Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Layette Adventure

First I know there are people from many different countries that read my blog. Thank you, thank you. But because of this fact, I thought before writing more I should explain what the word, layette, means. It is the term given to clothing one assembles when a new baby is expected. A layette may also include other necessary items such as blankets as well.

In January 2015, while digging through some boxes of donated materials at the Mano a Mano warehouse I found nearly 75 items for babies. I brought these home and laundered them and then tried to figure out what I had. Most were garments a new baby would wear, although I did find a beautiful sweater for an infant girl  and a couple of dresses. I decided to take these and turn them into a layette project.A layette packet is given to the new mothers in Bolivia served by the clinics built by Mano a Mano.

Research shows that both infant mortality and maternal mortality decreases when a baby is delivered by a skilled birth attendant. Note this doesn't mean a hospital birth, but a birth attended by someone who is knowledgeable and part of a system to get assistance in those instances when something goes very wrong. The layettes in Bolivia are used to celebrate each birth that is part of skilled birth attendance. They usually consist of blanket, an item of clothing for a baby, and a baby toy.

While visiting my friend in Nebraska in that same January I asked if she would help me with this project since she is a quilter with many sewing supplies and a couple of different types of sewing machines. I knew purchasing up to 75 blankets from a store would be quite expensive, and we decided we could buy flannel and make blankets somehow.

Then life intervened for both of us, and we never got back to this project until this March. I drove there with my car trunk full of the flannel I had purchased more than a year previously.

My friend set up her kitchen island as the first preparation area. We measured out the lengths of flannel using the board shown in the picture.


My job was then to fold each blanket in half and cut rounded corners.  Then we off to the surge sewing machine. 
Wow are these machines amazing! They cut off a bit of the edge, maybe 1/4 inch or more if one wants, and at the same time puts a hemmed edging all the edge. When the thread is cut, then a length of cut threads need to be pulled through a few stitches and then covered with a substance called Fray-Check. Doing this final check was my job. My friend assured me the Fray-Check doesn't wash out and now I know this is true. I happened to spill a drop of it on my slacks while working on the project -- and yes, it doesn't wash out. 

Sometime last year I did have enough blankets purchased from a thrift store to put together about 10 layettes and these went in the shipment to Bolivia last September and are now presently being unpacked and distributed throughout the various clinics and hospitals that receive donations through Mano a Mano Bolivia. 

The work we did in Nebraska in March came home with me and ended up all over the dining room table and nearby chairs. Then I started on the puzzle of putting together garments with harmonizing blankets and toys. 

Here's an example of one. This is the one that unusual because it is the little girl's sweater rather than a sleeping garment.


Today I delivered the last layettes and also we had blankets left over. 

  Altogether we put together 47 layettes and 19 blankets for new babies. They hopefully will be part of a shipment that leaves Minnesota for Bolivia in May or June. 

I was told the doctors can always use blankets so perhaps next winter we will have another sewing party. 

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