Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Handmade Dresses For Two Little Girls Who Live in Haiti

We don't know these two little girls, but thanks to the Homemade Dress Drive for Haiti, we do know the exact orphanage in Port Au Prince, Haiti, where they live.

We know exactly the perfect sundress to make for them.

We know exactly the perfect thrifted sheet from my fabric stash to use:

It should be cool and comfy in such a warm climate. Even though the sheeting is mostly white, it didn't seem thin enough to need a lining. I'd likely have added one, anyway, and made the dresses reversible, if I'd been the one sewing them, but I was not.

Each little girl sewed her own sundress for a little Haitian girl, and we know that the little girl who receives that dress will be just size of my own little seamstress, because each little girl sewed her dress in exactly her own dress size.

I printed out the sundress pattern in a 5 and a 7, assembled them, and handed them off to the girls, who were in charge of making sure that I cut out each of their pattern pieces the right way and in the right number. Will took pictures, presumably as evidence that I was going about the whole thing properly:

You can, of course, sew the yoke and straps in a complementary fabric, and perhaps use bias tape to hem the dress instead of a simple folded hem, but we just kept things simple:

This is, after all, each girl's largest and most complicated sewing project ever, to date. Can't you tell?

I did have the girls do french seams for the sides, however. French seams are just about as simple a way to finish a seam as you can find, and extremely sturdy.

I laid the pieces out, ironed and pinned them, then called each girl in when it was time to sew her piece--

--then ironed it, laid out the next piece and ironed and pinned it for the next girl when she was done. The girls went back and forth from their play to sewing and back to play, and I was delighted (and not a bit surprised) to see that every single time I called to them, for every single piece that they had to sew, they always ran to me immediately, screaming "YAAAAAYYYYY!!!!!".

I often feel that way about sewing, myself.

I sewed the straps myself, and I basted the bottom hem, but the entire rest of the dress--yoke in the front and yoke in the back, each sewn at the top and the bottom; two side hems with wrong sides together, then again with right sides together to make the french seam; and the bottom hem--each girl sewed entirely by herself:

It was a big undertaking, and a big accomplishment for two little girls:

I hope that the two little girls in Port Au Prince who receive these dresses will find them useful, and pretty, and that they'll be just the exact sizes of my own little girls, who got such pleasure out of sewing for them.


Little Wonders' Days said...

What a nice thing to do. They look beautiful. I love the way French seams look too!

Angela Friedman said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I've taken it up with my coworkers, and this organization will soon receive a box of handmade dresses from the New York City Ballet costume shop. I've also shared the info with a friend from tutu.com, and she'll be sending several little girls' tutus for playing dress up! What a lovely idea (and how great to get your girls involved, too!). Thank you so much for sharing.

Stephanie said...

They're so pretty! I'm sure they'll love them!!

julie said...

That is so amazing, Angela! I can't wait until the organizer visits the orphanage to hand out all our handiwork--I hope she takes tons of pictures!