What?  How did it get to October already?  I can’t believe the last time I wrote a post was back in June.  Where did the summer go?

I haven’t been doing much sewing lately as the store has been taking  up most of my time.  Receiving new inventory and getting it on the website is a task and a half for sure!  Helping customers in store, preparing and shipping online orders, even doing local deliveries for those purchases over $50, somehow the day is just gone.

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone – yes guys too! – to check your breasts!  It should be done monthly, but if 3 months have gone by in a blink like it has done for me, this is a good reminder.

Many years back (probably about 15 years ago now), a friend’s daughter who was a nurse, approached us about making some breast cancer pillow bags for clients undergoing some kind of breast surgery.  The pillow is carried under the arm and against the chest to protect the surgery site.  A fabric bag is provided for ease of carrying.

Since we had a ready supply of fabric and stuffing required to make these pillows, we took on this project.   By supplying kits that included the cut fabric and stuffing, we offered it to local sewists who were interested in contributing their time to make them.  The completed pillows then get donated to the Breast Health Center at the Victoria General Hospital.

*Please note that this program has been TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED due to Covid.  Our nurse contact, Shawna, at the hospital has let us know that she has to work remotely with clients (so no giving out pillows) as the hospital is trying to limit the number of people in the building as much as possible due to the high contagion rate of Covid-19 and the upcoming flu season. We will continue with this program once things ‘get back to normal’.

Here are the instructions to making the breast cancer pillow bag.  I like to use 1cm (3/8″) seam allowance.

Supplies needed for the pillow:

  • 2 squares of cotton fabric measuring 25cm x 25cm (10″ x 10″)  Cotton fabric is recommended for easy washing care as the surgery site can ooze.
  • about 4 handfuls of washable stuffing to stuff the pillow

Supplies needed for the bag:

  • 1 rectangle of cotton fabric measuring 25cm x 45cm (10″ x 18″)
  • 2 strips of cotton measuring 5cm x 110cm (2″ x 44″)  I like to cut 5cm strips by the full width of quilting cotton fabric.  I use the finished selvedge as the ends of the straps.

  1. To make the pillow, pin the 2 pillow squares right sides together.  Sew all the way around, leaving a 10cm (4″) opening.  To lessen the bulk, trim the corners.
  2. Turn right sides out.
  3. Stuff the pillow so that it will provide some cushioning yet not so full as to have the patient’s arm stick out like a wing!
  4. Stitch the opening closed.
  5. To make the bag, fold the rectangle piece in half, short end to short end.  Stitch down the sides and finish the seams.
  6. Fold over the top edge by 1.25cm (1/2″) and press.  Repeat so the top edge is a double folded cuff.  Put aside for now.
  7. To sew the straps, fold in half, long edge to long edge.  Stitch.
  8. Turn the straps right side out.
  9. Insert one end of the strap under the cuff of the pressed bag edge along one of the stitched bag side seams.  Repeat with the other strap.
  10. Edge stitch the bag cuff down catching the straps underneath.
  11. Fold the straps up and tack into place.
  12. Insert pillow into the bag.
  13. Voila!  Your breast cancer pillow bag is now complete.

 

If you don’t live in Victoria, BC and would like start something like this, you are welcome to use this pattern/idea.  I would suggest contacting your health provider or local hospital to see if there is a similar program available in your area.  The more resources out there for people recovering from surgery, the better!  In fact, we have had a number of patients come into the shop thanking us for this service.  They mention that these pillows help in their recovery.  Yay!

Don’t know how to do a self breast examine?  Here is a helpful video.