Stu­dents dress the world’s girls

Hastings Leader - - News - BY BRENDA VOWDEN [email protected]

A world where ev­ery girl owns at least one new dress is the vi­sion of the Dress A Girl Around The World project.

Four Hawke’s Bay high schools have agreed.

Have­lock North High School, Wood­ford House, Taradale High School and Sa­cred Heart Col­lege all put their hands up, plugged in their sewing machines and pro­duced around a few hun­dred dresses last year. Have­lock North High School pro­duced 70 of those dresses — a col­lec­tive ef­fort from staff and stu­dents, even pop­ping knick­ers into the dress pock­ets as a lit­tle some­thing ex­tra. They will be shipped off to New Zealand project am­bas­sador Karen Wil­son who will then de­cide where to send them.

“I try to do­nate these dresses to ar­eas close to us — we have do­nated to Fiji (Homes of Hope), Uganda (Foun­tain of Peace Foun­da­tion), Brazil (Street Chil­dren), Cam­bo­dia (Street Chil­dren), Van­u­atu, Viet­nam (Christina Noble Foun­da­tion) and Oper­a­tion Christ­mas Box,” Karen says.

Wood­ford House HOD tech­nol­ogy and ca­reers ad­vi­sor Pam Knight says Jo Pear­son from Have­lock North High School started the ball rolling, in­tro­duc­ing the project at a meet­ing of tech­nol­ogy teach­ers at the end of 2017.

“We all went back to our schools and had a think about how and if we wanted to run it.”

Pam placed an ar­ti­cle in the school news­let­ter ask­ing for donations of cot­ton fab­rics suit­able for the dresses.

“I had the goal of 100 dresses by the end of the year.”

The dress­es­need to be made of cot­ton-rich fab­rics, no seethrough fab­rics and a Dress a Girl of­fi­cial la­bel on the front of the dress and pock­ets. The Dress A Girl web­site has sug­ges­tions of suit­able styles — she se­lected three dif­fer­ent styles and spent the Christ­mas hol­i­days cut­ting out about 30 dresses to get started in Term 1.

“I found it eas­ier to cut ev­ery­thing my­self and give the stu­dents and staff who helped sew them a pre-cut unit they could sew at school, or take away. Some of the stu­dents have been re­ally cre­ative with their pocket de­signs and have loved get­ting into the box of fab­rics and com­bin­ing dif­fer­ent colours and prints to cre­ate their orig­i­nal dress.”

Most of the con­struc­tion was done af­ter school and by Term 3, Pam had a group of “very keen girls” and staff who made mul­ti­ple dresses.

“It was this group that en­abled us to reach our 100-dress tar­get. It has been a most re­ward­ing ex­er­cise.” Pam says she loved be­ing part of this ini­tia­tive and would like to con­tinue next year.

“I’ve seen some stu­dents who have never used a sewing ma­chine be­fore re­ally blos­som and be­come very adept and in­de­pen­dent, com­ing in weekly to fin­ish, and start an­other dress.”

Sa­cred Heart Col­lege Year 12 dean Fiona Fox also em­braced the project. Her stu­dents have also pro­duced dresses for the char­ity.

“Stu­dents at­tached the project to an in­ter­nal NZQA stan­dard and gave up the chance to make some­thing for them­selves and chose to em­brace the project to help girls less for­tu­nate than them­selves.”

Each school ap­proached the project dif­fer­ently — she in­tro­duced it to her small Year 11 class first, be­fore plan­ning a big­ger project in­volv­ing the whole school for 2019.

“The stu­dents had to test and trial sev­eral tech­niques ap­pro­pri­ate for seams, pock­ets and bind­ing be­fore a fi­nal de­sign was cho­sen and im­ple­mented. We think this is a great way to use re­cy­cled fab­rics that we tend to have in our stock rooms as well as the fab­rics given as donations.”

Pam be­lieves teach­ing about the life cy­cle of gar­ments and fab­rics and how to elim­i­nate waste is im­por­tant.

“Fast fash­ion which is the quick daily turn over of fash­ion on racks is pro­duced by cheap labour with some­times un­eth­i­cal prac­tices and is cre­at­ing un­nec­es­sary bulk in our land­fills. The ed­u­ca­tion of slow fash­ion and think­ing in terms of style and then re-style, re­struc­ture, and re­duce for re­pur­pose has to be con­sid­ered.”

She says stu­dents are think­ing cre­atively and com­ing up with more in­no­va­tive ways to pro­duce fash­ion in eth­i­cal ways.

“Uni­ver­si­ties and even our lo­cal EIT in­sti­tu­tion are show­cas­ing stu­dents work with a big­ger pic­ture con­text and this is ex­cit­ing for the fu­ture of fash­ion.”

‘Some of the stu­dents have been re­ally cre­ative with their pocket de­signs and have loved get­ting into the box of fab­rics and com­bin­ing dif­fer­ent colours and dress.’ prints to cre­ate their orig­i­nal — PAM KNIGHT, Wood­ford House HOD tech­nol­ogy and ca­reers ad­vi­sor

Year 10 stu­dents, Georgia Rus­sell and Georgia Ni­blett hold­ing fin­ished dresses.

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