The death of a child is an impossible loss. A local mother knows that pain but is trying to turn it into something beautiful.
Hazel Jones’ workshop used to be part of her living room. Now she’s using that space to cut down formal gowns.
“They have a lot of tulle, they have a lot of fabric, especially those who are donating dresses from the 80s,” she says. “They are huge! They are so big, god bless the 80s for that.”
Hazel uses the material to make burial gowns for babies who died to soon. Her own son, Matthew, was stillborn at nearly 21 weeks, and he had to be buried swaddled in a blanket.
“He was only three ounces and was six and a half inches long and the hospital had nothing that fit him,” she says. “I have so much guilt, especially in winter. Is he cold?”
Hazel looked into it and found services that provide burial gowns, but nothing that would have been small enough for little Mattie. She set out to fix that.
“We started looking around and found sewing patterns for dolls that were about his size and very, very tiny.”
And that was the beginning of Mattie’s Memory.
Hazel makes gowns, quilts and memory kits for other mothers who had lost babies. She makes them in vibrant colors and sometimes Bucks and Brewers themes. Hazel says she knows white is more traditional, but not everyone wants it.
“There’s so much expense that comes with losing a child,” she says. “The last thing you need to think about is ‘now I have to pay for clothing.’ No. It’s there, it’s yours. Just take it.”
But that means Hazel relies on fundraising and donations. She always needs thread, needles, scissors and seam rippers. If you have any old formalwear lying around, Mattie’s Memory will happily take it off your hands.
Hazel will do with that dress what she’s been trying to do with her own loss.
“We will turn something ugly into something beautiful.”
If you’d like to learn more about Mattie’s Memory, visit www.mattiesmemory.com