Around Town

‘Angel gowns’ designed to comfort grieving parents

WESTFIELD-Sewing enthusiasts are invited to share their talents next week as tiny gowns will be created from donated, deconstructed wedding gowns and donated to neonatal units at area hospitals.

“I know there is a need,” said Michelle Moniz of Westfield, who has recently launched Angel Gowns of Western Mass. “The angel gowns offer comfort to parents coping with the death of a child from miscarriage, stillbirth, or through neonatal loss.”

Michelle Moniz of Westfield created an “angel gown” out of a white satin wedding gown and an angel wrap out of the same dress and added a button and an appliqué. (Submitted photo)

Moniz noted the angel gown is used to present the infants to their families as they say a final farewell before burial or cremation.

Moniz said after she attended a similar volunteer program last year with her mother, Terry Fregeau, they both wanted to use their sewing skills to create beautiful gifts of love for parents who had suffered the heartbreak of losing their child.

“We saw how many people wanted to get involved and were moved by their willingness to help others who had experienced the loss of a child,” said Moniz, who works in the radiation oncology department at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.

The first gathering that Moniz and Fregeau will host will be Jan. 7 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. at the Westfield Senior Center. 

“My mother taught me how to sew and I have passed on my passion for sewing to my daughters Hayley and Emily,” said Moniz, adding that she relishes creating gowns that are unique and special.

During Monday afternoon’s session, Moniz will conduct a brief orientation to explain how a wedding gown is deconstructed and then will review several patterns that are used to create the gowns. Moniz will have four gowns available so there will be ample material to work with for all who want to participate in the endeavor.

“For stillborns still in the fetal position, we also create angel wraps,” said Moniz, noting that because a gown would be too big, the pocket is another way for parents to feel comfort by tucking their precious baby into the soft clothing.

Persons who have a portable sewing machine are encouraged to bring one in on Monday, as well as sewing scissors and pins.

“Those who don’t sew can participate by dismantling gowns as well as tracing and cutting patterns,” said Moniz, adding that persons who would like to donate thread, ribbons and buttons are welcome to drop them off during the session. Moniz will also be accepting wedding and bridesmaids gowns when materials run low.

“I envision this group to become a monthly gathering,” said Moniz. “Once angel gowns are made from a donated gown, we will take photos and send them to the person who donated the beautiful garment.”

To sign up to participate in the Jan. 7 program, contact Mary Lou Niedzielski, program director, at the Westfield Senior Center, (413) 562-6435. The program is open to all ages.

For persons who wish to join Moniz as she continues to work on logistics for the new group, contact her via email to [email protected].

“The response already has been overwhelming,” said Moniz. “Our mission is to sew gowns for newborns who never made it home from the hospital.”

To Top