Have you read Kisses from Katie? It's an amazing story of a young woman who allows her life to be used for healing and redemption in Uganda. Katie is only 18 when she first goes to Uganda as a kindergarten teacher. Before the year's out she's started a non-profit (Amazima.org) to provide education and basic needs for hundreds of children and become mother to a house full of girls. You can't help but be inspired by her book, which was published last fall. Just to be clear, Katie is a Christian whose faith is central to the story. As person who also follows Christ, the book was a powerful reminder of God's heart for those who suffer.
Kisses from Katie was our book club read this April. Not more than 2 chapters into it I was determined to make pillowcase dresses to send over to those children. And why not do it at book club? Reading a book like Kisses from Katie has the possibility of making us feel like we can't do anything of significance to relieve such suffering. Maybe making a few dresses is not all that significant, but you have to start with something. Start with helping one person or two or five. Most of us in book club don't sew, but I was hoping to find a little something for everyone to do to contribute.
My friends were all very excited about making dresses! We would send the finished dresses to Little Dresses for Africa, a registered non-profit who gets them overseas into the right hands. I tracked down a pillowcase dress tutorial put up at LBG Studio during a sew-along she did years ago for this very charity. This tutorial is designed to sew dresses from yardage - perfect! After rummaging through my stash and picking up $13 of bias tape and elastic we had the makings of five dresses, five little emissaries of hope and love.
Well, we had a blast! I had set out a lot ahead of time and studied the pattern, but what really made the night was the very simple goodness of it all. Sewing with friends is always good. Sewing with friends to bless others - even better! The only part I was worried about was the cutting. I knew I needed to teach someone how to use the rotary cutter and how to cut the pattern in different sizes so that I could focus on other tasks. I demonstrated once and Rachelle totally took over. First time rotary cutting and she cut out 4 dresses with no mistakes to speak of, even catching that those sheep shouldn't be upside down (I've done that kind of thing SO many times, myself). Who takes so easily to rotary cutting, including how to fold the fabric? It was a blessing. That, and I told her she's obviously destined to be a quilter. (I think she'd rather make a dress for her daughter. Silly, silly.)
My friend Rachel was tasked at the ironing board. Erin stuffed elastic and pinned bias tape to bind the arm seams. Laura sewed all the side seams with that cool overcast stitch, and I did other random sewing.
A friend who couldn't be with us at book club came over last night and put in rolled hems to finish them off. Do you know about rolled hems?
This is the presser foot. It makes a very tiny hem without having to do all the pressing/folding prep work. Plus, I think it would be more durable than a traditional hem too. Thanks, Heather, for helping me figure that little foot out!
So here we are! That night we made all 5 dresses in about 2.5-3 hours between just the 5 of us. Pretty bad for a sweatshop, I know, but pretty good for your average book club, right?
I used fabrics that I hadn't loved for quilting, but that I thought would make sweet dresses. The sheep fabrics are from Laurie Wisbrun's latest collection from Robert Kaufman and that over-sized floral is from England Swings by Rebekah Merle for Timeless Treasures. This pretty pink print is a Paganelli design that surprised me with a purple background when it arrived in the mail. It's absolutely girl-perfect! Little Dresses for Africa requests a range of sizes, so we made XS - L according to how much fabric I had left in each cut.
Now I get the pleasure of mailing them out this week!