DIFOP: Using Pillow Cases to Dress the Poor

[The deadline for me to receive items for the Do-It-For-Others NICU project for Hailey’s Hope is Monday. Thanks to all who were involved in this special project. At last count there have been more than FIFTY preemie outfits mailed in!]

I am SO excited to tell you about our newest project that will actually be for June and July: pillow case dresses for little girls in Africa!


One of my readers suggested this project and directed me to Little Dresses for Africa. This is a wonderful non-profit organization that is providing simple, sweet dresses for children in Central Africa, hit hard by the AIDS epidemic. Many of these children are orphans cared for by sibling and sometimes clothes are a luxury.  This organization also holds classes during the dress distribution to educate the kids on sanitation, nutrition and family skills.

I was a little worried about the sewing part of this project because I want these DIFO projects to be easy enough for whole families to get involved. And every time I attempt sewing, I break a needle or I trip on something (that last part is probably totally unrelated). So, I asked Twitter for help. I was simply overwhelmed with the response of 15 seamstresses who are donating their time and skill to create dresses from the pillowcases we collect in June!

Our goal: ONE-HUNDRED dresses!!

A special thanks to the seamstresses:

Sweetie Berry, MollyFulton, My Blessed Life, Joy in the Journey, Mommy Daily Vent, robinvisbal, Amy_G, Parris Ponderings, Smock Lady, My Soul Reflects, One Stitch Rachel, Signing Charity, Little Miss Random, Troop Petrie, Shouting for HaOur Life Upstaestate, Beth Sew Anyhow, Cheerios UnderFoot, Angie.


We need 100+ new or lightly used pillowcases!!


Items you can send for this project:

  • New or gently used pillow cases
  • Double bias tape
  • 1/2 inch elastic
  • thread
  • air tight vacuum space bags
  • money to help with shipping (I will be dividing supplies and shipping to seamstresses. I will also provide them with a postage-paid envelope to mail completed dresses to the organization).

If you sew and would like to complete your own pillow case dress(es), please send them to the address below. If you can make your own dresses, please note that you DO NOT have to use actual pillow cases, elastic, bias tape, etc. Make them in your own unique way and they WILL be sent to Africa! Here is the dress pattern that the organization suggests.

You can mail these items to:

We are THAT family

8000 Research Forest Dr. Ste. 115-110

Spring, TX 77382

Please ONLY leave a comment if you are able to contribute in some way (every little bit counts!)


  1. 3


    Hi, saw your tweet–I’d love to get involved! My sweet Momma was trying to give away a bunch of sheets and such the other day, so I’ll be grabbing them up for the cases. 😉 I’ll be whipping up a few dresses to send your way in July!

  2. 4

    Amy T. says

    LOOOOOVE this project and definitely want to be a part!! I would be happy to send a few pillowcases your way. Do we send them to the address above? I’ll send them out this weekend.

    Also, I am going to attempt to make a pillowcase dress with my daughter. IF it turns out, we will send that your way also. :)

  3. 5


    Do you need another seamstress? I’d love to help! Normally, I travel quite a bit for work, but June and July are my “home” months, so it would work out perfectly! Please let me know how I can help!!

    • 5.1

      kristen says

      Right now, I have WAY more seamstresses than I do supplies, but if things come in like I hope they do, I’ll email you. Thank you!

  4. 7

    Caroline says

    What size is needed… is it just the standard size pillow case that is used to make a dress?

  5. 8


    Would love to help you send these sweet dresses to Africa. I’ll be sending pillowcases to the above address. Also, if we wanted to send money, what’s the best way to do that?

  6. 11


    Kristin: I know that there are a few different ways to make these – I just whipped up about 6 or so this weekend. I also use “just material” and get great results. I don’t, however, use elastic or bias tape – does it matter HOW they are done, as long as they are sturdy?

    I LOVE that I can help out and have followed your Africa Adventures the whole time.

    I would also be willing to help sew, if you need the extra help! :)

    • 11.1

      kristen says

      Jessica-thanks for bringing this up–you can make them HOWEVER you’d like-they do not have to meet certain requirements…this is just a guideline. You don’t have to use elastic, pillow cases, etc Thank you for being a part of this!

  7. 12

    Anna Piker says

    I am on it! I should be able to send at least 10 pillowcases and some of the tape.
    What a fabulous project! Love you Kristen, and your BIG incredible heart!!!

  8. 13


    I’m in for sending at least 10 pillowcases and for money for shipping. I’m so happy I can help! Who should I make the check out to?

    • 13.1

      kristen says

      You can send money for shipping to the same address and make checks out to me. I don’t have an account for my blog, but it will be used to help pay for shipping. Thank you!!

  9. 14

    rhonda says

    I’ll be sending you a check to help with shipping. I love to sew, but as a working mom right now I just don’t have the time..Great project!!

  10. 17

    Lavonne Burkhart says

    I am retired and would love to make these little dresses to help out. Can you or someone please send me a pattern or instructions for making them? Thanks very much. I look forward to helping.

  11. 18

    diane says

    I can send pillowcases. We have a new thrift store that sells pillowcases for 1.00 each. I will stop in there tonight and look.

  12. 19

    diane says

    Oh and a quick question….do the boys wear these also….i could look for boy colors and prints also.

    • 19.1

      kristen says

      There is some info on a boy’s short pattern on the site. Anyone can make those too, I’m just concentrating on the dresses to keep it simple.

  13. 20


    Yay! There is a way for me to help. I DON’T sew. Like, it’s seriously bad. But, I can shop! And write checks! So, the Princess and I will head to the sewing store on Sunday after church and get some supplies to mail to you. I think she will get excited about this one and want to use some $$ out of her “GIVE” jar.

    Thanks for organizing the opportunity.

  14. 22


    this is awesome! I’ve been wanting to do more to help the orphans (i just finished reading a book that broke my heart for them even more) but with raising funds for our own adoption it’s been a little tough. I do have several pillow cases that I was going to sell in a yard sale … but this is WAY better! I’ll ship them out today! : ) So glad to be a part of this!!! : )

  15. 23


    Wow…I wish I had this connection before moving because I must have given over 20 sets of pillowcases away when we moved in February…I gave them to Good Will but would have loved to send them to you instead. BUT I will definitely participate…I do some sewing myself and would love to try these cutie patootie dresses. Also I’ll check out all the local shops and pick up some clearance pillowcases and send them your way next week. This is wonderful..thans so much for sharing it with us! Fondly, Roberta

  16. 26

    Tammy Griffin says

    I know every little girl loves a new dress! Love this idea. We are happy to send supplies. An exciting way for us to be involved in a missions project that really makes a difference.

  17. 27


    If the sewing is to be done in July, I would love to help! Not sure how many I can do, but I should know in a couple of weeks. Please get in touch with me through my blog’s contact me page (I don’t want to post the contact info in this comment). And thanks for giving us a chance to get involved!

  18. 29


    Kristen, I will send cash – feel free to use toward anything needed – supplies, shipping, etc. Whatever is needed yet.

  19. 32

    kristen says

    Thanks, everyone for partnering with me to make this a great outreach! I appreciate it so much. I’m excited about all the Facebook and Twitter buzz and I’m expecting great things.

  20. 33

    Jessica says

    I’m going to work on 1-2 dresses to mail to you. I don’t know the deadline for this but I’m going to do my best to complete this extended weekend and mail by Tues.

  21. 35

    amber says

    just found your site from a link on Holy Experience. our family is excited to send lots of cute cases!

  22. 36


    Wow, I think this is a GREAT idea; to make dresses out of pillow cases. Where in Africa are you sending these dresses? My family and I live and work in Malawi, Africa, so I was just curious.

  23. 37


    Oh how much I love this project! Actually I love the concept behind all your recent Do It For Others, but this one really touches my heart in a huge way considering the little girl we are adopting is in Africa right now. I love the idea of being a part of clothing (and adorably so, too!) little girls just like her! Put me down for 1/2 inch elastic. I’ll send some your way in the next couple of weeks! Also, I just got my first real sewing machine and had imagined the first pillowcase dress I attempted would be for my 4 year old daughter, but I like it better with the idea that the first dress I make will be for a little girl who needs one so much more! Hopefully I’ll be successful in creating one and can send that your way, too (but maybe not until July because I still need to figure out how that sewing machine works — Have mercy!

  24. 39


    Love this idea! Do you still need more pillowcases? Please get ahold of me and let me know if I can send some pillowcases, I would love to do that. Also, do you know a good place to donate other hardly-used clothing to? I used to just bag up old stuff and dump it at Salvation Army, but recently I realized my girls have about 3x as much clothing as they’ll ever wear, they’ve become picky and only want to wear the same 5 things. Well lets give the rest away! I’ve always hated how we give junk away to the poor, I want to give these never-worn clothes to someone who needs them. Do you know of anyone who can tell me how to donate clothing to the needy?

  25. 40


    I can sew dresses if you need more seamstresses and I will work on finding some of my own pillowcases to make into dresses. webb dot rachel at gmail dot com

  26. 41


    Hi there! A friend sent me the link to your blog and I TOTALLY want to be a part of your project! I sew and pillowcase dresses are my specialty! I will be sending a few your way in a couple of weeks! Thanks for allowing the rest of us to be a part of your project! God Bless You, Toni Jill

  27. 42


    I just visited your site and I love this project idea. What a practical way to serve the poor and the orphan. It’s so hard sometimes to connect wealthy Americans with the global poor, and I love that you have found and encouraged a way to do that. We are currently able to direct an orphanage for girls in Thailand, and I have found it to be one of the most heart-wrenching, heart-enlarging things I have ever done. Thanks for what you are doing to encourage and challenge . . . .

  28. 43

    Michelle G says

    What a wonderful project! I don’t have a sewing machine yet, still saving up! But… I do have a new box of vacuum space bags just sitting in my closet taking up space (how ironic). I’ll put them in the mail for you on Tuesday~


  29. 44

    Kim says

    Thank you for this opportunity! I loved every minute I got to spend this weekend making these dresses. It was such therapy for my weary and wounded spirit. Seven bright and cheery dresses are on their way to you.

  30. 45

    Kris Russell says

    What a wonderful and fun way to give to others. I have 7 pillow cases and money for shipping or supplies heading your way.
    Thanks for this great opportunity!

  31. 46


    I would love to help sew these sweet dresses! Please email me with more info if you need another seamstress. I also have friends who are talented seamstresses who may want to help, so please let me know how many more women you need.

  32. 48

    Erika says

    Materials for two dresses will go out in the mail to you tomorrow. Thanks for coordinating this project!

  33. 49

    Lynette says

    I got together with my friend and her mom and we came up with pillowcases, thread and $$ for shipping. Thanks for allowing us to help! You are such a blessing!

  34. 50

    Ashley says

    6 new pillowcases are on their way to you! I’m so excited to be a part of this project! Thank you SO MUCH for the opportunity.

  35. 52

    Stephanie says

    I am sending you a few pillow cases today and some money to help with shipping or supplies. Thanks for coordinating all of this for these beautiful little girls! God bless!

  36. 53

    Olivia says

    I will be sending some pillow cases to you within the next few weeks! This is such a wonderful thing to do!

  37. 56


    Hi! Just found your blog. Can I still mail pillowcases to you? I would love to put a link on my blog asking for donations. thanks!

  38. 57


    I made my first one yesterday in about 20 minutes! So cute and such a great project. The kids and I are going to make as many as we can and send them to you in July!

  39. 58

    Amanda Stockton says

    I am teaching a friend of mine to sew, and we could really use a good project with some seriously useful outcome to motivate us. Could you still use us? If not a beginning seamstress, maybe you could put me to good work. Let us know, and we could be willing to supply our own materials if necessary, although we are both newly-weds and grad students without much in the way of stockpiles of much of anything (except ribbon, I’ve seen Nadia’s surprising stash and combined with mine we could probably take over the world with ribbon alone, if necessary. It might not always match, but we can pretend. Why is it that we always buy ribbon on sale even if we can’t hardly cloth ourselves properly for work? Maybe it’s because ribbon is only $.25 on sale, and good work pants are always at least $10.)

    • 58.1

      Diane Mckendry says

      I would love to help. This will be something I could do after my back surgery. Could you please call me at 716-202-1870 my name is Diane Mckendry. God’s blessing to you

  40. 59


    This is a wonderful project. My girls and their friends are always looking for mission projects. I have fabric and sewing supplies. When is the deadline for the dresses? Also I will send some little boy shorts. I have a very easy pattern!!

    Can you email me this info? debbieinms at gmail dot com

  41. 60


    My mom and I are going to try to make 5 dresses to send to you mid-July. Thanks for giving us this opportunity to help!

  42. 61


    Can you still use pillow cases? We are going through my mother-in-law’s things and there are a lot of them, but I don’t sew. I understand if I’ve missed the deadline, but if you want them they are yours.

  43. 62


    Hey Kristen! Sending you a dozen little dresses today via priority mail. Exceeded my goal of 10…woo hoo! Please drop me an email when you get them…much appricated :) Also…please don’t look too close at my stiching…I’m a little wonka in places…but I did my best I’m sure no one will be as nit-picky as moi…lol Have a great week, fondly. Roberta

  44. 63

    Maggie says

    My family would love to help. Please email to let me know your greatest need at this point whether it be help sewing or supplies. I think this is wonderful!! Thanks, Maggie

  45. 67

    julie says

    I’m so glad to be part of this. I had so much fun making these four dresses and I’ve imagined the little girls who will get to wear them.

  46. 69


    I came across this ad looking to sew some pillowcase dresses for my daughters and other family members , and i wanted to know if this is on going if so how can i get involved, i know this ad isn’t current, but please respond.

  47. 71


    Do you have anything coming up… charity wise? I love that you have made all those lil dresses! Please let me know! I’m excited to hear from you!

  48. 73

    Leona J Trivett says

    I am trying this for the THIRD time!!

    After seeing Rachel’s segment last year on tv.,.I started a project similar to hers for the CHIDREN of Appl. They cannot help the circumstances they were born in . The poverty level there is THREE times higher than anywhere in the U.S. We have had great success due to great support and donations from area. I keep in contact with Rachel by FB
    We also just started another phase. The Senior Center inthe Appl. area is going to teach their people how to sew. We are in need of any type of sewing supplies, especially a few sewing machines. If you live in this area, or would like to help in any way, PLEASE reply and I will give you the e-mail for the Harlan County Community Action Agency of Harlan County, KY., or I can give you more info THANK YOU GOD BLESS

    • 73.1

      janet says

      Please, post address of Harlan Co.
      I am making dresses for Haiti and would like to send some to Harlan Co, Ky

  49. 74


    I’ll immediately seize your rss as I can not in finding your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me realize in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  50. 75

    Gini Osborn says

    I have made almost 3,000 dresses from pillowcases, sheets, material, etc. I am wanting to find an outlet for donating them to children in southern Ohio and Kentucky. I have already sent 300 to Haiti, 300 to Ky. I am need of places to give them to. All I ask is they pay the postage to send them or give me the name of a missionary close to give to. Hope to hear from somone.

  51. 76

    Elizabeth Wimmer says

    Hi, I’m making 22 pillowcase dresses for my high school graduation project. I’m so glad I found this website because I had no clue where to send them when I finished! I will be done by May 21st. Is it okay if I send them a little early?

  52. 77


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  53. 78

    crystal says

    Hello, sorry to hijack your blog but I came across this while searching for info on dresses for Africa. My family is currently working on making dresses for littledressesforafrica.org. our goal is to send 150 dresses. I realize you completed hour project but noticed that several of the commenters wanted to help even though its been years since you were making these dresses. We would love to have any help we can get making dresses. If anyone has dresses or supplies they would like to send or if they would like to sew dresses we would be very grateful. We dont have a set deadline but are hoping to reach our goal by the end of summer. You can reach me at c r y w a y 2 at y a h oo dot c o m. Remove all spaces.

  54. 79


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