Friday, March 18, 2011

Missions, Construction & Tie-dying!

My niece, Mary, is a Junior at Gordon College in the North Shore area of Boston.  Back at Christmas time, she suggested that I get in touch with her schools Director of Missions.  She told me of a trip they were taking to Nicaragua to an orphanage to help build homes on the property.  So I contacted the school and explained what Dress a Girl was all about and asked if they could bring pillowcase dresses to the girls there.  Long story short, they said yes they would like 125 dresses for Nicaragua and more for a team of kids going to the Dominican Republic!  I was so pleased!  I drove up to Boston's North Shore a week ago and delivered 180 dressses to them.  Mary is currently in Nicaragua and due back in a few days.  I asked her to take lots of pictures and can't wait to see them when she returns!  I will post pics as soon as I get them!

So, how do these dresses get made?  I am not the only one making these pillowcase dresses!  After starting our sew fests at our church, our local paper ran an article on what I was doing.  My goal in talking with the Cheshire Herald was to increase awareness, get people excited about DAG and motivate them to donate pillowcases & fabrics.  The article focused too much on me I think, but did raise awareness and generate donations.  Once we started sewing, many of the ladies at our church brought home piles of dresses in a particular state of construction.  For example, Maureen, likes to feed pieces of elastic through the casings in the top of the dresses.  She pins it in place and then brings the pile back to church to hand them off to Marie, who then tacks the elastic in place.  I then get the piles back, pin double bias tape on both arms to create the ties and I give the pile to Georgia who sews the bias tape on.  I get the piles back, sew on a tag and it is done!  We have a great team of about 6-8 people that move these dresses through the process.  This keeps the dresses constantly being made in a team effort even if we don't have a sew fest planned each month!

In addition, the article that ran in the newspaper and all of my Facebook posts have generated lots of interest and donations.  I received two older sewing machines from an elderly woman in town who just didn't need to have extra machines in the house.  Several women called and asked if they could come over and see what the dresses looked like and get a mini-lesson on constructing a pillowcase dress.  These women are now making dresses on their own in their spare time!  Just awesome!

I also received a call from a friend whose 9th grade daughter wanted to learn how to use her sewing machine.  She offered to hold a DAG party and invited friends to bring pillowcases and learn to construct a pillowcase dress.  Eleven girls came with two pillowcases each and we had alot of fun
as I showed them how to make the dresses and use a sewing machine.  By the end of the night, each girl made at least one and felt good about what they were doing.

I have received alot of sheet donations and many are white.  Sometimes these are not quite as white as they should be.  The fabric is still good, they are just dingy looking.  Once they are washed, I am cutting them into dress sizes and serging them into a "pillowcase" shape.  I put out a call for help on Facebook for a group to volunteer to tie-dye the dresses.  Two friends called asking if they could help.  One is planning a Cheshire Newcomers & Neighbor Club children's event to tie-dye the dresses.  The other offered her kids help tie-dying dresses once the weather is a little warmer!  I am thinking this may be the answer to re-using slightly dingy or discolored fabrics!

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