May 1, 2024

You may be quite familiar with providing shawls, lap blankets, and other crocheted and knitted items to those in assisted living facilities or in nursing homes, but there is one additional item these places always need but rarely get. Adult-sized bibs! Yes, bibs.

Bibs are used to protect the clothing of the wearer—whether it is a baby, an older person, or someone with a disability that impairs their ability to feed themselves. Because they are worn several times a day and may have to be washed after each use, they wear out quickly. This means there is likely to be an ongoing need for these.

For those of us who do not knit or crochet but love to sew, this is good news! A quick search on Amazon revealed a Simplicity pattern for adult-sized bibs. You may also find this and other adult-sized bib patterns at your favorite fabric store.

Some suggestions from a friend who manages a nursing home:

  • First, talk to a nursing home manager in your area to confirm the need for adult-sized bibs, to discover how many bibs they need, and to determine how often they may need to be replaced.
  • Ask if they want bibs specifically for women and for men or if they prefer unisex patterns.
  • Make sure the bib is long enough to cover the entire lap. Take the pattern pieces, hold them in place on a volunteer, and measure where their length ends. You may want to extend the pattern pieces to allow for making a regular version and a longer version.
  • Use high quality Perma press fabric with generous seam allowances and a standard stitch count. These will be washed often. The better the fabric quality, the longer the bibs will last.
  • Don’t be afraid to use some unique (maybe wild) fabric patterns. If in doubt, call a nursing home for suggestions.
  • Some patterns make bibs that are open down the front. Use solid front patterns for the best protection.
  • Ask what type of closure at the neck works best. My friend prefers Velcro on the ends that go around the neck. Easy on, easy off.

Sewing adult-sized bibs may be a novel idea for you, but you may be surprised at how gratefully these bibs are received. You may even find someone in your own congregation that would be glad to receive a bib. Just announce your project and see what happens!

In the end, know that providing a gift that is truly needed will bring joy and satisfaction both to those giving and to those receiving. Happy sewing!!