Help us provide uniforms for 200 students in Haiti!

Students to receive uniforms

There are only 3 days left until our fundrasier ends and we need your help! Dresses for Haiti is raising money to provide 200 uniforms for students at 5 schools in Anse-a-Pitre, Haiti. Find out more here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-education-and-economic-sustainability-in-haiti While we are … Continue reading

Fashion Show to Help Haitians in Need


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Fashion show host Charmika Schuster caring for an injured child in Haiti. (All photos by Charmika Schuster for GlobalMustardSeeds.com)

logoIt is always a joy to witness how people come together for a great cause, especially if fashion can some how squeeze through. St. Mary’s Academy in Portland Oregon will be hosting a fashion show and auction on December 22 the. The Catholic Sentinel reports that the fashion show will be hosted by St. Mary’s alumna Charmika Schuster. All proceed of the show will go towards medical supplies for victims of the 2010 earthquake as well as hurricane Sandy.

Schuster is currently a nurse practitioner at Oregon Health and Science University. She has already made numerous trips and spent countless hours providing relief for victims of the earthquake. Her last visit was at the beginning of 2012. She admitted that after witnessing the situation on the ground, it’s difficult to imagine anyone could make a difference at a glance. It seem that is exactly what compelled Schuster to take the challenge.

Global Mustard Seeds Missions Inc.In 2011, Schuster started Global Mustard Seeds Missions, a non-profit that provides mobile medical care services within economically impoverished regions affected by local catastrophic events. Teams are jump started by volunteers, but sustained by local clinicians after the withdrawal or decline of first response emergency organizations.(http://www.globalmustardseeds.com/index.html)

Schuster added that due to the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, the amount of need has increased. haiti150She will be making another trip to Haiti at the beginning of January to help with further relief efforts. Her hopes are pretty simple; get medical supplies to local clinics and doctors.

We’re not sure what is going to be showcased at the fashion show, but it will be amazing if they can have a significant turnout. Schuster’s fashion show will be held at the St. Mary’s Academy auditorium. For any additional information, contact Charmika Schuster at charmikaschuster@gmail.com or (202) 329-7212. Also, check out Schuster’s own Global Mustard Seeds Inc. here.

Fashion Week in Haiti!!


Fashion Week 2012: A Short Overview

During November 8th-11th, The Republic of Haiti will host its inaugural Fashion Week!  This glamorous event will take place at the five-star Karibe Hotel in Port Au Prince.  Opportunities for tourism and learning about Haitian Outreach are available all day until 6 PM, at which time the designers will show off their stunning new collections.

Karibe Hotel:

Fashion Week will be comprised primarily of Caribbean clothing lines and aspiring native-Haitians in the apparel industry, as well as a few globally-acclaimed style icons.  Many of the designers are also strong advocates for charity and outreach in Haiti.  Haiti Fashion Week is a great opportunity for international and local designers to exhibit their upcoming collections, help expand Haiti’s young, growing apparel industry, and promote awareness about the plight of their country’s 2010 earthquake victims.

Earlier this year, Donna Karan, founder of Urban Zen, partnered with local Haitians in the industry to collaborate on apparel designs, promote their lines, and broaden her outreach network.  Among these was Michel Chataigne, an upcoming Haitian clothing designer.  Chataigne truly expresses Haitian cultural themes in his line through breezy fabrics, intricate artisan detailing, and bold color palettes.  Although Chataigne is well-known internationally through London Fashion Week, he has not heavily marketed his line to the USA.  Fashion Week will be a great chance for Americans to see his unique creations.

Michel Chataigne:

Some of Chataigne’s amazing garments:

Since 1999, Maëlle Figaro David has been both a savvy entrepreneur and apparel designer in Port Au Prince, Haiti.  Her company is prominent in both the Haitian fashion and business industries.  Maëlle styles and produces an extremely wide range of clothing, including schoolgirl uniforms, dance costumes, carnival attire, and even wedding gowns from couture.

With her unique draping techniques, geometrically shaped ruffles, and subtly detailed patterns, Maëlle Figaro David truly makes each of her creations as if it was an individual, custom-made piece of art.  The Maëlle collection is available to both local and international buyers on www.maellecreations.com.

Maëlle Figaro David:

Some of Maëlle’s beautiful designs:

Additionally, some US designers will participate in Haiti Fashion Week, including Dayanne Danier. Owner of the label “Bien Abye,” which translates to “Well Dressed” in French Creole, Danier creates sleek and modern clothing while mixing vibrant, Amazon-inspired themes in her collection. She describes her target audience as “… a woman who wants to put her best self forward. Her wardrobe is an investment, it’s constantly evolving, she likes to work and enjoy different activities…she’s chic, classic and attractive.” (New York CaribNews)

Dayanne Danier:

Some of Danier’s stunning outfits:

The complete lineup of designers at Haiti Fashion Week is available at http://www.haitifashionweek2012.com/#!designers/c1qvi/.  Many of these the apparel lines debuting at Haiti Fashion week are characterized by contemporary high-fashion juxtaposed with Haitian artistic inspiration.  If you would like to learn more about some of the designers or want ideas on fashion styling, please let us know!

Fashion Week will bring publicity to Haiti on several levels.  Not only will the designers be able to promote their fashion lines internationally, but the Republic of Haiti will have a chance to boost the apparel sector in its national economy.  Just a few years ago, Haitian clothing exports to the U.S. alone totaled around 500 million dollars, and experts predict that this statistic will grow steadily.  The fashion industry can create many new jobs and improve infrastructure overall.  Fashion Week could be the local aspiring designers’ and artists’ big chance to break out into the global apparel industry and expand their boutiques into large companies. (Huffington Post)

For more details on Haiti Fashion Week, email info@haitifashioweek2012.com or call 954-393-9077 (USA).

Do you have any favorite Haitian designers who you would like us to feature in an upcoming article? Leave a comment below, or email ericalin.dressesforhaiti@gmail.com. I would love to hear your feedback!

Until next time,

Erica

Will Facebook be a Difference Maker for Non-Profit Fundraising?


In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the country is in an utter disarray, especially the Northeast. If there was ever a need for organizations such as the American Red Cross to inherit the ability to extend its already global outreach, it has finally come. This coming Thursday, Facebook will begin offering a new charitable donations section titled Facebook Gifts. This move should prove to be very significant for non-profits all over the world.

The new gifts section will be available Thursday and includes about a dozen charities including the American Red Cross, Livestrong, Blue Star Families, Boys & Girls Club of America, DonorsChoose.org, Kiva, Oxfam America, Girls Inc., St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Water.org, and RAINN.

In a recent blog post Facebook explained

With each charitable contribution on Facebook, you can choose which nonprofit you would like to support. Or if you don’t know which organization to choose, you can let your friend make the choice.

Not only will many of these organizations gain the ability to raise more funds, it will also increase the exposure and raise awareness of each. The ability to learn about thousands of non-profit organizations all over the globe are right at your fingertips with this new feature. Facebook product manager Jared Morgenstern led the project himself, he added

Using Facebook to give the gift of a charitable contribution means you can introduce your friends and family to a specific nonprofit organization you care about, or to a larger world of nonprofits, Facebook Gifts will act as a platform where people can learn about nonprofits, discover how easy it is to contribute to their work, and then share that with their friends.

Hurricane Sandy (while not an ideal situation for the country) will be a potentially affective indicator of whether or not the Facebook Gifts feature will really be successful. Morgenstern also mentioned that the feature is still in the testing stages.

What an amazing opportunity for all fellow non-profits around the world. Hopefully the new feature gains some much anticipated momentum so that there may one day be an opportunity for our own organization to join. Everyday we endlessly strive for more exposure in order to increase our own global outreach.

The only downside to the Gifts feature is that not everyone has the luxury of using it right now. Only those that have the Gifts feature activated on their accounts can currently use it. For those looking to donate to Hurricane Sandy relief, eBay and iTunes offer alternative online sections.

We are extremely excited and interested to see how far the feature goes.

Haiti-inspired Fashion for Fall


When you travel to a new place, what do you first notice?  Does the warm, clean, island air lift your spirits?  Do you smell exotic, spicy dishes cooking at the restaurant a few blocks down?  What have you heard about this place and what do you think you’ll see?  How is it different from your hometown?  What aspect of this place intrigues you most?

Personally, I notice the clothing differences whenever I go on foreign vacations.  I am fascinated by their apparel designs and how they tie into their culture.  Today, I have compiled some ideas for Fall Fashion inspired by Haiti’s unique heritage, landscapes, and art.

  1. Big, bright florals.

    Fernand Pierre: Fleurs avec Pot Bleu

    Fernand Pierre: Fleurs avec Pot Bleu

    • Haiti’s beautiful flora and fauna remain in full bloom throughout the autumn months.  Colorful trees and plants line the beaches of Haiti.  The Hibiscus, the national flower, is especially prominent in the tropical Haitian landscape.

  • Get the look: Whether or not you live in a perpetually warm region, you can always sport beautiful, summery flower-prints.  For instance, I carry this floral-print Juicy Couture tote during all four seasons of the year.  I really like how tropical themes and images were painted into an abstract design on the fabric. The textile almost resembles one of my favorite Haitian art pieces, shown above.

 

2.Artistic tribal prints and embellishments

  • I am particularly fascinated by Haiti’s unique blend of African and Western culture in their food preferences, architecture, and artwork.  Many of Haiti’s artists strive to represent their lifestyles and heritage through a wide variety of mediums.  I included two of my favorite paintings below:

Toussaint Auguste’s “Birds in Nests,”                                                 Andre Normil – “Noah’s Ark”

Toussaint Auguste’s “Birds in Nests,”                                             Andre Normil – “Noah’s Ark”

  • Get the look:  I encourage you to incorporate the beautiful, one-of-a-kind Haitian artwork in your everyday clothing.  Seek nature themed and native-printed sweaters, fringed ponchos, and breezy.   Pacsun is a great mainstream destination for artisan-bohemian winter wear.  I also recommend Modcloth.com, and these looks in particular for inspiration:

3. Daring, yet feminine cocktail dresses.

  • Haitian women are true leaders in their modern society.  Over the recent years, they have really taken a stand for themselves in their country and pushed for their rights.  For instance, after the devastating earthquake struck in 2010, a group of mothers took it upon themselves to establish a new school for the children in their village.  Despite the hardships they face, these moms continue to educate many of these same kids today.
  • Get the look:  Just as the women in Haiti have empowered themselves over the years, you can express your boldness through your personal style.  For instance, you can easily dress up a simple, elegant black dress with a bold, sequined shrug.  Look for traditional designs with one or two unique things about it – for example, ruffles in contrasting colors, animal prints with floral embellishments, or glitter and gold on a ballerina-style dress.

4. Black and White Graphics.

  • American designers are becoming increasingly aware of the rough situation in Haiti.  Many are inspired to reach out to the earthquake victims and promote charity in their fashion lines.  For instance, Donna Karan has introduced a Haitian-inspired collection with neutral-colored, tribal-printed textile designs that symbolize Haitian artwork.
  • Get the look:  Seek out loose, comfortable sweaters and shirts with asymmetrical necklines.  For a more business-friendly look, spice up only one piece of your outfit. Don a printed pencil skirt or mix a funky blouse with sleek black slacks and a blazer.

5. Fashion for charity

  • Finally, you know we couldn’t talk about fashion without mentioning fashion that helps Haiti! Last week we told you about an amazing charity called Haitian Creations. Not only do they have amazing bags and jewelry you can purchase but they also promote sustainability with the community and Haitian women.
  • Get the look: Go to http://www.haitiancreations.com/ and support this amazing charity!

If you have any questions or need advice on fashion styling, feel free to email me at ericalin.dresseforhaiti@gmail.com.

Until next time,

Erica

 

Summer Shirred Dress Tutorial


Every year, Dresses for Haiti donates unique, handcrafted shirred dresses to victims of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. This tutorial is for those who would like to help our mission and make dresses for young girls in Haiti. While you make yourself or a loved one a gorgeous new dress, consider making one or a few for young girls in Haiti.
 This fun, versatile tube-dress is extremely easy to make and can be styled in many different ways.  Make a bold statement with bright polka dots, go girly with pink floral print, or stay classy-chic with some breezy white cotton. 
We’d love for you to join our effort and follow us in this simple tutorial as you create a stunning, one-of-a-kind sundress for a Haitian girl!

You can also check out the tutorial on PDF HERE

Step 1: Materials

1)  Fabric:  Lightweight, non-stretch cotton

  • Do not use stretch fabric!
  • I don’t recommend silk, satin, brocade, or anything slippery unless you feel comfortable working with these fabrics.
  •  Use any print you would like.
  •  Keep in mind that matching seams can be difficult with certain prints (plaid, stripes, etc.) so take this into consideration when picking your fabric.

 2) Sewing Machine

  • All sewing machines are not created equal. Our settings simply serve as guidelines; please     experiment with your own machine

3) Serger (optional)

If you do not have a serger, no problem! You will replace marrowed seams and edges with French seams (Figure A) and double folded hems (Figure B)

(Figure A)                            (Figure B)

 4) Thread to match your fabric

5) Elastic Thread  (Figure C)

 

6) Fabric Scissors 

7) Seam gauge /ruler

 8) Colored pencil/fabric marker

Step 2: Sizing 

The following chart gives a rough guide for sizing and fabric needed.  It’s okay if your measurements aren’t exact; we don’t know who we will be giving the dresses to yet so we will be able to utilize any sizes.

 Ages 3 months to 36 months

Ages (months) 3-6 6-9 9-12 12-18 18-24 24-36
Height (inches) 27 29 31 32.5 34 37
Chest (inches) 18 18.5 19.5 20 21 22
Recommended fabric length 13-14 14-15 15-16 16-17 17-18 18-19
Recommended fabric width 36 37 39 40 42 44

 Ages 2-6  years old

Ages (years) 2-3 3-4 4-5 5-6
Height (inches) 38.5 41 43 46.5
Chest (inches) 22 22.5 24 25
Recommended fabric length 19-20 20-21 21-22 23-24
Recommended fabric width 44 45 48 50

Ages 7-14 Years old

U.S. Standard Girl Sizes (7-14 years)
U.S. Size 7 8 10 12 14 16
Height (Inches) 51 – 52 53 – 54 55 – 57 58 – 59 60 – 62 63 – 64
chest (Inches) 26.5 27.5 29 30.5 32 33.5
Recommended Fabric Length 27-28 28-29 29-30 30-31 31-32 32-33
Recommended Fabric Width 53 55 58 61 64 67

If you want to make the dress for yourself, follow these guidelines:

Width: Measure your chest, just under your arms and multiply that number by 2.

Example: 30 inch bust…30 x 2 = 60 inch width

Length: Measure from the underarms down to the desired length, and then add 2 inches.

Example: Desired Length = 28 inches…28 + 2 = 30 inch length

Step 3: Lets Start Sewing!

1)  Overcast or zigzag stitch around all four edges of the fabric.  (Or use a serger.)

  • On the sewing machine: set both your stitch length and zigzag width at about 4.
  •  Adjust this according to your machine and/or your preferred stitch widths and lengths

  •  If your machine cannot zigzag stitch and you do not have a serger, do a double folded hem on the raw edges. Now you can either do this hem on the the top and bottom only or you can do it on all four edges. Either way is fine just remember which one for step 5 (See figure B: How to do a double edge hem).

(Figure B)

Step 4: Elastic Shirring

Now we are moving on the elastic shirring!

A) Begin to loosely hand-wind the bobbin with elastic thread.  Depending on the machine you have, you may be able to machine wind the elastic thread, but some machines may not be able to feed stretched-out elastic thread through the plates.  Experiment with your bobbins and the thread.

B) Load the bobbin normally.  Make sure you do not stretch the elastic thread while winding/loading,

***IMPORTANT***For Brother Sewing Machines only:  Brother sewing machines are notorious for NOT shirring with elastic thread.  Keep in mind that not all machines have the same capabilities, and Brother is the one machine that really requires a deal of experimenting and tampering. (I use the longest stitch length along with a tension of 6.) After much searching, I found a great video on a neat trick for shirring that doesn’t require tampering with the machine. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcELEGN9Rrk

C)    With the right side of your fabric facing up, begin measuring 5/8 inch down from the top end of the fabric.  Take your pencil/washable marker and mark a line 5/8 inch down—parallel to the top edge of the fabric.

  • Start from where your first line is drawn, and keep spacing lines 5/8 inches apart from each other all the way down.  You can also use smaller or larger spacing or even a combination of spacing (ie 1.4, 1/2, 1/4, 1/2 etc) for style.
  • I recommend drawing in at least 8 5/8-inch-wide lines, but you can use more/fewer depending on your size.

*If you feel comfortable sewing without the marker lines, feel free to skip that step.  Proceed to the step D, with a 5/8 seam, using a 5/8 seam allowance.

D) Put the both the stitch length and machine tension on the settings that work best for your machine (usually medium tension and the longest stitch length.)

Important: Experiment on a scrap piece of fabric before beginning stitching on the dress!

 E) With the right side of the fabric facing up, slowly stitch across each of the lines.

 (This is how your elastic rows should look)

Step 5: Finishing up!

At this point, you should have a piece of fabric with finished edges and the desired amount of shirred rows. (See below)

* This is a one seam dress.  Therefore, there are multiple ways to finish construction, depending on your sewing machine’s capabilities and supplies available.

IF YOU SERGED (ZIGZAG OR MARROW)  OR DOUBLED HEMMED (All four sides) 

1) Fold the fabric in half (along the width, hamburger style) with the right sides of your fabric together and the wrong side

 facing you. (see figure on right)

2) Match the top, bottom, and shirring-lines together.  Sew down from top to bottom with a 5/8 inch seam allowance.

3) Press the seam open with an iron.

 IF YOU DID A DOUBLE FOLD HEM (top and bottom edges only): French Seam

1) Fold the fabric in half (along the width) with the wrong sides of your fabric together and the right side of the fabric facing you (opposite of figure on the right) 

2) Sew a straight line from top to bottom, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

3) Trim the seam allowance in half to 1/8 inch width.2) Sew a straight line from top to bottom, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

4) Once the seam allowance is trimmed, you will once again fold the fabric along the seam and sew down

1/4 inch.

                                                                       Step 6: Shoulder Straps

Shoulder Straps are optional, but they really help secure the dress in place.  Here we have a few different ways that you can create the straps.  Also, the straps can be made with different material. You also can use trims/ribbon instead of fabric.

Option 1: Halter Style

1) Cut 2 pieces of fabric with the following dimensions:

  •  Length of strips = length of dress
  • Width of strip = 2.5 inches
  •  Example: Length of dress = 24 inches…cut two 24 in. X 2.5 in. strips

2) Hem the short sides of the strips with a 1/4 inch hem.

  •  Note: Zigzag stitching and/or double hemming is not necessary.

3) Fold the strips in half, right sides together.  Stitch along the long side with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Turn the tubes inside out.

4) Measure the front top edge of the dress, and divide this number by 3.  Divide the dress vertically into thirds, and mark the edge.

  • Example: Width = 15…draw a dot on the top edge of the fabric at the 5-in. mark and the 10-in. mark.
  • These dots indicate where the straps will go.  Hand stitch them in place.

Option 2: Spaghetti Straps

1) Follow steps 1-3 in Option 1.

  •  However, your straps will be half the length of the dress.
  • Example: Length = 24…cut two pieces of 12 in. X 2.5 in. fabric

2)   Follow Step 4 in Option 1.  Repeat this step with the back of the dress.

 

Option 3: Shoulder Ties

1) Follow steps 1-3 in Option 1.

  •  However, you will need four pieces of fabric instead of two.  Your dimensions will remain the same.
  • Example: Length = 24…cut four pieces of 12 in. X 2.5 in. fabric

2)   Follow Step 4 in Option 2.  Sew a strap at each of the four dots.

 Step 7: You’re Finished! 

  • If desired, add your own trims, embellishments, fringes, or shoulder straps.
  • Go to dresses-for-haiti.tumblr.com and submit a picture of the dress you made – we will be featuring some of your amazing outfits on our Tumblr!
  •  If you would like to donate the dresses you just sewed to a young girl in Haiti, send an email to info@dressesforhaiti.org detailing how many dresses you will be donating.  We will email you some information, regarding the next steps.

 

Congratulations! You’ve just completed your Shirred Summer Sundress.  Stay tuned for more tutorials. Email 

ericalin.dressesforhaiti@gmail.com if you have any questions!

Charity Spotlight: Haitian Creations


Last week we highlighted the 5th year of Haitian Creations. Haitian Creations is a program through (non-profit) Heartline Ministries, where Haitian women make purses, earrings, accessories and jewelry while at the same time empowering and creating independence for them. Heartline … Continue reading

Social Media, Bello Empowering Women in Haiti


If there was ever a revolutionary way to be discovered through social media, American actress Maria Bello helped pave the way. Bello has been a long time proponent of helping women in Haiti and has vowed to keep a hand … Continue reading

Progress and Resilience after the Earthquake: A Call to Action Two Years Later


Two years ago, on January 12th, 2010, a massive earthquake hit Haiti. The world watched in horror as millions of people felt the effects of this devastating catastrophre take it toll on one of the poorest countries of the world. The world stood up in solidarity and billions of dollars were donated to Haiti in an effort to help the Haitian people rebuild the buildings that fell and most importantly, try to regain normalcy in their lives.

Dresses for Haiti was established after the earthquake in order to raise awareness of a topic that was slowly vanishing out of the news headlines. Although we knew we could not give back the lives or help on the ground, we felt, along with thousands of other NGOs, we were doing a small part to help the Haitian people after the earthquake. Cecilia Millan, Oxfam’s country director in Haiti, said the two-year anniversary “must be a call to action” [i]

After countless telethons, fundraisers, and donated aid was made in the name of helping Haitians there is still much more that needs to be done. The US alone reportedly donated about $3.1 billion for Haiti since the January 12, 2010 quake.[ii] Although billions of dollars of aid have been given Haitian President Martelly demonstrated the reality: more than 8 million people live without electricity, 5 million are illiterate and 8 out of 10 Haitians live on less than $2 a day.[iii] The organization, MADRE, reported a staggering twenty-two percent of IDPs and two percent of general community members have been victims of sexual assault in Port-au-Prince. [iv] The problems facing Haiti are only further plagued by the scattered aid, corrupt government officials, and harsh US and international policy towards Haiti. The earthquake only perpetuated the persistent problems.

Today, thousands still are displaced in Haiti, the tent camps continue to exist two years later, approximately half of the $5 billion in aid has yet to be distributed, gender based violence continues, and millions still live in poverty. There is so much work that has to be accomplished.

I, along with the countless volunteers with Dresses for Haiti and other organizations, have take Millan’s call to action and so have you, but we must continue this call in order to help the Haitian people.

As you have read here, seen at one of our events, or read in a book, Haiti has amazing cultural, historical and artistic achievements. We here at Dresses for Haiti are taking our call to action not only to illuminate those achievements but to also bring light to the gender based violence taking place Haiti. Two years later we are still committed.

As one person so elegantly commented:

“Haiti needs nurses that can come down there for more than a week to 10 days. Doctors are needed. People who can swing hammers and clean up rubble. The cholera can be licked with renal lactate hydration solution (RL), and clean drinking water. Little girls can be clothed with dresses made from pillow cases. Shoes can be donated. School supplies can be collected as well as OTC medical supplies.”[v]

All of which rings true. Here at Dresses for Haiti we have recently started “Little Dresses for Haiti” in which we make little dresses and send them to Haiti for the young girls. Already, Christine Jamieson and her wonderful volunteers have donated little dresses. We are still looking for other volunteers to get together, have a sewing party, and make these little dresses for the young girls most affected by the earthquake.  Dresses for Haiti, along with our Haitian ambassador, will be making a trip to Haiti, mid February, to personally give the dresses to these girls.

Be apart of our call to action by volunteering or spreading the word. If you would like to be a part of our call to action email volunteer@dressesforhaiti.org

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