Tu-Na Quilts: What Do 2 Quilters Do with 4.5 Yards of Fabric in 3 Hours?

When Tu-Na Helper and I decided that it was time for us to make our annual migratory trek north in May, I convinced him that we needed to schedule a few hours to stop and visit my friend Melva who blogs at Melva Loves Scraps. After all, we’d be driving within a few miles of her place and I had a plan — an interesting one that included sewing. A plan that I was hoping she’d agree was a good one, too.

It’s no secret that I’ve been shopping for fabric at thrift shops and have found quite a bit. For example, I found almost six yards of elephant fabric that I posted about here and 8 yards of a good quality blue print that I showed here. Among my fabric finds, I sometimes have extra fabric that is included (such as these pictured below) that I don’t want to use. Being the thrifty person I am, I don’t want to throw them away but would rather find a good use for them. My plan included these fabrics.

tunaquilts 8a

I washed and dried these three pieces as well as one more that’s not pictured. I checked the list of supplies that Melva sent and discovered that I needed bias tape and elastic. I found a couple of packages of bias tape at the thrift shops but a quick trip to Joann’s, coupon in hand, and I had enough for our project.

So what do two quilters do with 4.5 yards of fabric in three hours?

Make dresses! Make lots of little dresses, lots of cute little dresses for some very special little girls who we will never see. For little girls who we will never hear from whether they find the dresses colorful and fun to wear. For little girls who we will never know if they look or feel pretty wearing them or even how long they are able to use them.

tunaquilts 2a

Picture used with permission. Here’s the result from our three hours of sewing together and Melva’s work the following day.

Last fall, I read Melva’s post here as she started her Little Dresses for Africa project in anticipation of her church’s Operation Christmas Child Shoebox event and then again here as she sewed dresses during Lent to be prepared for this Christmas.

Melva’s sewing room is a bright, happy, room. She gets a lot of sewing done and is very organized. In fact, when I first arrived she was busy cleaning her machines in anticipation of our doing lots of sewing. I was very impressed with the little vacuum system she had and how well it worked.

tunaquilts 7a

I need to find one of these.

While Melva and I worked and talked, Tu-Na Helper toured the town and then came back and napped. If my memory serves me right, there really wasn’t a silent moment while we sewed.

tunaquilts 8a

In fact, later on down the road Tu-Na Helper asked how we ever got anything done as there was so much chatter coming from Melva’s sewing room he had difficulty napping.

First, Melva showed me how to cut the fabric into the correct size using the pattern found here. I cut all the pink, and green fabrics leaving the orange tie-dyed one for later as it needed to have a seam opened.

tunaquilts 11a

Melva has two machines and I had the privilege of sewing on both of them.

tunaquilts 14a

“Help, Melva! The elastic has slipped back and I can’t reach it!”

tunaquilts 4a

(Picture used with permission.) Melva to the rescue. She showed me how to use the tiniest hook to retrieve the elastic and pull it out so I didn’t have to rip and start all over again. It was a good skill to learn as I needed it again a few minutes later.

I started out on her new machine but when it needed to be rethreaded, I moved to her older one (which isn’t all that old to begin with).

tunaquilts 9a

Three hours later, we had made five dresses and had started two others.

tunaquilts 12a

Time went fast and Tu-Na Helper informed me we had to get back on the road. I was able to stall him a few more minutes.

tunaquilts 13a

Melva is showing me how to mark and cut the armholes.

Tu-Na Helper and I bid farewell and I left Melva’s feeling very happy that I was able to help with her little dresses project.

I left the remaining orange tie-dyed fabric and supplies with Melva as she graciously said she’d finish that project.

And of course, I left all the dresses with her to be included in her church’s Operation Christmas Child Shoebox event this fall.

tunaquilts 10a

The story doesn’t end here. Melva worked the next day not only to finish sewing the last two dresses we had started together but also to sew two more dresses from the orange tie-dyed fabric. 

tunaquilts 1a

Picture used with permission. Here’s one of the two dresses that Melva completed using the tie-dyed fabric.

tunaquilts 2a

Here’s the result of our sew-time together: nine pretty little dresses for nine pretty little girls.

Thanks, Melva, for letting me come and sew with you. I hope we get the chance to do it again.

What I Learned Today:

  1. This completes goal #7 for the 2018 Second quarter of FAL which I posted about here.
  2. Completing a goal is a good feeling but not as good as the feeling of helping someone or in this case helping nine little girls.
  3. One can make something from nothing, kind of like the story of stone soup only with fabric.
  4. Fabric and thread help tie a friendship together.

Question: Have you sewed Little Dresses for Africa or filled a Shoebox for the Operation Christmas Child or made something else for a charity?

Val's Quilting StudioI will be linking to Tuesday Archives at Val’s Quilting Studio where each week she invites bloggers to revive an old blog post. If you haven’t visited here, plan to do so and find some new blogs to read and/or follow.

Thanks for stopping by and do come again.

Karen, Tu-Na Quilts

Linking to:

2018 FAL at She Can Quilt when the link opens

Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Finish It Up Friday at Silly Mama Quilts

Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting

Tuesday Archives at Val’s Quilting Studio

Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts

Moving It Forward at Em’s Scrapbag

Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River

Charity Sewing/Quilting at Slice of Pi Quilts


29 thoughts on “Tu-Na Quilts: What Do 2 Quilters Do with 4.5 Yards of Fabric in 3 Hours?

  1. Susan

    I have helped several charities, but not that particular one, nor made the dresses. Those are so cute hanging on the line, and what a good use for those fabrics!


  2. Patty

    What a fantastic 3 hours – both for you and Melva and for the lucky girls who will be able to enjoy those dresses. The dresses are adorable! I am inspired by your generosity and am motivated to dig through my stash and join a similar project. Thank you Tu-Na!


  3. Velda at the Freckled Fox Quiltery

    Karen you are such a sweetheart. Thank you for sharing this pattern and this idea. For the last few years I was working, my company did a shoebox for Christmas project. I really don’t know where the gifts went, but OMG it would have been so great to have a really wonderful surprise like a new dress in there. I’m going to go find his pattern and bring it to the attention of our PEIMQG charities coordinator.


  4. Little Quiltsong

    What a special sewing time with your friend. Loved reading your post and seeing the pretty dresses that were made!!


  5. Lisa

    This looks like so much fun and like it would be a good project for my two quilting amigos and me…..but at the moment we focus most of our energy on quilts for a program at our local hospital.


  6. Stephanie Collins

    Thank you for sharing this pattern! I have helped with Operation Christmas Child for several years and have wanted to make dresses to send to Africa! I think this would be a great project/time of fellowship to do with my church ladies.😄 Your dresses turned out great, I love the bright, fun colors!


  7. Kathleen McCormick

    Wonderful work with a great friend and the cooperation of Tu-na Helper. So glad you were able to sew with Melva and help those in need. The dresses are adorable…and a good use for that fun fabric ou found!


  8. karenfae

    so great that you could visit your friend and get in some sewing time – so nice that your hubby agrees to that! this would break up a long trip too and give a nice break from being on the road.


  9. davemelvanolan

    It was a fun afternoon. I do hope that we can do it again. 🙂 And our OCC coordinator thanks you for the contribution of the dresses. I honestly thought you would take them with you to use in your own boxes. 🙂


  10. Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting

    Karen, this is such a nice story. And great to sew them with a friend. At our home, with DD2 as the captain, we pack 100 shoeboxes every year–50 boy and 50 girl boxes. We do the 10 -14 YO girls category and DD2 sews as many t-shirts as she can, and fills in the rest with purchased t-shirts. The photo on the clothesline is sew cute!!!


  11. chrisknits

    My group meets monthly to sew dresses. Next we are going to try shorts for the boys and Sani Pads for the older girls. It’s so good to use our craft to help others. I just wish I could see pictures of the girls in their dresses!!


  12. selina

    I have in the past and will again this year be making Paracord bracelets for shoeboxes in fun kid colors. Throughout the year I make about 50 bracelets a week for Operation Shoebox for our soldiers who are currently serving overseas..


  13. Shirley Clark

    I know they will be loved! One year I made 40 pr of shorts for little boys in Honduras. The local mission team is sponsoring 4 little girls that are sisters. Their dad has to leave them alone to work so they fend for themselves. With their help, they found a lady to watch them and feed them. I’m going to make some dressed like these to send on the next trip. I know it was fun sewing with your friend!


  14. Barbara Mitchell

    What a wonderful day to sew with a fellow sewing friend….I have friends that sew these dresses and always marveled at what a worthy project for little girls…..loved the picture of the dresses on the clothesline…..how does one keep their sewing area organized and clean?


  15. thedarlingdogwood

    What a great project! So glad you two had fun together and your dresses look great! I feel quite sure the girls they are destined for will love them!


  16. scullybooks

    Our Boys and we always did Shoeboxes for Africa every year when they were at Playschool, Primary School and Senior School. As we had two Boys we always did boxes for boys and our boys loved going with me to get the supplies and wrapping the boxes in Christmas paper and then writing a Christmas card for the boy who would get them. It is a great charity and we have continued to do even though our Boys are now 22 and 18.

    I love the little dresses what a great idea.

    Hugs, Susie x


  17. Marcy

    The dresses are extra sweet and really cute too. This is a wonderful charity. I’ve read about so many quilter’s stitching for those girls. Good for you and good that you could hook up with a blogger friend. Thanks for sharing the information. For many years now my philanthropy stitching has been for the naval hospital–both children’s wards and new babies. Right now I have seven to quilt.


  18. Pingback: Tu-Na Quilts: A Review of Tu-Na’s 2018 Quilting and Blogging Goals | Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats

  19. Susan Shaw

    Karen (and Melva) – what a great project! I can only imagine that the time just flew. Sewing always goes faster with friends. I also follow Melva and she is another sweetheart. I can understand why you are friends. I had no idea how little fabric it took to make one of those darling dresses.


  20. Pingback: Tu-Na Quilts: The Best of 2018 | Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats

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