It all began when a group of women, from the Trenton Church of Christ in Michigan, went on a mission trip to Malawi, Africa.  Upon seeing first hand,  the devastation  brought on by H.I.V. and A.I.D.S., one missionary, Rachel O’Neill, returned home inspired.  As most young girls have but one dress, which they wear until it is literally in shreds, O’Neill’s idea was to provide simple frocks fashioned out of colorful pillowcases. 

Little Dresses for Africa was born of this idea, “Simple dresses are made out of pillowcases and distributed through the orphanages, churches and schools in Africa to plant in the hearts of little girls that they are worthy.”

The mission soon caught on, and other churches, civic groups, schools, and just plain ‘ole everyday folk are  getting involved with this creative, colorful enterprise.

These sweet and simple dresses bring hope to young girls who live in an otherwise bleak environment.  The non-profit organizations provide mostly to the children in the Central African area, which is hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic, and has been joined by its companion mission, Britches for Boys.

Many of the children are orphans or are being raised by siblings, with all living in poverty.  As such, clothing is a luxury.  The distribution of the clothing is held in conjunction with various educational classes centered on nutrition and sanitation. To date the organization and its sister efforts have provided over 37,000 dresses.



Feeling inspired? Follow these simple directions to contribute your own creation.

1) Fold a freshly pressed pillowcase in half length-wise with the fold towards you. Cut off the top of the closed ends of the case, about 3/4 to 1 inch.

2) On the opposite side, you will cut out the armholes. Come down about 5 inches; start cutting in about 2 inches; start cutting upwards to the top; the cut out should resemble a letter J.

3) Open up the pillowcase. From the top, turn down about 1/2 inch and press. Turn down about 1 inch again and press.

4) Sew a straight line to create a casing for the elastic that forms the neckline – do this on both sides. The original hem on the pillowcase serves as the hem on the dress also. The elastic, 2x about 10 inches of 1/2-3/4 inch elastic, is then snaked through the casing on both sides.

5) Secure the elastic with stitching on each end. You are now ready to add bias tape to finish off the armholes. Make sure you allow enough to create ties – one yard per armhole works well.

Donations may be sent to:24614 Curtis Dr. Brownstown, MI 48134.

Little Dresses for Africa – Video

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