They Did Everything But Whistle!

Lazies, I’ve missed you and I’m back! I spent much of December and January embroiled in a family-wide crisis as my dad was diagnosed with a fast-moving cancer. We called ourselves to action to help, poke our noses in, and work together to find the best course of action. Dad didn’t ask for our help. We don’t wait for invitations. As patients, the members of my family are pro-active, occasionally to the dismay of our health care providers and sometimes each other. 🙂

My hubby modeling a hospital gown. Sorry about the mug shot, dear.

Sewing to cope, distract, and help
When it became clear that surgery and some time in the hospital were going to come into play, I ordered some beautiful and fun quilting fabrics, threw myself into sewing and made a few pillow cases and hospital gowns for dad. Sewing was my calm in this storm. Here is my seemingly unamused hubster Michael modeling a gown so I could get a pic.

My gown-wearer was a super star!
When dad debuted the first gown on a walk around the hospital floor, the staff and docs did everything but whistle! They stopped, asked questions, discussed the extra knee-covering length, button closure and easy access at the shoulder, and the respectful overlap in the back. One surgeon suggested the hospital have these gowns made and include their logo.

Free pattern
A nurse suggested I make a pattern for the gown – been there, done that. I used our free pattern for a hospital gown which is available here. This pattern has been online since March of 2005 and has been downloaded more than 50,000 times! This is the first time I’ve needed it. Ironically, this gown pattern grew from my friend Susie’s treatment at the same hospital.

It’s been 8 weeks since the initial diagnosis. The first hurdle of surgery has been cleared and it went better than we could have hoped. Thank you to the excellent surgeons and care providers at The James Cancer Hospital in Columbus.

Dad-friendly fabrics
Finding fabrics to fit dad’s sensibilities could have been a challenge. Thank you to the fabulous quilt shops in our industry for stocking beautiful fabrics and offering online shopping. I found these at The Fabric Shack and – thanks for great customer service and speedy shipping. Here are some of the great finds I picked-up.

Cards, dice and Monoploy

Reach out and give back
My family and I shared stories of what our friends were doing to support and comfort each of us during this difficult time. And at this bright moment of realizing how fortunate I and my family are, I was left with a very sad thought. What about the people who don’t have someone? How on earth do they navigate and survive such a journey? It’s inevitable that we will all face our own challenging times. It does make a difference when you reach out. It makes a difference when you give. Pick up the phone, send a note, make a gift, and spend some time. Thank you to everyone who has done that for dad, me and my family.

With love and appreciation,

Leave a Lazy Comment

73 Responses to “They Did Everything But Whistle!”

  1. Cynthia Douglass — February 1, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

    Dear Joan: How lucky your Dad is to have such a loving supportive family. He will be in my prayers. I don’t know what type of cancer he has, but he is so blessed to be alive today when there is so much research going on and improvements with treatments available. He is lucky to have you. Here is a healing prayer coming your way.

  2. Lynda Taylor — February 1, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

    My thought s are with you, your dad and all his family.

    Having had my husband go through cancer twice( and is 7 years clear) it’s very traumatic to the whole family especially our kids who were 5 and 3.
    I know I would have fallen apart if not for the support of my family and friends.
    Glad your dad had some loving people and things to remind him of them in hospital.
    My hubby got to wear hi PJ’s so didn’t need a gown except for surgery but I am sure that so many people are thankful for that too.

    Prayers for you all.

  3. Denita — February 1, 2010 @ 10:06 pm


    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time.

  4. Noriko from Tokyo — February 1, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

    I am so sorry to know that your dad is not well. I know how you feel because I have experienced that hard time once and now again, as both my mother and my father-in-law are not well.
    I am always thinking of and praying for you and your family.
    Your Dad is very lucky because he has such a wonderful supportive family with him.
    The Hospital Gown is definately a masterpiece.
    I will write again.

    Best Wishes and love,

  5. Jean Zeiler — February 2, 2010 @ 1:48 am

    Joan, You are in my thoughts and prayers. I am a 10 year breast cancer survivor. The road is long a tiring, but God helps us through it. I will remember you and your family in prayer. It means so much to have family and friends support as you go through this.

    Take care of yourself also. We are here for you! Love, Jean in Maryland HUGS

  6. Ruth - Amarillo — February 2, 2010 @ 6:43 am

    Joan, I was sorry to hear of yours and your family’s troubles but glad to hear everything is going well. I’m glad sewing helped get you through this. Add me to your list of people praying for ya’ll. God Bless. Ruth – Amarillo

  7. Rox — February 2, 2010 @ 7:32 am

    Love , hope , charity; and the greatest of these is Love. Your family is blessed to have your father and your father is blessed that you are able to come to his side with or without an invitation.
    That is testament to strength. I know The James and I believe all the staff are called to work there-they are compassionate, caring, and able to bring a smile in the face of all of the stress and trials of the situation-whatever that may be. Please know that your ability to take semi-control of an uncontrollable situation is positive. Thank you for sharing your story and the gown. I did use the pattern when my mother was in the hospital. Silky spandex material is nice-especially when in bed . Lots of positive thoughts and prayers.

  8. Pat — February 2, 2010 @ 8:43 am

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

  9. Cindi — February 2, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

    I know all of you have received the best of care at The James. I was there last summer for kidney cancer and all of us (extended family and friends) were treated kindly and respectfully and included in every step of the long journey. My thoughts and prayers to you and your family and hoping your dad gets thru’ this as intended.

    So happy to see the pattern. Hubby was at Grant for 16 days last month and was just re-admitted. I will have to pull out my quilting fabric stash and put these gowns on my to-do list.

  10. Jeanne — February 2, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

    I will be praying for you and your family. May God give you the strength and courage to deal with this situation. I pray that your dad’s cancer will respond positively to treatment. Your family sounds wonderful, aren’t we lucky to have such caring people to surround us with their love? I, too have been through 2 crisis situations recently and am very lucky that my family came together to help each other out during these times of extreme stress.

    My daughter-in-law and I have started a community outreach program to give hope and comfort to those parents who have babies in the NICU. We know first hand the feeling of isolation when your child is being treated in an intensive care unit. Only Immediate family is allowed to visit & then only 2 or 3 at a time. The hours drag by and you don’t know if and when your child will be coming home. We are filling tote bags with a number of items to help give comfort to these families. Each bag will have a handmade quilt or blanket along with numerous other items. We understand that not everyone has a strong support group behind them and these gift bags are our way of telling them that there is someone who cares and knows what they are going through.

    Will be keeping positive thoughts.
    Jeanne in RI

  11. carol c — February 2, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

    PERFECT fabric for my cancer doctor, he would love that

    gotta make him when i go back for my 9 yr check up from pancreatic cancer in May.


  12. Claudia — February 3, 2010 @ 11:42 am

    I am so sorrry that your family is going thru cancer. Many many prayers for a good outcome. I thank you for this pattern . It came to me at a perfet time. My DDs good friend has s 4 yr old daughter just diagnosed with ALL. I have made her a pillowcase and hats for when her lovely hair falls out. I had not thought of how to make gowns..I am a nurse and know how bland and impersonal hospital linnens and clothing are…
    Thanks you from me and from little Samantha.

  13. Erin — February 3, 2010 @ 8:36 pm

    Fabulous, just fabulous! Here’s praying for your father’s quick and complete recovery.

  14. Sherry — February 4, 2010 @ 12:02 am

    Joan my prayers are also with you & your family. Hope all goes well! Wished I’d known about this hospital gown pattern years ago when my hubby broke both legs & was bed riddin for months. I made some from an actual hospital gown…the ones with open air to the back. Will make some of these to have on hand. God bless you & yours & thanks for your site & patterns. LOVE THEM!

  15. Sherry — February 4, 2010 @ 12:04 am

    Note to Sheri asking about chemo hats…..check nancy’s notions for some free patterns

  16. Frances — February 4, 2010 @ 8:31 am

    I wish you and your family the very best, and a postive outcome for your father. I downloaded the hospital gown and will make a couple of them for ‘a rainy day’. The ones that you made for your father would cheer up any patient! Thank you!

  17. Sandra Davidson — February 4, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    Dear Joan, my prayers and blessings go to your Dad and family. I also had cancer and a double mastectomy and all that goes along with it. Remain strong and positive that is most important. With such a loving family around him I know that things will go well. One of the things that really helped me was joining a group of cancer patients that are going through the same thing that I was because we could relate to each others feelings and didn’t need to keep anything back.. In Canada we rarely stay in hospital over night even with masectomy but there has been times I wish I had that beautiful gown you designed. Thanks

  18. Maria Peagler — February 4, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

    Joan – my prayers are with your dad and your family.

  19. Bobbie Bentley — February 7, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

    Our thoughts and prayers are for you and your father during this stressful time.
    God bless you both and your family.

  20. Sheila Perl — February 9, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

    Dear Joan,
    Best wishes to your father and your family. How wonderful that you have such a supportive family to make sure everything is done right for your Dad.
    My brother-in-law has just been diagnosed with colon cancer and has started chemotherapy. My niece goes with him to therapy. She is such a blessing.
    I would love to make him some of the gowns but he is 6’6″ and a big fellow, maybe 2 or 3 together and a foot or two longer!
    Thank you for sharing, Joan.

  21. Joy — February 10, 2010 @ 3:15 pm

    Nice hospital gown. The colors and design sure beats the standard issued gowns widely used today. I like the fabric you selected and your hubby, well, he’s a good sport.

  22. Donna K — February 27, 2010 @ 11:31 am

    Hi Joan,
    First of all, I hope that your father is recuperating and doing well.
    Secondly, my sister in law has had to undergo two brain surgeries at Duke University Med Center over the past two weeks. These were planned, so I sent her six of the hospital gowns in bight colors. She loved them and they were a definite “hit” among the nurses and staff. In fact, they asked me to contact them to market them there. I am VERY respsectful of copyright laws, so I wanted to let you know of their interest, should you be interested in working with them; perhaps for the Amercian Cancer Society or something. I don’t have their contact info at the moment, but I can get it for you, should you be interested.
    Thank you for providing this pattern. It has obviously provided some sunshine to people who are weathering storms.
    Fondly, Donna K Smith
    PS: I love your purse/tote patterns, too! Your techiniques are so helpful with all areas of sewing!

  23. Linda Phipps — February 24, 2014 @ 7:09 pm

    Hi, Joan
    Hope your dad is doing better. Wanted to thank you for providing the gown pattern. I made one for a co-worker who was having a baby, and she said the nurses and staff at the hospital raved about it. I also made a matching surgical cap for her husband and a scrub nurse cap for the baby’s big sister. Everything was made in a novelty mustache print on baby blue trimmed with red and white polka dots. Thanks again.