Suzanne writes the blog Sew Delightful and she’s the Washington state representative for Dress A Girl Around The World.
I first “met” Suzanne when she visited my blog last week and introduced Dress A Girl to me. I was so impressed that I wanted to know more and get involved myself. I had plenty of questions to ask Suzanne, and I thought I’d share her responses with you as well to spread the word about this wonderful organization.
What is Dress A Girl Around the World, and what do you do?
- We are sewers from the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Uganda working with Hope 4 Kids and Hope 4 Women International to serve girls so poor they can only dream of ever owning a new dress. We transform used pillowcases, sheets and donated fabric remnants into dresses any little girl can be proud of. Our pattern is simple but produces versatile dresses quickly. And by adding a pocket, a little lace or vintage handkerchief these dresses become even more unique. Some ladies hide a handmade doll or teddy bear in the pocket for a sweet surprise making it even more special! In the last year, we have delivered over 12,000 dresses to 34 countries. Our goal for this year is 50,000 dresses to girls in need.
How did you become involved with Dress A Girl?
- My brother works for a humanitarian organization and about three years ago he mentioned that there was someone I needed to meet. Thanks to him, I met Rachel Eggum Cinader. Rachel is the director of Dress A Girl Around the World. Once she told me about the project, I knew that I needed to become involved. I started sewing and loved it, especially the first time I saw a girl in Uganda in one of my dresses!
What if you don't sew? What are the different ways you can help?
- There are lots of things a non-sewer can do…If you can come to a sewing group there are several non-sewing activities that need to be done… including cut out armholes on the dresses, ironing the casings into place and packing dresses for delivery. We also need lots of donations; including elastic (½” or ¾”), trims, thread (we use mostly white), fabric remnants (1/2 yard or bigger) and pillowcases. There is one lady that has paid for shipping costs to get the dresses to their delivery points so monetary donations are also welcomed. We also appreciate people that are willing to share the word about Dress A Girl Around the World and those that are able to go to stores and ask for donations. Lastly, there are cutting jobs that can be done at home.
How do the dresses get to each special little girl?
- All of the dresses that are sewn are hand delivered to the girls. There are Hope 4 Kids International teams that go and take the dresses. We also work with churches, organizations and individuals that are willing to take dresses to girls in need around the world. We just ask that the dresses be hand delivered and that the people take pictures of the girls receiving the dresses. We want to be sure that these dresses are getting to the girls that need them.
Any tips on buying vintage sheets and pillowcases? What's the best way to clean them when we take them home?
- When purchasing sheets and pillowcases be sure that they are not too worn or stained. Pick prints that are bright and that you can imagine as a dress. The pillowcases with ruffles are wonderful because they already have a very pretty edge that will become the bottom of the dress. Thrift stores and garage sales are both good places to find pillowcases, sheets and trims. Once they are home, I just wash them as I would my regular laundry using a good detergent and color safe bleach.
Do you have instructions and patterns available to make the dresses?
- Here is a link to my blog that gives basic directions with pictures, and measurements for multiple sizes of dresses if you are using fabric: http://sewdelightful.blogspot.com/search/label/pattern
How do you fit your efforts with Dress A Girl into your daily life?
- I feel privileged to have found a wonderful project where I get to do something I love and where I am able to meet so many incredible people and at the same time I am able to help the little ones that are so often forgotten. I do spend quite a bit of time working on this project either sewing or telling people about Dress A Girl or finding donations but I love it and I am retired so I am happy to use my time in this way. But someone can definitely be involved with a much smaller time commitment.
Anything else you'd like to add?
- I hear so many wonderful stories as I am working with Dress A Girl and I would love to share one of them with you. Recently, dresses went to a small village in Nicaragua. The group handed out all of the dresses and was taking pictures when another little girl came. There were no more dresses and she was so sad that she had not gotten a dress. She was about 5 and started to cry. One of the girls took off her dress and gave it to her friend. That second little girl could not go to out and get another dress and she didn’t know if she would ever be getting another new dress. But she gave what she had been given to her friend. When I hear a story like that it makes me want to keep sewing. There are too many little ones out there and we need to help!!
Note: this is the actual girl who gave her dress away to the little one she is holding.
Suzanne’s blog also shares even more beautiful stories such as this about the little recipients of these dresses, as well as the generous volunteers who donate, make, and deliver the dresses. Makes me want to sew and sew and sew for these sweet girls! I’m so excited for all the pillowcases I found this week at the thrift store and I can’t wait to get started.
Thank you so much Suzanne for all that you do!
All pictures from Sew Delightful.