Dress a Girl Around the World

We were brought up to be kind, crafty and never wasteful.  Our mum was always very thrifty and a dab hand with a sewing machine. She was always making clothes for us when we were little, and has enjoyed doing the same for her grandchildren.

Although it’s a real pleasure to buy new bed linen, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do with the old set.  Thinking about repurposing bed linen led us to do some research and we stumbled across a rather fabulous charity, Dress a Girl Around the World, which collects together handmade clothing to distribute to those in need. Children’s clothing is the perfect scrap buster and pillowcases are exactly the right size to upcycle into a little dress or pair of shorts.

We are delighted to support this charity by accepting donations of handmade clothing here at Secret Linen Store Bed Quarters and shipping in bulk to the Dress a Girl Around the World contact.

All About Dress a Girl Around the World

Dress a Girl Around the World is an independent UK not-for-profit organisation which encourages volunteers to join together and share skills and experiences to make dresses and shorts for children who need them. The aim is to provide a newly made garment as a ‘very best gift’ to a child; a new item of clothing shows that a child is being cared for.

Our contact at DAGAW is the lovely Jacqui who collects donations from across the country and then arranges distribution throughout the world to children in poverty and areas of need. Jacqui works with overseas contacts to ensure that donations end up in the hands of truly worthy communities, and most recently DAGAW has dressed children in Uganda, Ghana and Syria. The clothing is always delivered to small villages that do not have easy access to clothing items, therefore do not negatively affect the local economy or compete with a local business.

Jacqui regularly updates the ‘News’ section of the DAGAW website as well as the Dress A Girl Around The World UK Facebook page, so please do check in and see if you can spot one of your creations in the sea of happy (and beautifully dressed!) faces.

How can you help?

Gather your supplies and a friend or two, dust off your machines and get to work!  You don’t have to be a sewing expert to take part; the instructions are clear enough even for a complete newbie.


Gently used, ‘like new’ pillowcases are ideal sources of fabric, but please feel free to use any 100% cotton (or mainly cotton blends) fabric that you have in your stash. It's important that the fabric is mostly cotton rather than polyester as polyester doesn't breathe well and isn't as comfortable for the children. The fabric needs to be opaque for modesty and robust enough to survive repeated washing in rivers, perhaps being scrubbed with rocks.


The Dress a Girl Around the World website has some detailed guidelines for making the dresses and shorts, as well as some downloadable patterns and size charts. Jacqui has found that dresses with sleeves are more widely appreciated for their comfort and practicality, as well as being suitable for all cultures. So we recommend you use patterns such as the t-shirt dress and peasant dress, rather than the more traditional strappy pillowcase dress.


DAGAW likes donations to be labelled on the front with a ‘Dress a Girl’ label which are available to purchase from Jacqui (£12 for 100 labels). Please email her at jacqui-dressagirl@outlook.com. A label shows that the clothing is new and suggests that the child is ‘protected’ by this organisation.

You don’t have to be a sewing expert to take part. There should be enough information here for even a complete newbie.  Need inspiration? Take a look at this gallery of marvellous makes to get the creative juices flowing.

And don’t forget to share your own photos with us on social media too, remembering to tag us @secretlinenstore

Happy sewing!

Mailing your makes

When your seams are straight and your pockets are pressed, please send your creations in the post to Secret Linen Store Bedquarters. Don’t forget to include your name and postal or email address if you would like us to respond and let you know that your parcel has arrived safely.

Dress a Girl Around the World, Secret Linen Store, Unit 5 Durban Business Centre, Durban Road, Bognor Regis, PO22 9FE

Free Downloadable Patterns

Click the link for downloadable patterns for dresses, shorts and tips and advice from talented dressmakers.