I’m so proud of my summer sewing camp kids! My final project for the kids is what’s called a “pillowcase dress”. We’ve been working on them for the last 2 weeks (I see each group once a week!) and we’ve got a whole BOX that we’ll be sending to the Dress a Girl Around the World organization.
I started making the pillowcase dresses as a Sunday Community Action Project at a local fabric shop, they were so much fun! When I showed my boss what I had been doing, she thought the dresses would be a neat project for the after school clubs to do, I agreed.
I’ve been teaching a Beginner Sewing course for the last year intermittently and I always finish the course with making a pillowcase dress since it’s also a good jumping off point into more complicated fashion design and garment construction.
I was very fortunate enough, growing up, to have not one, but two grandmothers who sewed. Both my christening gown and my First Communion gown were made by one grandmother or the other and it’s something I’ve always treasured, having that hand-made garment to wear and it’s part of the reason why I started learning to sew, because I wanted to give my future children something to treasure too!
I remember seeing the organization, Little Dresses for Africa featured on a nightly news segment about people making a difference in the world and the story has always stuck with me. I made a couple dresses for LDFA before getting involved in Dress a Girl Around the World. They’re both amazing, super admirable endeavors driven by love but I tend to favor Dress a Girl because they send dresses to communities all over the world, not just Africa.
Dress a Girl has sent dresses to Haiti, they made dresses to go to Japan after the tsunami last year, they’ve even sent dresses made from heavy material like wool and denim to Indian Reservations as well as impoverished communities in the Appalachian region for cold, snowy winters.
I think having the kids in my summer camp groups make dresses really drives home the point of how lucky they are to have what they have, making something by hand really makes it personal. They want to know where the dresses are going, what the little girls are like, what their names are, etc. I have found that making these dresses causes them to put more time and focus into not only doing them right, but adding little details to surprise little girls with, like pockets and buttons.
Making these dresses really emotionally invests my girls in a way that collecting money or canned goods just can’t. The girls in my sewing camp not only learn a new skill, gain new knowledge, they also bond with the anonymous girls who get their dresses since most of the girls making them are around the same age as the girls receiving them, I think making the dresses really helps them be thankful for what they have and put into perspective how lucky they are, that they could be one of the girls receiving the dress instead of the girl making them.