WDIO retiree Bonnie Lawrence sends hopes (and dresses) to Africa
A scrap of yellow fabric here, some pink fabric there. Along with blues, greens and lavenders everywhere, Bonnie Lawrence has an abundance of fabric that she has accumulated over the years. With the extra fabric, she decided to put her sewing ski...
A scrap of yellow fabric here, some pink fabric there. Along with blues, greens and lavenders everywhere, Bonnie Lawrence has an abundance of fabric that she has accumulated over the years. With the extra fabric, she decided to put her sewing skills to use and create little sundresses.
"Changing lives one little dress at a time" is the very first thing you read on the Little Dresses for Africa website, which is exactly what Lawrence is doing.
"I've lost count right now," Lawrence said about the number of dresses she has made already. "I finished 12 the other day; it was 129 a week ago."
While looking through a sewing catalog one day, Lawrence read an article about dresses for girls in Africa that had a sewing pattern available online. It's a very basic pattern that can even be made out of a pillowcase.
"When I found that little article, I figured it would be a great place to use that [extra fabric] up," she said. "I got the pattern online and started sewing, and it just kept snowballing. It just kept going."
Lawrence retired 18 years ago. Most notably she spent 14 years at WDIO and six years at an insurance company.
Over a year ago her husband died. She found that making the dresses helps keep her busy.
"It's an adjustment when you don't have someone living with you anymore," she told the Budgeteer. "It keeps me busy. It's something I really haven't gotten bored of doing, either. It's so much fun with the colors."
The dresses do not have to be any particular colors. As long as you have time on your hands and fabric, you can make the dresses. Lawrence added that, for less than $8, you could get enough fabric for six dresses.
The fabric pattern is just one basic design consisting of four easy steps, and it can be made for sizes 2 to 12. Additionally, there is no set limit to how many dresses are needed.
With this pattern, Lawrence said that you could probably make a dress in an hour. They're that easy.
It's something that Lawrence is especially delighted to do.
"I get a joy out of it -- some people think that's corny, but I do," she said. "If you're doing it for the right reason, you do. Especially if you are using stuff you just have around. I can just imagine the kids wearing them."
What inspires her the most is the idea that little girls in Africa will be wearing her dresses -- dresses that they didn't have before.
"Most little girls love getting clothes, especially little girls that don't have much or [don't have] parents," Lawrence said. "It must be a real thrill for them that someone is taking the time for them."
Notoriety or even a pat on the back isn't what Lawrence is looking for, however. For her it's very gratifying to know that she is doing something useful.
"Everyone can do something to really feel good about life. Just find someone that can use you if you got the time," she suggested. "A lot of us keep going on with something we enjoyed earlier and didn't have the time."
Even if you think you can't sew, chances are you probably can. According to Lawrence, you won't know until you try.
"I stress the point where people say, 'I can't sew.' Well, I can't cook or sing," she said. "Maybe you haven't found your talent or expertise. Maybe you have to look for it."
Lauren Lundeen last covered the holiday bed-and-breakfast tour for the Budgeteer. She can be reached via email@example.com .