Sewing for Charity…thinking…

So while I’m in the midst of the never ending deadlines and projects that I can’t show you all, I’ve been thinking.  I really love sewing.  It can be fun (and crazy) to sew with deadlines for different publications and such.  And that certainly has its own reward of seeing your work published etc.  But I have a desire to sew for something more.

But time is limited and my plate is full.  So I started thinking about what I could do that would be using my gifts to help others but wouldn’t cause another huge stress in my life.  Quilts quickly went off the table.  While they are lovely and great to make, sewing quilts for charity is not a constant thing I can do on my own.  I know that there are plenty of people who do sewing bees with others to make quilts more manageable, and I’ve tried those.  But I knew that I needed freedom to work within the deadlines of my own schedule and not add stress by trying to get blocks to people at a certain time.

And then I remembered that a lot of people make pillow cases for charity.  So I thought about that for a while.  And while it’s a lovely thing to do, it just didn’t get me excited.  Charity shouldn’t be a chore.  It should be a joy.  And I wanted to create joyfully and meaningfully.  And researching pillow cases quickly led me to pillow case dresses…

And THEN I got excited.  With a little girl around, I’m already into the groove of making little dresses.  And I’ve been wanted to make some simple dresses like this for her.  But she really doesn’t need anything right now, especially as we head to towards winter.  But I can’t resist a cute little dress.
So I found my way towards a charity many of you have probably been supplying dresses to for years, Little Dresses For Africa. It just spoke to me.  I’m not one for international charity work normally.  I’ve always done things more close to home.  But I’m going with my gut on this one and just joining up with a well established group that has already donated over 2.5 MILLION dresses to girls around the world.  
I always joke that I have more fabric than I can use in a life time.  But I really think that by using my fabric for this that I will USE it.  I will get that high of sewing with the fabrics I chose and bought, but in my excess have not used.  You can use yard + cuts of fabric (or smaller if you piece them) and hopefully use up some lovely fabric quickly.  I have darling fabrics that just don’t have a home right now.  And I think I’ve found their home.  I always trust when the fabric speaks to me.  And right now, a whole bunch are shouting to me from my stash telling me that they want to be on a girl giving her hope and brightening her day if just for a moment.  
And I really want to make CUTE dresses.  Simple is great, but I love details.  I want to add sweet pieces of trim, or little buttons, a bit of lace.  Whatever makes these truly special.  Charity to me does not mean ugly or throw away.  Yes, I will probably start with fabrics that I have outgrown in my taste, but that does not mean the fabric has anything wrong with it or that I still cannot make it cute.
My goal is to start probably with the new year, but perhaps in December (commitments are keeping me from jump starting this in the middle of other projects) and certainly by the new  year.  I’m thinking perhaps I can make 5 dresses a month.  That sounds reasonable to me right now (I’ll see how much time I really take on these…that number could go up or down) and work my way through the year of 2015 making dresses from my stash.  
There are bunches of variations on a pillow case pattern as you can see from the quick pictures I have snatched from pinterest.  I would like to try a different pattern each month…to keep it interesting for myself and make a nice variety of styles.  I’m excited about this new venture and about using my skills and fabric to create something beautiful for others all over the world.  Our family motto is to make the world a more beautiful place.  And this fits right in with that.  It just feels right.
So, any suggestions for your favorite patterns? Do you feel like joining me and starting your own challenge for dresses?  Do you have advice for those of us just starting because you’ve been doing this already?  Do you have another favorite charity?  I’d love to hear your words of wisdom about how to go about doing this well.  And I really can’t wait to get started!

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15 thoughts on “Sewing for Charity…thinking…

  1. ilove making dresses for my girls, have you looked at peek a boo patterns- peekaboopatternshop.com her patterns are adorable and lots use cotton.
    I'm part of a guild that gives away a lot of quilts and lately I've just helped by long arm quilting their tops or help give orphan blocks so someone else can make something out of them, and also encouraged a round robin with some of them….

  2. Such an awesome idea! And I love that you are adding the trim and detail. It must mean so very much to the recipient that someone in a far away place thought of them and wanted them to have something so special. XX! Lori

  3. Great idea to use up stash! As you already know, I work with a quilt ministry at our church, and have helped many other quilt bloggers ease their stash guilt by taking donations of fabric, quilt tops, and orphan blocks off their hands and turning them into lovely quilts. If you ever get the itch to make quilt tops for charity, you can send them to us knowing that they will find homes with people going through life-changing issues, giving them a big quilt-y hug!!

    I can't wait to see all the beautiful little dresses you create!!

  4. While I've never participated in this charity, I did make 4 pillow case dresses for my daughter over the Summer and they were (are!) a huge hit! We live in northern WI and while the temps are going down, she is still able to wear them with a long sleeved shirt and tights/leggings. I did use pillow cases (and took advantage of the opened hemmed side!) and each one was done within 30 minutes. Using yardage and adding trim will add some time, but I still think you're looking at no more than an hour for each dress. You're going to get hooked, I promise!

  5. This is wonderful! I'll have to check it out with my friend that I do charity sewing with. We usually do hat making for cancer patients in local hospitals undergoing chemo because the hats they give them are awful. We should be able to add some dresses to the list easily! I'm going to bookmark this page for reference. =)

    1. Oh that sounds like a lovely charity idea as well. I'll have to add that to my mental list of what to do with fabric. I bet the hats require less fabric and that could be a good fit for some of my smaller pieces of fabric.

  6. Gosh – I sew dresses for this charity. Have done for a few years. What is also needed badly is sanitary pads. I sews hundreds of those – not as glam as a dress but needed even more than the dresses. The pattern is on Dresses for Africa website. Great way to use up flannel scraps. Girls once they get their "mensies" are taken out of school and their education ends there. So hopefully you will consider sewing a hundred or so pads as well and everyone else out there who is reading your blog today. The dresses are darling and so much fun to make. Cheers!

  7. What a great idea. I have seen this charity before but that was before I really started sewing, or should I say my "pre-fabroholic" days. It seems like I remember that it is very important to get dresses to the girls because they can't go to school without them, is that correct? I didn't see it mentioned on here. Well, I guess I could just go look on their website, couldn't I. And I will look up how to make the pads also, some unfortunate fabric buys can at least find a place there 🙂 I'm really looking forward to making some cute little girl dresses for a good cause. Thanks for writing about it on your blog!

    Beth
    Magistra13 (at) yahoo (dot) com

  8. Hey, it seems like we are on the same wave length. I like the dresses you showed and think that I could do some of those too. Five a month sounds ambitious to me but I bet once I got started, it would be easy to do. There are so many fabrics that I could pull and even the ones that I am not as fond of would still Make cute dresses paired with other fabrics or trim. I appreciated the link to the fat quarter dress and the suggestion for pads as well. I hope you will provide a link or two for the images you shared today. Happy sewing, Angela

    1. Hi Suzanne,
      I pulled all of the images from links from pinterest. You can find me there and I have a board called pillowcase dresses or something like that…so the links should all be available there. sorry I didn't realize I didn't include them in the post.

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