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story.lead_photo.caption Five California area women meet once per week at the Moniteau County Library to sew bereavement gowns for newborn babies. The ladies, who call themselves the Little Angel Sewing Sisters, are from left: Joyce Crook, Jo Pummill, Diane Eulinger, Debbie Sparks and Linda Bardwell. Photo by Submission

Each Tuesday morning, a group of five California area women meet in an upstairs room of the Moniteau County Library to work on a particular project.

The quintet, who calls themselves the "Little Angel Sewing Sisters," gather donated wedding dresses and repurpose them into what are known as Angel Gowns. These special garments are bereavement burial outfits for deceased newborn babies.

Joyce Crook meets weekly with her troupe that consists of Diane Eulinger, Jo Pummill, Debbie Sparks and Linda Bardwell.

"It makes us feel good to help others, and we enjoy being together," Crook said. "We try not to think about a baby passing away, but instead try to focus on helping families deal with the loss of a child."

The ladies have worked together for about a year reconstructing donated wedding dresses into small gowns, suits and even hearts for families in one of their most trying times. Another item of clothing the group makes is "pockets," also known as Angel Wings. These gowns are made for babies who were born under 20 weeks term.

"The gowns are given to families to say hello and goodbye," Crook said. "Some hospitals have funeral services, especially when the mom is still in recovery from the delivery."

Crook and her group have made donations to Capital Region Hospital in Jefferson City, Lake Regional Hospital and Women's and Children's Clinic in Columbia. Also in reception of the gowns is Capital Region for their grieving class.

Once a wedding gown is received into the group, it's thoroughly cleaned with Oxi-Clean, Eulinger said.

"I think we've gotten about 18 dresses so far," Eulinger said. "I actually found the patterns to do the angel gowns on Pinterest."

Nearly every part of the wedding gown is used for this special project. However, the angel gowns are made a bit differently than the typical garment.

"The gowns are sewn according to weight," Crook said.

"That and the dresses need to be lined," Pummill said. "That's because the skin is too fragile. So there can be no visible seams."

The sewing sisters said they are not in need of wedding dresses at the moment. However, if any reader would like more information, they are more than welcome to contact either of the Little Angel Sewing Sisters: Linda Bardwell, 573-690-3847; Joyce Crook, 573-680-6809; Diane Eulinger, 816-205-1776; Jo Pummill, 573-353-9094; and Debbie Sparks, 573-680-1157.

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