The last weekend of summer vacation I decided my kids needed to clean their rooms so they would be organized and ready for the new school year. Since they are older now, I have been trying to step back and let them be more responsible for these kinds of things. So, instead of entering the fray as I usually do on a major cleaning project, I decided to set an example and turn my attention to my own mess in my sewing studio. Now, as I am sure most of you understand, sewing is a creative process, and there is a vicious circle we tend to get trapped in; creativity produces disorder and disorder inhibits creativity. To avoid this pitfall, I like to make the time to clean and reorganize my workspace on a regular basis. Since my husband is not even trying to suppress his laughter as he reads this, I will confess that I am using “on a regular basis” in rather loose terms. I have often told my kids that they will enjoy cleaning more if they look at it as treasure hunting because we always seem to find oodles of lost treasures during the process. It turned out that my project was no exception. As I worked, I found lots of unfinished doll dresses tucked here and there on the shelves, in boxes, in tote bags, and in the corners of my sewing table. As I gathered these up into a pile, I realized that I really needed to do something with them.
To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how many dresses are in that pile. Several months ago, I counted more than forty, but since then I have discovered more stashes and have continued adding to it while testing new patterns. Needless to say, it is quite a pile of dresses and getting them finished is going to take the right kind of motivation. As I picked one up and began half-heartedly sewing on some buttons, my mind began to wander all over the situation… there must be a hundred dresses in this pile… a hundred dresses… Where have heard that before? Oh, yes, the book The Hundred Dresses. I remembered reading that story. It was about a young girl named Maddie who reluctantly joined her friends in teasing and taunting another girl in her class who claimed to have 100 dresses in her closet, although she wore the same shabby dress to school every day. When the taunting and teasing became too much, the girl’s father removed her from school and they moved away. That was when the girls that had been relentlessly teasing her learned that she truly did have 100 dresses. 100 beautiful dresses that she had drawn and painted with remarkable skill. Maddie’s realization of the hurt she had caused and the deep regret that followed her missed opportunity to make things right makes for a poignant ending. Let’s just say, I have found myself in Maddie’s shoes more than once, and as I look at these “100 Dresses” on my sewing table, I think I have found my motivation.
Earlier this year, I learned about a youth shelter here in our town for children who need to be removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect. Many of these children arrive at the shelter, frightened, lonely, and often with nothing but the clothes on their backs. There, they await an uncertain future. I have been looking for an opportunity to do something for these children, and I think I may have found just the thing. For the next month, I am going to work on finishing as many of these dresses as I can, and then I will use them to help raise money to purchase dolls for the children in shelter; dolls that I hope will bring comfort in their time of need, be a treasure that will increase their self-worth, and be a friend and confidant that will see them through the difficulties they are facing.
Because this is just the seed of an idea that I hope will take root and grow, I am not sure of all the details yet. I will be meeting with the director of the shelter next week to discuss the best way to develop my idea, and from there I will begin organizing how to bring it about. Until then, I will be working to finish as many of my dresses as I can. Whatever I have completed in time for next month’s newsletter will be posted on my Pinterest Board “The 100 Dresses Project.” As my readers, you will get the first opportunity to buy them from me there before they are listed in my Etsy shop later that week. Some of the dresses are high quality cover dresses from my patterns, others are mock-ups or prototypes of patterns I have worked on. All will be marked down, some significantly, and a minimum of 10% of all the proceeds will be donated to the project. As I pull my ideas together, I will share more about what “The Hundred Dresses Project” will be about, and what it means to the children it is for.
I didn’t do as well on my cleaning project as my kids. Their rooms came out looking just as well as they would have if I had been in there helping them… mine looks a bit messier than when I started. At least, it looks like I have been creative and you know what I have learned? Cleaning is like treasure hunting, you never know what you will find or how you will be inspired.