July Happenings on the Rez

August 7, 2014 at 11:35 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

July has been a busy month for the High Horses and the community of Wanblee.  The Pow Wow is happening now as I write this, Jerome and Theresa attended but didn’t stay long as they had to get back to oversee volunteers working on community projects. They did get to the Sun Dance and sweat lodge as did some of their visitors.

Rez News

Jerome, his work crew and some Youthworks volunteers worked on getting Bernadette’s house ready for the re-build that began this week and continues for two weeks.  Volunteers from Wisconsin and Minnesota arrived to begin the complete re-construction of the house.  The house was in such sad shape Jerome’s crew had to strip it down to the framework.  This project has been 2 -3 years in the making and is finally being realized thanks to this group of volunteers and the efforts of Jerome and Theresa who were instrumental in finding funding and workers for the job.  They’ve spent many hours coordinating this project and looking for constructions materials including the services of a backhoe. We’ll share photos of the finished home when completed.  Hearts of the Sacred Spirit donated a bed to Bernadette and to her son and a new refrigerator, the Wisconsin group will be bringing more household items too.  Theresa has been saving things for Bernadette that come in on the monthly NAHA truck such as sheets, towels, a comforter, dishes and some bathroom items.  Someone donated a tent so Bernadette will be camping outside her home during construction.


Hopefully this group of workers will also have time to build ramps for three disabled elders.  The original plan was to arrive last week so they could help clear wood from a lady’s ranch to get ahead of the winter wood project but those plans changed so Jerome and his crew of young men will begin that work after the house build is over.

If this build is a success, there’s already a plan to raise funds to build a small home for an elder with heart problems like the one they built for Roland.  Roland still isn’t in his new home as he’s  deciding if he wants to live in his current trailer, on his uncle’s land (a temporary move as the property changes hands upon his death), or in the town of Wanblee.  Jerome and a friend are inquiring about buying some deeded land in town to put the house on if Roland agrees to move there.

Completed home thanks to volunteers

Completed home thanks to volunteers

Outhouses are a big need on the Rez,  many homes have no running water or sewage systems.   Youthworks built some new outhouses for those that lost them to recent storms but their time on the Rez has come to an end as it’s time to head home for school or college.  Each week a new crew of young people arrived and were assigned a project to work on, coordinators were the same and remained on the Rez for the summer.  Houses were painted, home repairs made, weeds mowed around homes and outhouses and the young people that came learned about the Rez and Lakota culture and made many lasting friendships and memories.

Recently NAHA donated 8 queen size mattresses so Jerome and his crew built frames for each bed out of pallets.  Gotta love those pallets and the items you can make from them!  Having a bed frame gets people off the cold, drafty floors so they stay warmer during the frigid winters.  There aren’t enough beds for everyone in many homes on the Rez so they have a “community bed” meaning many family members share the same bed.  Those new beds will need sheets, pillows, pillowcases and some warm blankets for those of you that want to help.  Pillowcases are easy to make and any extra’s can always be used,  if you have any gently used sheets send them too.   One of our future projects will be making  warm items for the cold winter ahead and blankets will be on that list.

Jerome has also been busy (does he ever sleep?) insulating, installing electric and skirting around the storage truck so he can store the summer machinery there in the winter. The truck has been moved to its final resting spot on his property.  Hopefully we’ll receive photos to share with you.


People are still working in the community garden which took a beating from a recent hail storm destroying some of the crops.  Some things have recovered though and people are enjoying the fresh veggies.


The High Horses held a naming ceremony and 7 people were given their Lakota names.  A wide variety of people attended including adults who had never received a name and children of various ages.  The recipient’s first and last names are translated into Lakota and they’re given a name that’s relevant to native culture, usually pertaining to nature such as “Soaring Eagle”.

SFK News

School starts August 28th and I’m sure we easily reached our goal of 25 filled backpacks.  A big thanks goes out to Pat Jacks and her Franciscan fraternity, they filled 5 complete backpacks and collected  over 100 notebooks, tons of pencils, pens, filler paper, binders, scissors, glue, glue sticks sharpeners, crayons, colored pencils, folders, etc.  Those supplies will go a long way in filling up those school bags and pencil cases our members are either sewing or buying.  Donna S, Jennifer B, Carol B, Pat J, Beulah L and others are making some of those. We’re hoping folks will send in some pics so we can share with you in a future blog.  Thanks also go out to Carol M, Janet S, Ruth G, Kerry R , Donna S. Alice A , to name a few donors and many others who’ve already sent school supplies. Darlene D and her hubby are driving their supplies to SD on their way to their vacation spot.  Please continue sending supplies, the kids will need to be re-supplied again in January after Christmas break and prices will increase dramatically after the “back to school” sales are over. Think about storing a few now for January.

School supplies Alice

The back to school picnic that was being planned is temporarily on hold until they can find funds to purchase the food,  a definite decision will be made in the next few weeks.  Children were to receive their school supplies during the picnic but they will still be handed out regardless.  Let’s cross our fingers the needed funding will be found and the picnic happens as it’s a nice way to end the summer and start the new school year.

The sewing circle is meeting, sewing supplies are arriving and another sewing machine has been donated by a Wisconsin supporter.  Fabric and thread are ongoing needs so please send as you can.   Raid your stash, check out garage sales and thrift stores as Carol M did, ask friends and family for  donations.   Karen H sent fabric for quilts and to make regalia such as shawls and jingle dresses.  Carol BJ from Dress A Girl Tucson receives lots of fabric donations so she shared some with Theresa as well.  Judy C sent pin cushions she made for all the ladies, others have sent notions, scissors, etc.  Theresa says they still need more pins, needles, thread, quilt batting and polyester fiberfill .  Batting and polyester fill are needed as their first projects will be pillows and quilts, an 8 year old made her first pillow the other day. If you have any spare quilting rulers send them along too.

When the circle begins their quilt making they plan to have two teams, one group will do the piecing and the other will be hand quilting around a frame just like the quilting bees of the past.  They’re looking for a large quilting frame so if you have one to donate let us know.  If you have DIY plans to make one or have other ideas please share with us.  There are some smaller PVC quilting frames heading to the Rez so that’s a start but they’re looking for a frame large enough to have several quilters working on the same quilt at a time.  The group would like to eventually find a long-arm quilting machine so they can produce a quality product to sell.  The machine would be  community owned  belonging to the sewing circle.  Women who are lucky enough to own a sewing machine and make quilts for profit have to find someone with a long-arm machine to do the quilting which can cost upwards of $200 or more which cuts deeply into their profits.  Women on Rosebud Reservation have acquired a machine and started a business so the women of Wanblee would like to do the same.  For now the quilts being made will be for families in need or their own personal use.

WIC was really pleased to receive all the donations you’ve sent for babies and toddlers so a big thanks those of you that sent them.   Ruth G sent a big box of toys for the daycare center, which they were thrilled to receive, we’ll let you know if there are more things needed.    Our apologies to those of you we didn’t mention by name,  there are so many that donated to this project we lost count!   We know that none of you helping the Rez are doing it for name recognition but we still like to give credit where credit is due so if we missed you let us know.

More popcorn supplies have arrived on the Rez thanks again to our supporters, Carol M being one of our biggest popcorn suppliers.  July has been too busy with work  projects, Pow Wow’s, etc. to show movies but everything is being saved for whenever movie night resumes, hopefully soon.  Winters are long so having a chance to go to the movies is a really big treat for the kids and something they look forward to.


Food donations have come in from Alice A and many others that stuff the corners of their boxes with food items.  Theresa loves to get small cans of tuna, chicken, ham, spam, etc.  to give out to families to add to their soup pot adding a little protein for those growing children.

Well that’s all the news for now.  Find a project that interests you or contact us for suggestions of how to help.  Every conversation I have with Jerome begins with a request to thank all of you for your wonderful gifts.  You make his and Theresa’s job so much easier as they have something to give out when families come calling with a need.  Many of you send things we never hear about until I call Jerome so thanks to all of you generous people working behind the scenes.  Everything you send is needed by someone and appreciated, you are making life a little easier and giving hope to children and their families.  Thank you!!!








How Many Backpacks Can We Fill?

July 25, 2014 at 9:05 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Starting a new school year was always an exciting time for me. I looked forward to learning new things,  meeting new friends and catching up with old ones, meeting my new teachers and getting involved in after school activities. But what I loved most was starting out the school year with new clothes, shoes and school supplies, and looking forward to a new beginning.

My mom would load all 5 of us in the car for 3 days of school shopping.  One day would be devoted to shoes, another day clothing and the last day we would get a new backpack and fill it with whatever was on our supply list.  Since there were 5 of us we usually got one new outfit, the rest of our school clothing was hand me downs or anything from the previous year that still fit and a new pair of shoes if we needed them.

The past few months we’ve been working on sending summer clothes for the kids so with school starting in mid August they can get through a month or so before we start our drives for warmer clothing.  Some of the dresses/skirts that were sent for the girls can last a little longer with a long sleeved shirt and a pair of leggings worn underneath.  Our SFK supporters have been so generous in providing clothes for the kids and some of you have included socks, shoes and underwear in your packages.  Many have told me they make it a habit to throw in a package of underwear or socks in their cart whenever they go shopping.  With the recent donations of shoes from Running Strong and hopefully a few other organizations, most kids will have a decent pair of shoes to start the new school year.

Starting school on the Rez is a time when parents want their kids to look nice and to have the supplies needed to start learning as they feel it reflects badly on them if they can’t provide for them.  Many parents will even keep their children at home until they can scrape up the money to buy what they need.  However, this practice severely affects the amount of funding each school receives as it’s based on the number of students present on a certain day.  Crazy Horse school in Wanblee can only service so many students as there aren’t enough teachers or books for each grade, so they need all the funding they can get.  Many children are bused to other schools on or off the Rez, there are both public and tribal schools. Many kids attend public schools as they receive more resources than the tribal schools.  Teachers in the schools on the Rez  may come from foreign countries (their ticket to possible US citizenship) as well as from organizations like Teach For America as they lack teachers on the Rez with adequate skills. Some teachers not used to Rez conditions leave mid year. For the kids this can be an issue as there is lack of continuity from year to year because the school staff changes so often.  Some of these issues of course, do exist off the Rez in other low income areas of the country. Education is the key to success and a good foundation and developing a love of learning depends on a child’s first experiences with school.

If children have the needed school supplies they can be ready to start learning from day one. Teachers, like many in our schools off the Rez, can only pay for so many items from their own pockets.  So that’s where we come in, we would like to fill a minimum of 25 school bags.  If you sew and have a stash simple school bags and pencil cases can be made for the younger students.  Remember those bags we made around Easter?  Well they were all given out at the party and the kids loved them!  Since these are for toting books and supplies use a heavier fabric such as denim, twill, corduroy, etc.  Check out my Pinterest board for ideas..  This is the time of year backpacks are on sale along with school supplies so please let us know of any good sales you find here, our Yahoo group or our Facebook page.

Needed school supplies:

  • Paper, loose and spiral bound, wide and/or college ruled
  • Pens, pencils and sharpeners, erasers
  • Safety scissors
  • Washable markers fine and wide tipped
  • Glue and glue sticks (melt in the mail in the warmer months)
  • Folders
  • Rulers
  • Binders
  • Pencil cases
  • Backpacks
  • Tissues
  • Sanitary hand wipes

Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and Worldwide Hunger Relief will be joining us in this Back to School Drive.  Hopefully with all our groups working together we can send the kids off to school properly outfitted and supplied and ready to learn.  There will be a back to school picnic held soon so this will be the perfect time for children to receive a filled backpack.  After school starts extra supplies can be given to the school to hand out to students in need.

Please share with us what you’re sending so we can track our progress.  Donations can be sent to Jerome and Theresa here.

As always thanks from Sew For Kids.




Summertime on the Rez

July 8, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Summertime and the living is easy” so they say in the song  by George Gershwin in the musical ” Porgy and Bess” and , maybe it is for many of us but not for the Rez. Summer is the time that volunteers  arrive to help the local communities with projects of all kinds. Summer is the time to take advantage not only of the extra help but also of the good weather.

So here’s the latest Rez news……….

The Woodchucks are busy cutting and stacking wood for next winter.  Much better to do it now during nice weather when the men don’t have to worry about frozen hands and feet.  Most don’t own a coat and show up for a day of woodcutting wearing tennis shoes.  Thankfully they’ve received work gloves from some of our generous members, but they’re constantly wearing them out and needing more. Once winter hits they will need more saw blades and oil for the saws.

The vegetable garden needs constant attention and volunteers from the community and from visiting groups help to keep it in shape, lots to weed, water, plant, etc.  This year they tried pallet gardens for the first time so will be interested to hear how those work out.  Last time I talked to Jerome there were several items coming up between the slats.   Gardens allow families to afford healthy food in the summer.


Movie night is back and an important event for the kids. They sit outside the High Horse home and watch movies projected on a homemade white, wooden screen that Jerome made and attached to the side of the house.  Requests have come in again for some more popcorn supplies like oil, bags of regular popcorn, popcorn bags, hot chocolate, etc The last movie they showed was ” Little Rascals” that the kids enjoyed. If it gets too chilly, blankets you sent in and a fire keep the people warm outside. It is a desert climate so it’s hot during the day but does cool off at night, thank goodness!


Organizing volunteers is a big job and Jerome scouts out the area to see where they can best be used. Recently Sew For Kids purchased a trimmer so they can clear away brush and weeds from around the homes and outhouses of the elderly and disabled. We also sent some string for the machine that will have to be replaced from time to time.

Volunteers have been busy doing that job as well as painting homes that need a little sprucing up.  Ramps for the elderly and disabled need to be added to homes and some outhouses need to be rebuilt due to recent storms knocking several down.

There’s always truck delivery contents to be sorted and handed out to those that need them or delivered to those that don’t have transportation in from the outlying areas.   A recent NAHA truck brought in some  toiletries. Volunteers, visiting and some local people, make up the bags for individual needy families. Youthworks helped with the 2 recent distributions. Wonder why we sometimes ask for plastic bags. Boxes are used first but they do not always have enough to use. Of course they need them for garbage bags at community events and if the High Horses have to foot the bill every time then it gets expensive. Garbage service on the Rez is hit or miss so is why you see so much trash around homes.


Running Strong gave them a donation of running shoes and laundry soap so Jerome and Theresa headed over there to pick them up. There won’t be enough for everyone that needs a pair, but it’s a good start and will help the kids who need shoes to start the new school year in August. People must sign in to receive a donation to make sure that all is distributed as fairly as possible. There is never enough for all but they try to help the most needy families in the area.

Summer is Pow Wow time and each community on the Rez hosts their own.  People are busy putting the finishing touches on jingle dresses, dance shawls , grass skirts , ribbon shirts and other regalia.  Summer is also Sun Dance time, which is a very sacred spiritual event held by many of the Plains Indians tribes.  Sweat lodges and other ceremonial preparations are held prior to the actual Sun Dance ceremony.

The big project for early August is repairing an elder’s home that is in near unlivable condition for an elder and her son. The home will have to be taken down to the frame and then rebuilt.  A church group from Wisconsin is providing the supplies and the manpower to do the rehab along with Rez volunteers. A picture’s worth a thousand words so here’s the before photos of the home with the after picture coming in late August when the work is completed.  Another elder will receive a new roof during their visit.

Speaking of school, we’re starting a new month so it’s time for a new project.  You guessed it…school supplies!  We can easily sew pencil cases and tote bags for the younger kids, we’ll be providing some suggestions later as well as sales we hear about for school supplies.  Walmart has cheap supplies starting in July but you need to shop early as they sell out early.  The larger office supply stores usually run a couple of really cheap items every week to lure you into the store, but worth a stop if you happen to be driving by. If you use Amazon , sign in under Amazon Smile, and choose Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, the organization we are under and 1% of the bill will go towards their cause to help the people on the Rez.

Needed school supplies:

  • Paper, loose and spiral bound, wide and/or college ruled
  • Pens, pencils and sharpeners, erasers
  • Safety scissors
  • Washable markers fine and wide tipped
  • Glue and glue sticks
  • Folders
  • Rulers
  • Binders
  • Pencil cases
  • Backpacks

Not school supplies but still always needed are underwear and socks for boys and girls.  There’s an ongoing need for these items, they’re always on the “most requested” list and they’ll be on sale whenever the “back to school” sales start.  We have links for free underwear patterns on the SFK Pinterest site for those of you interested in trying that project.

There is a back to school cook out planned for the start of the school year in mid August.

We realize a lot of you are either on vacation or have plans for one so for July we’re concentrating on purchased items to send since your time is limited and everyone is out enjoying the weather and their family.  Hope you and your families all had an enjoyable weekend and commemorated Independence Day with parades, BBQ’s, socializing and fireworks.

Send any items to the High Horses here. Thanks from Sew For Kids.


The Sewing Circle

July 5, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In a few of the past blogs I’ve talked about helping the women in Wanblee and surrounding communities set up a sewing circle and maybe even working with us on some projects in the future, sort of a sister group.  Theresa has began to help a few women learn to sew by starting them out with making their first quilt.  The goal is to increase the number of women involved with classes/sewing sessions being held at the Kennedy Center.   I personally love sewing along with others as it’s a good way to learn new skills, share patterns and just get together and have fun.  A sewing group in Wanblee could do the same and also give women a chance to build new friendships, discuss local news and become more involved in their communities.  They could learn to repair their own clothing and even learn how to recycle or refashion the unfashionable clothing that sometimes comes in on the trucks. Sewing could be a source of income for women making and selling their wares, sewing regalia for Pow Wow’s  and doing alterations for people needing a new zipper, etc.

Women could learn to sew and preserve the tradition of the star quilt. These special quilts are given out to commemorate births, deaths, graduation or just to honor someone special. I sponsored a Lakota family for many years and they honored me with a star quilt which is very dear to me and especially meaningful as the family had so little. Getting girls involved in sewing could teach them a skill which would help build their self confidence and maybe keep them from doing things that could be destructive to their lives. You can read more about star quilts here and see them here.  I met an elder a few years ago that made a star quilt top every day.  I’ve purchased a few of these beautiful quilt tops from other Native Americans that I need to have quilted.

This past week Rachel, president of Hope 4 Women International , sent a very generous donation of three new sewing machines to Theresa for the sewing circle. This organization strives to empower women around the world. This brings the total available machines to six, two of them belong to Theresa and her sister and one was donated last year during Janet’s visit  with Jerome and Theresa. Carol Binnie Johnson from Dress A Girl Around the World- Tucson helped us in making the connection with Hope 4 Women. Thank you ladies for helping the women of Wanblee and please visit the sites of both of these great organizations and see all the wonderful things they do for women.

We can help the sewing group too by sending notions and supplies for them. Below is a list from Theresa of needed items.

  • Bobbins, Class 66 and 15
  • Fabric, any kind and color
  • Needles, machine all sizes; hand sewing and quilting, all sizes
  • Quilt batting and fiberfill for pillows, etc.
  • Thread,  hand quilting and general purpose, all kinds and colors but especially neutral colors and black and white for hand quilting.
  • Yarn, any color
  • Scissors, dressmaker type and smaller, thread snips
  • Straight pins, all sizes,  safety pins, all sizes; larger better for “pin basting” quilts
  • Rotary cutting supplies:  self healing boards, cutters, blades, rulers
  • Tape measures, seam gauges, seam guides for the machine, yardstick
  • Fabric markers, disappearing or other and quilting pencils for marking tops
  • Quilting Frame, lap type hoop or PVC; If donating large floor type, let us know as want to check with Theresa re the space
  • buttons ,snaps, elastic, zippers

SFK would like to also make a few things to get them started…..pin cushions, needle holders,  trash thread holders and a sewing bag to hold all their supplies. First we need to get some basic supplies for the group project and then can work on a bag of items that each person might need to work on items while at home. Jerome said he would put together a thread holder to store all the spools of thread. Hopefully once the ladies learn to sew they can make their own starter supplies for new members joining the group. Check out this page  and this page for some ideas for making these items. Also here are some sewing organizers and ideas of what to put in the kit.

We’re excited about this new venture and hope that with a little help and encouragement from us and Theresa’s teaching skills, this will be something that has the potential to change lives on the Rez.  We’ll ask for pictures once the group is up and running.  Let us know if you belong or have belonged to a sewing group and your experiences there.

This isn’t a monthly project and your donations can be sent here at any time.  We thank you for your continued generous support to our friends in Wanblee.








Baby I Got Scraps!

June 23, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Will life ever slow down around this place?  Every week I start out with big plans to get a lot of things done but something always seems to come up and back they go on the “to do ” list, blog included. I still make time to sew every day but usually don’t accomplish as much as I’d hoped.  Many of our great volunteers have been sending boxes to the Rez full of clothing and other goodies for babies and children.  Wouldn’t you love to see all the kids wearing their new outfits around town this summer?   The summer clothing project has been an outstanding success, everyone pat yourself on the back, and June isn’t over yet!

Once I realized the clothing needs were being taken care of I decided to work on accessories. What a great way to use up some of my scraps, which you all know by now I have plenty of since nothing gets thrown out.  I sent 7  diaper bags  during bag month to Jerome and Theresa so decided to work on some things to help fill those bags.


First project was a changing pad, I’ve made several of these in the past and blogged about it here.  They’re easy to make, washable, provide parents a clean place to lay their baby down and they roll up nicely for carrying in the diaper bag.

changing pads614

Next project, bibs.  Most children start to resist wearing bibs when they become toddlers, at least my grandchildren did and we decided this was a battle we didn’t want to fight.  If their friends had been wearing them or if they’d had their favorite superhero on them it would’ve been an easier “sell”.  We have laundry facilities and enough detergent to wash dirty kids clothing here, although I don’t like to waste water as we’re having a drought here in CA. Sadly laundry facilities aren’t a reality for every family on the Rez and laundromats don’t exist.  Hopefully parents will use bibs if provided which will lighten the laundry load.

bib2 614

I love cute kids bibs but since I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to the project or large pieces of kids prints, I could at least make them colorful using scraps.   Below are a few of the bibs I made using a pattern from a store bought bib.  As kids get older making an “art smock” type bib and using cartoon or other favorite characters is a good way to make them more appealing. And of course you can upcycle items you have like denim jeans , T shirts as here , here and here .

bib1 614

My next project was burp cloths, look at this page for some ideas.  Using scraps from my stash I pieced the front together and added a backing of terry or flannel.  Babies tend to spit up for about 6 months and instead of moms grabbing a blanket or piece of clothing, this offers another option. Check out this blog on burp cloths and bibs.


Receiving blankets were up next, great to use for those cool summer nights.  Ideally babies under 12 months should only be using a cotton sleep sack over clothing to reduce the incidence of SIDS with the highest risk being in the first 6 months.  But blankets are great to use when babies are being held or swaddled and are also serve as “security” blankets for many children.  They should be at least 30 inches square using fleece, flannel, terry or other soft fabric, single thickness for warmer months and double for winter.  I pieced the fronts of mine from scraps and added a flannel backing with some machine quilting to hold the layers together when washed.   I find rounding the corners off to be easier sewing and like the appearance better.  This is a quick project, cutting scraps into usable pieces takes the most time. I also used this pattern tutorial for a few of my receiving blankets.  I’ve read new babies should have at least 6 receiving blankets in their layette as they’re constantly being soiled, doubt we’ll be making that quota for the Rez. Check out this blog on blankets.

receiveblanket614receive blanket2614

I have plenty of terry cloth scraps left over from the 10 hooded towel sets I made a few months back and plan to make some washcloths just to use the scraps up. When I find a good sale on towels or locate some good used ones at the thrift shop my plan is to use “Steam A Seam” and do some appliques to dress them up a bit.  New or gently used towels are always needed on the Rez, embellished or not, they just need to be in good condition if used.  I also plan to knit some baby washcloths with Peaches and Cream cotton yarn, there are so many cute patterns on Ravelry for free and they take very little time and make cute gifts along with some hotel size soap.  I made my son and his family some dishcloths from this yarn as a stocking stuffer 2 or 3 years ago and was surprised to find during my last visit they were still in good shape, although a little stained.

Baby sun hats is another project I made from my scrap bag, gosh you’d think I could see the bottom by now…. nope I can’t!  Sunscreen can’t be used on young babies so hats are a great way to protect young skin from the damaging sun and help prevent skin cancer in later years.


For new mothers I made some nursing pads to protect clothing from those occasional leaks, as those of us who’ve breastfed a baby all know about.  Here are a few more patterns you can choose from here and here.  One of our volunteers, Beulah from WI, has sent lots of nursing pad sets with cases to the Rez and and the women love them.  For mine I used 4 pieces of flannel per pad using this pattern. Generally I try to use a neutral color, at least on the outside of the pad but did not have any for this picture.They will still be used.  Nurse Debbie has started a breastfeeding group to encourage women to breastfeed longer and to have a place where they can some together for mutual support and get their questions answered.  Each mom on the Rez as in the rest of the USA gets a free electric nursing pump so that they can pump and leave the baby in the care of others while they attend school or go to a job. Also nutrition education is provided as a good milk supply depends on a good diet, not always easy but doable if they get WIC and food stamps or commodities and some recipes.  WIC tries to educate clients at their monthly visits.

nursing pads614

The last project I’ve been working on are quilts. I love to piece and really like the modern quilts that are all over the web, but I used what I had in my stash.  I like to bind my quilts instead of doing the sew and turn method as for me it’s a relaxing process.  Quilts can be backed with cotton, flannel or fleece in all sizes.  These pictures show some completed quilts and others that need binding or assembling.  To make a fast quilt try sandwiching together backing, batting and top, stitch around edge leaving an opening for turning, turn right side out, top stitch 1/4 inch from edge and tie every few inches or machine tack.  Here’s a demo for the “quilt as you go” method.  Making quilts is a great way to recycle old clothing such as jeans, corduroy pants, stained clothing, men’s shirts, etc. Here are some free quilt patterns to get you started.


All the projects I made are easily dried in the SD sun as none of them are very heavy and most are sized to be easily washed by hand with some soap in the bathtub, sink or pan.  Will be adding a few baby spoons, cups and plates to my box for the baby project.

Let us know what you’re working on and send pictures if you have any.  Will be discussing a few more items in the next blog featuring projects you can work on in your leisure time such as training pants, cloth diapers and underwear! Clothing and other items we send are given out to mom’s at the daycare center, at WIC when they pick up the monthly food supply and by nurse Debbie at her immunization clinics, home visits and in the breastfeeding group.


Please send all donations here.  Thanks from Sew For Kids.








Its Baby and Toddler Time Again!

June 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s June already and time to start work on our next project. Every few months we like to build up the stock of baby and toddler items for nurse Debbie, the daycare center, WIC and of course for those parents who call or come knocking on the High Horse door.

Babies are born larger on the Rez so newborn clothes are quite often too small for them, aim for  the 3-24 month size range.  Many of you find bargain prices on baby clothes at garage sales and resale shops and don’t bother to sew clothing for this age as it’s not really worth the time and trouble.  Good baby clothing is usually plentiful at sales and many times there’s lots of items that were never worn as babies grow quickly and are on to the next size before you know it.  At these ages kids aren’t mobile so clothing stays in better condition.  I’m amazed at the high price of new baby/toddler clothing and the inferior quality, sometimes it’s more than I pay for some of my clothing.

The clothing the daycare receives allows them to have clothes on hand for children that come to the center dirty – due to a lack of  soap and water, adequate clothing or education at home.  The daycare will wash children’s clothes (if they have detergent) and bathe them and at pickup time toss a few extra outfits in a bag for the child to take home.  WIC and nurse Debbie give moms clothing and other items sometimes as an incentive gift for coming to a follow up appointment or to teach a new skill using the item or just to give mothers what they need to take proper care of their new baby.  Theresa and Jerome help anyone who comes to their door or calls with a need and will go shopping for them if the shelves are empty. We want to stock their shelves so their money can be saved for other essentials such as gas for their car so they can deliver needs to people in outlying areas or go pick up food or other supplies in Rapid City.

We need clothes for all seasons, weather is extreme on the Rez with winters being very cold and windy and summers hot and dry.  Remember Jerome has a storage container now so feel free to send clothing for next fall and winter too.

  • Coats, sweaters, jackets, buntings, snowsuits
  • Winter hats and mitts
  • sun hats
  • Shorts and T shirts
  • Sleepers, gowns, onesies
  • Sun hats or baseball type caps
  • Sleep sack – light cotton for summer/fleece, double flannel for winter
  • Pants and long sleeve shirts (fleece is especially warm)
  • Socks and slippers
  • Shoes and boots for toddlers
  • Training pants

Baby accessories are needed too, many of the items below can be made from fabric you already have in your stash or by recycling or upcycling.

  • Changing pad
  • Diaper bag
  • Blanket/afghan/quilt 36×48
  • Receiving blankets, 30- 36″ square or larger.  Go larger if you have the fabric.
  • Burp cloths
  • Bibs – newborn or small
  • Towel/hooded towel
  • Washcloths, baby/toddler size
  • Scratch mitts
  • Diaper wipes – homemade from flannel, terry cloth, cotton knit or purchased disposable
  • Swaddlers
  • Nursing pads made from flannel  and stored in a small clutch
  • Slings, moby wraps, etc.
  • Cloth diapers

These items are always needed and have to be purchased.

  • Baby Wash
  • Teething rings
  • Baby bottles (BPA free) and bottle brush
  • New nipples for bottles, newborns and older
  • Sippy cups
  • Plastic dishes and cutlery
  • Cloth or board baby books
  • Cuddle toys or learning toys (could be handmade, no eyes, strings, buttons or other choking hazards)
  • Disposable diapers size 2 and up, larger sizes 3 and up rarely come in on the trucks

We would like to start making cloth diapers and covers so parents have something to use toward the end of the month until their new SNAP card arrives. Many times Jerome and Theresa don’t have the extra money to purchase disposable diapers and it could be 2 months or more before the NAHA trucks bring more.  Cloth prefold diapers can be made from recycled T shirts, flannel and fleece using a pattern such as this one and the covers from fleece, wool or PUL.  Diapers and covers can be made as a single item and use inserts to absorb the wet.  Here is a good site to find diaper and covers to make, to get you started thinking about making them but there are also many more good sites.  And here is a video of how to make the flannel diaper on that site. The diaper inserts or the diapers themselves don’t need to be thick as one can use more than one diaper or insert, allowing them to be easily line dried.  Training pants are basically underwear with some padding at the front or back and these are also easily made for toddlers. I need to devote a blog to this topic as we would like to show moms ways to save money and the environment. It just takes a little effort on their part but certainly is doable. I am no expert on this subject as much has changed since I raised my kids so we are open to suggestions and patterns etc.

We have plenty of ideas and patterns this month’s project on our SFK pattern pagemy Pinterest site or the SFK Pinterest site .

I will soon share some items I’ve been working on for the baby project, don’t forget to share your ideas, patterns or photos of finished projects with us.  We  like to see all your projects, and especially love to see how you put to use scraps of materials you have on hand to make or add to a project or upcycle items.. Making baby items is  a great way to use up those items.

Items made can be sent here. Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.



Wanblee News for May

May 31, 2014 at 1:16 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Its that time of month when we update you on the latest news in Wanblee.  We hope those of you participating in the Summer Clothing Project have had fun these past couple of months making  or purchasing items for the kids. We would love to see what you’ve been working on.  I know that dresses, shorts, tops , underwear, tennis shoes, flip flicks , socks , sunhats are several of the items that have been sent or are on their way to the Rez, thanks to our great group of supporters.  Jerome said the weather has been in the 90’s lately so the kids will have something cool to wear.  Weather is unpredictable on the Rez,  folks needed their coats over the Memorial Day weekend and a tornado touched down in the Black Hills area.

There are many projects planned for the Rez this summer with some already in motion.  The gardens have been planted with cold tolerant plants and the radishes and onions are growing nicely. Seeds that came in from donors and NAHA were distributed to families wanting to have their own garden patch.  Some of the seeds were planted in the community garden next to Jerome’s garden and there’s also an experimental pallet garden this year since they have so many pallets to recycle.  They’re thinking this type of garden might be easily managed by elders or children .

Jerome has a wall of over 400 pallets so they’re using this free source of lumber (most of it’s oak!) to build many projects this summer.  They’re currently putting the finishing touches on the chicken coop and have plans to build a dog house, birdhouses, and picnic tables.  It takes a lot of time and labor to recycle the pallets but will keep the young men busy this summer with plans to sell some of their finished projects.  Jerome said there are some families in need of an outhouse (he and Theresa built 15 last year) so they’re planning to use the pallets as there’s no money at present to purchase lumber. If  you’re interested in seeing what else you can do with pallets check out this site on Pinterest. Pictures below are from Robin Lober’s high school class who dismantled the pallets and built a chicken coop. Thanks Robin ( Hearts of the Sacred Spirit ) for sharing the photos.


You can find a picture of the nearly finished structure here .  Jerome needs to add some nesting boxes to them and then purchase the feed and water containers. A local rancher has offered him some chickens and a rooster to get him started. Jerome can always use advice on raising chickens as a lot has changed since he was a boy so if you have suggestions post them on the site and will pass them along to him.


Jerome and Theresa headed to Wisconsin Memorial Day weekend, trailer in tow, to speak to members of a church about helping fund some rehab housing projects in the Wanblee area and to pick up some furniture.  They needed ten beds for families some who had to destroy theirs due to bedbugs and were able to pick up five of those, some were new, some used. Homes will be thoroughly sprayed before the new beds are installed.  Stacey Lecas, a SFK supporter who lives in Wisconsin and is herself Native American, worked tirelessly to gather donations to send back with Jerome, she did such a wonderful job that they couldn’t fit everything on the trailer.  They are planning a trip to the Rez next month to deliver the rest and any other donations they can gather so if you live in the Wisconsin area and have anything to send, contact Stacey here.  Great job Stacey!!  The folks will also need new bedding (sheet sets, blankets and pillows)to go along with those beds so send Jerome’s way if you have any.  Donations never last long on the Rez, there’s always a family in need with most of those needs never being filled. Once Jerome arrived back in Wanblee he had one of those families in need, they were sleeping on the floor on blankets so he took the beds to them and also gave them the sofa and rocking chair he’d picked up, they had no other furniture in the house other than two straight back chairs.

Some of those pillowcases we made a few months back recently found a new home with some school children heading off for a weekend trip.  Myself and some other donors recently sent some new pillows so they each received a new pillow clad in a colorful new pillowcase for their trip.  The kids loved the different designs and the fact that no one else had one like theirs.  We may want to do this project again sometime as it was a huge hit!

Jerome is working on the inside of the storage trailer – putting in insulation and installing electric, he’ll also add skirting to help keep it warmer in winter.  The materials to do the job are stored in the trailer along with some shower stalls, sinks and toilets, donated from a contractor in ND.  They will be installed in homes when the rehab projects begin this summer.  There’s still plenty of room to store things in plastic containers as the trailer is 14 feet wide by 70 feet long so keep sending your donations.  I plan to send a donation to purchase more containers, Jerome can get them for about $5 each.

New storage container

New storage container

Other needs are a push mower and gas powered weedeater as Jerome’s are on their last leg.  They need them to keep the grass and weeds cut around the homes (and outhouses) of elders and the disabled so snakes can be easily seen and not stepped on, rattlers are common on the Rez. Used machines in good condition are acceptable as would be nice to have a few of each so can do it quickly. Great items to put on a truck if its going to the Rez. Also we are under a 501c3 ( Hearts of the Sacred Spirit) so can get a charitable tax donation if one is needed.

Jerome and Theresa attended an ambulance appreciation ceremony for her mother, Eleanor Charging Crow.  She and her late husband started the first ambulance service on the Rez in 1966 using a station wagon to pick up patients and take them to the hospital.  Eleanor still works there at the age of 83, not driving patients but helping with laundry and other jobs.

Theresa says the local daycare can care for 3 babies and 7 toddlers as well as several school age children and have very few toys to play with.  Now would be a good time to pick up some toys for them with all the garage sales going on in your local towns.  Also a good time to go through your closets and kids toy boxes to see if you have anything they’ve outgrown or don’t play with.  Some suggestions:

Blocks, larger lego-type so they can’t fit in small mouths

Plastic trucks, cars, trains, etc.

Farm animals, larger

Balls – nerf balls are softer and safer

Puzzles, large pieces for toddlers, 100 piece for older children

Jump ropes

Sand box toys; plastic buckets, shovels, etc.

Craft items; crayons, markers, construction paper, glue sticks, safety scissors, etc.

They have plenty of  books for now and don’t want any stuffed animals as they need to be washed regularly and they don’t always have laundry soap.   When they are lucky enough to have soap it’s used for the essentials, many times employees will take out of their own pockets to provide it.  Theresa gives them soap off the NAHA truck if they receive any. I think the book issue is due to space issues. If they get to many then they send  them home with kids.   Would love to see something like this around the area, even outside the daycare, Head Start etc.  Stuffed animals and books can still be sent to give to WIC and to the nurse so please send if you have them, but mention whom you intended them for. Most people going to the daycare are using WIC.

The school year is coming to a close so graduation ceremonies will be held for those in grades 8 and 12.  Sadly only about 25-30 percent of children will finish high school with many not even experiencing an 8th grade ceremony. Recent article addressing some of the reasons here.

Jerome and his men are still cutting wood, local ranchers want their creek beds cleared so cattle can get to the water.  They want to take advantage of the good weather as it’s much easier to cut wood in the summer months and many of the men don’t have the appropriate clothing or shoes to work in the brutal winter weather.  The young men are helping him with this project.

Movies are being held when the weather permits and many thanks to those who sent the popcorn and other supplies, it simulates the movie theater atmosphere for the kids.

Theresa’s women and girls are sewing and they’re in need of fabric, scraps are welcome too as their first project is a basic quilt.  Sewing notions are needed too so if you’re sending fabric please add some thread, needles, etc. to your box.  Maybe some of those picnic tables they’re making this summer could be used for a “sewing bee”  placed close to the trailer so they could use that electric source and not have to pay the $50 fee for renting the Kennedy Center, at least while the weather is warm.  Sewing machines and projects could be stored in the truck ready for the next meeting.  We’re crossing our fingers and hoping the sewing project takes off and is successful, it would be a great skill to learn and also a good project to keep kids busy.

May 31st will finalize our summer clothing project for the kids and we appreciate all of those that participated.   Please continue to send your summer things through the first couple weeks of June.  June’s project will be sewing for babies up to 24 months, more information on that project in the next blog.

We also want to thank Jane J and her husband Larry for sending work boots for the men, so  badly needed and they were thrilled to get them.   Work boots are expensive and out of reach for most men on the Rez.  The wood cutters always need them, Jerome says they come to work wearing tennis shoes!  Jane works for General Mills and was able to get spices from her employer for the Rez and she also sent laundry soap, toiletries, garden seeds, winter accessories, tennis shoes, etc. along in her boxes.  She also organized a school class to make tied fleece blankets for the kids on the Rez as their class learned about Native Americans.   They hope to do this again next year and hope other classrooms will join with them. Jane already has a head start on our baby project – making flannel receiving blankets. Thanks so much Jane for organizing this learning project and getting the word out about needs on the Rez and thanks to your employer General Mills for their generous donation.

Please send your donations here.

We would love you to post photos of items you send on our flickr site on this page so all can see the great work the group does.  I have to fix a few things on the site but will let you know when you can post.  You can also post photos on our Sew For Kids Facebook page , and if you are a member ,on the Sew For Lakota Kids yahoo site   and the Sew For Kids Ravelry group.  As always,thanks from Sew For Kids.




Boys and Their Summer Needs Etc

May 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sorry for the delay in getting this blog out but my husband’s younger sister passed away last week after a long illness, we’re so thankful she’s at peace now.  Just as one door closes another opens as was true in our family this week with the birth of a new granddaughter.  Having two grandsons already, both dear to our hearts, we were all happy to welcome a granddaughter.

May is the month we’re sewing or purchasing summer clothing for boys, hopefully you’ve been working ahead and not waiting for my post.  Boys definitely need a few changes of  summer clothes, at least my grandsons do, as they’re pretty rough on their clothes and seem to gravitate toward dirt, maybe more so than girls.  I’ve lost count of the pants I’ve repaired this year with holes in the knees, trying to get out grass and mud stains is another weekly chore for their mother and me with some remaining as a testament of their escapades.   We wouldn’t want it any other way and neither do parents on the Rez, we all want our kids out playing in the fresh air, getting exercise and exploring, however parents on the Rez don’t have a lot of extra clothing nor do they have access to laundry facilities and detergent.  Having extra clothing for their kids means less wear and tear on each garment which means they won’t be worn out when they’re handed down to the next child and they have enough clothing to last until they can get resources together to make a trip to the laundromat.

The boys need shorts and shirts/T-shirts (darker colors hide dirt) and the younger ones love cartoon characters, superheroes and sports themes as seen here.  If you don’t have any kids prints add a contrasting pocket in primary colors to a pair of shorts or add an applique of a basketball, dinosaur or other boy friendly subject to a T-shirt you make or purchase to give it a little pizzazz.  Younger boys don’t need a fly on their shorts, even the older ones don’t but if you want to add a false fly you can find the how-to here.  Many of the shorts patterns I purchased didn’t have a fly front.

We have lots of free patterns on the board “Sewing for Boys” at our Pinterest site and I have some on my board “Boys Clothing Sewing Projects”.  Commercial patterns can be had at JoAnn’s for 99 cents or check the thrift stores or yard sales to get them even cheaper.  A pattern can also be made from a ready made pair of shorts, instructions here or refashion a pair of shorts from a T-shirt as shown here.  T-shirts can be made but sometimes knits are hard to find so why not check the sale racks, garage sales and thrift shops for some gently used ones, just remember to stick to the guidelines for used clothing found here.  If you are lucky enough to have some knit fabric here and here  are a few free patterns for shirts or again just trace around a shirt you already have and add seam allowances.  I have some knits in my stash so will be making some T-shirts, may have to color block a few but that only adds interest to the garment.

Another needed item for the hot summers on the Rez is a hat.  The sun is very intense there and the use of sunscreen is rare, mainly because it’s considered a luxury item to families that don’t have a lot of money for the non-essentials.  Kids love to be outside so we want to protect them while they play, any sunburns acquired during their younger years predisposes them to skin cancer when they’re older.   Below are a few hat patterns to try.

Free hat patterns at Love to Know

Making a baby hat video

Scrappy sun hat tutorial

Sun hat with brim tutorial

Reversible bucket hat tutorial

Reversible hat tutorial

Sun hat with brim – tutorial

April Cobb sunhat tutorial

And  finally if you happen to find flip flops or other summer shoes for the kids they would be greatly appreciated. The ones they wore for school either no longer fit or have been worn down to a frazzle.  Many kids go barefoot but foot infections from stepping on broken glass, nails, etc. and burns from walking on hot pavement are always a risk not to mention being downright uncomfortable.  Gently used shoes are welcome too!

Summer vacation is right around the corner and the High Horse’s will soon be seeing kids running around in their torn, stained and ill fitting summer clothing.  So please all you sewers and shoppers, join us this month and help provide some new clothing for these deserving kids.  Can’t you just see the smile on their faces when Jerome and Theresa hand them a new outfit or pair of shoes??  Some of the children will be attending daycare where the workers will give clothing to families that need help.  Don’t forget to share your favorite patterns and photos of your finished projects.  Happy sewing!

Items made can be sent here to the High Horses. Thanks as always from Sew For Kids.




April Wanblee News

May 2, 2014 at 11:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Believe it or not the Rez got hit with another snowstorm this week!  I phoned to talk to Jerome and Theresa, only to find them out in the car delivering wood to needy families and elders…. wood that had been cut and stored for the next fall/winter season. They arrived home at 11 pm , their last delivery for the day being diapers for a family that had none , with no money to buy more.   The NAHA truck hasn’t brought any disposable diapers the last 2 months so families scramble to find some when their money runs out at the end of the month.  Jerome and I discussed about having some cloth diapers available for those times to help get them through the month so is a project for us to work on in the near future.   Luckily Jerome and Theresa had just received a shipment of quilts from the group Kidz Quiltz before the storm hit so if people needed a blanket to keep warm, they got one.  An elderly volunteer with that group, makes many of their quilts and she wanted them donated to the Rez according to Wilma, director of the organization.  Many, many thanks to all their dedicated volunteers and especially Lucy for thinking of the Rez.

The Easter party held in April was fun for the children but there wasn’t enough food for the 400 people that attended.  Donations from the group purchasing the food were down this year as they  weren’t able to keep their commitment.  Theresa and Jerome felt badly about it as people were expecting a good meal, especially since food supplies have been low in many families the past few months.  Families increase in size during the winter months because family members return home when their seasonal jobs end.  Cuts have also been made to some of the federal food programs so people are having an even more difficult time getting through the last few weeks of the month.  Especially hard are those months that have 4 plus weeks since food stamps and commodities  do not arrive until the first of the month.  Jerome gets food from the food bank  in Rapid City the last week of each month, made possible through donations from Worldwide Hunger Relief.  He plans to store some of the food each month in the new storage truck so they will have enough to feed people attending community events and also to help families needing emergency food.  The truck still needs to be wired and a freezer purchased so they can store perishables.  Although the cost of the food is covered by WWHR, Jerome and Theresa must come up with gas money for the round trip to Rapid City, usually over $100 as its a 200 plus mile round trip.  Also anytime that Running Strong has food to give out during holidays, Jerome and Theresa again hop in their car and head over to Porcupine on the main Rez campus and again dig into their pockets for gas money and for deliveries to families who have no transportation.

Children had lots of fun hunting eggs at the Easter party, Theresa saved some of the toys that came off a recent NAHA truck for prizes, sadly many were broken or missing pieces but thanks to a group of talented young men they were able to repair some of them.  More prizes were purchased by Jerome and Theresa and many were sent in from SFK.  The children were delighted with the bags we made and were able to carry home any loot they received at the party in them.  Although they try to have as many community events as possible, Theresa said the ones they can use help with the most are Easter and Christmas.  Other parties are not as important to the kids, although any time food is served you can bet there will be a large crowd. We will be asking our generous supporters to help us with those two parties and anyone who wants to do more, can certainly do so.  Another issue that came up, was not having water coolers to hold the drinks in,  someone had borrowed them from the Kennedy Hall and not returned them.  Making drinks in large quantities is really the only way they can afford to provide for large crowds so we plan to purchase coolers that Jerome and Theresa will keep in the truck so they will have them when needed.

A group of high school students from Delaware and their teacher, who is also a representative of  Hearts of the Sacred Spirit, came to the Rez on their spring break and took apart pallets Jerome has been storing and used them to build a chicken coop.  A local rancher is donating some chickens to get them started, but they still need feed and water containers, an incubator and an enclosed run so wild dogs, raccoons, etc. can’t make off with the hens.   A dozen eggs runs $3.85 at the local 711 type store and a gallon of milk is $6.85 so you see why food stamps don’t go very far on the Rez.  Jerome will have to charge a nominal fee for the eggs to recoup the cost of feed, but families will still be saving plenty of money.   People can purchase cheaper food at Wal Mart over a hundred miles away and other discount stores but many families either don’t have a car or the money for gas if they do have one .

The weather hasn’t been cooperating for any work to be done in the garden but seeds and monetary donations through Hearts of the Sacred Spirit (our “Mother” organization) are still needed.

The Woodchucks are going to make picnic tables for the park, and for those people in the community that want one, from the pallets from NAHA deliveries.  Jerome said they could sell them for a small price to the families who want them using the funds for other community needs.  Jerome will purchase the nails, screws, stain and polyurethane needed to build the tables. The men are learning many skills working alongside Jerome and willingly help whenever there’s a need.  He likes to help his men whenever he can as all they receive for their work is a good meal cooked by Theresa.

Theresa has started to teach some of the young women in the community how to sew and is requesting fabric and some basic sewing notions so they can work on small projects initially.  She would like to start having sales again like they used to featuring items made from local people.  Once that program gets into full swing we’ll let you know of other needs.  There’s nothing we would like more than having a sewing group on the Rez working alongside us. So if you have some extra material, add some to your box if you have room.

Jerome said someone painted the walls of the Kennedy Hall brown thinking it would be a better color for hiding scuff marks and dirt, however this means they don’t have a white wall to show movies for the kids.  They will have to repaint at least one of the walls, maybe a project for some of the volunteers that show up in the summer.   During the warmer months they try to show movies on the side of their house but since this year has been a cold one they need to be shown inside.  Renting the Kennedy Hall has been too expensive ($50 a day) for them as they have to take out of their own pocket so they prefer to use the outdoors whenever possible.  They still need packaged hot chocolate, popping corn, oil, popcorn bags and drinking cups so if you have any room left in your next box of goodies consider adding one of these.

Many sewers at SFK made dresses, shorts and skirts for the girls in April and will now start sewing shorts and shirts for boys since we’re now into May, we’ll share some patterns in the next blog.  Many are also sending shoes, socks and underwear, things there are never enough of on the Rez.  Here is the address to send donations to the High Horses. Thanks to all of you that helped with the Easter party and those sewing summer clothing for the kids and providing other summer needs.  We will never be able to thank you enough for all your time and talents devoted to the Rez children and their families.  Jerome and Theresa are so thankful too and are constantly amazed at the help they receive from this group.  They’re able to do more for their people because of your generosity.

I have some photos to post but am still waiting for permission to post them so will add them here, once I can do so. If you have photos of items that you have made, send them to me here and I will post them for all to enjoy. Love to show off the talented people we have on this group.



“Dress A Girl ” for Summer !

April 24, 2014 at 8:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Carol Binnie Johnson from “Dress A Girl Around the World” has helped get the word out to her group about April’s sewing for girls’ project.  Their group has sent many dresses to the Rez and the girls really love them with many parents asking Jerome and Theresa if there are any more coming.  We’ve asked Carol to write the blog this week so we can all learn more about the work they do and get some tips for our project from the experts. Thank you Carol for your support to both groups and for sharing your thoughts with us.

“Sew For Kids asked me to write a blog about “Dress A Girl” several months ago and today I’m determined to get it done! Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I was trained as an RN, and worked in pediatric intensive care before marrying “my pilot.” I followed him around the world for the next 10 years with his Air Force career and when he retired we moved back to Tucson (where he found me!). He spent the next 19 years flying for Southwest Airlines, retiring just last Nov. We’re the very proud parents of 4 handsome boys, our “mighty men,” and have a sweet daughter in law. I love to swim, play outside in my garden which is currently overflowing with sweet peas, roses and hummingbirds, scrapbook, sew, quilt, bake, and help people.

I became involved in sewing for “Dress A Girl Around The World” in 2010 thorough a friend who wanted her college aged daughters to have a project when they came home for Thanksgiving weekend, other than the usual eating, sleeping and playing games. I had been facilitating a group at church that met monthly to scrapbook and thought it would be nice to do something charitable and asked her about the dresses. Well, let’s just say that was the end of my scrapbooking group, I became a “crazy sewing lady”.  I also sew for the group “Days for Girls” which makes sustainable sanitary supply kits and meet with the group  “Wrapped in Prayer” making prayer quilts for those experiencing physical, emotional or spiritual pain.  I’ve also been sewing and sending dresses to the Reservation for several years as well as to 17 other countries..

I’m the Tucson area ambassador for Dress A Girl which is a program of Hope 4 Women International, a 501c3 organization. The dream and challenge of Dress A Girl is to “Imagine a World where every little girl owned at least one dress.” This organization has put their dream into action by delivering more than 235,000 dresses to little girls in 77 countries all over the world since beginning in October 2009.  Dresses are hand carried by missionaries and other groups to be placed on the little girls, letting them know that someone loves them and sewed a dress just for them. Many girls have never had a dress of their own. We’ve heard that some girls will wear the dress day and night, never taking it off, similar to the story Carol B shared about the little Lakota girl receiving a dress this month who slept in it. We do ask that when possible photos be sent of the girls who have received the dresses. It means so much to the ladies who put such love into sewing the dresses to see the girls in the dress. You can see some of the dresses our group has sent out on my Facebook page Dress A Girl Around The World – Tucson. There is no charge for anyone to take or receive dresses and each ambassador is responsible for obtaining the materials to make the dresses as well as funds to ship them to the group distributing them so I love donations!

I became connected with Sew For Kids through Hopeful Threads as they were sewing for both my group and SFK.  When you start sewing for one charity, the connections that occur are amazing!   Several Dress A Girl groups have sent many dresses to the Pine Ridge Reservation but sadly we never received any feedback that our dresses had been well received other than a note for tax purposes saying we had sent so many pounds of clothing.  I was determined to find a point person for the Lakota people as many ladies want to sew for girls in the United States instead of sending their dresses overseas. I obtained Jerome and Theresa’s address, I believe from another Dress A Girl rep, and sent off a big box of warm winter clothing last fall. The day the package arrived in Wanblee I got a phone call from Jerome! I was so happy (as in ecstatic!) and knew the connection needed to get dresses to the girls had been made. I even received photos, and that was the clincher for my sewers. I now have a group of ladies who are thrilled to sew for the High Horses, including one exceptional seamstress who loves to make outfits for the plus sized girls. I’ve posted photos and pattern numbers on the Yahoo group page.  SFK is highlighting the girls in April, but Dress A Girl Tucson will continue to sew and send as long as there are girls needing a dress.

It’s evident the ladies in this group are committed to sending quality items to the High Horses.  It’s been thrilling to see all the suggestions on the blog and Pinterest boards and have even found some cute patterns I’m going to try.  Dress a Girl was started by using donated pillowcases as the basis for our dresses, however we had issues with quality, they were either too thin, stained and soiled or made of microfiber so we usually found it better to start with new fabric.    When sending dresses abroad in people’s suitcases the basic pillowcase style is easiest to pack, but for the Rez I’ve  become open to adding more cute embellishments, ruffles, buttons, etc.  Theresa says she does have the ability to make minor repairs and adjustments to the dresses unlike those going to third world countries where there are no pins, needles or sewing machines, and rarely a mother!

I admit to being a stickler on quality control and try to ensure that each dress I send is the best dress ever.  In a nutshell:  1) Use quality fabric, it really does make a difference. 100% cotton fabric is great, like quilters use.  2) Do not use thin or see through fabric, if you can see the outline of your hand or see print on a page, choose something else!  3) Use bright colors, it’s cheerful and hides stains.  4) Make sure to finish all seams, no raw edges anywhere.  French seams are a breeze to make once you get past the first one when you’re sure you’re doing it wrong, why would you sew the wrong sides of the fabric together with a narrow seam?? A serger is great for making sturdy seams, if you don’t have one make a regular seam and zigzag next to it, raw edges are finished and the seam is reinforced.   5) If you’re making a pillowcase style dress here’s a great tutorial by my friend Karen on how to make the best dress ever.  She also has a super tutorial for a t-shirt dress   6) Please be sure and make the ties long enough to allow for a nice bow.  I make ties by cutting 2 strips of fabric 2″ wide by the fabric width (usually 44″,  36″ for baby), fold strip in half and fold edges in (or zip it through a bias tape making thingamajig, 25mm, or use the Simplicity bias tape making machine).  The armhole curve isn’t severe enough to warrant using bias tape, which can get really expensive.  Make your own to save money, get unlimited color choices and use for further embellishment.  I don’t use ribbon of any kind for the ties.   7) Please don’t use anything on the dress that’s not washable…. no craft ribbon, raffia, hot glue, artificial flowers. We’re making these dresses to be loved and worn for the long term and maybe even passed on to another girl.

There have been so many suggestions for free patterns that I hesitate to throw any more out there. The pillowcase dress needs no pattern just follow the directions on the above websites.  If you want to use an actual pattern be sure and purchase when JoAnn’s has them on sale for $1. A few that are quick and easy are Simplicity 2241, See & Sew (by Butterick) 3889 and B6004, Butterick B4173 and 3772 and McCalls 2686, 6501 and M6275 (this one is cute for the older girls and comes in plus sizes). I’ve also made a few skirts from old jeans I think the older girls will like.

As usual I’ve gotten way too wordy and I’ve hardly started sharing my excitement!  In my sewing room is a collage ”Live your passion out loud”.   I am….and what fun to be able to create dresses for little girls after primarily using my sewing machine the past 30 years for sewing on Cub Scout patches and making pj’s and curtains! I am grateful to have connected with SFK and the High Horses. If you are sewing for Dress A Girl and have no rep counting your dresses, I’ll be glad to send in numbers for you.  I have discussed the Dress A Girl label with headquarters, and it’s been decided that, unlike other destinations, it’s not necessary to sew labels on the dresses. It’s been found that some places in the United States this label, instead of protecting the girls from predators,  may identify them as a “charity case.” We want the girls to love their dresses and be proud to wear them!

If I can help in any way, my email is dressagirltucson@gmail.com. Thanks for taking me under your wing and allowing me the pleasure of sending dresses to the girls on the Rez!”

Carol Johnson

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