Sewing Karma - a Louisa for another little girl, and for Africa

By Victoria As-it-Seams - 14:12

Do you ever sew the same dress more twice? I mean EXACTLY the same dress?
For me it never happens. There's just too many gorgeous fabrics and sewing patterns - and too little time.

And I NEVER sew for anyone else - my scrappy seams are for my eyes only.
But for this dress, and for a special reason, I made an exception.
But for the first time, ever I accepted 'a commission.'

Through the powers of the internet, a very old friend, who sadly I have not seen in real life for twenty years, contacted me to ask; "Would I sew a dress as a gift for another little girl."
I pondered and procrastinated and the months went past, before she asked me again, along with the tricky question; "What cost?"
This was the dress she chose - a Louisa by Compagnie M sewn exactly a year ago. Details here. (I can't believe how Missy has grown!). And it was a good choice, the Louisa is so practical and wearable, but also elegant and quirky.

Oh my! How on earth do I cost my sewing? I like to sew wonderful fabric, you could buy a dress cheaper in the supermarket than the price of the fabric. And if I started to cost out the hours spent online-fabric gazing and planning, and cutting and seam-ripping and... and...well this dress-thing is quite simply NOT cost-effective. Really thinking about this has made me look at ready-made clothing so differently. A dress for £15 in the supermarket? It's so cheap! The cost of the cotton! The design process! It's no wonder that whoever stitched it together in a factory in Bangladesh must be paid mere pennies. And it's the thought of this exploitation that makes me want to sew my own clothes.

But I digress. I told my  friend that price was impossible - I would sew her a dress if she covered the cost of the fabric and made a donation to medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, Doctors without Borders.
I have been so deeply moved by the Ebola crisis and the utter heroism of volunteers and local people and this seemed like the only thing I could do.

And my friend was equally happy with the plan.

So I sewed this dress for the fight against Ebola - and that was motivation and inspiration enough to replicate a dress.

It is exactly the same. Like my first 'Louisa dress' I modified it slightly, by adding a front panel with a pair of tucks. This was relatively straightforward although required a little maths to calculate those tucks. My original dress used a scrap of Nordika Whimsicol fabric by Jeni Baker. I spent literally hours scouring the internet trying to find another fat quarter of this fabric, but I think it has disappeared from every fabric shop in the globe now.
I had no idea what to replace it with - I mean, how do you follow that Whimsicol? 
Then I stumbled on the perfect replacement, Katarina Rocella's Floret Stains in Tealberry for her Indelible range for Art Gallery Fabrics. Simply stunning.

I was making this for a little girl who is just 3, so it is tight on Missy (who is four and a half). And the photos aren't our best. Just days before Missy had tripped running out of the school playground, and her lip is all puffed up. And the weather was gloomy - but I had to get snapping before putting it the post to its recipient. I made a real effort to sew this neatly. The hems are all trimmed with pink bias, and every seam is finished neatly.

This was one of Missy's most worn dresses, and I very much hope that another little girl is enjoying this fun Louisa dress. And also that in some very small way we have spread a little support to those battling Ebola. 

Have you ever sewn for someone else? Or for another cause? Or tried to 'cost out' your sewing? I'd love to hear your stories!

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  1. I love that you asked for a donation. I love this dress, the color is awesome. I did sell some quilts and some knight hoodies, but indeed I find it almost impossible to decide on a price. For instance, one of my quilt takes me about 35 hours to make and costs almost 100 euros of material if you count fabric, thread and bating !! how do you charge for that!! I think I would have a very hard time settling a business with hand made items.

    1. Hi Sophie!
      Apologies for taking so long to reply - been spending a lot of family time over the last week, and staying away from the computer.
      Happy New Year to you and your family!
      A donation seemed the only way forward. I didn't want to price my time and turn sewing into a 'job', I think that would spoil it for me. And when you try to price it up, it become impossible. And I spend so much time thinking and gazing at fabric too! It must be impossible to price a quilt. I think this tells us something, and reminds us that quilts were once family heirlooms, and we ought to treat them as such!

  2. I will second Sophie and say I love it that you asked for a donation for the dress. Putting a price on such special items is practically impossible. The dress is gorgeous. Love it as much as the first one :) Hope Missy'd lip will get better soon!

    1. Thanks Jenya - and yes pricing is impossible!. And also I fret that my sewing isn't good enough.While I'm happy with what I produce, I dont have a serger, my inner seams don't look like shop bought ones, and I think people who aren't used to home sewing might be judgmental in some way.
      Missy's lip is much better now - it's funny, she injured herself in the same week that I walked into a lamppost (yes really...long story) and spent a fortnight walking around with two black eyes, and a plaster on my nose. We looked a right pair!

  3. I sew for others only when I want to make a present :-) and I do have the same problem, for this pillow I made on request by a friend, how much will I sell it? Just love the dress and really a good idea for the donation..... thinking about it.

    1. Thank you for taking time to comment, and Happy New Year!
      Yes sewing for gifts is lovely, and it is tricky when someone requests something. I wanted to say 'yes' but just couldn't come up with any reasonable price, plus I don't want to turn my sewing into a 'job/chore'!

  4. I have to agree with what Sophie said - it is so hard to sell what you make, because it's just so expensive! Asking for a donation was a wonderful idea. I mostly like to sew for others as gifts, but unless they really 'get' handmade, it's not always worth it. i commented to someone about how inexpensive a simple dress was at $6 for the 3/4 yard of fabric. They said, "That's not inexpensive - that's almost standard at Walmart." So, yeah, they didn't get it. People have gotten so accustomed to inexpensive clothing that handmade just doesn't make sense to so many people. The dress you made is beautiful!


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