Building a better world one stitch at a time

Andrea Rose
Dominic Martin, left, and Tayten Martin, right, follow directions provided by Cindy Defibaugh, librarian assistant at Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library, on how to sew pillowcases. The finished pillowcases will be donated to Penn State Children's Hospital through Ryan's Case for Smiles.

Dominic and Tayten Martin love cars. They can't wait until they can put the pedal to the metal.

But at just 12 and 9 years old, the brothers will have to wait a few years to come of driving age.

In the meantime, they are practicing their footwork this summer on a machine with a bit less horsepower than their coveted Lamborghini.

The boys are pushing the pedals of sewing machines at the Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library to make pillowcases for kids at Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey.

"This project is connected with Ryan's Cases for Smiles program," said Cindy Defibaugh, the librarian assistant at Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library who is overseeing the program. "This summer's reading program theme is 'Build a Better World.' We were trying to think of things we could do to build a better world."

The class is an ongoing project held Mondays at 1:30 p.m. throughout the Summer Reading Program. The first class met Monday. Free sessions are offered through July 31.

Each week, children volunteer to sew a pillowcase under the program designed by Ryan's Cases for Smiles, a nonprofit designed to create whimsical pillowcases to help hospitalized children better cope with their experience.

The sewing class open to ages 9-12, but anyone who wants to come sew is welcome. Sewing machines and fabric are provided.

Registration is required, as the library only has 8 sewing machines available.

The method of sewing used for these pillowcases is the "burrito" method, which stitches seams so that the material won't fray and will stand up to many washings.

"It's really fun," Dominic said, as he finished his dinosaur-print pillowcase. "It was hard at the beginning, but once I learned how to do it, it was really fun."

"Running the machine was the best part," said Tayten.

"I was looking for something to do to get them away from electronics and out of the house," said Kim Martin, the boys' mother. "I think anything to brighten up kids' time at the hospital is a great thing."

Defibaugh said the only challenge of the program aside from having enough volunteers is paying for the fabric.

Each pillowcase requires 3/4 yard of the main fabric and 1/3 yard of trim fabric.

"Fabric is expensive," she said, adding Ryan's Cases for Smiles has specific types of fabric that must be used and very direct guidelines for how the pillows must be made. "You can always find something on sale, but it isn't always kid-friendly."

"It costs $5 to $10 per pillowcase to make," Defibaugh said.

She would love to have donations of gift cards to fabric stores to purchase fabric.

The next sewing session is Monday at 1:30 p.m. at the library. To register or to donate money for fabric, call 717-597-7920.