Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How to Make the "Best Dress Ever"

This little girl lives in Zimbabwe. She is one of thousands of little girls dreaming of a dress of her own.
Photos are a good way to put a face to the work that we have chosen to do. They help us focus, and remind us of the importance of our work.
I like to put a photo of a little girl on the wall behind my sewing machine to be a constant reminder of who I am sewing for. It is a good exercise and one that I would encourage everyone to try.
When choosing fabric for the “best dress ever’ it is imperative to take into consideration the hostile environment that so many of these girls live in. Their young and developing bodies need to be covered and protected from those that would choose to exploit or abuse them.
In Haiti, the incidence of rape has increased since the earthquake. One in four children living in Zimbabwe is orphaned as result of parents dying of AIDS. Many children must fend for themselves and their siblings. Some of these children are preyed upon by traffickers and sold. It makes me feel sick just to write the words but this is why it is so important to offer our “best dress ever.”
The ‘best dress ever’ will make a little girl feel special and loved while serving as a message to outsiders that this is a child that is being watched over by a group who cares enough to sew their name on the hem of each dress.
One of the difficulties with pillowcases is that they tend to be white or pastel and sometimes sheer or see through. If you use a pillowcase, find one that is a print or a solid color and one that you can’t see through. A good test is to put your hand between the layers to see if you can see your hand OR hold it up to the light. If there is any question in your mind then you should pick something else.
Your other option of course is to choose fabric. Cotton or cotton blend fabrics are the best. Steer away from sheer and clingy fabric. Pick out a print that you think a little girl would love as well as a fabric that will wear well. Fabric choice is half of what makes a dress ‘the best.’
Wide double fold bias tape makes the sturdiest ties. Ribbons are pretty but in some cases the satiny bows untie as a girl wiggles around in her dress. Please do not use wired, paper, organza, silky ribbon or thin lace. Lace and ribbon can be used on other parts of the dress but first let’s make a sturdy dress, embellishment fun will come later.
A dress made properly can be worn for several years and even possibly passed on to another child. Your dress may be the only garment that a little girl will own and will be worn day after day.
So let’s shop for the materials we need and meet back here on my blog later this week and I will help you make ‘the best dress ever.’
Pillowcase or fabric $5
Bias tape $3
Photo of little girl wearing a dress we recognize priceless.
Seeing a little girl wearing a dress we made a year after she received it…totally AWESOME.


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  2. This is a wonderful post! Thank you so much! My family and I made 100 dresses last summer to send to Nicaragua, and its pretty cool to hear about how much they love the dresses. We just bought many more yards of fabric to make more, and started today... We definitely considered each fabric carefully! By the way, we found pillowcases at dirt cheap for $1 each last year. 😊

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