Something Worth Sharing – The Little Dress

Journey of Hope

08 Apr Something Worth Sharing – The Little Dress

While working on Garment #9, a documentary filmmaker sent me a lovely email about her project featuring the story of  this inspirational woman participating in a most worthwhile effort. I’m happy to share it with you. To watch the video please click on the image 🙂


In the twilight of her life, Iowa native Lillian Weber had a remarkable goal: to sew 1,000 dresses for needy little girls in Africa before she turned 100 years old. She’s one prominent volunteer among thousands around the world who are committed to the nonprofit organization “Little Dresses for Africa,” founded by Rachel O’Neill to honor little girls and make them feel worthy. THE LITTLE DRESS follows Lillian and Rachel’s life-affirming mission and the little girl who receives one of Lillian’s lovingly made dresses.

Journey of Hope

  • Deborah Penner
    Posted at 13:27h, 08 April Reply

    Thanks for bringing this to your readers’ attention. Nancy Zieman covered this on her television show a few years ago. A worthwhile cause that brings benefit.

  • CarolinasCallin
    Posted at 16:26h, 08 April Reply

    Several friends have sent this to me – isn’t she such a neat person?! A great mission and lovely testimony 🙂

  • Vicki Maiorano
    Posted at 18:56h, 08 April Reply

    Thanks for sharing that, I’m way over in Australia but gave a small donation to the cause.

  • Marjorie Trundle
    Posted at 23:05h, 08 April Reply

    What a beautiful group of women, doing such a lovely thing. I too live in Australia and I am sure there are women here sewing these little dresses. I also have donated to help this wonderful cause.

  • Susan Bardsley
    Posted at 18:09h, 09 April Reply

    The quilting group at my church make these dresses throughout the year. We send bundles to Developing Countries whenever we know of people travelling to relevant areas. We also make shorts for little boys. Vicki and Marjorie, I too live in Australia

  • Alice Elliot
    Posted at 20:25h, 09 April Reply

    This is such a lovely idea. I did some sewing or Days for Girls a while ago and enjoyed it very much. So great to be able to provide things that girls really need.

  • mary
    Posted at 04:08h, 10 April Reply

    I’ve seen this woman too. I’m really glad to see she considered the girls needs when selecting her project. All her dresses have sleeves, which is a part of the dress code in the majority of schools in Africa. (If I recall correctly.) If you watch closely, you’ll note that many of the girls are wearing skirts along with their dresses. Never shorts! and it seems, never dresses above the knee! According to a now defunct blog (treadling in Benin) it is only ‘ladies of questionable repute’ who’d wear shorts. This would not have crossed my mind, but clearly it is an issue.

    There is a book titled ‘When helping hurts’. It talks about things we may consider useful, actually being counter-productive in other parts of the world. One extreme example they gave was the gift of a house. The house was built with a bathroom towards the center of the floor plan. In that culture it is considered impossible to keep clean, and therefore an unsanitary thing to do. The people for whom the house was built, were too embarrassed to use it.

    I don’t mean to lecture you…. haha. Maybe you already knew these things. Hopefully someone else will learn to think about how to give appropriately.

    • Chantal Paquette
      Posted at 09:02h, 10 April Reply

      Aren’t the shorts for the little boys ?

    • JS
      Posted at 13:25h, 12 April Reply


      Excellent points. Too often people who contribute with good intentions know nothing about the culture and sometimes hurt, not help. I’ve read a similar criticism of vacations in which people who know nothing about building go on vacation trips to Third World countries and ineptly build houses while the skilled people who actually live in the town look on when they could use the paid work.

      One issue I have is that this is a Christian organization. Such organizations usually insist on imparting their teachings in exchange for help. It may be subtle, but the influence is there.

      I’ve seen another clothing-oriented doc by the filmmaker. It’s called “Men of the Cloth” and although it runs a tad long, is worth watching if you’re interested in bespoke tailoring.

  • Julie Starf
    Posted at 09:33h, 10 April Reply

    What a lovely post and worthy cause, Sarah. It’s wonderful to be able to use one’s talent to aid in an effort such as this.

  • Wanda jordan
    Posted at 06:44h, 11 April Reply

    I know this is a good cause but what about the children here in the USA that could use a dress or shorts and shirt? How do we find them and help them too. No child should be without if we can help.

  • Vicki Vasilopoulos
    Posted at 01:33h, 12 April Reply

    Thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments. Please support and share the Indiegogo campaign for THE LITTLE DRESS so that we can film the story of the little girl in Africa who receives one of Lillian Weber’s lovingly made dresses. We leave for our production shoot in Malawi with the LITTLE DRESSES FOR AFRICA volunteer group on April 21st. So far we’re 50% funded thanks to 114 generous contributors!


  • Leigh
    Posted at 15:04h, 12 April Reply

    The religious issue bothers me as well. I try to give only to secular organizations for that reason. People elsewhere are well able to practice their own faith without ‘help’. Knowledgeable community assistance can be provided in a non-religious way just as well or better than with a ‘strings attached’ approach.

    “Men of the Cloth” was indeed worth the watch. I found it fascinating. The frustration I had was that while the industry in Italy was interested in growth and developing skills in their talent pool, they were only focusing on the apparently not-very-interested young men. No mention of women at all. Looks like there is still considerable distance to go to achieve gender equity, even in a first world country like Italy. We all know that it doesn’t require a Y chromosome to successfully use scissors and wield a needle and thread, however it has only been this past year that a (gasp) woman opened a shop on Savile Row.. And here it is 2016.

    • JS
      Posted at 18:39h, 12 April Reply

      Do you know of any secular groups that provide needed sewn clothing?

      I had the exact same reaction to Men of the Cloth. It also came up in the discussion that followed the screening. The panel — all males except for the filmmaker — didn’t have a satisfactory explanation, which was disappointing. Not only is bespoke tailoring a trade from which women were shut out except for jobs as finishers doing things like buttonholes, it would help to have more people who are interested in making fine tailored clothes for the female body. I have no doubt that there are women who would rather spend the money on classic, beautifully made styles than the latest fashion.

  • Leigh
    Posted at 15:22h, 12 April Reply

    Check out the production crew for Little Dresses. It’s quite a talented and diverse group!

    • JS
      Posted at 18:33h, 12 April Reply

      That’s good.

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