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Alignment and Placement

It’s Cold in Those Chemo Centers

Bag of Hope

Bag of Hope

When you have a family member or friend diagnosed with cancer, it leaves many of us feeling helpless – what can you do to support them? Nancy Zieman and I decided to each create a bag stuffed with helpful items that we’d give to someone in treatment for cancer. The bags are a perfect way to show you care and can be used to to carry everything someone might need during their treatments which can sometimes last for hours. For our bags we used embroidery from the Embroider-a-Cure collection where all proceeds go toward the Be The Difference Foundation, an ovarian cancer research foundation founded by our friend Helen Gardner.

I decided to work with blanks and wrap a little hope and warmth around someone undergoing chemotherapy treatments with an embroidered sweatshirt, pashmina and tote bag.

I selected the Bald is Beautiful design because many patients see no need to cover their hair loss so why not make a statement and put everyone looking at you at ease? This versatile design looks great on both a sweatshirt and a pashmina.

Let’s start with the sweatshirt. Find the center front of the shirt and mark it with a pin. Print a template of the Bald is Beautiful design and place it on the center chest. It’s a large design so standard industry placement templates don’t work for a design of this size.  No worries – just place the center of the design on the shirt’s center. Leave enough room at the top of the design to hoop the shirt – about 3” below the bottom of the ribbing will do it. Make sure the template is straight and place a target sticker under the template.  Remove the template.

Bald is Beautiful in the hoop

Fuse polymesh stabilizer to the wrong side of the design area.  Place the hoop’s outer ring on the pointy end of an ironing board and ‘dress’ the ironing board until the target sticker is centered in the hoop.  Insert the inner ring.

Bald is Beautiful in the hoop

Attach the hoop to the machine. Retrieve the design and center the needle over the target sticker.  Add film-type water soluble stabilizer over the design area. Stitch the design.  Once complete, tear off as much of the soluble stabilizer as possible and spritz away the rest.  Trim the polymesh on the wrong side – ready to make a statement!

Bald is Beautiful in the hoop

Since the design is already loaded on the machine, let’s move on to the pashmina.  Fold the pashmina in half, lengthwise and measure 8” above the fringe on one end. Place a target sticker in that location.

Pashmina with Target Sticker

Place a piece of cloth-type water soluble stabilizer over the hoop’s outer ring; place the pashmina over the ring, centering the target sticker.  Insert the inner ring; tighten the screw since the pashmina is lighter than the sweatshirt – the previous hooping. No need to over tighten, just hand tight, is fine.

Target Sticker on pashmina

Flip the hoop over and make sure the water soluble stabilizer extends beyond the hoop in all directions. If it doesn’t, rehoop. Attach the hoop to the machine and stitch the design. Trim as much of the WSS as possible and spritz away the remainder.

Bald is Beautiful in the hoop

For the tote bag I chose the bold Survivor design in a vibrant teal color. It looks great against the black background of the tote and teal is the color of support for ovarian cancer. The bag was stitched in a jiffy on a 10-needle machine. I used Quick-Snap to hold the tote and was done in about 15 minutes! If you’re using a single-needle machine, it would take just a bit longer because it’s necessary to open the side seam to get the bag front to lay flat in the hoop. Once embroidered, just sew the seam and you’re done!

Survivor Design


To see more on the Sew a Bag For Hope created by Nancy Zieman please visit her blog here. And, for more information on ovarian cancer and the Be The Difference Foundation please visit their website here or join them on Facebook.

Nancy Zieman Sew a Bag of Hope


Here’s your assignment this week:

Leave us your ideas for items that would be perfect to put in totes for women in chemotherapy treatment. Two readers will receive this beautiful butterfly pin created on behalf of the Brookharts family in memory of their wife and mother, Joanne. If you’d like to pick up one for yourself or a friend you can do so here.

The winner of last week’s assignment is:

Leave us a comment about your favorite In the Hoop Project from the SewAZ Embroidery Designs website. Four readers will each receive a $25 gift certificate courtesty of SewAZ Embroidery Designs to the website.

And the lucky winner are…Patty, Colleen, Paule-Marie and Dana. Congratulations to you all!!




  • Paula Pardue

    An MP3 player or Ipad with some soothing music.

  • Cathy Chalk

    Some hand and foot lotion. Maybe some fuzzy slippers as well.

  • Sherry Peterson

    A book is always a nice way to relax while undergoing treatment, but since everyone gas different tastes for reading, maybe some kind of reader would be nice, that way they could download whatever they wanted to read.

  • Melinda

    Thank you for this post! My sister was diagnosed with BC last month and this will be perfect for her starting chemo in the coming weeks. <3

  • Sue Duisenberg

    Decorated sweatshirts would be great! And fleece hats. Not sure what can be worn during treatment, though. may just some sleeves!

  • Carol Seavitt

    What a wonderful idea! Just a few ideas since I’ve been living with recurrence breast cancer for 6 years. An open sweatshirt is better to access ports; a scarf and some warm socks would also be nice. While bald is beautiful, it is so cold in the center that most of us wear a head cover. Thank you again for this post. It warms my heart to see the loving support for those who have cancer.

  • Melinda

    I was just thinking that a hoodie would be better (as you said, for accessing the port/s).
    Maybe also a knit cap with the patient’s monogram or a embroidered on it? I know a lot of cancer patients who are rejecting the ribbons due to marketing and other issues lately. So something they can wear that doesn’t “remind” everyone that they have cancer?

    We just got my sis a Kindle Fire- she is sooooo anti-tech (still has a flip-phone *gasp!!* 😉 ) but we figure she’ll appreciate it when she’s sitting there for 5 hours since she’ll be able to read, watch movies, listen to music all with one device & headphones.

  • Kimeran

    Some bottled water, mints or hard candy according to patients preference. A series of handwritten notes of encouragement dated so that can be opened and read over the course of treatment. Lip balm and small tube of hand cream.

  • Mary Ann

    Maybe a box of note paper and stamps. For one who likes to write, a journal can be therapeutic. Also, light weight gloves for cold hands. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  • Gladys

    I think it would be nice to find a note that says in your bag:
    “Don’t forget: you are not alone!” We’re with you!”
    It would be helpful for each day of treatment!
    Beautiful idea! Thanks for sharing it! Have all a wonderful day!

  • Gaile

    I just went through heart cath and got a stint, hopefully I will never have to battle cancer . The one thing I needed was a heating pad for my poor back, the nurses brought me a rice pack they heated in the microwave what a wonderful thing that was !! They told me volunteers made and donated then to their floor. So i am doing this too and think they would be a wonderful thing to included in the bags !!

  • Nancy D.

    Our daughter died of breast cancer at age 30 after 6 1/2 years of treatment. After going to many treatment with her I’d suggest — hand lotion, warm socks or footies, puzzle books, crossword puzzles and pencil. Some centers have the ability to let you watch videos so some light-hearted ones of those would be fun. Card games are good if someone is with the patient ( we tried board games but they usually take up too much space). Belle liked having a snack sometimes too. Also, cards of gratitude for the nurses and staff to fill out and give is a nice idea.

  • Peggy Schroeder

    Hi Eileen,
    For women’s bags, what about a crossword puzzle book and eraceable pens, novels, a plain notebook to take notes, and make sure there are enough pockets to put stuff. Right now, I need information for men, as my husband is starting chemo this week, and this man does not like to read (dyslexic)-spelling? I am putting in a portable, small, dvd player, along with headphones, and a few good movies. His treatment will be three hours to take out some of his blood, then the blood bank mixes it with the chemo, and then mails it back to our oncologist, and it takes 1 1/2 hours to put it back in three days later. there is supposed to be about three treatments like this, hopefully no more as these three cost 120 thousand dollars!!!! I will put in some snacks, and posssibly a quilt or blanket. I may also put in a couple of western magazines, he will look at those, if there is nothng else to do. We have to drive to Sacramento for the blood withdrawals and thenthey put it back in here in Lakeport. Hopefully this will work, they tell us if he responds well to treatment, he may have two more years, and we are bound and determined to tell him in ten years they got the time left very wrong!!! Some of the same things could go in men or women’s bags; anyway we will give it a try.

  • Karan McManis

    Last year I had Chemo all summer and into the fall. Cotton knit hats are great to wear. Make them so you can fold them over your ears, that way they fit different size heads. My ears and neck where cold in Air conditioning. I wore a hat at night also, with no hair it keeps your head warm. I finally stopped wearing my hats and wig in March and my hair has grown back. Knitted hats are nice but fleece hats are really warm in the winter. Nice warms socks are great in the summer when you wear sandals to your treatment in the summer, kick off your shoes and lean back with nice warm socks on.

  • Terrie Underwood

    Hand lotion, mints, tea bags, monogrammed cup or drink bottle. Warm socks with monograms.

  • Patty Savant

    I have a couple of ladies that help me make Prayer lap quilts. We write encouraging scriptures or words on some of the blocks. This has been a blessing to all that receive them. If I had enough time I would make a tote bag to put it in but as soon as we finish one there is another one needed.

  • Brenda Howard

    I think a small blanket would be much appreciated along with an open sweatshirt or hoodie. I would really need some reading material and gloves and socks. When I go to the infusion center my hands and toes freeze even in the summer.

  • Joanne Banko

    I am wondering if a satin eye mask would be helpful for those who want to close their eyes and listen to
    Music or perhaps an audio book. How wonderful women are as they band together to provide comfort to others.
    Anita Goodesign has a design set specifically for the eye mask theme.

  • Joanne Banko

    P.S. A monogrammed eye mask would be nice.
    The Magna Hoop would be useful for a ready made
    Mask. Place a target sticker in the area for embroidery, then
    Hoop and stitch. Silky interfacing could be fused on the
    Wrong side to cover the stitches. I imagine a fleece wrap would be nice as well.

  • Linda Seemann-Korte

    I usually add a couple ‘lids’ to the bag A fleece cap since my friends have told me their heads get cold especially at night. I also make them tubes from a brightly coloured cotton or bamboo knit. The tube fits over their head and can be worn in a variety of ways as well as under a baseball type cap. I have been told that wigs are great but they have their limits too- for example, you need to stay away from the oven when wearing them! The bright colors are to add some cheer?

  • Mary Haggenmaker

    My daughter’s aunt just went through chemo. She is a very devout Catholic. I believe she found a great deal of comfort in her bible and I believe her rosary.

  • Nancy Zieman

    Eileen, kuddos on the great ideas and color combinations! Your buddy, NZ

  • Nell Summerlin

    My mom has to take dialysis three times a week and she likes word puzzle books, a light weight lap blanket and ear plugs!

  • Sue

    Add tea/hot cocoa packets to warm them from the inside out. Cards, mug with lid for drink,snack packs crackers, cookies, apples banana.headphones for music with the newer phones. Pens, paper, any crosswords,word search,sudoku books. Thank you notes.nurses love a thank you here and there. Sometimes a bible is helpful.

  • Debbie J

    If giving tea, peppermint and some with ginger, help settle the stomach. Any kind of hard candies, puzzle books, (available at most Dollar Stores), lotion,and any kind of soft hat. Fleece is always soft. The small fleece throws would be great for anyone to have.

    If you know the person, put their names on the items or a monogram. I only know of one person who had to have Chemo. That was my brother, but I wasn’t allowed to be around him. Not for medical reasons. My mother and sister didn’t want me there for whatever reason. Encouragement notes of any kind would be a great idea, too.

  • Susan Burns

    All great suggestions above! My sister used a lot of lip balm and aloe products for skin problems from radiation, as well as Biore mouth wash for dry mouth and oral lesions from chemo. Keep up the good work all!

  • Sharon Krulitz

    When my Dad had cancer, his head was often cold. A nice warm fuzzy hat would be nice to take along.

  • Colleen Bell

    Thank you so much for choosing me as one of the winners from last week’s blog. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the email. I don’t know how all of you give away so many things each week, but we are all so grateful. Thank you.

  • usairdoll

    While I don’t have cancer, I imagine things that make anybody feel good would be great. Magazines, a pretty pen and journal, warm socks and hat, snacks, nail polish and lotion. So many great suggestions in all the comments.

    Thank you for your giveaway and a chance to win.


  • Sheila

    Hand sanitizer, wipes, and a small packet of tissues are always useful since people undergoing chemo have to be very germ-conscious.

  • Nancy Owens

    I think the most important thing to be put into these bags is the Love it is made with.

  • JudyT

    Have been receiving chemo and have lost my hair. As many have said, my head, ears and neck are always cold. My cancer center has recliners with heat and also heated blankets which are great. They also provide coffee, tea, juice and an assortment of snacks served by volunteers. The totes would be greatly appreciated filled with puzzle books, pens, pencils, note pads. Most of all having someone with you during treatment helps pass the time. If you have a friend undergoing chemo, I encourage you to go with them and just be there to talk.

  • Joanie

    My brother just passed away from cancer and while he was going through chemo, he liked to have word puzzle books and hand lotion. He also had a fleece hat he wore. He loved mints too. Thank you for your great ideas.

  • Mary Haggenmaker

    A very dear friend has just been through chemo. I believe she found a great deal of comfort in her bible. She goes to a website and posts readings from her bible every day. They are very inspirational for everyone. She is now going through what I believe is reconstructive surgery.

  • Patty

    My daughter had treatment for ovarian cancer 15 years ago at 14 years. A soft head covering. Gift cards for local eateries, gas cards, magazines, craft kits. These are all things we could use. There were so many issues trying to keep her occupied 8 or more hours a day for a week at a time. simple craft items were a distraction for her creative spirit. She is missed.

  • Beckie

    What wonderful ideas everyone is contributing. What came to my mind as I read through them all was the need for a small pillow (for areas that the big hospital pillows are awkward and don’t support). Also, a hoodie scarf with pockets. In addition to a quilt, magazines, electronics, lotion and all the other stuff personalized for the person. God bless all affected and those that support them.

  • olivia

    So many wonderful suggestions given by so many caring people. I know it’s sometimes hard to decide just what is the most needed thing for that difficult time but also know it’s important to respond in a loving supporting way to all family members. I offer help with cooking meals, cleaning house, doing laundry, or doing whatever they wish. I enjoy making bright and colorful pillowcases with their name embroidered on them as well as flannel pajamas. I would apprediate more suggestions for males. Thank you.

  • LISA M.

    Comfort is #1. Undershirts (those little cotton/stretch ones with the thin little straps). They are soft and comfortable. I made 6 of these for my aunt who died of breast cancer last year. I cut the little t-shirt down the center front and sewed in a thin strip of velcro so she could put on easily and also didn’t have to worry about zippers and snaps, which she said hurt her. I did the same thing with 4 sweatshirts and made her some pajamas as well. I embroidered the sweatshirts but made sure to add some soft fusible poly-mesh stabilizer on the back after the embroidery was completed so that the threads would not scratch her. The best gift is to relieve them of the worry of having to clean house, cook meals and doing laundry when they have had a chemo treatment or surgery.

  • Chris

    While I am not the most experienced quilter, the hot pink, purple and green quilt I made for my dear friend who was facing chemo was a special gift that she really appreciated. I backed the quilt in purple, soft minky-to keep her warm during chemo. She told me how loved she felt when she wrapped herself in it during her treatments! She also said that she loved the cheerful colors, blocks, and the quilting that gave her things to talk about to others-rather than just speaking about her illness. I am heartbroken to say that she lost her battle with cancer; but throughout the many months of treatment, she knew how much she was loved and cherished. A quilt can say all that-in each and every stitch. It’s a small, wonderful way to make love visable and touchable.

  • Doreen

    A scarf, hat, those little stretch gloves, beeswax candle.

  • Lisa Jones

    Wow! All great, wonderful ideas have been shared! Here are my ideas – can be given to men and women (unisex gifts).
    -Fingerless gloves, so hands stay warm, but still useful fingers
    -Eye mask filled with lavender to help aid in relaxation
    -Word search book with pencil (crosswords require too much thought)
    -A simple, easy craft kit to keep their mind off what’s going on
    -Coloring book & crayons/proven to take stress away-even for adults
    -A couple packets of that instant powdered flavor “stuff” you add
    to water. Most centers supply water – nice change of pace
    -All the things others have said to keep warm, hat, zip up
    sweatshirt, socks, booties, etc.

    What a great idea – a much needed gift!!

  • Mitzi

    Bald may be beautiful, but here in Alaska, it’s also cold.I have made several soft microfiber lap blankies, embroidered with inspirational, encouraging motifs and words. The friends who have received them have told me how much comfort these small gifts were, both spiritually and thermally. Minkie fabric makes great chemo capes and caps, too. I use a double thickness, so there is minkie on the inside as well as the outside of the cap, as the chemo scalp can be very tender.

  • Alena

    I found a stuffed animal where there is a little “pillow” that can be taken out of a “pocket” and placed in the microwave. It provided a warm cuddly friend to a young girl I was friends with. The stuffed animal was a dog, so we named it Hotdog!

  • Felica Stidstone

    Though chemotherapy is an effective way to treat many types of cancer, chemotherapy treatment also carries a risk of side effects. Some chemotherapy side effects are mild and treatable, while others can cause serious complications. “:’;

    Remember to look into our favorite blog

  • Dawn

    All of the above are great ideas, I am going thru chemo now, Im on treatment #8 for colon cancer that has moved to my liver and lymph nodes. Magazines are great, little snacks, fuzzie socks for the feet, I always take my shoes off while in treatment. paperback books are good and the mp3 player is super great. I listen to music or I checkout a cd book from the library and listen to the story with ear phones. I have made fleece hats for the chemo unit to give to people that have lost their hair.
    Thanks for caring.

  • Michelle R.

    Warm fuzzy socks and a soft hat, like so many have suggested, are great to add to the bag. I would recommend that any lotion you add should be unscented, though, because many who undergo chemo are sensitive to smell. The chemo center where my husband was undergoing treatment had a sign posted to this effect. My husband, who shaved his head for many years before getting cancer, was a bit different in that he was often very hot and would sweat on his head, so a hat was out of the question, even in the winter. Men were all told to wear button down shirts to chemo for easy access to their port, so a zip front jacket or hoodie is good for men. I think it would be a good idea to ask the recipient what kinds of things they would like to have and work off of their wish list.

  • Nancy Rendell

    I have never been to a chemo clinic but according to medical studies and Reader’s Digest, “Laughter is the Best Medicine”. Reader’s Digest has now compiled their humorous sections into several books; i.e. All in a Day’s Work, Humor in Uniform, etc. You cannot read these without chuckling or laughing out loud. Sounds like a type of medicine that would be a good companion while receiving chemo. I’ve also heard that watching funny movies or tv shows; i.e. Carol Burnett Show, I Love Lucy, Funniest clips of Johnny Carson, Cheers, Saturday Night Live skits, Will & Grace and many more provide a temporary escape and a free dose of endorphins.

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  • Doug Barron

    I am late to the reply but, the Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance distributes a Bag of Hope, free of charge, to women battling ovarian cancer. We have a very nice canvas tote bag, fleece blanket, stainless steel water bottle, fuzzy grippy booties, hot-cold pack, grocery bag, journal & pen, information cd, long term survivor stories on DVD, baseball cap, light weight turban, and bag tag. We are always looking on how to improve our bag. Thanks for the suggestions.

  • Sharon Anderson

    I love this, my dad passed away 4 yrs ago from cancer, this is such a sweet way just to let someone know that they are not alone in this battle, Thank you. I can’t wait to get start to let someone know I with them in there battle if only a shirt,or a bag of thing they could use,I know they will enjoy it. If we all did just 1, just think of how many people we could help.

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