Volunteers associated with Valley Presbyterian Hospital are making coats for low-income youngsters to wear this winter at about one-tenth the cost of a new jacket.
Not only are the coats inexpensive to make, but they require no pattern, just a sewing machine. Meyling Eliash-Daneshfar, the hospital's marketing and public relations coordinator, discovered on the Internet a simple diagram for making a jacket from two-thirds of a yard of fabric.
She said she toted the instructions in her briefcase for a month before giving it a try.
"I bought a yard of material for $1 and figured, if I mess it up, I mess it up," she said.
The result was a forest green felt jacket with bright buttons and a colorful ribbon running horizontally across the chest. Her success inspired her to ask the hospital's large volunteer corps to join the "Sew Warm" volunteer program.
So far, eight jackets have been finished, with 10 more in the works. Eliash-Daneshfar hopes that 50 jackets will be done by mid-November for distribution through the hospital's Patient and Family Services Department.
A free class on making the jackets will meet Nov. 18 at Joann etc, a large fabric and crafts store in Porter Ranch.
"The thing I like about this project is that we're giving dignity to the recipient," said Eliash-Daneshfar. "It's not a hand-me-down and it doesn't smell. It's brand new and it was made with love."
Using some 50%-off coupons, she estimates it costs $3.30 to make each jacket. In addition to volunteers, the hospital welcomes cash donations as well as contributions of material, especially fleece and denim.
Bertie Bartee, who has volunteered for three years in the hospital nursery, has made three pink and two blue plaid fleece jackets, using material she purchased. Not initially a sewing enthusiast, Bartee said she got into it out of necessity, making shirts for her two sons and wool skirts for her two daughters during their childhood. When her youngest child moved out seven years ago, Bartee, 66, set up a sewing room in her Van Nuys home.
She said she enjoys this project even though it takes her longer than the estimated hour or two to finish each jacket.
"Life's been good to me. It's time to give back," said Bartee, who retired in 1997 as vice president of product services for MCA TV International.