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Women have a mission to sew

Staff writer

A group of women from Marion and beyond are making a difference in lives of children in many parts of the world.

The group, who call themselves “Sew Much Love,” gets together twice a month, 10 months of the year, to cut, stitch, attach trimming and pockets, and complete dresses to be sent to girls. It started with a seasonal project of one woman and has blossomed into a group of seamstresses ranging from beginners to masters, all with the same motivation.

Last week, 11 women made dresses while they chatted, played with a group member’s puppy, and had lunch. Joni Crofoot prepared fabric for sewing, Jamie Fitzpatrick and Gayle Thomas pressed hems, Linda Allison and JoAnn Fitzpatrick stitched seams, Wanda Carr, Mary Smith, Glenda Taylor, and Dorothy Conyers put elastic, binding and pockets in place, Karen Kline matched pockets to dresses, and Norma Kline oversaw the work until she needed to go to an appointment.

Norma Kline, originator and coordinator of the group, said lots of donations of materials and money to buy them come from people outside the group.

“Someone is always walking up and giving me $5, $20 for it,” Kline said. “This is totally God-driven.”

The first three dresses she made by herself. She’d seen pillowcase dresses online and thought they would be easy enough to make for Operation Christmas Child, a project of Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse.

Just about the time she was getting bored making dresses, Kline said, “God said to me, wouldn’t you like to have help?”

She posted to her church’s social media page, and 10 volunteers from Marion and nearby towns contacted her to join the cause.

Four years later, the group ranges from eight to 15 volunteers for each sewing session.

Karen Kline’s motivation was to find a worthwhile cause she was physically able to do.

“I can’t do very much other stuff because of my back,” Karen Kline said. “I tried the food bank and that didn’t work out.”

She’s become the group’s matcher of trimmings and pockets to garnish dresses.

Linda Allison, a member of the group for two years, likes being part of Sew Much Love because it lets her use a talent she enjoys.

“It was a good mission project,” Allison said. “I love to sew and it seemed like something I could do.”

Not every contributor to the effort works on the dresses during Thursday meetings.

McPherson resident JoAnne Fitzpatrick took upon herself one month to make pockets for the dresses at home.

“She made 650 of them,” Kline said. “We’re always struggling to get someone to make pockets because we don’t do that on sewing days.

Fitzpatrick also makes zipper bags to hold rolled-up dresses before they are packed for shipping. Not only do the bags hold the dresses, they are another useful gift.

Shirley Groening, who also lives in McPherson, uses plastic shopping bags to make purses with shoulder straps and garnishes the purses with crocheted flowers and the like. The purses are packed with dresses headed for mission projects.

In its four years, the group has made 1,680 dresses that have gone to Mexico, Panama, Brazil, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Haiti.

Kline said she’d like to see dresses go to Kentucky as well.

Project Christmas Child, Kline’s original inspiration, has not been left behind. This year, 150 dresses will go to the program as part of an outreach of Eastmoor United Methodist Church, where the group meets.

New volunteers are always welcome. Even novice seamstresses can come and be taught what they need to know.

To contact the group, call Kline at (620) 382-2298.

Last modified Sept. 28, 2017

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