Alabama Church’s T-Shirt Dresses Become Worldwide Ministry

Because they come from pieces of hundreds of donated t-shirts, the dresses made by the We Sew Love ministry at Huffman Baptist Church, Birmingham, are all different. They also make other clothing items for children in Haiti, Africa and other places where there are needs.

Linda Johnson says that about a year ago when her friend Linda Jacobson asked her if she was ready to see God do big things, she said yes. She was excited.

“But I’ve thought a thousand times since then that I never could’ve imagined what was coming,” Johnson said.

Since it started last year, Johnson, Jacobson and fellow volunteers with the We Sew Love ministry at Huffman Baptist Church, Birmingham, has sent hundreds of clothing items made from old T-shirts to children in Uganda, Zambia, Haiti and other places around the world.

They’ve made crib pads for children’s homes. They’ve made burial gowns for children who pass away in hospice facilities.

Starting small

And with about 40 volunteers and nearly an entire wing of the church dedicated to the ministry, they’re only getting bigger.

“God has provided, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds,” Johnson said.

As it often goes with good ideas, the ministry started small. Jacobson said she kind of stumbled into it when she was on a trip to California to visit one of her daughters a couple of years ago.

“My daughter had some school T-shirts that she wanted me to convert into dresses for her girls,” Jacobson said. “She also wanted me to try making the girls some comfy underwear.”

So with a little creativity, Jacobson took those T-shirts and turned them into fabulous, bright-colored little dresses — the kind little girls love to wear. She used some of her stretch-knit pajamas and made the underwear, which quickly became favorites.

She figured it was a one-time thing.

Volunteers with We Sew Love ministry in Birmingham have figured out a way to give new life to old T-shirts. The result is hundreds of unique dresses, boxers, panties, shorts and other articles of clothing that can be easily laundered and re-worn. Photo by Grace Thornton

But then back in Birmingham, a granddaughter who lives locally was over at her house one day and playing in the yard, and Jacobson sprayed her with the hose.

“She loved it, but I didn’t think that through,” she said with a laugh. “She was drenched and had no extra clothes along.”

Jacobson got her in some dry clothes, but she had to make her a pair of underwear from one of her shirts.

“Her mom called me a few days later and said, ‘Can you make her some more? She refuses to take them off because they are so much more comfy than her other undies.’ So I made her 17 more,” Jacobson said.

Resounding yes

Little girls in several places around the world, like this girl in Haiti, love the bright colors and unique designs of dresses made by We Sew Love.

And with those 17 pairs of underwear, it seemed her calling was sealed. Not too long after that, she met a missionary from Birmingham who serves in Haiti at a hospice center for children.

“I asked her if she could use some dresses or underwear there like the kind I was making,” Jacobson said. “I just wanted to give her the idea — I never thought I’d be the one to make them.”

The missionary’s answer was a resounding yes — they needed as many as they could get.

So on a weekend not too long after, Jacobson traveled with her husband to a college football tournament with things on her mind other than football. While he was at the games, she stayed back at the hotel and cut enough pieces to make 500 pairs of underwear for the children at Real Hope for Haiti.

Grace Klein Community, a nonprofit ministry in Vestavia Hills, began bringing Jacobson bags filled with cast-off knit clothing and T-shirts on a regular basis.

“I was overburdened with all the T-shirts at my house,” Jacobson said. “Then my daughter Stacey mentioned that this kind of sewing could be an opportunity for the women at Huffman Baptist Church during their summer break. She invited me to bring all my supplies and let the women help.”

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Source: Baptist Press