Ultimate Guide to Sewing for Charity for Beginners

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’m always sharing information about charities that accept handmade donations. I even have a series of charity spotlight posts that include free crochet patterns designed specifically to meet donation guidelines. But when I started sewing again, I had a hard time finding updated information about organizations that accept sewn donations. I’m sharing my ultimate guide to sewing for charity for beginners today, including how to sew for charity; 18+ organizations that distribute sewing projects to children, families, and animals in need; 134+ free sewing and quilting patterns that are perfect for donation; and tips for finding local organizations to donate your sewing projects to!

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive compensation (at no added cost to you) if you make a purchase using these links. Project photos are copyright the respective designer/publisher and are used with permission.

Ultimate Guide to Sewing for Charity for Beginners

Whether you’re a newbie looking for a way to expand your skills or an experienced sewist who wants to find good homes for your projects, this guide includes everything you need to get started sewing for charity. I’ve organized this guide into six sections:

  • How To Sew For Charity – 5 Guidelines
  • Donating Blankets and Quilts – 8 Organizations and 61+ Free Patterns
  • Donating Pillowcases – 5 Organizations and 30+ Free Patterns
  • Donating Other Sewn or Quilted Projects – 10 Organizations and 32+ Free Patterns
  • Where Else Can I Donate My Sewing or Quilting Projects Locally?
  • 11 More Patterns for Sewing Projects to Donate to People in Need

You may be wondering why I have separate categories for blankets/quilts and pillowcases. It’s because these are the most common types of projects accepted if you’d like to get started sewing for charity.

How To Sew for Charity

As with all handmade donations, be sure to follow these guidelines before you start sewing for charity.

  1. Check the requirements for donation. Many organizations are very specific about what they can and can’t accept. Some have specific patterns you are required to use; others have detailed instructions for how to package your makes for donations; and most have requirements about if/how you should wash projects before sending. If your project is being created for the purpose of sewing for this charity, visit the website or contact the organization via email or phone to get the details before getting started. If you’re looking for good homes for existing projects, check the requirements before shipping or dropping off any projects.
  2. Choose your pattern. Once you know the requirements, choose a pattern (from this post or elsewhere online) that is suitable for donation to your target organization.
  3. Gather your materials. Be sure to keep in mind any requirements or preferences of the organization you plan to donate to. These may include colors, fabric types, and more.
  4. Sew! (The fun part!) Be sure to follow any finishing instructions supplied by the organization. If required, wash your projects after finishing.
  5. Send your projects. Whether you plan to drop off your projects locally or ship them to an organization that will distribute your goodies, make sure to package everything up so that your donations don’t get dirty or damaged in transport. Many organizations have specific guidelines for tagging projects as well.

Donating Blankets and Quilts

Blankets and quilts are some of the most popular projects you can sew for charity. Here is a list of eight organizations that distribute blankets and quilts to children and adults, along with 61+ free blanket patterns and tutorials to get you inspired.

  • Project Linus: Since it was founded in 1995, this non-profit organization has distributed over 8.6 million crocheted, knit, sewn, and quilted blankets to children in need throughout the United States. In general, Project Linus accepts blankets from 36” square through twin sized, but check with your nearest chapter to find out which sizes they need. You can find links to free sewing, crochet, and knitting patterns for Project Linus on their website.
  • Quilts for Kids: This non-profit organization distributes quilts to children experiencing serious illness, trauma, abuse, and natural disasters. You can send your quilt to the national headquarters in Pennsylvania or to a chapter in the United States or Canada. Quilts for Kids accepts quilted blankets made using new 100% cotton fabric and low loft 1/8”-1/4″ cotton, polyester, or cotton/polyester blend batting. Fleece, hand-quilted, and tied quilts are not accepted; rag quilts are not preferred. The preferred size is 38-40” wide x 45-46” long, but as quilts are distributed to children from newborns through 22-year-olds, longer quilts are set aside for older recipients. You can find 7 free quilt patterns on their site here.
  • Quilts Beyond Borders: Since it was founded in 2007, Quilts Beyond Borders has distributed thousands of blankets to children in 27 countries, including the United States. Their distribution sites change as needs emerge and have included children with illnesses, refugees, those living in orphanages, and more. Quilts Beyond Borders accepts machine sewn quilts or quilt tops made with cotton or cotton blend fabric. Flannel fabrics, or fabric with religious, holiday, seasonal, military, police, bug, snake, ghost, or pig imagery is not preferred; tied quilts are not accepted. You can send quilt tops or completed quilts that measure 40-45” wide by 48-60” long for donation. More details are available here on their website.
  • Quilts of ValorFounded in 2003, this non-profit organization distributes quilts to active-duty service members and veterans who have been touched by war. Each Quilt of Valor is awarded and recorded, rather than gifted. Quilts of Valor accepts machine or hand quilted quilts, but it does not accept tied quilts. The recommended size is 60” wide x 80” long, but quilts between 55” wide x 65” long up to 72” wide x 90” long are accepted. You can find more details about Quilts of Valor requirements for donation here, and 30+ free Quilt of Valor patterns here.
  • Newborns in Need: This non-profit organization provides essentials for newborns through a network of chapters throughout the United States. Each kit of necessities also includes a crochet, knit, sewn, or quilted blanket. Contact your nearest chapter for details before donating.
  • Operation First Response: This non-profit organization has served over 40,000 wounded veterans and first responders and their families since it was founded in 2004. Its Operation First Response Backpacks program distributes handmade cot-sized quilts and blankets. While the recommended size is 45” square or 36” square, they also deliver larger sizes within the United States. It is recommended that you contact Operation First Response to check current needs before sending cot quilts or blankets.
  • Preemies of the Carolinas: Founded in 2015, this non-profit organization distributes handmade hearts, hats, and blankets to neonatal intensive care units in North and South Carolina. They accept crochet, knit, sewn, quilted, or embroidered blankets. The preferred size for flannel blankets is 20” square through 42” square. Quilts are accepted in a broad range of sizes from 20” square and up. You can find more information about blanket donations here.
  • Little Lambs Foundation for Kids: This non-profit organization serves children and families in Utah who are in foster care, emergency shelters, and escaping domestic violence. They accept quilts, single-layer fleece blankets, and two-sided flannel receiving blankets. Recommended sizes are 42” wide x 47” long for toddler quilts, 52” wide x 70” long for single-layer fleece blankets for 7-17 year olds, and 40” square for two-sided flannel receiving blankets for babies.

24 More Free Blanket and Quilt Patterns and Tutorials

If donating a blanket seems right for you, here are 24 more free blanket and quilt patterns and tutorials to inspire your next charity sewing project.

Left column, from top to bottom:

Second column, from top to bottom:

Third column, from top to bottom:

Right column, from top to bottom:

Donating Pillowcases

Pillowcases are projects which require minimal fabric and you can make them as simply or as intricate as you’d like! Here are five organizations that accept donations of pillowcases sewn with 100% cotton fabric, along with 30+ free pillowcase patterns and tutorials to get you inspired.

9 More Free Pillowcase Patterns and Tutorials

If you’re ready to get started with sewing a pillowcase for charity, here are 9 more free patterns and tutorials to choose from.

Top row, from left to right:

Center row, from left to right:

Bottom row, from left to right:

Donating Other Sewn or Quilted Projects

Here are 10 organizations that accept sewn or quilted donations for projects ranging from handmade hearts to plush toys to cloth masks to pet blankets and more, along with 32+ free patterns to inspire you.

14 More Patterns to Inspire

I’ve collected 14 more free sewing patterns for baby items, children’s dresses, face masks, and surgical caps below. As always, be sure to check with the organization you plan to donate to about requirements before you start sewing.

8 Patterns for Baby Bibs, Burp Cloths, and Booties (shown clockwise from top left corner)

3 Patterns for Children’s Dresses (shown from left to right)

3 Patterns for Face Masks and Surgical Caps (shown from left to right)

Where Else Can I Donate My Sewing or Quilting Projects Locally?

If you’re looking for more places to donate your sewing and quilting projects, consider reaching out to your local quilt guild or local fabric or quilt shops to see if they are organizing any charity drives.

You may also find that homeless shelters, food pantries, hospitals, schools, religious groups, and social service organizations in your community are willing to accept handmade donations. Many of these organizations will have a volunteer coordinator or community outreach person you can connect with for more details.

You can also check out VolunteerMatch for local organizations looking for sewing volunteers and Idealist for local and virtual sewing opportunities. These websites are regularly updated with new opportunities.

11 More Patterns for Sewing Projects to Donate to People in Need

Here are 11 more free sewing patterns and tutorials for children and adults that you may wish to donate locally. These include necessities, toys, and cold weather accessories.

Left column, from top to bottom:

Second column, from top to bottom:

Third column, from top to bottom:

I hope you’ve enjoyed my ultimate guide to sewing for charity for beginners! If you’re new to sewing, you can find more posts in my Sewing Basics series here. If you love crafting for charity, you can find free crochet patterns for projects to donate in my charity spotlight series here.

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