Simple Preemie Angel Gown: Free Pattern

How to make the easiest,  fastest “angel gowns” for newborns and preemies

In my previous post about sewing angel cocoons, I promised to write about sewing angel gowns.  If you sew for charities that provide angel gowns for  the tiniest of babies who won’t be coming home from the hospital, then I’m sure you are familiar with the classic infant kimono,  turned around so that the closure is in the back (this is necessary for all bereavement garments). Although this seems to be the simplest of patterns, it can be tricky and frustrating to sew, especially when using slippery fabrics (many sewing groups use donated wedding gowns for these projects). I’ve researched many tutorials and videos online, and seen the struggle of hemming tiny sleeves, and binding tiny necklines.

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(Pinterest link: https://www.pinterest.com/7pinedesign/free-sewing-patterns/)

 

I’ve figured out a faster, easier method for sewing this design:

  • no hand-sewing
  • no seam allowances to finish (no need for overlocker/serger)
  • no raw edges against delicate skin

Why hasn’t everybody been using this method? Because it is harder to explain.  Paper patterns for infant kimonos have been published  since the ’40’s,  with instructions that can be reduced to a few phrases and tiny line drawings.  So if you’re ready to try a new sewing method for this traditional style, here we go. I’ll show you how to do this, using 2 different printed cottons (outside fabric and lining)  for clarity, and then again in white wedding dress fabrics .

kimono1  ..kimono6kimono3

  • The first step is to print the pattern. To do this you will need the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader program.  If you don’t have it, you can download it for free here: https://get.adobe.com/reader/otherversions
  • Then open the pattern:  right-click on this link, then open in new tab:  AngelGownFourPage
  • Download the pattern file by clicking on download icon:

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  • Now that the pattern file is loaded into your computer, you can open it for printing: click on Files/Downloads/AngelGownFourPage and open in Adobe Acrobat reader, then print.
  • Every computer is different so the steps might be slightly different on your computer, however if you have any problems printing the pattern pages, I always have extra copies printed out and can easily send them to you in the mail!  Just send me a request at my email: 7pinedesign@comcast.net

The pattern prints out in four pages:

  1. Front top half
  2. Front bottom half
  3. Back top half
  4. Back bottom half

Tape or glue-stick the Front pieces, top to bottom.

Tape or glue-stick the Back pieces, top to bottom.

 

  • Cut out the size you need . The pattern comes in four sizes:
  1. Newborn
  2. Preemie
  3. Tiny
  4. Micro

 

Ready to cut out and sew? First I’ll show you how to make a Velcro-back style (the second one will be tie-back):

1. CUTTING OUT and MARKING:

  •  Layer the body fabric (blue print) and lining fabric (pink stripe) together on your cutting table so that you can cut both layers together, ensuring they will match in size and shape.
  • Cut out 2 fronts (1 of body fabric and 1 of lining fabric) on the fold
  • Cut out 2 mirrored-pairs of backs (1 of body fabric and 1 of lining fabric)
  •  Mark your notches on all fabric pieces, from the triangles on the paper pattern.  This will be very helpful when stitching, to avoid confusion. Either snip 1/8″ notches (seam allowances are 1/4″) or use a fabric marker or a plain pencil.

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2. EMBELLISH:

  • (Optional): Decorate front of gown on the body fabric. Often angel gowns are made of donated wedding dresses, and using decorative trim elements from the original gown can make each gown distinct and special.  (I’m skipping that part here, because I’m just showing construction).

3. SHOULDER-SEAMS:

  •  Pin left back and right back to front at shoulder-seams, with right sides of fabric together, matching SINGLE-notches.  Stitch, and press open.  Repeat for lining:

IMG_8534

 

4. STITCH BODY TO LINING:

  • Pin lining to body, right sides of fabric together.
  • Stitch center-back, leaving a 2″ opening for turning inside out later.
  • Stitch neckline
  • Stitch sleeve hems together, body fabric to lining:

IMG_8537

 

5. TURN INSIDE OUT:

  • Clip the inside curve of the neckline, and trim off the center-back neckline corners:

IMG_8536


 

  • Turn the garment inside out by pulling the back pieces through the shoulders into the front.

IMG_8538…..


 

  • Press. Your neckline and sleeve hems are already finished!

.IMG_8539

 


Now it gets a bit tricky, but once you get it, it will make sense, I promise!

6. STITCH SIDE-SEAMS:

  • Pin  side-seams front to back, right sides of fabric together, matching the DOUBLE-notches. Start by “pinching” the sleeves together and pinning at the sleeve underarm seams. Then pin along the sides, down to the hems. Your fabrics should be pinned outer-fabric-to-outer-fabric, and lining-fabric-to-lining-fabric:

.IMG_8540


 

  • Stitch side-seams, starting at the hem, going up around the underarm, and down to the other hem. Go slowly, since this step is not “flat” sewing….its very curved and 3-dimensional at this stage, so you’ll need to stop and adjust the fabric under your presser foot every half-inch or so.

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  •  When you are done sewing this seam, clip the under-arm curves so that the underarm will lay flat after turning inside-out:

IMG_8543


 

  • Press the side-seams open as far as your iron allows.You should now have sort of a mish-mosh thing that looks like this:

IMG_8544

This^^^ is the reason that traditional patterns don’t use this construction method!  It’s not difficult to DO, just difficult to EXPLAIN in tiny line drawings. Trust me, this is how apparel is constructed in factories, as they are always looking for the most efficient methods.

!!! July 2017 Update: you can watch a video made by DIY Danielle, to see how to sew this tricky part.  The video goes fast through the easy steps, then slows down for this one step.  Thanks Danielle!!!

7. HEMMING:

  • Pin the hem front to back, right sides of fabric together, matching TRIPLE-notches.
  • Stitch across the hem, clip off the corners:

IMG_8545


 

  • Pull the garment inside out, using the opening you left in the center-back seam, and voila!  Totally clean-finished seams throughout:

IMG_8546..IMG_8547


8. FINISHING:

  • Final press, then stitch the turn-about opening shut. You can edge-stitch the entire outside edge, closing the center-back opening as you go.

IMG_8548.

  • Next stitch on Velcro at center-back.  The nurses like Velcro because it is easier to dress the little angels.  I use Sew-On “Soft and Flexible”, and cut the strips lengthwise to half their width.  Be sure to sew the “fuzzy” side facing the body, and the “scratchy” side away from the body.

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Now I’ll show you again, this time with ribbon ties for the back, and fabric cut from a wedding dress. First step is to wash the dress. To make washing easier, separate the bodice from the skirt and the petticoat. Straight into the washer (gentle cycle) and then hang up to dry:

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1. CUTTING OUT and MARKING:

  • Cut out all angel gown pieces as before:
  •  Layer the body fabric and lining fabric together on your cutting table so that you can cut both layers together, ensuring they will match in size and shape.
  • Cut out 2 fronts (1 of body fabric and 1 of lining fabric) on the fold
  • Cut out 2 mirrored-pairs of backs (1 of body fabric and 1 of lining fabric)
  • Mark your notches on all fabric pieces, from the triangles on the paper pattern.

2. EMBELLISH:

  • Decorate the Front, using lace appliques or trim from the wedding dress:

IMG_8552

3. SHOULDER-SEAMS:

  •   Pin left back and right back to front at shoulder-seams, with right sides of fabric together, matching SINGLE-notches.  Stitch, and press open.  Repeat for lining:

..IMG_8570


(Optional Back Ties: if you want to close the garment back with ties, add the ribbons now.  If you prefer to use Velcro, that will be added as the last step after the garment is complete):

  • Cut six pieces of narrow ribbon, each 8″ long, and pin or tape to the right side of the center back edges; I use plain old  Scotch Tape to keep the ribbons out of the way, and take it off immediately after stitching. The top ribbon pair can be placed about 1/2″ from the neckline, the next pair 3″ down the center-back, and the last pair  another 3″ down:

IMG_8555


Continue construction same as the first sample:

4. STITCH BODY TO LINING:

  • Place lining on top of outer body, pin along center back, neckline, and sleeve hems.
  • Stitch center back, leaving a 2″ opening for turning inside-out later.
  • Stitch neckline and sleeve hems:

IMG_8556IMG_8557


5. TURN INSIDE OUT:

  • Clip inside curve of neckline seam allowance, being careful not to cut into stitching:

IMG_8558


 

  • Turn inside-out by pulling the backs through the shoulders towards the front:

IMG_8559..IMG_8560


 

  • Press lightly…look how pretty with the neckline and sleeve hems already finished!:

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6. STITCH SIDE-SEAMS:

  • Pin  side-seams front to back, right sides of fabric together, matching the double-notches.  Start by “pinching” the sleeves together,  and pinning at the sleeve underarm seam.:

IMG_8565

IMG_8566

  • Then pin  outside fabric front-to-back  all the way down to the hem, and pin lining fabric front-to-back  all the way down to the hem:. Your fabrics should be pinned outer-to-outer and lining-to-lining:

IMG_8568

If that sounds confusing, or you’re just not sure, look at the print fabric picture again; you should have outside-fabric-to-outside-fabric (front to back), lining-fabric-to-lining-fabric (front to back):

Capture copy


 

  • Stitch the side-seams starting at the hem, going up and around the underarm, and down to the other hem. Slow and steady as you stitch the underarm area.
  • Clip under-arm curves:

IMG_8572


  • Press the side-seams open as far as your iron will allow:

IMG_8573


Now you should have your weird mish-mosh shaped thing:

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If you’re worried, you can lift up the skirt and flip it inside out to see what it’s going to look like:

IMG_8576..IMG_8577

7. HEMMING:

  • Turn it back outside in again….time to finish the hem: pin all the way across, stitch, clip corners.

IMG_8578


 

  • Now go back to the center-back where you (hopefully) left a 2″ opening in the seam for turning.  If you forgot to do this (it happens) just get a seam ripper and carefully un-stitch the center-back seam for about 2″.  Pull the garment completely inside out, press:

IMG_8579..

IMG_8580

 

8. FINISHING:

  • You can  machine-edge-stitch (or hand-stitch if you prefer) the center-back opening, and you are done!

IMG_8581


 

Some notes about sewing for hospitals: every hospital has different needs, so be sure to check with the NICU department before making items to donate.  I have read so many stories about groups and individuals putting in time and energy sewing items that weren’t exactly what was  needed for their local hospital.  The nurses know best, so check first!

  • GARMENT TYPES:  Bereavement apparel usually must open completely in back; sometimes side access is required in final stages of life for access to tubes and wires, especially for infants in the cardiac unit.
  • CLOSURES: Some hospitals prefer Velcro for ease of dressing. Some hospitals prefer snaps (plastic such as Dritz Clear or KAM snaps; never metal as it gets too hot/cold).
  • BLANKETS and ACCESSORIES: hand-sewn blankets or hats to match angel-gowns are a thoughtful touch, as parents like to take them home as a remembrance
  • FABRICS: For bereavement items, soft and smooth fabrics such as those from donated wedding gowns are fine.  Some hospitals have a need for bereavement apparel in cotton, and some for bereavement apparel in colors, depending on regional ethnic groups.
  • APPAREL SIZES: depending on the size of the NICU, the hospital services offered,  and regional factors, some hospitals need more items for Micro-Preemies (under 2 lbs), others need regular Preemie sizes, or full-term.
  • GENDER:  There is a greater need for male than female infant bereavement apparel: “In the U.S. in 2013, the overall infant mortality rate for male infants was 6.51 per 1,000 births, 21% higher than the rate for female infants (5.39%)” (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr64/nvsr64_09.pdf)

If you are interested in joining a group dedicated to charity sewing for little angels, check these websites, or Google “angel gowns” and then the name of your state. Some groups that I know of include (please right-click link and open in new window):

In the U.S.:

  • https://newbornsinneed.org (throughout the United States)
  • http://angeloutfitters.blogspot.com/ (throughout the United States)
  • http://www.carewear.org/ (throughout the United States)
  • http://www.threadsoflove.org/ (throughout the United States)
  • http://www.angelgowns.chauglie.com/ (Washington State)
  • http://www.thepreemieproject.com/ (Iowa)
  • http://mikaylasgrace.com/ (Wisconsin)
  • http://www.nicuhelpinghands.org/(Texas)
  • http://www.marymadelineproject.org/ (Nebraska)
  • http://www.littleangelgowns.org/(Indiana)
  • http://www.touchinglittlelives.org/ (Ohio)

In Australia:

  • http://angelgownsaustralia.org.au/

In Canada:

  • http://angeldressescanada.com/

In the U.K:

If you, or somebody you know, is facing an angel loss in late pregnancy or early delivery, a lovely and helpful booklet full of information is found here: http://angelbabiesinfo.com/docs/pamphlet.pdf

LinedAngelGown copy

 

 

 

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50 Responses to Simple Preemie Angel Gown: Free Pattern

  1. JustGail says:

    You’re right, it’s very hard to explain! I think I’ll have to sit down and actually do this. After pulling through the shoulder seams and pressing the first time, it looks like the gown is turned back inside out (?) or does it just look that way due to the way the pieces are flipped around to pin the side seams? Ack! I can’t even think how to word the question of what I’m trying to ask :-/ :-)

    Yup, gotta sit down and do this one for me to understand! Thank you for the pattern to do so.

  2. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Hi Gail! After pulling through the shoulder seams and pressing the first time, it should look sort of like a finished garment (outside fabric out, lining inside) …except with unfinished side-seams and hem. It’s definitely a “hands on” procedure, and you will have the “Aha!” moment when it’s done. It took me MANY experiments with “sequence of stitching” to figure out how to do this with all machine stitching!

  3. Delia Gonzalez says:

    Hi Ms. Gail
    I was looking for a pattern like this and finally. Thank you for posting and explaining.
    Now what kind of items do you recommend to decorated them. Specially for boys.
    Again thank you and may God bless you.

  4. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    For boys I use light blue fabric and blue/white ribbons in stripes or checks. Sometimes the parents are okay with a simple white gown for a boy but no lace, and no shiny fabric, so I use cotton. The hospital volunteers enjoy making the girls’ gowns from wedding dresses with lots of trimmings, but sadly there is a greater need for boys’ Christening and baptism apparel.

  5. Delia says:

    Good Evening Ms. Gail

    I just made my first gown, I have a question regarding the sleeves are they supposed to look like 2. I know I did something wrong.

  6. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Can you send me a photo? My email is: 7pinedesign@comcast.net

  7. Delia Gonzalez says:

    Ms. Gail.
    Sorry to be a pest. After 2 hours trying, I finally made it. I was able to figure out the instruction. Now I have my first gown. Can I make the boys one using light blue cotton fabric? I will send you a picture of the fabric I want to use for the girls. Please let me know if this is appropriated. You are awesome, thanks.

  8. Delia Gonzalez says:

    Good afternoon Ms. Gail
    I will like to know if you have a tutorial video on how to applied the decorations on the gowns. Thank you

  9. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    I don’t but that’a a good idea!

    Best regards, Janet

  10. Monica Marie Ellis says:

    This pattern is very easy once you finally figure it out. What confused me the most was the stitching the side seams and under arm holes. The picture you have is great but looking at all the white fabric is over whelming. If you would add the dots to the picture maybe that would help. I’m so thankful for this pattern. It so beautiful once its finished. Thanks

  11. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    That is a great idea! I will see what I can do. Thank you for the input, it’s very much appreciated. It IS quite difficult to visualize, and I’m convinced that is why the pattern companies avoid this type of construction: it’s almost impossible to do a line drawing that makes sense. At some point you think “no way is this going to work”..and then it DOES!

  12. Bel says:

    Ms. Gail,

    I must say. What lovely work you do.
    Thank you for sharing and God bless you.

  13. Judy Wacker says:

    Could you please send me the patterns for the angel robes. I would lime to make some gor our local hospitals.

  14. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Absolutely! You can print it from this link: http://7pinedesign.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/AngelGownFourPage.pdf or if that doesn’t work please give me your address so that I can print it here and mail it to you.

  15. Dawn keshner says:

    I can not get links for ange gown pattern to open. Can u please send to my email.

  16. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Have sent the link to your email and I can always print and send to you in regular mail, just give me your address

  17. Sandy Caskey says:

    Thank you so much for the patterns.
    I have just started doing the gowns and have had a explosion of interest. I started with the Funeral Home that did the burial for my premature Grandson. They have gotten me in touch with several organizations. I will be setting up a table at a 5K run, sponsored by one of the groups, to accept donations of the wedding dresses from the Mothers of these precious baby’s. I am praying this will help with the healing process for them.

  18. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    You are so very welcome! That’s wonderful that you are helping these families at their most difficult time. It’s a small gesture but means so much. Best regards, Janet

  19. Kate says:

    Do the pdf patterns print in true size or do they have to be enlarged?

  20. Alison Cosshall says:

    Could you please email me the pattern for the dress/gown? I recently had an angel baby and I would like to make these gowns for other parents.

  21. Christine Cormier says:

    I’m trying to get into sewing for the nicu. Down here in Louisiana.

  22. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    It’s really rewarding. The important first step is to contact the hospital volunteer office and get the name of the head of the NICU ask what their needs are. They may already have a sewing group that you can join, or they may not have volunteers yet and would love to have anything you can make!

  23. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    True size. All of the sizes are included, and there is a measure-square to make sure your printer is printing actual size.

  24. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss, I’m sure that it is devastating….hopefully this sewing project may give you some peace. I have emailed the file to you, if it doesn’t open please let me know, I can always print it and mail to you.

    Best, Janet

  25. Maureen Wilson says:

    Thank you for your pattern &’easy to follow instructions ,
    today I have made the tiniest size for little Issac born too soon at 24weeks.
    I hope it will bring some comfort to my daughter in law’s friend & her fiancé
    I made the gown in white , with a little oblong of fine blue ribbon to indicate a yoke ( the trickiest bit ) & a little ribbon bow tie at the throat.
    A knitting exhibition group I belong to have been making tiny cardigans & shawls & one of these shawls is for issac Thank you once again
    Maureen

  26. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Oh Maureen, I’m so sorry to hear about little Isaac…how sweet of you to make such a lovely gift for his family. I’m sure it was appreciated more than you know. I love the idea of adding blue ribbon. Very best regards, Janet

  27. Dee says:

    Great pattern and easy to follow instructions
    tell me do you wash the gowns when complete?
    Dee x

  28. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Hello Dee! I pre-wash the fabrics (even when I cut up wedding dresses!) so no, I don’t wash the gowns after sewing….but you definitely could. Dreft is very gentle….the tiny angel-babies often have “weepy” skin, so you wouldn’t want any added irritants.

  29. Lyne Côté says:

    I am a grandma who losted her first grandson 3 years ago. I sewed angelgowns since one year for “Tissu d’elle” and I am very glad to found your “7 pinedesign ” today! I will try to sew my next project with your tutorial, it will be very useful to do a better “job”! Sorry for my english, I am french canadian, from Quebec (Canada).

  30. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Bonjours Lyne! I cannot imagine the pain of losing your first grandson….I would be dreaming of this little angel and wonder “How old is he now?” and “What would he look like?” I hope that it helps, to sew angel gowns in his memory. Very best regards, Janet

  31. Hi Janet,
    Thank you for posting such detailed tutorials for sewing angel gowns and cocoons.
    I am in the process of creating a web page and facebook page to consolidate angel gown group information for all of Canada. I will be including a tips page for seamstresses and would love to have your permission to share this post as well as your post about the cocoons.
    Thank you for your consideration.

  32. Linda says:

    I had no idea such gowns were made, I think this is a wonderful idea and hope try some patterns out for our local hospital.

  33. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Hi Linda! I had no idea either, until somebody asked me to help out with such a sewing group. Maybe we always assume that every child will be healthy? Sadly some little angels are too fragile for this earth. Check with your local hospital, they may already have a group you can join.

  34. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Yes of course!

  35. jenia holtz says:

    I am wanting to see if you could mail me the patterns to my mailbox as I don’t have a printer but I need to do this. It’s touched my heart tremendously.

    Thanks so much for all you do!

  36. KATHY HAYDEN says:

    My daughter sent me her dress and I made my first gown – just have to sew on applique and top stitch – will be making more and donating them to Riley Children Hospital in Indianapolis, In – thank you for the pattern and instructions

  37. June Arnold says:

    Hello Janet,
    I have been trying to print the free Angel Gown pattern. It will open but I can not get it to print at the correct size. I have done everything I know to do.

    Thank you
    June Arnold

  38. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    I can print it out and send it to you….you can notify me of your address here or email it to me at : 7pinedesign@comcast.net

  39. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Yes of course I can gladly send it, just leave me your address, or send me an email with your address (my email is: 7pinedesign@comcast.net)

  40. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    You are so very welcome! I hope that you get as much pleasure making these as I do….knowing how touched the parents will be by your efforts.

  41. Thank you so much for your great tutorial, I have been making some little dresses for some time but have had to make up my own patterns, very slow going. I have tried and tried to print your patterns but with no success, please would you be so kind as to send me copies so that I get the sizes right. I have been making them for a lovely lady who donated her wedding dress and I am trying very hard to do her credit. I will be taking them down to Poole in August when I go to visit my children. She will then be able to pass them on to the Hospital.
    Bless you Kind regards Jane Whatley

  42. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    I always have extra printed copies to send out by USPS, just send me an email with your address to : 7pinedesign@comcast.net

  43. Joanne Doornenbal says:

    i have been trying to download and print the angel gown pattern…but can not seem to do it….
    i do have the actual pattern pieces…
    could you email the instructions as a download…i have a apple computer….
    i understand my sewing machine really well…but the whole computer thing !!!!what a great concept….

  44. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Hi Joanne! I’d love to help out….can you explain a bit more about what information is missing from the blog post? I’ve tried to show each step of instructions with photographs (I don’t have line illustrations because I do not have access to Photoshop Illustrator, it is a very expensive program).

  45. Melissa says:

    Gail, I’ve tried twice now and I’m still not getting it. Do you have a video that I can watch? Once I see it being done I have no doubt I can connect these dots. :-)

  46. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    I don’t have the equipment to make a video, however I will try this summer to photograph the instructions with more steps included

  47. Linda says:

    I sew for Cherished Gowns UK, someone shared your construction of the gown to our group. Please could you add them to your list for the uk. They have just acquired charity status.

  48. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Absolutely! Thank you for the information, I have updated the post. Best, Janet

  49. Sandra Coley says:

    Do you have the instructions that can be e-mailed to me. I got the pattern, but when I try to print the instructions, it wants to print 28 pages, comments and all. I am trying to start a group to make the burial gowns for our local Hospice.

  50. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Hi Sandra! I don’t have printed instructions at the moment, because I imagined that people would follow the steps on the computer…however that is a brilliant idea for group sewing…..I’ll need to transfer the information to a new file format and it is a process, however I will put this on my “to-do” list.

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