Woman Sews Dresses from Pillowcases for Children in Africa

BURLINGTON, Vt. - One woman has made giving back just another part of life.

Marie Boisvert has been knitting and sewing since she was a little girl. Now, she’s using her gift to give other little girls in Africa something many of them have never had; clothes.

The understated nature of the tiny dresses, sewn by hand, reflect the person behind their creation.

“I started sewing when I was a little kid and used to pull a thread on a button and my mother would say ok, go get the needle and thread and sew it back on,” Boisvert said.

The knitting and sewing guru at the Champlain Senior Center in Burlington has started a new project sewing dresses for girls in Africa. She creates them from pillowcases. She also makes britches for boys out of men’s t-shirts.

“I saw it on a website years ago. It’s fun and it’s very rewarding knowing that my knowledge of sewing is helping others,” Boisvert said.

Boisvert says she hopes to have 35 to 50 dresses sewn to send to girls in Africa by mid September. She says her love for giving goes back quite a ways.

“I make scarves and hats for Spectrum and COTS and Winooski senior citizens also has a Christmas tree that has hats and scarves and mittens and sweaters that people make,” Boisvert says.

After losing her husband eight years ago, Marie says she’ll keep coming back to the Senior Center, a place they enjoyed together.

She plans to keep sharing her passion with others.

“I have taught classes recently to a group of African women and immigrants who have never sewn before and there’s a little language barrier but we have a translator.  They’re so receptive to learning and it’s just so rewarding. I feel I’m getting more out of it than I’m giving,” Boisvert said.

Boisvert and the ladies she’s sewing with only began making the dresses a couple weeks ago. She said they’d have about 15 done by the end of Monday, August 7.  The fabric, pillowcases, and t-shirts are all donated.  You can drop them off at the Champlain Senior Center, if you'd like to help this project.

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