Fashion Show to Help Haitians in Need


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

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.(

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 or (202) 329-7212. Also, check out Schuster’s own Global Mustard Seeds Inc. here.


Ruffle Dress Tutorial!

Click on any picture for the PDF version of the tutorial or click 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

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!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 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 I would love to hear your feedback!

Until next time,


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, 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 and support this amazing charity!

If you have any questions or need advice on fashion styling, feel free to email me at

Until next time,



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:

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.


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 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 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 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

Haitian Fashionspiration: Truly Unique Designers Involved in Both Design and Ethics

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Although Haiti is not widely considered to be a worldwide fashion hub, the country is home to several innovative, stylish individuals who have launched unique fashion lines.  Many Haitian designers derive inspiration from their cultures and represent them through their outfits.  Some even reach out to the suffering victims of their homelands with their extraordinary fashions.  In honor and celebration of Haiti’s upcoming, inaugural Fashion Week this November, we here at Dresses for Haiti are spotlighting some of our favorite, amazing Haitian fashion designers!

From Brooklyn, New York, Nit Ra Sit creates urban-chic yet exotic special-order clothing for women.  She collaborates with other floor designers to sew custom-made couture garments for her clients.  In addition to being the entrepreneur of Nit Ra Sit Originals, she does outreach and charity work for Haiti Earthquake victims of 2010 through her fashion line.

Tribal prints are prominent throughout her contemporary, fashion-forward pieces.  Her signature garments feature unique color schemes with contrasting embellishments.  I have posted my personal favorite in her collection: a flowy, floor-length gown in which she combines African wax print fabric with asymmetrical ruffles, peacock-feather color palettes, and glittering, stoned shoulder straps.

Nit Ra Sit (on left):

The dress:

Hassan Pierre, a graduate from Parsons the New School for Design, strives to incorporate sustainability in his modern, art-inspired clothing line, Way It Should Be.  All of his beautifully garments are constructed with organic, eco-friendly fabrics, natural dyes, and recycled zippers.  Even the hang tags are comprised of soy ink and seeded paper.  You could plant them in your backyard; they would make a nice addition to your garden.

His mother may have inspired some of his passion for fashion.  As told to Boca News in 2007:

“My mother used to take me to the Paris shows from Haiti. She is what I like to call a fashion junkie.”

In addition to debuting in national fashion shows, Pierre has been featured in both Vogue and Marie Claire. He has also launched a second line, VIP Couture.  Several celebrities, including the Olsen twins and Nicole Richie, adore VIP Couture and frequently shop there.

Saving the environment is not the only cause Pierre is passionate about; he is also very involved in outreach to Haiti.  His company is based in Port Au Prince, Haiti, where it will remain stationed while the city recovers from the recent earthquake.  He continues to help the suffering victims with his eco-friendly, sustainable clothing.

Hassan Pierre:

One of Pierre’s dresses featured in Vogue Magazine’s Style Ethics Section:

Miami-native Ben Almonor designs bold, glamorous outfits for women.  Almonor does not have a specific favorite fashion style; rather, he derives inspiration from the art and nature he observes.  However, he does try to incorporate his Haitian heritage in many of his creations.  Perhaps his childhood in Miami, Florida, one of the most prominent Haitian cultural hubs in the USA, has sparked his inspiration for Haitian culture and ideals in his fashion line.

Almonor is not a fan of jewelry and baubles; he states that “most of my signature pieces are already heavily accessorized.”   He specializes in tailoring elaborate garments perfectly to the female figure, and Lycra is his favorite fabric for doing so.  Versace is one of his all-time favorite designers; he says “Versace is so full of bold colors and style.”  I definitely see the Versace ideals of boldness and upscale flashiness in Almonor’s clothing, especially his glamorous cocktail dresses.

Ben Almonor:

One of his stunning gowns:

Phelicia Dell, owner of VèVè Collections, runs a stunning line of artistic, one-of-a-kind women’s handbags.  Each of her purses is fashioned with unique fabric combinations, such as twill-blend bases with brocade-silks corners.  The centers of the bags have sequins and beads sewn in intricate designs, many of which represent the nature in Haiti.

Dell is part of the Vital Voice Board, where women and designers collaborate in outreach to different causes and refugees, including the suffering victims in Haiti.  Among the Board members is Diane Von Furstenberg, the praised designer responsible for the infamous wrap dress.   In 2009, Furstenberg sponsored a global competition where she nominated Ms. Dell as the “Emerging Handbag Designer.”

Phelicia Dell:

Some of Dell’s amazing handbags:

Haiti-native David Andre has become one of my new favorite resort-wear designers.   His exotic, timeless creations are versatile for many occasions from Caribbean cruises to late-night beach parties.  His main inspiration comes from his environment, the music he hears, and the culture he observes..  I definitely can see the lively, Haitian islander life reflected in his bold prints and breezy fabrics.

Andre has been featured in the 2012 London Olympics, as well as Miami Fashion Week.  If he were to choose one celebrity to wear his clothing, it would be Madonna; she transforms the simplest garments into bold, trendy statements.  Andre has done this with several of his pieces.  For instance, he turned a simple, yellow terrycloth dress into a flowing, open-front beach cover.  Unfortunately, his website is currently under construction, but he can reached for questions about orders, prices, and catalogues.

David Andre:

One of his resortwear designs:

Want more information on the designers or Haitian fashion inspiration? Email me at

Until next time,


We Are Happy to Introduce the New Interns!

These ladies specialize in different fields and are going to help Dresses for Haiti go to the next level.

Wilberthe Micourt – Finance aspect, looking for grants, networking, business aspect of organization.

Nyna Gilpin – Fashion design, promotion, marketing, creative strategies.

Princesss Crumpton – Fashion design, show coordination, models.

Jill Baebler – Researching grants and news stories relevant to our organization, fielding emails, reaching out and finding collaborators for fashion show and general collaborator.

Patsy Castillo – Blog and Facebook updates, photography, photo shoots, and art collaborations.

We hope that this will be a new experience that will help you learn and grow. And a wonderful journey that you will remember for the rest of your lives. We looking forward to you being a part our team and Fashion show this upcoming April!

Also, don’t forget to check out and Like our Facebook page! Dresses For Haiti

To a New Year!! 2011 here we come!

Looking back in retrospect, 2010 was an amazing year for us. Its kind of hard to believe that just 6 months ago we decided to create Dresses for Haiti. It began with a idea and a few ambitious women. We had our first event In September of 2010. It was an amazing experience. Celebrities and future collaborators attended the event and helped us expand our name and our network. We have met so many amazing people that have helped us and became our organization angels.

Check out more photos on our facebook page =)

Then we went to Boston fashion week for the Synergy Event. It was an amazing introspect into the behind the scenes workings of a fashion show. We spoke onstage and met the amazing ladies from the SoOambitious Blog ( and we got to speak on stage in front of hundreds of people!

After these amazing experiences and the excitement from the fashion and non-profit communities we decided 2011 will be our official launch year.

Big news will be coming This week about Dresses for Haiti so stayed tuned!!

May they year 2011 be an amazing year for Dresses for Haiti and for you as well!!