“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

What Are You Making for the Summer Clothing Month?

April 13, 2014 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Many of us on the Yahoo Sew for Kids group have been discussing patterns and ideas for the girls since April is their month. Dresses are at the top of the list for those that are sewing and some are making the plus sizes as those girls usually don’t find anything that fits them when the monthly NAHA trucks come in. We have members from the organization “Dress A Girl Around the World” joining us on this project.  Member Carol BJ will be telling us about that charity in a future blog and sharing their patterns and sewing tips.  However, today I want to talk about making shorts for summer.

Making shorts may not seem like a very exciting project to sew but you can make it more interesting by choosing character prints for younger children and solid colors, stripes, plaids, etc. for older kids and adding embellishments such as ric rac, piping, appliques, etc.  Most kids like to have pockets in their shorts by age 3 so they have somewhere to put their “stuff”.  A lot of patterns have side pockets, if yours doesn’t directions are on the web for adding your own or why not add patch pockets, they’re easy and a good way to use contrasting fabric to customize your project.

I tend to make shorts longer for younger kids, they play a lot outside and scrape up their knees so the extra length gives them a little more protection and most boys now prefer the longer “board” shorts.  In fact for my grandkids I make them more like capris to protect knees and skin from the hot CA sun.   It’s hot in SD as well and sunscreen isn’t something you can purchase with food stamps so kids don’t wear it.  Check your stash before buying new and if you’re short on fabric (no pun intended) color block your shorts, use coordinating fabrics to make pockets or make each leg different, add cuffs, etc.  I’ve promised my husband (fingers crossed!) that I’ll try to whittle down my stash before adding more fabric but  I can always justify buying more because kids wear out their shorts over the summer so I know I’ll be making more next year.

Fabrics I choose for shorts are cotton wovens or knits as they’re cooler to wear,  blends are good too but aren’t as cool as pure cotton.   A sturdier fabric is important as kid’s clothing takes a beating as they explore their environment, especially the older kids.  Many kids on the Rez wear cut off’s for shorts (last year’s school jeans)  and while they wear well can be hot in the summer unless they’re full of holes which is the current fashion statement.  The more holes in your jeans the better and seems department stores charge more money the holier they get!  Ironing isn’t important on or off the Rez, just ask my son and daughter, and most of the younger generation don’t even own an iron, borrowing one only if absolutely necessary . Wrinkles are in with this generation.  Laundry on the Rez can be a problem but with the hot sun of SD clothing dries fast, so if they have access to water and a little laundry soap (again not payable with food stamps), they can quickly rinse their item out and hang it out to dry, ready to wear the next day.

My ideal pattern for shorts is one with an elastic waist and side or patch pockets.  These are easy to sew and can be mass produced once you get into a rhythm.   Many patterns have a fly but most of the younger boys don’t use one and researching the web and the males in my family has convinced me they aren’t used at any age so why go to that extra work.  Some patterns have a false fly which is much easier to sew,  zippers and applied waistbands with buttons take too much time and I wouldn’t even consider them for play shorts.   Use the standard measurements on the charts shown here for elastic length since we don’t have the actual kids to measure, and add an inch for overlap.  I use a lot of elastic (non-roll usually) and buy it by the roll when it’s on sale.  Remember to sew down the center front and back of your waistband to prevent rolling and add a size tag if you can.

There are plenty of free patterns on the web and don’t forget to check out my own Pinterest page , our  SFK site and our pattern page.  Commercial patterns go on sale regularly at your favorite craft/fabric store and can be had for 99 cents.  You can also make a pattern from a pair of kids premade shorts, directions are everywhere online.   Since we’re all interested in saving Mother Earth, refashion/upcycling items is encouraged as long as the finished product meets our donation requirements.  Garage sales are starting up across the country so time to head out and look for bargains, shop your kids closet for outgrown clothing or check out your favorite thrift store for good buys.

We’re making shorts in various kid’s sizes including plus sizes.   Lightweight knit shorts are needed for the younger girls (tomboys) to wear under their skirts and dresses.  Whatever size you make Jerome and Theresa will find a child to fit them.   We’ll be discussing tops to go along with our shorts in future blogs.  Please share photos of your projects, patterns you use and ideas for inspiration and thanks to all for your continued support. Please send your donations to the High Horses  here.


Some short patterns to copy if you have a printer or have a pair of shorts to copy










Summer Clothing Project

April 2, 2014 at 11:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spring has sprung so that means summer is right around the corner, right?  We’ve all taken a beating this winter and am sure no one is sorry to see it go although some folks are still looking at snow on the ground!   Normal summers on the Rez are hot and dry, which I can attest to having visited many times during the heat, but if the past winter is any indication, normal could be out the window.


Most children on the Rez don’t have a lot of things for summer as parents spend what little money they have on school clothing which tends to be long pants, shirts and sweats.  When the temps rise most kids wear cut-offs and babies and toddlers sport a diaper or pair of underwear. Many go shirtless and while it does keep one cool it’s not very healthy for children to have all that skin exposed to the hot sun which increases the risk for skin cancer (sunscreen use is rare).  Another hazard is being bitten by flies and other insects that carry disease.  Although we don’t like to think about it, kids not covered properly with clothing are at increased risk for sexual abuse by individuals intent on taking advantage of a child, one of the reasons school policies require a certain dress code for children.  By the way, April is National Child Abuse Prevention month so support your local organizations who help these children.

 I remember wishing during one of my Rez visits that I could spruce up some of the kids I saw with new clothing as they looked like little ragamuffins.  They were dressed in stained and tattered clothing that didn’t fit well, most likely handed down from an older sibling or donated clothing that had come off one of the trucks.  There’s a lot of dust on the Rez so kids clothing is frequently in need of laundering which it may not get as some families don’t have washers and clothing must be hand washed. I know what it’s like to get hand me downs as I used to get clothing after my two sisters had finished with them and wished every year that I would get new ones. Certainly my clothes weren’t in the condition that these kids wear so really I shouldn’t be complaining.  Whether we like to admit it or not most of us tend to judge, at least initially, what a person is like by how they’re dressed.  Mark Twain once said “Clothes make the man. A naked man has little or no influence on society.”  How true, even today.

So let’s get our machines out and sew up some nice, new clothing for these deserving kids.  We’d like each child to have at least one nice outfit this summer, if you don’t sew new or gently used clothing gladly accepted.  We’ll be sewing for girls this month and in May for the boys sharing ideas and patterns along the way.  If you have a preference for one or the other or only have fabric/patterns for boys (or girls) that’s not a problem as it will all even out with so many of us sewing. We will sew for sizes 3-14, the babies ages 0-2 years will have the month of June dedicated to their needs. The girls will need shorts, tops/shirts, skorts, skirts and dresses with matching shorts for underneath and sun hats. No see through fabrics for the dresses and skirts, hold your fabric up to the light to check if it’s appropriate.  Light sweaters and jackets are good for cool evenings and boleros and shrugs are projects for our crocheters and knitters to tackle or make a dress with a knitted or crocheted top .  A big thanks to Virginia N for sending socks and underwear which are always at the top of the most needed list.  Summer shoes such as flip flops, sandals and canvas sneakers are needed so watch those sales and BOGO offers.

To kick off this project I made three little girl’s sundresses by attaching gathered cotton knit skirts to T-shirts found at a local discount store for $2 a package.  I used dimensions from a sewing book but there are lots of blogs that have free patterns using this idea. This is a fast and economical way to sew a dress, in just a couple of hours I had three finished and am now making the matching shorts/frilly underpant covers(for the younger child) underneath. Photos below of finished dresses and here are some sites for ways to make such dresses herehere, here here, and here.


T shirt dresses

T shirt dresses


Here are some measurement guidelines for each age group here and here -waist, length, etc to help you. Theresa High Horse told me the most popular length for dresses/skirts is just below the knee.  They can always be shortened if too long but they don’t have the fabric or trim to make them longer.  Some of the kids are plus size, results from high carb diets, so consider sewing some plus sizes, patterns are readily available from most pattern companies.  Many of the larger girls don’t get anything from the trucks when they come in as most donated clothing is in regular sizes.  Please sew a size tag inside the garment to make your outfit complete so it’s easier to try on in the truck and for storage purposes. 

Please join us the next couple of months sewing for the kids, these are the projects you get to use all the bright colored material and trims you have in your stash and let your creative side come out and play! You can certainly refashion or upcycle items to make a new outfit. Check out some ideas on my Pinterest site and of course the SFK Pinterest site. Send us your pictures, ideas and patterns.  A huge thanks to those of you that participated in the “bag drive” for Easter, it was a huge success with over 230 bags making their way to the Rez, we’ll have a party report later in the month. 

Wanblee March News and Another Simple Project

March 23, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have been working on my bags over the last week and a half and have made about several bags for the kids, some backpacks and some tote bags. They are easy, quick ,functional and colorful . Each pattern I have tried has a few things I would change but in general are patterns that work. Love to know how many of you are making bags for the kids and for what age. Certainly bags can be bought too. Bags will be used to collect the eggs in but also for many other uses. And remember the environmental impact of using cloth rather than plastic!

I also mentioned in the last blog that you could make some kids’ toys if you preferred instead of a bag, kids love to have cuddly toys, especially the younger ones. Or design an activity for a child. Young moms need some tools(toys, activities,  books ) so they have something to use to interact with their child, to quiet their child, and kids need to have lots of different kinds of stimuli to develop their brains. And of course, a toy is something that belongs to them and is used in many instances as a comfort item for a child. Lots of ideas out there on our SFK pattern page and many are on my Pinterest site  and the Sew For Kids Pinterest site. And of course, adding a few books to your box will certainly be welcomed by a child.  Kids can not learn to read if they do not have books. Summer is fast approaching and books are needed to maintain skills they learned in the past year.

I was talking to Jerome High Horse last night and asked him what day the Easter egg hunt and party will take place. Easter is April 20th but because families and relatives like to spend the day together that day, the egg hunt will take place on April 11 th . So items for the party need to be mailed by the end of March/early April so they have an idea where they have to fill in the gaps or do without. The party is scheduled to be held in the community park that several community members are building. They have a baseball field near the park and a team of kids that practice there. Two Rez men volunteer their time and pay for gas and food for the kids to get them to the games. Jerome hooked up with a past professional player and has asked if he could help with some uniforms for the kids. The community eventually wants to build a basketball court for the kids to practice their hoops but that has to wait until money comes in for such a project  They have a volleyball net set up, a gift from a supporter of SFK , from the last 4th of July party. Currently they are building picnic tables for the site from pallets that come off the NAHA truck each month. Only some nails, screws and a few more hand drills and some stain are needed and hopefully volunteers coming to the Rez will help with that need. Jerome has a table saw. The young men want to build them and Jerome is willing to show them how to build them since he has a background in construction. The good thing is that the community is working together on the project. And since spring break happens the end of March , volunteers who come will help them build the tables as well. There will be games set up for all the participate in at the party after the hunt and food.

Worldwide Hunger Relief in WI  is providing  all the food for the Easter party which will be a barbecue. Some people will come down from WI and bring the food and help with the party.  There will be brats, hot dogs and hamburgers, buns ,condiments and drinks. And they will provide the candy to stuff in the plastic eggs. Monetary donations are accepted on their site if you wish to donate. That is to help with gas to transport the food and the cost of the food. Also they usually bring down other needed items that people in their community donate. Plastic eggs are still needed so if you can include a package or 2 in a box which you send that would help them get to the 5000 they need. Cheryl T sent along 500 , a good start to that total. Last year the hunt was held in the snow! Always items like paper plates, napkins and plastic cutlery are needed so if you have any throw them in the box too.  And watch for them on sale in the future.  Remember they now have a storage truck. Carol M just sent 1000 paper cups along so that need has been fulfilled. Thank you Carol. Also they would like to do as done in the past , provide 2 -16 inch bikes and 2 -20 inch bikes for 2 boys and 2 girls at the party. Donations are welcomed for those as well at the WWHR site . Total cost for the 4 bikes is $200. Jerome buys them in Rapid City at Walmart. The bikes are dependent upon the donations but the kids do love them.

The  unpaid heating bill at the Kennedy Hall has been paid by a group of great volunteers of the Pine Ridge Elders group who make and send warm items and other household needs to the High Horses to give out locally , but  also to anyone across the Rez who has a need. The building management will now be overseen by Jerome and the fee for using the building will be collected faithfully each time it is used so that the heating bill gets paid and on time. The community needs this building for many things such as NAHA deliveries, parties, movie nights,  the women’s sewing circle, police meetings, education, bingo, funerals, give aways etc. Without this building there will be no place for people to meet for events that bring the community together so good management is the key to making that happen. Ideas are being looked at to earn money for the activities and the heat. Ideas from all of you are also welcome .

This past week, 6 inches of snow fell on the ground. Jerome and his Woodchucks had to get out and cut more wood as the pile had dwindled to next to nothing and they were receiving calls from the local people who were out of wood. The days are longer so Jerome and his crew were able to work until 7 pm. Thankfully they have the warm items sent to the Rez, many made by several of you. Yesterday I got a call from Kidz Quiltz, a group from CO, and Wilma Hamilton, the Director, said they  have another 30 warm quilts to send to the High Horses. That will go soon and will be given out when a call comes in.

I was talking to Theresa the other day about getting the women and girls’ sewing club up and running especially now that the Kennedy Hall issue has been solved. In talking to her, I was sad to hear that some of the moms who want to breastfeed are having trouble maintaining their milk supply due to their nutritional status. Having the women’s group will be a place where young moms can come and maybe get some tips and recipes that work for the foods they can buy with food stamps or get in the commodities so that the babies get breast milk for 6 months or more. It offers so many benefits to the baby. Might be a project we can think about , making a recipe book. The Kennedy Hall does have a kitchen so hands on instruction is possible. Nurse Debbie is also starting a breastfeeding support group for the moms in the community, something she feels called to do. They want to meet the Baby Friendly hospital guidelines set out by Michelle Obama in her Let’s Move campaign.

A request has gone out from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit for donations to buy garden tools, fencing and chickens/ feed for  community garden area. Seed packets are certainly welcomed as well. The pallets are going to be used to build the chicken coops. Again volunteers will be recruited from the community and from visitors looking for ways to help the people. So if you can make a small donation to Hearts gardening project or send a packet of seeds that project will have a chance of success.

That is the latest news from the Rez. If you can help with any of the needs that I mentioned in the blog, that will help ensure programs are successful.

Please send your bags and any other items here. Please either enclose a SASE or your email address in the box as they like to acknowledge your gift. Share your photos with us and do let us know if you have made any bags for the kids for the Easter project.  As always thanks from Sew For Kids.

Photos . We want to add your photos of your projects on our site. Send them along and will post them here. I will post some of mine soon as well so check back here this week.

March Project -Bags

March 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

With plastic bags slowly disappearing from the grocery stores in many states, and paper bags costing 10 cents a bag, reusable bags are now frequently seen in the hands of shoppers.  Reusable and washable bags  are one way to reduce the plastic overload in landfills. Plastics take years to break down, if they do at all and plastic bags are littering our roadsides and polluting our oceans where they can do considerable harm to sea life. And with no formal recycling program on the Rez, the cost to set up one being a major factor, their land and landfills are covered with these items that off the Rez would be collected through such a program. Education about why and how to take care of our environment and save it for future generations , starts at an early age so cloth bags to carry items in, are a beginning in that process. People on the Rez are delighted to get a bag as not only can they carry their weekly grocery items but they can also serve as a diaper bag, toy bag, book bag, etc.

We all know that children are collectors of “stuff” and need something to carry their treasures around in. Pockets are really important and by age 3, I try to include them in the pants and shorts I make for my grandkids just because it provides that special place for those treasures found on a walk, digging etc. But a pocket can only hold a few things and kids that age are in the discovery stage of their lives and with so many things treasures to them, they need something bigger to hold it all.

At the beginning of the school year many organizations  provide backpacks for the children but not everyone will receive one, older kids have more school work and carry more books so they will be at the top of the list.  These bags will take a beating during the school year and may not be in good enough condition to be handed down to their younger siblings.

With an Easter party scheduled for April we thought this would be a good time to make bags for the kids, they can use them for the egg hunt at the party and afterwards to hold clothing, books, etc.  Also March is National Reading Month and we want to encourage kids to read more so it would be good if they had something to put their books in that various organizations donate from time to time. If you have any books your children or grandchildren have outgrown, please include them in your next box.

Children, ages newborn through 14 years of age, will be attending the party.  Mothers bring their babies and toddlers to hunt for eggs, kids ages 5 through 10 hunt on their own and the older ones 11-14 help the younger ones if they need it. And elders show up for the fun and the High Horses fill a bag with personal items they receive from NAHA donations. The High Horse family and friends will hide about 5000 plastic eggs (still needed), filled with candy, talk about a plastic overload!  The party will be held, rain, snow or shine so guess the plastic eggs are a necessity.  They haven’t been able to keep the eggs from year to year because the kids refuse to hand them over after the hunt so unfortunately they need to be replaced each year. It’s one more thing they can add to their treasure collection and my grandkids are no different in that regard, theirs ends up in the play food box.

So what kind of bags are needed?  Well for mothers a diaper bag would be great to carry diapers and all the other things babies need.  Some mothers like to use backpacks as their kids get older so they have both hands free to chase after busy toddlers. For younger children, ages 3-5,  a smaller drawstring or tote bag with shorter handles or even a backpack style bag large enough to hold a book, pair of shoes, or stuffed animal but small enough to be manageable for a young child.  Older children ages 6-10 can use the same style bags but in larger sizes as they carry much more such as heavy books and sports equipment. For the young teens helping out at the party consider making a fun purse style bag for the girls and  drawstring bags with straps that can be worn backpack style for boys. They are expecting about 250 plus kids so we have a job ahead of us if we are to reach that goal.

The majority of the bags needed are for newborns (diaper bags) through age 10. Use fabric in bright solid colors or prints if you have them, raid your scrap bag and piece them together in fun designs.  Some other fabric choices are denim, lightweight corduroy, canvas, poplin, ripstop nylon, drapery and upholstery.  Knits and fleece aren’t suitable for bags unless you line them with a nonstretch fabric as they will “grow” and stretch out of shape when heavier items are carried.  If you’re using the lighter weight cottons we suggest lining those too.  Add pockets to the outside and/or inside of the bags for things that need to be retrieved quickly, especially handy for diaper bags.  We’re striving to keep the bags simple, stylish and functional. My bags take me a about an hour to make once cut out, especially if you do assembly line style, if making more than one. You can also buy a plain bag and decorate with an applique, a fabric paint, embroidery etc

I’ve been adding pins on my own Pinterest site where you can find free patterns and ideas for making kids bags.  Sew For Kids also has their own Pinterest site with a board for the March project along with many others. For crocheters and knitters there are some cute patterns under “Kids Bags” on Ravelry  that you can make.

Please share photos of bags you make to inspire us all.  Please send your finished bags here.

As always thanks from Sew For Kids.

Photos of bags I have made so far. Love to post yours to the site.

Wanblee News for February

March 1, 2014 at 6:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Well winter is still present on the Rez as it is in many states across the country, snow began to melt but the thaw was short lived as another storm is on the way.   Will it ever end??

Jerome, Theresa and the Woodchucks have been busy sawing wood as many folks still need it to keep warm.   Since the saws have really taken a beating this winter  I decided to send the funds to purchase new blades and chains for three of the saws as Jerome wasn’t able to sharpen them anymore.  The log splitter has also been in constant use and he’s had to do repairs on that as well.  Fortunately Jerome is an all around “Jack of all Trades” which comes in pretty handy when resources are limited.   The Woodchucks needed more gloves too as they go through them quickly unless they have leather palms.    A supply came in from some supporters so hopefully they can make it through the rest of the season with those.  If you see any good work gloves on sale and have a few extra dollars to spare they will be needed for next winter.

Propane has doubled and even tripled in some areas of the country which means more folks than usual are without heat.  Propane companies previously delivered a minimum order of $150 but this year that has increased to $200, an impossible amount to come up with for many households.  Hearts of the Sacred Spirit has helped many families, thanks to donations from many of you, and some funding is finally coming from the government but it’s still tough going on the Rez.   Your donations of warm items are important every winter but they have been a godsend this year!   Many thanks to Joan in MN,  Diane in NM and Carol in Maine for sending crock pots so families that couldn’t use their stoves could still prepare a hot meal.   This wonderful group reminds me of the famous quote,  “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead

The storage truck (semi trailer) that was donated  a couple of months ago via Hearts of the Sacred Spirit made possible through Richard Field’s foundation, has received funding for some improvements.  Anne Fields (Richard’s wife) from Georgia knew the truck would need some remodeling to make it more usable,  so she applied for and received a $1000 grant to install shelving, insulation and electric.  Jerome and his volunteer crew will be doing the work and with spring break just around the corner he’s hoping college students will be descending on the Rez looking for volunteer opportunities.  He’s making a list!  Plastic storage containers will be needed for clothing, etc. that’s out of season so they’ve  been picking one up on their trips to Walmart.   I will be donating containers for the baby items, just waiting to see what size will best fit on the shelves.  We want Debbie and Theresa to have quick access to the stock and to let us know when things are running low.

New storage container

New storage container

Jerome has 2 homes that are in dire need of repair, actually they’re uninhabitable, but the occupants have nowhere else to go.  He’s been taking measurements of the homes and making a supply list, am waiting to see if there’s something our group can do to help.  He’s hoping to get help from Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and Worldwide Hunger Relief donors.  If any of you are interested in helping with the funding of this project, monetary donations can be made to Hearts of the Sacred Spirit just add a note which project it’s for.

The Kennedy Hall has a large electric bill that hasn’t been paid and Jerome had to go to the tribal council to see if they would help.  This is the only building the community has to hold holiday celebrations, funerals, group meetings, etc. and the same building Jerome and Theresa hoped to hold “movie night” for the community.   The council has agreed to help get the bill paid but they have to find a long term solution for future utility costs.  Presently there is a flat $50 fee per day to use the center which helps pay for building upkeep, cleaning supplies and utilities.  Some have used the building in the past, promised to pay the fee but never followed through, the monies will now be collected upfront.  Jerome and Theresa pay $50 out of their pocket every time they want to use the building for a party, NAHA deliveries, movie nights, sewing night for the ladies or any other function.

We’re trying to come up with ways to make the building more accessible and affordable for activities.  The winter months are the most costly with utilities running about $200 per month, summer months are much cheaper as they don’t use AC and there’s no concern about freezing pipes.  The building has electric heat which is expensive, more efficient lighting and solar panels are being discussed but this will take funding and won’t happen overnight.  Folks in the community that can afford it will contribute to the center but they will need help as most simply don’t have much to give.  Kids need a safe place to go for after school activities and recreation.  The women want to sew and the kids keep asking when the next movie night will be so we have to put our heads together and come up with a way to make it happen for them.  One of the ways we can help is to send supplies for movie nights and parties so we can relieve Jerome and Theresa’s pocketbook a little, they aren’t wealthy and do as much as they can with what they have.   Needed supplies are Styrofoam cups, plates, plastic cutlery, hot chocolate, popcorn and popcorn oil.  Gift cards to Sam’s Club are much appreciated as they can purchase large quantities of popcorn and oil there.  They hold back some cleaning supplies and toilet paper that come in from the NAHA deliveries to keep at the center for everyone to use.  We’re looking for ideas so put your thinking caps on and send them our way!

February has come to a close and that means we’ll be starting a new project. For those of you that made items for this month’s project they can be sent here. Thanks to all who participated in the towel, washcloth and pillowcase drive. If you don’t have enough right now to fill a good sized box wait until you do so the shipping costs are more affordable.  If you took pictures of your donations don’t forget to send them our way, we’d love to post them for everyone to see.

Next month we’ll be making bags for kids ages 0-14.  They will be used to collect Easter eggs at the party but we’re really making them for carrying books, clothes, toys or whatever else kids want to load in there.  If bag making isn’t your thing we’ll be sharing ideas for making stuffed animals or softies for the kids.  Easter isn’t until April 20th so we’ll have plenty of time to sew.  Janet has set up a March Pinterest board so send your ideas or favorite pins so we can add them.  Hope you can join us for this project!

Some photos of donations that came in for this month’s drive.  Several other items were donated but I do not have photos to share. Also other items that were not this month’s project were donated and I will highlight them in the month of that project. We are so thankful to have such great supporters  with generous hearts and such talent. !

Pillowcases For Kids

February 19, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The final project we’ll make this month is a child’s pillowcase. There have been many pillowcase drives on the web for kids that are ill, homeless or those going to new foster homes or experiencing other problems. Children on the Rez need their spirits lifted as well and a new, brightly colored pillowcase is something we can do to help. Usually we accept used items in good condition but for this project we’d like the pillowcase to be purchased new or constructed of new materials. Of course if your fabric happens to be a sheet that’s barely used that’s acceptable too, just don’t forget to add some colorful trim or contrasting fabric to make it “kid appealing”. We’re sewing standard sized cases, finished size 21″ x 32″ for children ages 2 through early teens so you have a wide variety of fabrics to choose from.  I’m on a fabric diet now because I promised my husband no more purchases until my stash loses some girth!

There are plenty of pillowcase tutorials on the web but I do want to recommend using the techniques shown here, here and here. There are some really creative ideas here and they use a technique that encases the seam so it doesn’t ravel when laundered, especially good if you don’t own a serger.  Lots of patterns here and here if you have lots of smaller pieces in your scrap bag.

This project is a lot of fun and goes really fast once you make the first one. Bonnie at Fishstick designs has it down to 9 1/2minutes ! It’s also a great first sewing project to do with your children or grandchildren as Jan P did with her 7 year old granddaughter Zoey, french seams to boot!  Not only did she learn some new sewing skills and help make 9 pillowcases but she also learned about “giving back” by making something for someone in need.  Children helping children, what great inspiration for us all! Lets here it for the kids! Jan and her granddaughter's ' pillowcaseswcase Love the colors.  Will brighten a child’s day/night.

These pillowcases will be given out as gifts at the community parties, at the clinic as a “reward” for coming in for immunizations, etc. and to those children experiencing any kind of trauma or loss.  My sister made my 2 grandsons a few pillowcases and they use them on the pillow but also use them to cuddle with like a small blanket.  Pillowcases can cover up an old pillow and make it look new again or if the child doesn’t have a pillow they can make one by filling it up with clothing as children do in foster care when they fill it up with their belongings.  There are many other ways to use a pillowcase as seen here and here.

We know many of our sewers also knit and crochet and Jean in WI, one of our volunteers who’s also a Ravelry member, volunteered to start a group over there to attract new members and generate more interest for our cause. Some of the supporters on our site asked if one could be set up. Jean just informed me the new Sew For Kids  Ravelry group is up and ready to join and welcomes any of you interested in knitting and crocheting to come on over and check it out. Many of you are probably already Ravelry members and use the site often as there are tons of free and designer patterns for sale. If you’re not a Ravelry member and want to join you can do so here.  Thanks Jean for the getting the site set up. Thanks to Tamie G for helping to moderate the group along with Jean.  Keep those suggestions coming!

Please share photos of your pillowcases or other projects.  Our next blog will update you on some Wanblee news.  As always thanks from Sew For Kids. Sweet Dreams Kids!

Simple and Fun Scrap Project

February 10, 2014 at 10:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The next project I’m tackling this month is washcloths because my stash is full of stretch terry, cotton, flannel and knit scraps begging to be used.  You can also use minky or chenille  scraps for young babies if you happen to have any of those in your stash.  Stained or blemished towels can be recycled into washcloths, just cut around the flaw and finish the edges by serging or binding as shown here.  Upcycle an old cotton sweater shown here, or use an old cotton blanket for some really great washcloths.  You can buy premade baby washcloths and make them even better using the tutorial found here.  If you use knits for your project check out this link for some great tips in sewing with knits.  Washcloth sizes can be anywhere from 8″ to 12″ square, smaller ones being better for babies and larger ones for older kids.

I basically made my washcloths using this video.   You can round the corners  by using a plate or bowl edge at the corners to make the curve.  I think it’s good to sew an “X”  or a few parallel lines across the fabric to keep the layers from shifting.  These would be good for children of all ages as well as adults.  The washcloths I made last month to match the hooded towels didn’t use  topstitching but if you’re using that pattern I recommend adding this extra step, also good to do on double layered receiving blankets.

If you don’t have fabric large enough for this project get your scrap bag out and “piece” a square and iron your seams open to reduce bulk.  Make it an “I Spy” cloth for the little ones by using kid prints with dogs, cats, etc. for them to find.   Here’s another way to make a washcloth that stays on your hand while bathing.   Then there’s always the puppet washcloths for kids shown  here and here , if you have the time and want to make something a little more challenging.  I guarantee the kids will love them!  I’m always searching the web for more ideas this is what showed up when googling “washcloths to sew“.

Washcloths can also be knitted and crocheted, I’ve used this classic washcloth pattern many times in matching pastels and tying them together with ribbon for a nice gift.   More patterns for knit and crochet cloths  here, here and here.   We don’t want to leave out the loom knitters, you can find a pattern here using the blue loom.

If you still want more patterns check out the washcloths to make in the crochet and knit sections on Ravelry.  Don’t forget to check out our SFK February project board on our Pinterest site.  Send us your favorite patterns so we can share them with others and “Pin” them to our boards.

Most of the country is stuck in more winter weather so chase away those winter blues by sewing, knitting or crocheting washcloths for the Wanblee kids.  Most kids love bath time so let’s make it “funner” with a cute washcloth so they can “scrub a dub dub  in their little tubs.”  If you do help with this project, send them here.  As always thanks for your help and continuing support.

Photos of my washcloth creations . I finally uploaded the towels I made and put them in the “February Project” blog.

February Project

February 5, 2014 at 11:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Late as usual to get the post up but better late than never. I’m glad I posted the  yearly projects in this blog, so you’re able to work ahead when I get behind with the blogs.  This month we’re concentrating on pillowcases, towels and washcloths for babies through teens. While the hooded baby towels may not be used by others in the family, I do know that regular towels will be used by everyone.  Sheets of all sizes are needed so add them to your box if you have any that are in good condition. Bedding and towels are not in great supply on the Rez.  Many sleep on drafty floors in their street clothes using only a blanket if they can find one. If there is a bed it will be shared with others as there isn’t room  in a 3 bedroom home for everyone to have their own bed.  Some homes have 15 or more occupants in the winter months due to the number of family members that return home from seasonal jobs. Once spring arrives they will head out once again looking for work so they can send money back home.

Eight mattresses came in from NAHA over Christmas and Jerome found wood around the area to build frames for them so people could get off their cold and drafty floors.  These twin and queen size beds went to 8 families that were sleeping on the floor.  Jerome often goes to construction sites and begs for the leftovers knowing there will be a future need for building supplies  We’re also very fortunate to have an organization I contacted in early fall, Kidz Quiltz ,  donate 30 quilts in sizes  45″x54″ and 45″x72″.  A BIG Thank You to all the generous quilters of that organization!  So those quilts along with our donations this month should help some people have a better night’s sleep.

Used bedding and towels in good, clean condition are welcome but we would like to make new pillowcases for the kids. This is an easy sewing project and an excellent one for beginners or kids to participate in. You can send used pillow cases too, others in the family will use them. Used towels can be jazzed up with trim and appliques appealing to kids although we know they will probably be used by others in the family.

My first project for the month is sewing hooded baby towels and washcloths, nurse Debbie likes to give them out to new mothers on her postpartum home visits.  I went “shopping” in my stash and found terrycloth purchased from an earlier thrift store find that I’ve been wanting to use up. Hooded towels are especially nice for kids on the Rez as they help prevent heat loss from bare heads after a bath. Check thrift stores for good used towels or the white sales many stores are having for new ones. All those warm hats you donated are doing double duty as they’re also worn indoors to keep people warm.

There are many ways to make hooded towels, I used the Purl Bee site, but changed the pattern (don’t I always).  Check this site for making a bias bound towel or our past guest blogger  for instructions to make her towels. For this towel I omitted adding the backing piece so the fabric could be saved to make a pair of kids shorts for summer.  To finish the edges I sewed bias cut scraps together for binding.  The finished towel is 32″x 32″ and the hood was made by cutting a 12″ square of terry and a coordinating fabric for lining.  I basically followed the blog instructions but sewed the hood to the corner and rounded the edges to make the binding job a little easier.  The washcloth was made from a  10″ piece of terry and coordinating fabric as in the blog. If you make the towel or washcloth in the pattern, make sure you sew a few lines thru each layer of the washcloth and towel ( like you do when you quilt)  to keep the pieces together when washed or used.

Making and applying binding is a skill I need to perfect which is why I chose to add it to this project. There are some great tutorials and videos  here , here, and here and this video shows how to use a bias tape maker, this Pinterest site is loaded with How To’s. Usually I sew the binding to the front of a quilt then sew it to the back by hand but to save time on this project I sewed the binding to the back of the towel with a 1/4 inch seam allowance and then turned it over to the front and used a zigzag stitch to finish.   To join the ends of the binding I used this method which works every time.

Most of our members are on limited budgets and don’t always have the money to add all the frills to their projects they might like to because the needs of the Rez are so great and there are only so many resources and time.  Mailing costs drive up the cost of projects even further so we try to concentrate on functional needs that will make people’s lives a little more tolerable. Although we do welcome all crafters we’re mainly a sewing site so want to share tips, patterns and new techniques with you to keep things interesting and challenging.  That’s how I keep my sewing projects interesting by learning something new knowing the result is something that can be used on the Rez and since I usually make more than one of each item my skill gets better. We’re always asking for your photos as you all have such wonderful ideas that inspire others and what better way to learn than from others that share your passion. You can always share your ideas with us on the facebook page or the yahoo group .

We have our own Pinterest site with boards for knitters, crocheters, sewers and also ones for our monthly projects.  If you need to learn or need help with a skill each craft has it’s own “tips” board.   This is a work in progress so check back often.  Send your favorite pins so we can add them to the boards.  We’re adding pins for the February project now so check them out.

Your gifts can be sent here.

Winter Warmth Project Successful

January 24, 2014 at 10:36 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

January is quickly coming to an end and we want to thank all of you that helped make the Winter Warmth project so successful . Over the last three months SFK volunteers have crafted and/or purchased hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, socks, boots, warm clothing, coats and blankets. You helped fill the High Horse shelves to overflowing with all the warm winter gear people in Wanblee so desperately needed. This year when Jerome and Theresa  received a phone call or a knock on their door asking for something warm they were able to say, “Yes we can help with that”. You responded to special needs, the daycare center reopened the other day and many of the children didn’t have warm coats, hats or mittens. A couple from our group sent coats from  the J C Penney winter sale and there were still mittens and hats from the Winter Warmth project to give out so several children went home that day smiling and very warm. Nurse Debbie picked up several boxes of donations for babies and children she’ll give out during clinics at the WIC office and on her home visits she makes to new mothers. You were so generous that she couldn’t fit everything in her car, but the High Horse’s will keep the surplus safe in the new storage trailer until she’s ready for more. Many elders are much warmer sitting in their chairs because they have new afghans, blankets and slippers made by our dedicated and talented supporters.  Many elders are diabetic and keeping their feet warm is extremely important. And several girls got a big surprise this year when some wonderful dresses showed up for them, made by Dress A Girl Around the World- Tucson. That helped raise some kids’ self esteem and made them feel special!

Recently the men that deliver wood and NAHA boxes to people living in remote areas had to stop deliveries because it was so brutally cold and they were so poorly dressed that it would’ve been a danger to their health to continue. Once again you came to their aid providing everything they needed so they could bundle up and resume their vitally important deliveries. People need the NAHA boxes to make it to the end of the month because food the government donates to Native Americans, which was decided upon by treaties in the past, only lasts 3 weeks. Without outside help from NAHA (Native American Heritage Association), Worldwide Hunger Relief, Hearts of the Sacred Spirit and from people like yourselves our Lakota friends would be in an even worse situation than they currently are. While these organizations aren’t able to provide assistance every month they do help in the critical winter months when needs are the greatest.

Jerome High Horse sent me a link to this video on You Tube produced by NAHA that shows their important work in the Native American community. Theresa and Jerome are highlighted in the film because they recently took over the local NAHA  program so food would get into the hands of people that desperately needed it.

Now that the daycare center has reopened we anticipate many requests for needs that can’t be met by parents so keep working on anything for babies (no newborn sizes) and children through age 12.  WIC  helps pregnant and nursing mothers and their children through age 5 with food, education, etc. and always need items to hand out when their clients come in. Since nurse Debbie sees her patients at the WIC office we’re hoping  to coordinate their needs together.

We’re ending our final post of the month with some links to free patterns for warm winter gear for those of you that like to work ahead for this fall’s project.  We don’t want those knitters and crocheters sitting around on these long winter nights with nothing to do! Janet, my SFK sidekick, has set up a Pinterest site with different boards for sewing, knitting, crocheting, etc. We have one just for winter sewing patterns so check that out if you have time, also send along your favorite pattern if we don’t have it. Here’s a pattern for mittens sewn from recycled felted wool sweaters ( or use fleece) for those of you wanting to try something new. This link is for Janet’s current favorite knitting project, a cowl she especially likes it because it double wraps around the neck and can be pulled up over the head for those cold SD winters, not to mention it’s an easy, mindless project. Knitting Pattern Central is a great place to find free patterns if you haven’t joined Ravelry yet.  Crocheters learn FPDC with this pattern, or how about a tiger hat for fun, or browse more free patterns here . I’m just finishing up sewing buttons on the baby sweaters I knitted over this past month and will post pictures soon. We would love to post pictures of your finished projects too so please send them along.

Again thanks to everyone that contributed to the winter program, your efforts were especially important this year with the early arrival of a colder and snowier than usual winter season and with all the cuts made to government programs.  You’ve helped many people in the Wanblee area and beyond to stay a little warmer this winter.  SFK has the most talented and generous people on the net!  New month, new project next blog.

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