In my January Newsletter, I mentioned that Amy over at Diary of a Quilter is running Sew Goodness, a monthly charitable sewing challenge. This month's challenge was making pillowcase dresses for Little Dresses for Africa. I included Little Dresses for Africa in my Sewing for Charity List for 2018, so I was familiar with the organization. I also spent 3 months in Togo, Africa when I was in college so this was a project I could relate to. I had so much fun with this project and I am thankful that Amy's challenge gave me the push I needed to spend some time sewing up these dresses! I am sure a million things have changed since I was in Africa all those many years ago, but two things stick out in my mind. First, the vividly colored fabrics that the women wore, and second, the layer of fine orange dust that covered everything! Given those two memories, as I dove into my stash for fabrics to make these dresses, I went for bright colors and patterns, as well as prints with very little white!
Mixing and matching the fabrics was half the fun! You will find resources on Amy's page for sewing one of these dresses from an actual pillowcase, but Little Dresses for Africa explains that the pillowcase pattern is just a suggestion. Any simple pattern is fine. Cotton or cotton blend material is best for the African continent climate, but some polyester is fine, too. They also ask that you avoid buttons and zippers as they are difficult to repair. I used the free Popover Sundress pattern from Oliver and S. There is a complete tutorial on sewing this dress that you can find here.
My pieces of fabric were 45 inches wide and a yard long. I made the biggest size I could with the piece of fabric that I had. My dresses are all a size 6. I folded the salvages into the center and was able to get both the front and back of the dress out of the 45 inch width.
For this dress I used purchased bias binding rather than making my own bias straps. I just love the polka dots on the binding.
Binding clips are a wonderful help when attaching the bias binding (thanks for the tip Kelli!)
Here is one last dress!