Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A great cap to sew

A few months ago, I was looking around for a good pattern for a chemotherapy cap to sew. Our volunteer sewing group at the hospital had a standing request from the cancer-treatment center to provide such caps. Problem was, most of the Internet patterns available are the stretchy turban styles that, frankly, aren't that attractive. And if you're sick and experiencing hair loss to boot, you shouldn't have to resign yourself to something really frumpy-looking.

There are some headwrap patterns available from the big pattern manufacturers, and I tried a few of those. Most involve multiple pattern pieces, elaborate lining, and tricky procedures to ease a full crown into a narrower band. I made one that took several hours to make.

Then I discovered a terrific pattern by Helen Littrell, a woman in Oregon who's earned considerable acclaim for her "Cover Cap" and other clever designs on her website. My photo doesn't really show it well, but the ties create soft folds along the sides that provide some flattering fullness around the face. A short elastic insert in the back helps create a custom fit. And, I kid you not, once you've made a few of these kerchiefs, you'll be turning them out at the rate of three per hour!

Our volunteer group has made stacks of these for the cancer center, and the nurses have reported that they fly off the shelves. We made lots of them in warm flannels during the winter months. I'm switching to 100% cotton for the summer months. A friend who's been undergoing chemotherapy and hair loss in recent months says the cozy ones are great for sleeping, and lighterweight fabrics are preferable for daytime wear.

Try fun, bright prints as well as darker, more conservative fabrics - people with cancer don't lose their personal tastes when they lose their hair, so offer them as much variety as you can when you're making a cancer center donation.

Even if you're accustomed to knitting caps for chemo patients, please consider giving this great sewing pattern a try, especially as we're moving into warmer weather. Helen charges a nominal fee for her patterns so she can keep her operation going. Her service is fast and friendly and the cap designs get an enthusiastic thumbs up from the folks who need them most. I'm sure you'll consider this pattern the best $5 investment you'll ever make!


Zoanna said...

Anne, I am so glad you posted about SEWING chemo caps on 25 Things. I am fairly new to charity sewing, and I love to do quilts. They are time-consuming, though. I was thinking JUST today, "wonder if there's a simple cotton chemo cap pattern out there". At a rate of 3 per hour, you say? Wow. You must be good. I'll check out Helen's pattern and site. Thanks.

Pam said...

Anne: I have the cover cap pattern but found it rather difficult to interpret. I don't have it in front of me at the moment (I'm away from home) so I can't say exactly what confused me. I would love to be able to figure out how to make these hats so, I too, can turn out 3 per hour. Do you have any specific suggestions concerning making these hats? Any tricky parts or ideas to make the construction easier? Perhaps I can contact you once I have the pattern in hand. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am an experienced seamstress so I'm not sure why I can't figure these out. Feel free to email me directly at THANKS!