Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Africa Dress

Here it is - McCalls 3129.  In the last few years that I've gone to Uganda, I have taught the women how to make skirts and bags.  Last year I worked with three women in particular, Kathy, Florence and Phoebe, and taught them how to make children's, shorts, shirts, and a simple shift for girls.  I asked them what they wanted to learn next.  Well, they said "pants", but I think I would start an uprising in the village if I started the women wearing pants.  I don't even wear pants when I go there!  So, they said they would like to learn to make dresses.  I decided to find a pattern that would be very basic, could be made long, and would have princess seams or darts.  I found this.

I also wanted to make a long dress to take to Uganda this summer, as I usually wear skirts and tops.  A dress is just easier.  I had a few patterns picked out, but then I thought, "I better make the dress I am planning on teaching them to make!"  I had this fabric that I bought last year in Kayunga District and decided to use it.  I also decided to make it exactly how I will have them make it.  Well, I didn't use my treadle, but I did only use straight stitches and no serging!  I did, however, press as I sewed, which probably won't happen there.  The iron's in Uganda have to be filled with hot coals from the fire - well, at least in the villages.

This year I will also be teaching my friend Betty.  She lives in the city of Kampala.  I will be buying her a sewing machine when I get there.  Thank you for those of you who have donated to support this trip.  It is so greatly appreciated.  It is because of your donations that I can buy Betty and machine and fabric.   I still have a way to go to get all of my support, so if you would like to help, check out this post.  For the villages, we always use treadle machines.  Betty may want a treadle or electric.  I will find out when I get there.  But, either way, I still tried to make my dress as simply as I could.

I just turned facings under and stitched, and did a hand picked zipper. Most of the treadle machines have only one foot, so it's not much extra time to put in the zipper by hand - and much faster by hand if you end up having to rip out the machine zip and do it over!  I have a few princess dress patterns, but I like the neckline on this one.  The women there do not wear anything low cut, and this dress is high enough to be modest, but not so close that you feel like you are choking.  I chose to make the dress with sleeves since most of the women in the villages do NOT go sleeveless.  It is different in the cities though.

Surprisingly, this dress went together pretty quickly.  I did a FBA and lowered the shoulder a bit.  I probably need to lower the bust curve a bit (darn gravity!) and maybe add about 1/2" to the bust circumference.


Elaray said...

Your annual trips to Uganda are an amazing ministry. God bless your endeavor!

Remnant said...

I love hearing about your Uganda sewing adventures! It is such an interesting mission. I just made this dress last week (I'll be putting it on my blog when I get some photos from my brother) and love how it went together and how it feels wearing - the skirt is just the right amount of width. Question: do the villagers have access to zippers? If not, perhaps the closure can be changed to buttons? I love following your blog!