Dress a Girl Around the World was founded by Hope 4 Women International in October 2009 under the notion that every girl should own at least one dress. We transform new & gently used pillowcases into beautiful handmade dresses for little girls. The dresses are then given to someone traveling to a country where there is a girl in need. As of today, over 65,000 dresses have been made by someone like yourself and distributed to little girls in 59 countries including the US!
I discovered DAG (Dress a Girl) in August of 2010 when a woman at my church sent out an email inviting me to a sewing event at our church, Cornerstone Church here in Cheshire. She had heard about DAG from her SIL who found it on the web. She included the official DAG website so I clicked on it! As I read about the mission of DAG & looked at all the photos of the precious girls being blessed with a "new" dress and the smiles on their faces, I knew I had to help. After all, I knew how to sew. Couldn't be that hard, right?
We were asked to clean out our linen closets and bring in any gently used or new pillowcases. I got to thinking how easy it is to make a pillowcase. So, if you're cleaning out your linen closets and getting rid of pillowcases, what would you be doing with your sheets? How many "pillowcases" could be made from a single sheet? Surely I should collect sheets too. How about folks who have fabric in their basement from projects they thought they'd get to and never did? I should collect cotton fabrics too. You can see how this snowballed for me.
I started thinking if I collected these things on my own, that I could get a great jump start for the sewing event that was coming up. I created a flyer and put it in all my neighbors mailboxes asking for donations. I decided to put out an email to all my friends and family locally and ask them to drop off new or gently used sheets and pillowcases & cotton fabrics in a bin I'd put in my driveway. Then I got to thinking about all my "Facebook" friends. I posted a call for the same on Facebook.
I called my friend at church and began to tell her what I had done and all the thoughts I had racing through my head. She laughed and told me her reaction was the same when she looked at the website. She had her own personal reasons for wanting to help these little girls. She confided in me that she didn't know how to sew but once she saw the website, knew God would lead someone to her that would help make the whole thing happen. She said, "Janine that person is you!" Together we came up with lists of what we needed to have to pull this off. I decided to get folks excited about the sew-fest, they might need a visual so I went out and bought a 2-pack of pillowcases. I left one untouched, and made my first pillowcase dress with the second. It was SO cute!! I brought them to church and hung them in the lobby for all to see. The response was overwhelming as I had hoped.
People really started bringing in the pillowcases and sheets then! Every week, our bin at church would be filled and I brought them home to be washed. I stockpiled them in my basement until our sew fest. During that same time, the bin in my driveway was filling every day! I was touched by how many people were not only cleaning out their closets, but going out and buying new sheets and pillowcases for me! Some who had no pillowcases to donate, offered financial help so that I could buy other materials and notions needed. I had set a personal goal to make 100 dresses on my own through the donations I received before the sew fest. I made those and in addition, we started about 300 dresses on our first day. We had 25 women and young ladies come out to help!
In November of 2010, I knew I couldn't let this go so I signed on as the Connecticut state representative for DAG. We have had about a dozen sew-a-longs since then and more people keep volunteering to help. I have been asked to speak to clubs, Girl Scout troops, churches and temples, and other audiences about DAG. I encourage pillowcase drives and collect donations of sewing notions needed for making the dresses. Here are the items we need:
- Pillowcases-any size, color or pattern-but PLEASE NOTHING SEE THROUGH
- DOUBLE bias tape 1/2" width in one yard pieces-two are required per dress
- 3/8" braided white elastic
- 1/2"-1" width grosgrain ribbon in one yard pieces-two are required per dress
- Dark Transfer Paper for printing labels (Tailor brand at JoAnn's Fabrics)
- One gallon ziplock type bags for packaging dresses
Please email me to find out where to send donations: firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my responsibilities as the state representative is to encourage many smaller groups to help us make dresses. I can help your church, club or organization plan a sewing date. Many other churches have gotten involved and held sewing events in and around Connecticut. Girl Scout troops are helping out, private groups of friends are gathering for fun to help. Not everyone that volunteers their time needs to know how to sew. There are many tasks like ironing and pinning, rolling and packing dresses that can be done. This is a great opportunity for fellowship with friends of all ages to gather and feel good about helping to raise a young girls self esteem and confidence.
Making the dresses is only one part of the DAG story. We also need to get these dresses to girls in need. I have no resources to ship and shipping is expensive! What we try to do is look for people traveling to third world countries that would be willing to take a bag/box of dresses and distribute them to little girls. There is no cost for the dresses, we only ask that you take pictures of the girls in the dresses and email them to us so we can post them on the DAGATW website. It inspires us to keep collecting and sewing for the girls.
In February 2011, I was asked to speak briefly at a Christian Conference by the New England Prayer Center. It was my hope to spread the word about DAG and generate some interest in our cause. Well, mission accomplished! David Wagner, founder of Father's Heart Ministry was the emcee and he asked me if I could get him 10,000 (yup-TEN THOUSAND!) dresses that he could bring to Africa and South America on his missions trips there! GULP! I said yes! We now have women in Connecticut and all over the country sewing his trips! What a blessing he is to us and the little girls of Africa & South America! We still continue to sew for David's trips. In addition, I am working with several churches with planned missions trips and Gordon College to distribute personally the dresses to girls.
At Cornerstone Church, 1146 Waterbury Road (next to Artsplace), we have just had two sewing dates and have another one planned for Saturday, March 31st from 9am-1pm. Contact me if you are interested in joining us to help out! We have a great group of people from all over that come together for fun and to help bless little girls. No experience necessary!
On Valentine's Day, a wonderful article and online video was published about Dress a Girl in the Meriden Record Journal. Take a look at the video here!
I encourage you to look at my Dress a Girl Connecticut Blog: http://dressagirlct.blogspot.com/. If this is something you are interested in, please contact me for more information or to make a donation of any kind. My email address is email@example.com.
Look up my Dress a Girl Connecticut Facebook page and "Like" us there too!
Here is the official DAGATW website-take a look! www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com
Thanks & Be Blessed!