GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., -- More than a decade after losing her niece, Judy Fields has launched a special effort in her honor aimed at helping other parents who lose a baby. She's created Abigail's Attic, a group that transforms donated wedding dresses into baby burial gowns.
"When you lose a baby, you're in shock. You're not planning for that," explained Fields. "You're planning for a newborn, healthy baby...I just want our group to help out, and you know, give them something special."
Fields said the idea has been brewing since she was able to hold her niece Abigail, who was stillborn, in the hospital. After connecting with a group in Metro Detroit, Fields decided to finally create a group in West Michigan.
Fields and several volunteers have begun meeting once a week in Grand Rapids to sew the "angel gowns" together. Just one wedding dress can yield as many as eight angel gowns. The group also salvages lace trim, and beading to create bracelets.
"We try to put as much love and ourselves into them as possible," said Toni McCabe, a volunteer for Abigail's Attic."Each one is different, each one is made special, each one is unique. There's no gown alike."
Field's sister and Abigail's mother Sarah Ross, has also joined in the effort. She's already arranged to bring some of the gowns to Lutheran Hospital NICU, near where she lives in Northeast Indiana.
"When she came up with this, it just kind of floored me," said Ross. "It brought back memories, but they're good memories...If someone would have walked in and presented something like that to me, it would have been just great."
The group is working with Spectrum Health and plans to donate the first batch of gowns to area hospitals by the end of the month.
Abigail's Attic takes in donated wedding dresses, along with flowergirl, bridesmaid and some prom dresses.
Dresses can be dropped off at the following two locations:
*Carlton Gardens, 3140 Breton Rd SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512
*A Touch of Art and Crafts, b 49525, 3144 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49525
A special drop off event will happen at A Touch of Art and Crafts on Saturday November 14th from noon-2pm. The store will be doing a drawing for a $25 store credit for any dress donation or purchase that day.
If you'd like to help, the group also accepts donations of giftcards to JoAnn Fabrics and Meijer.
Experienced sewers are also needed. To contact to the group via its website, click here.
To connect with the group on Facebook, click here.