't be needed. Bubs come in all sizes and shapes. Im going to assume when you say button in the back that there is a short split to open up and get the dress over a bubs head, so that should be fine.

      A lot of it comes down to the hospital itself. In my experience some have a set of standards and others will use anything that is donated. I'd suggest giving them a call and seeing what they say :)

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  8. Thank you so much Myshelle for your speedy response. Yes, there is a split in the back of the dresses. What do I do with the dresses if the local hospitals in my area won't accept them?

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    1. What area/country are you in? There are several charities across the globe that accept donations and distribute the packs to hospitals. Most of them distribute to multiple hospitals, so if one did't need them, another would.

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  9. I'm from the Birmingham area of the US

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  10. Hi Myshelle,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful site and all the hard work you've been so gracious to share with all!
    I am just getting ready to start crocheting to donate to Hospitals too. I called one today and they will be happy with anything I take them!
    Your patterns also have come in handy for a friend of my niece who just had twins at 30 weeks.
    Thank you !!

    One question..
    When donating to the hospitals, should the items be individually wrapped in plastic bags?

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    1. Hi there Jodi, glad you like the patterns, and congrats in deciding to donate some items :)

      If you are making anything as a part of a set, then package the items together. Single items can be either in their own packet or left loose. However packing them makes it easier for storage and keeps them cleaner. I use cellophane bags that have a peel and stick closing that I buy in bulk from Ebay. They are cheap and because they are clear, it is easy for the staff to find what they need.

      Another thing to remember is to make sure the approx age/size is on the package or item, it makes it easier for all involved to select a pack or item quickly.

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  11. thank you for all the helpful information. Do you have a section of description of your terms. like sc = single crochet etc.

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    1. No actually, I don't. But I do use standard US terms for all patterns, even though Im based in Australia. I'll look into getting a small chart up :)

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  12. Should these preemie baby items be washed. If so, what kind of soap should be used. It was great to find your website while I was hunting for patterns for Pinterest. I have many but not identified by size. Will just have to make them and then figure that out - your chart will be very helpful.

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    1. That depends entirely on the place accepting the donations. Some ask that you do, some don't mind either way.
      If you do want to wash them, for fabric I suggest soap flakes (like LUX, Im not sure of international equivalents but a google search should help) or a liquid for sensitive skin. I have a friend that washes all of her yarn made items in conditioner and that works beautifully as well. I think the biggest thing to remember is rinse well to make sure no residue remains.

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  13. I just wanted to thank you for posting these patterns and for creating and donating hats for preemie and angel babies. I came here looking at a different pattern and the preemie and angel baby pattern labels caught my eye. My daughter was stillborn at 41 weeks and we came home with very little from the hospital and nothing really that was 'hers' or made for her, except a quilt my mom had made. Just having something that is 'theirs' and something that you can hold onto is so meaningful (I imagine many families feel this way as well) and I think these hats are a perfect way to provide that! Are there many charities you know of that distributes these items to families of preemies and angel babies? I had initially done some research (about a year ago) and could not find many in the US. Thank you again-- Sarah

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    1. Sarah, I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I am in the US also and know that most hospitals will take your items. Also, most states have a Children's Hospital that can certainly use them. If you are having trouble finding a hospital to donate to let me know and I can accept them for the children hospital in Portland, Oregon!

      Deni

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  14. I've never had a baby of my own & my stepson was 6 when my husband & I got together. For some reason I'm not too sure about (or maybe don't want to dig too deeply into), I've really felt pulled in the direction of making baby blankets and beanies to donate to our local hospital. I haven't looked into whether or not they're tied to a particular charity yet for such items but I'm certainly going to. As soon as I think I can get through talking about it to a stranger without choking/tearing up. I'm very thankful that I stumbled across your site. Thank you very much.

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  15. Hallo, I love youre site. And the information of the angel clothing. In Belgium there is already a group doing the same. And in Holland they are starting it up. Hopefull lots of parents can use this clothes and cocons in the future. thanks.

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  16. Hello to you. Greetings from Lancashire in the UK.

    I've just been given details of your site and have to say thank you for the tips regarding premmies and angel babies. I knit this type of item for local charities and found your information very useful indeed to know what's best for these little ones.

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  17. Thank you so much for these wonderful patterns! I'm from the US, so I have to ask....what's a "magic ring?" Many if your hat patterns refer to starting with a number of stitches into the magic ring. My assumption is this is a certain number of chain stitches joined to make a ring...I just wondered how many chains? Thanks again!!

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  18. Please help me with pattern from day 22 Annie. It doesn't seem to be long enough. Also do I sc the edge? Thank you

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  20. Thank you very much. I sure wish I had had something to remember my baby by or wrap it in in 1980. I wish I had known something I could do with my wedding dress when damage to it seemed it reparable and we simply threw it away. So much good could've been done with the rest, so I purpose to be the one who takes on the task most prefer not to do--the one of making burial clothes, never to be seen again (except possibly in photos). I also try to make a small keepsake for parents to keep. Thank you again.

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  22. I can not print these patterns for the back ground is to dark. Can you please put your patterns on a lighter back ground. These patterens are just absolutely wonderful and very relaxing for me to do. Thank you.

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    1. Hi there,
      At the bottom of each pattern (near the share buttons) is a bright green button that says "PRINT" if you click that, it will give you a printer friendly version without the background :)

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  23. THANK YOU for sharing. Two years ago I set out to make 500 preemie hats, including micros and angel babies. The first 80 were many single or striped colors; the next batch had variegated yarns, flowers and bows. Each batch different. I have a couple of projects for family, then I'm going back to hats. This batch will be unique and more decorated. So again thank you. I'm so glad I found you.

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  24. Thank you for your info with the angel burial gown. I've made my own be it smaller than the one you made(printer had a hissy fit) it came out at 15cm long, 8cm armpit to armpit.

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  25. Thank you for all your patterns and advice.... I am making these items for my granddaughters baby doll but also making some to donate to the local NICU ...

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  26. Thank you so much for all your lovely patterns and helpful tips, especially the measurement chart.

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