Cindy’s Aprons

By, Cathy Habermann

Our middle sister, Cindy, was diagnosed at the age of seven with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Cindy was talented, smart, and a good friend to those who knew her well. Cindy passed away this last June, just 10 days after her 60th birthday. The sudden loss left a big hole in our lives. 


As my oldest sister Karen and I worked to prepare her home for sale, we tried to find good homes for many of Cindy’s hobbies and projects. Cindy was an accomplished vocalist, seamstress, quilter, needle-worker and puzzle maker. A stash of fabric was given to Karen, who runs an afterschool sewing club for many of her middle school students. 

As the work slowed down, we traveled back to our respective homes to pick up the pieces, grieve and understand life without our middle sister. While we lived in separate cities, there were many things that united us: a love of sewing, quilting and needlework. With Cindy’s background in accounting, Karen’s in teaching and mine in business and marketing, our mother often said, “wouldn’t it be nice if the three of you could go into business together.”

(L-R -Karen, Cathy, Cindy)

A few years back, my sister Karen sewed some aprons for me at my request. I wear these when I travel around the country teaching and vending as part of my business. Little did I know that Karen felt called to start making more aprons, using the fabrics from Cindy’s home. A simple, but comforting, project that helped her through her grief. 

Another visit back to Pittsburgh for more estate work, Karen showed me the aprons – beautiful, practical and even a little funny (lots of fun fabrics that reflected Cindy’s tastes – she loved Minions, music, seasonal prints and even Wonder Woman).

Immediately, we thought that this would make a great fundraiser. My company, Hands On Design, has previously raised money for other philanthropies – why not honor the organization that was named in our sister’s obituary: ANRF. I put my social media following to work and called on the kindness of followers and friends for a ‘fashion show’, posing and generally showing what fun these aprons were. Cindy’s Aprons were auctioned off on my social platforms just a few weeks ago each with starting bids of $20. The 18 aprons raised more than $2,500. Once winning bidders made their donation to ANRF, I mailed aprons all across the country. 

Just as sewing the aprons helped Karen, talking publicly about my sister and putting the auction together… #cindy’saprons and #apronsforacause became a part of my healing. The three of us finally got to work together on a project. 

We plan to incorporate more fundraising with the next steps: a pattern for the apron and eventually more aprons to auction.

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