A group of seamstresses banded together to transform gowns worn on the happiest days of women’s lives into tinier versions. These new pieces are then given to parents who struggle to find infant clothing small enough for their premature babies’ christenings.
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Shannon Angel Sisters is an all-volunteer group whose members come from County Clare and surrounding communities in western Ireland, near Limerick. The organization was founded in April, and members have since donated 86 dresses to families in need whose babies came unexpectedly early, and who struggle to find clothing to accommodate their tiny bodies.
One of the members taught the group everything they needed to know about ripping the adult-sized gowns apart, making patterns for their miniature incarnations, then sewing them together.
“It’s difficult to sew such small gowns, but it’s been an enjoyable experience”and brought many women from different age groups and skill levels together to work toward a common cause, said Alice Myers, who helped organize the group.
But Shannon Angels also partners with another nonprofit, FÃ©ileacÃ¡in, who provides support to parents whose babies were stillborn or died shortly after birth.
Five of the 12 members of Shannon Angels have themselves lost children, including Myers, “so it is an emotional thing. The gowns are so tiny, you’d almost cry over every one.â€
Some people have donated wedding dresses and evening gowns in memory of a child they lost.
Myers donated her own dress in memory of her son Jack; the group was able to make 12 gowns out of that material alone, with all of them carrying a note inside denoting the memorial.
Two keepsakes in the form of a heart are also created out of the gowns for stillborns, one of which is buried with the infant and the other given to the parents as a memento.
“People have said to us that these little bits of material have become so precious to them,”Myers said.
Word of the good works Shannon Angles is doing has spread so far and wide. They’ve now received more wedding dresses and evening gowns than their space can accommodate.
The group has had to put a hold on more donations until later this year, but in the meantime they set up a GoFundMe account for anyone interested in helping to cover the costs associated with making the tiny gowns.
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