Dress a Girl Around the World

Posted: 8th September 2015

Dress‘Imagine a world where every child owned at least one new, special garment to call their own’ it really does make you stop and think doesn’t it, because there are many places in the world today where children don’t.  Sadly, many of those who do need clothes are overlooked and potentially open to abuse.

The Dress a Girl Around the World UK organisation, was started three and half years ago, to help people to make simple, but exceptionally well-constructed clothes for children living in poverty in the developing world.  During this short time volunteers across the UK have made over 25 000 dresses and shorts for children around the world.

The most important thing about the Dress a Girl project is that these children, irrespective of gender, have beautiful, sturdily made clothes.  Clothes that must withstand the rigours of having to be worn every day, with the knowledge that their recipients will probably have no access to washing machines, detergents or ironing facilities.  Therefore, the standards of assembly are especially high, and they are made with quality fabrics, as it important to make sure that the fabric is not see through to maintain the dignity of the children.

On Sunday the 16th August over nine sewers/stitchers/seamstresses came together with WiRe Member Jane Hitch at  The Sewing Lab, to make ‘pillow case’ dresses for Dress a Girl Around the World.  Those that didn’t sew on the day came to say hello, and most generously bought beautiful fabrics.  It was a long day, they had originally planned for sewing from 10am to 4pm, but there were some very hardy souls that braved it through until after 6pm to finish their beautiful dresses.

The clothes that are distributed to these children raise their self-esteem, and helps them to understand that others really do care about them.  Most importantly, village elders have told Dress a Girl that a new dress or pair of shorts gives them an appearance of being cared for and may discourage would-be predators. 

As you can see in the pictures, all of the dresses have pockets in, as pockets are these are especially appreciated to put a special little treasure in.  Sometimes that might even be just a pretty pebble, as many of these children do not have anything that they can call their own, so a pocket becomes a special treasure place.  One very lucky recipient will find in her pocket this beautiful hand knitted teddy bear that was bought along by one of their knitters.  Other sewers bought along knickers, toys and pretty ribbons that will go into the pockets of the dresses.

The Sewing lab now has a surplus of some very beautiful fabrics, and many of these sewers are very keen to come back and make some more dresses and shorts.  They will always make room for more sewers from the WiRE community that would like to join them for future Dress a Girl events.  These volunteers don’t need to know how to sew, but just need to have an enthusiasm to learn to sew and help those in poverty.  Alternatively, they can provide you with the patterns and sewing instructions for those that would like to sew dresses and shorts at home, or knit the teddy bear in the picture.

More recently, they have also been making washable, reusable sanitary products for older girls because no girl should have to miss school because she has entered puberty.  However, according to UNICEF, one in ten schoolgirls in Africa miss classes or drop out of school completely due to menstruation.  You may think that because sanitary products are readily available where you live that it is the same everywhere else, this is most certainly not the case in all countries.  The Sewing Lab has the Zorb fabric for making sanitary ware and will be happy to share this with WiRE members, please contact them if you would like a piece of this to use.

Some Quotes from the Day:

Jane was very welcoming and friendly, but made sure our work was to her high and exacting standards.’

‘It was lovely to spend day sewing with a purpose for girls who have far less clothes’

‘Venue lovely, Jane great teacher.  Everyone friendly and worked hard to make some lovely dresses for some little girls’

‘Fabulous day !  I met some lovely ladies and made lovely dresses for girls that will bring smiles to their faces !  It was hard work but worth it !  Thanks Jane for all her hard work !’

‘Jane organised a lovely day’s activities for all who attended.  We all got on and produced some excellent work’

About Dress a Girl UK:

Dress a Girl UK are a wholly independent Not-for-Profit organisation, affiliated to Dress a Girl Around the World in the United States who are a stem of the Hope4Women charity.

Their aim is to encourage and enable volunteers to join together to have a fun time to chat, and share skills and experiences whilst making dresses, shorts and toys which are  distributed throughout the world to children in poverty and areas of need.  They provide newly made garment as a ‘very best gift’ to children in need, so do not accept second hand garments.

About The Sewing Lab:

Jane Hitch is the recently appointed editor for the Dress a Girl UK newsletter.

Dr Hitch established The Sewing Lab after a 20 year career in science. Hence, the name of the company.  A science background provided the perfect training for sewing, such as the ability to construct an accurately mitre angled corner, fabric calculations, working out pattern matching and of course, attention to detail.

There is not a time that she cannot remember sewing, or watching a member of her family stitching something. On her fifth birthday she was given her first sewing kit, a home-made wallpaper covered cardboard box put together by her mother, filled with all of the sewing essentials, and a Victorian hand crank Singer sewing machine.  Jane now has over 40 sewing machines, and her husband continually encourages her to ‘get rid of them – they are taking over the house’

Jane Hitch jane@TheSewingLab.co.uk