I contacted the FACS (family and consumer science) teacher that teaches sewing to 12 and 13 year old boys and girls at Moreland Ridge Middle School in Blue Springs, Missouri. I explained my dress project to her and asked if she would be interested in participating in this project. She was in fact interested.

We met up and she asked if I would present to her students a short powerpoint presentation about Haiti. This would give the kids some insight about Haiti and would bring the project to life. I was excited to share this information with the students. I presented to 4 classes with a total of about 120 kids.

We first located Haiti on the map.  I shared with them a powerpoint presentation of some experiences I had encountered while there.  I wanted to be sure the kids understood the devastation that occurred from the January 2010 earthquake.   It was estimated that 3 million people were affected by the earthquake.  The Haitian government estimated that 316,000 died, 300,000 injured and 1,000,000 were left homeless.

Many people were living in tent cities that were unsafe and unsanitary. They do not have adequate housing, food, or water. There were approximately 380,000 orphans before the earthquake, and that number has since doubled, leaving orphaned children in great need.

Children in Haiti live, cook, and clean much differently than we do in America.

living conditionsprepaireing a mealwashing clothes

However, all children like to play and feel loved. Same as our American children.

361 (2) - CopyHaiti 2012 102

The students at the middle school were very in tune to the presentation, they asked some great questions, and came to realize that their efforts in making dresses would be going for a great cause.

Mary and Stacy
Stacy, the FACS teacher began with teaching the kids how to make simple drawstring bags.  This was the precursor for making the casings for the dresses.  They used pillowcases and lots of different ribbon to embellish each dress. The kids worked in pairs to make a dress. 57 dresses were presented to me in January 2013.  The kids did a magnificent job.

More from the kids in FACS class


Thanks to each and every one of you.



I can’t wait to distribute the dresses and experience the many smiles. I am sure every little girl will be thrilled.

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My sister’s mother-in-law, Bertha, has been a seamstress for many years.  She made clothes for herself, her children, grandchildren and for many others that she loved and cared about. 

She was an avid quilt maker and crafter.  Her sewing room was one typical of a seamstress. All the gadgets one needs, and fabric saved from completed projects, as well as fabric for upcoming projects.

When she was called home to live in perfect peace with the Lord, her son and daughter wanted her sewing things to be used for the good of others, just as Bertha had always done in the past. 

The family wanted her sewing things to go toward making dresses for the girls in Haiti.

I felt so very humble and thankful as I was going through her things. So much left over fabric from her completed projects and so much fabric that she was yet to use for a new project.

I think she would be pleased with how that fabric will be used in its final stage.

I was able to use so much of her treasured fabric, lace, thread, bias tape, rick rack, elastic and ribbon. She also had a serger that will be so beneficial with finishing and securing all those seams.

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I thoroughly enjoy working summer school. I have the opportunity to see and work with the elementary students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and to refresh my signing skills. I also have the chance to catch up with the interpreters. They are so helpful with the kids, since they work with them all year, and teaching me new signs. Love those ladies.

This summer (2012) was the beginning of my dress project. I had shared with them what my idea was. I was encouraged to display some of the dresses and share with the entire staff at school. There were women interested and have been supportive with donated fabric and making dresses.

Sharon, one of the interpreters, was talking with Terri about the upcoming yearly Deaf Women’s Retreat at the end of September. Terri was explaining to her plans for the guest speaker, Kathryn Montoya, from Idaho that is very active with the Deaf population around the world. Presently Kathryn is involved with setting up permanent housing for the Deaf that lost their housing during the 2010 earthquake, in the village of Leveque, Haiti. Leveque is a village about 45 minutes north of Port-au-Prince.

Sharon proceeded to tell Terri about my project with making dresses for girls in Haiti. Terri thought that possibly making dresses could be one of the planned projects for the retreat and it would tie into Kathryn’s message to the women regarding her work in Haiti.

We were connected and I was elated that the Lord had this in his plans to move me in this direction.
I was both nervous and excited, as this would be my first formal presentation about this project. I proceeded with the preparations I needed to prepare for this activity. The women were informed in their flyers they received about the retreat, for those interested in sewing to bring their sewing machines and a yard of fabric to make a dress for the girls in Haiti.

My biggest concern was the lack of signing skills I had to communicate with adult Deaf women. I prayed “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10, and the Lord took care of it all. I presented the steps in making dresses. Helped the women with their sewing questions, and met a wonderful group of women.

I was able to talk to Kathryn Montoya, the guest speaker, and was moved by her experiences and involvement in Haiti. She is involved in partnership with The 410 Bridge with the establishment ,of the 1st Haiti Christian Conference for the Deaf in Oct. 2012 and starting the 1st Deaf church in Haiti. Kathryn and her husband Ray are called by God to reach the deaf worldwide by; equipping churches for deaf ministries, providing tools to reach the lost deaf, mission trips to Deaf in other countries and sponsoring deaf ministries and orphans. Currently, her involvement is in Haiti. Check out her website for complete details of her ministry.

Deaf Camp in Haiti from The 410 Bridge on Vimeo.

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I first saw a completed dress made from a man’s shirt on Pinterest. Couldn’t find a pattern or instructions, so pursued on my own. It is super easy and fun. My two brothers thought it was a great idea and donated some of their old shirts.

Step 1: Find a man’s shirt. Any size will work.

Step 2: Cut off both sleeves at the seam.

Step 3: Cut off top just above pocket.
Allowing about 1-2 inches for the casing to insert elastic.
If no pocket, cut top off depending on finished length of dress you are wanting.

Step 4: Sew down button opening.

Step 5:
If using 3/4″ elastic, fold down 1″ to the inside of shirt, press and sew down to make the casing. Use a safety pin to feed elastic through casing. Secure elastic to shirt by sewing in place on both sides.

Step 6: Use extra wide double fold bias tape, 42″ for each side. Sew in place for finishing armhole and ties.
You did it. Dress is complete.

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When this project was beginning, I was able to share some finished dresses with my niece and her husband, Marc, in July 2012.  They were in town visiting from Colorado.  Not saying much, Marc took pictures of some of my dresses.

The next thing I knew was that he had shared my vision and pictures of the dresses with his mother, Carol.

She was very interested and had contacted a group of her friends to check out their interest.   There are 12 women that call themselves “The Black Forest Women’s Group”.  They have gotten together with material and pillowcases and started working as a group.

Over the past several months they have had sewing days that they have made dresses.

Carol and her husband were in town and delivered 39 dresses.  She said they were still making more.

Every dress is different and has been embraced with the kindness of these women.

Thank You Ladies.

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I work at Ligget Trail Education Center (LTEC).  After returning from Haiti, I was talking to some of the other teachers and staff members about making pillowcase dresses for the orphans.  There was a group of teachers that expressed an interest in helping.  Bev, a friend of mine, and I researched many different websites and U-Tube videos on how to make the dresses.   We made a few before presenting to interested staff.

Then in July 2012, we set out our completed dresses and shared our patterns and instructions.  Because it was summer, our group was small but ambitious.

Kim is one of the teachers that does not sew but is interested in helping out.  She checked over the dresses and is planning on a friend that does sew to help her get started.

Chrissy brought in a lot of fabric she had accumulated from making quilts to help with the project.  She has designated a shelf in her classroom for teachers to get fabric they may need.  Thanks Chrissy.  Heather is checking out her stuff.

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Threads from the Heart
2520 NW 1st St.
Blue Springs, Missouri 64014
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