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 here, here, here here, and here.
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.