Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Little Dresses Making Big Splash in Africa Presbyterian Women's Organization Puts Together Dressmaking Effort for Girls in Africa

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Little Dresses Making Big Splash in Africa Presbyterian Women's Organization Puts Together Dressmaking Effort for Girls in Africa

Article excerpt

Carol MacDonald recalls the picture that inspired a thousand dresses.

"The little girl wore a black and white zebra-striped dress with little ribbons on it.

She had a rose in her hair, and one hand on her hip. She had a brilliant smile, and this look of 'Oh, look at me,' " said the outgoing moderator of Presbyterian Women in the Pittsburgh Presbytery.

She saw the picture on a visit to Bethany Presbyterian Church in Bridgeville, where the women had made dresses for several years for girls in Haiti and Mexico.

In November, their mission changed when Little Dresses for Africa was launched as a national Presbytery-wide project and was adopted locally as the moderator's project.

"I'm over the moon. Almost every church is making dresses," Mrs. MacDonald said. "I'm so thrilled so many people were involved."

The dresses are being collected from local churches and delivered to Third Presbyterian Church in Shadyside, where they will be displayed at the Presbyterian Women's 26th Spring Gathering.

"We have unpacked dresses in all sizes with different designs," said Mary Ellen Kirby of Stanton Heights, the incoming moderator, who will take office this weekend. "It took three and a half hours just to hang up the dresses made by one church."

Dresses also have been made in retirement community sewing circles.

One woman sewed them by hand while tending an ill husband, and another woman sewed while recovering from breast cancer.

After receiving fabric donations, Millie Mills, a member of the Northmont Presbyterian Church in McCandless, challenged herself to make 100 dresses.

"I had the fabric, and just kept going. The simple sundress strikes your creativity. You start making them and then start thinking, 'Oh, I could do this, or this,' " says Mrs. Mills, of McCandless, who made all of the dresses in three months with the help of her sister, Lily Hoy of Shadyside.

Sewers at Union Presbyterian Church of Robinson made more than 300 dresses, including ones made from an unfinished dust ruffle and exotic fabric from Hawaii. …

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