As many of you know, I love to sew and enjoy making dresses for Little Dresses for Africa. Needless to say, dresses of all sizes are needed. The basic pattern is simple to sew but once the little girls are heading into teen years, the original pattern could possibly be a little snug around the hips. My current ‘invention’ is to cut off the original pattern at the waist and then either half again or double the fabric for the skirt. It makes a becoming dress and there is more freedom of movement. Also, it is a good way to use bits and pieces of fabric to extend the width by getting artistic in how you add the extra fabric to the skirt. This is my trial run so we will see how things go!
I provided a closeup of the waistline to show how the gathers went and the extra row of stitches for wear and tear. I’m finding there are lots of ways to make a basic pattern into something different.
Putting the Pieces Together – by Barbara M. Barthelette
One of my favorite hobbies is quilting. I like nothing better than taking unwanted scraps of fabric and making them into a whole. Needless to say, many of my projects incorporate pieces of the same fabric. I never thought much about this until someone mentioned that you can tell a Barbara quilt as at least one patch of it matches a dress or shirt worn by one of my family! Whenever I give someone the gift of a quilt, there is a little bit of ‘me’ included. And there have been times when friends have gifted me with pretty fabrics left over from their projects. I guess the ‘wholeness’ of some of my quilts comes from sharing.
Upon further consideration, I realized that we all contain bits and pieces incorporated from the world around us. We also share bits and pieces of our own experiences from the world around us.
You don’t have to look any further back then your own childhood. Besides the physical traits, what else did your parents give you? You can remember words, reactions, or criticisms that have stayed with you until this day. You not only remember these words, they shaped the way you think, act, or react today. In other words, you have a few patches from the fabric of your parent’s lives!
Well, this goes beyond our family. We are forever giving away scraps of ourselves each day through the way we treat others.
What a responsibility God has blessed us with and how few people actually take it to heart! We wouldn’t give people ragged clothing, used cosmetics, or stale food. Why don’t we realize that thoughtless remarks and deliberate hurts are given away forever once they leave your lips? A personal remark is a piece of yourself freely given to another and will become a part of that person’s life. An unkind, personal remark is a mean offering..
If we believe our catechism, we know that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. Why don’t we think about this when we give our fellow human beings a piece of our mind and not of our heart?
I think about this when I quilt and gather up my scraps of fabric to see if they will turn into a quilt. I think about this when I review my day and look over the bits and pieces of life that were handed me along the way. It is just like piecing a quilt as I muse over these feelings and determine where they will fit in the fabric of my life.
Anger, irritability, and even meanness can be a part of our spiritual quilt – just like clashing colors worked into a real quilt. Do they belong there? Do you want them there? When you share your spiritual patchwork, are you passing the ugly, mismatched colors on to others?
A quilt should be put together with happiness and enjoyed. And the overflow of colors you share should be gently tendered in kind words and soft phrases because others want to incorporate the best into their life’s quilt, too.
Wholeness doesn’t just happen. When I make a quilt, I gather my scraps. If I need more, there are people who share. Do we always share in order to insure that others attain wholeness? How are we shaping the pattern of our neighbor’s life?
After making some repairs and adjustments to our home, I was finally able to settle down this past month and get some dresses and tote bags sewn for Little Dresses for Africa. A trip to the fabric warehouse only helped further my inspirations. Unfortunately, for me, I can sew three or four dresses in a day but always put off actually packing them into boxes and getting them in the mail. That is why I am now taking time this week to finally take on that task. I have almost 50 dresses ready to go out and have run out of room to hang them in the meantime!
Tote bags are welcome, too, so my fabric scraps are getting put to good use.
I was an art major in college but marriage and children distracted me from my painting years ago. Discovered, however, that the abstract artist in me is always finding ways to show up in either my cooking/baking or sewing! This week, I got the idea of being more creative with the Little Dresses for Africa and liked what evolved in the course of my sewing!
I had a couple of yards of fabric on the shelf which was enough to make a dress but the color on its own was a bit dull. I went to one of my scrap boxes (yes, I have more than one, don’t ask!) and found some complementary bits and pieces of fabric that worked well and with a little applique time, turned into a ‘original’ creation. The second dress didn’t have enough fabric for one dress but with some cutting and adjusting, it melded into a whole dress that will probably never be repeated.
Blessed with some extra time this past month, I was able to make some more Little Dresses for Africa and spent this week getting them packed for mailing. With my daughter grown, this has been a perfect outlet for sewing little girl dresses. It is fun to mix and match colors, change the pattern around a bit to ‘invent’ a new look, and put decorative touches on the dresses with the addition of two pockets on every dress.
Anyone out there interested in doing this, you can get all the information, dress pattern, etc., here: http://www.littledressesforafrica.org/blog/
Since I like to include a tee shirt with each dress, I often get remarks from other shoppers when I come to the register with an armload of them. One time, the lady in front of me at the check out asked what on earth I was doing with so many tee shirts and I explained. She suddenly got a glimmer in her eye and mused, “My babies are all grown and I STILL love to sew . . .” She immediately asked for information and I imagine she is busy with some worthwhile sewing even as I type! Another time, the cashier asked about my purchases and said she doesn’t sew a lot but the pattern seemed easy and said she was going to see about doing this, too.
I had one of those weeks where I had plotted out days for sewing but every day brought an unexpected interruption. Nevertheless, I stole some time here and there and got another batch of dresses ready for mailing.
I realized, today, that I had been spending more time sewing than thinking about mailing out the Little Dresses I have been working on. I had twelve of them handing in front of my fabric cupboards and decided to spend the morning after Mass getting them sorted and packed. As I was sorting them according to size, I remembered that I had put ‘several’ completed dresses in a spare closet over the last couple of weeks so I went to get them into the mailing process, too. It ended up that I actually had 30 dresses completed so my box being mailed out this week by my kind husband weighed in at over 20 pounds! Have I learned my lesson? Nope! I found that I had made only medium and large sized dresses so knew my next batch would have to concentrate on making small ones. Already, I’ve been eyeing my fabric and matching up colors in hopes of having time this week to begin some more.
Remember to check out the Little Dresses for Africa site as they have other needs besides sewing dresses. There are many children in the world that could use some help.
Got one day of the long weekend to finish off my latest project of Little Dresses and got them packed and ready for the mail. I am desperately trying to cut down my fabric stash so came up with making small tote bags to go with each of the dresses. I mean what little girl doesn’t like having a bag to hid her valuables in and carry around with her?
Just a reminder for anyone that likes to sew that every dress counts when it comes to bringing the gift of a new dress to girls in mission countries. And, you don’t have to mail them overseas. Send them to the headquarters in Michigan and they will distribute them where they are needed most. Not sure about what kind of dress? They have a simple, no-pattern required dress instructions on this site. The basic need is for a dress that slips over their head and doesn’t have a zipper or buttons as it is difficult to mend them if they break or are lost.
Click to access LittleDressesforAfrica_pattern.pdf