Students turning old wedding dresses into infant burial gowns

LAKE CITY, AR (KAIT) - The Riverside High School Clothing 2 class in Lake City is going far and above your typical sewing class.

The class is taking old wedding and formal dresses and turning them in to something very special.

Ashley Holt is making burial gowns for premature babies. The class makes them out of donated wedding dresses.

"I have made two a day. I come in here for two periods so I make one a period." Ashley paused her machine. "We started out all making a dress but we figured out it's faster if we do it like an assembly line. Some make dresses, some make hats, some make blankets."

Tracey Haas who teaches the class said a few dresses had been donated by individuals. One coming as far away as Mammoth Spring. Haas said, "Then I got this e-mail." It was from a man who ran a consignment shop and had a few dresses to donate.

Haas, "He wasn't having very much luck selling the dresses and asked us if we would like them. I thought he meant 4 or 5 dresses. He brought us 31 wedding gowns."

Junior Miranda Denton showed me a dress in a gold box. "A lady gave us this dress, it hadn't hardly been out of it's box in 50 years."

Miranda looked at the dresses hanging up in the door way. "People are generous around here. " she said. "Especially coming from a small town. We all came together on this."

Each dress can yield as many as 18 burial gowns depending on the dress.

A small pattern that the class adjusted, is laid on the dress and cut out. The girls try and make the gowns include the embroidery on the original dress.

Each gown comes with a cap and a blanket. Haas said they are looking for blanket material right now. Haas said fleece or cotton or satin in just about any color will work especially white and off white.

I asked Ashley what she thought about making the gowns. She said the class did talk about it with surprising results.

"Almost everybody in class knew somebody that had lost a baby." She said.

The gowns will be divided between NEA Baptist and St. Bernards in Jonesboro.

Miranda, "We want them to be able to have the last thing on their mind after losing a child to go out and buy something or have something made. We want them to be at the hospital there for them to choose for them and they will be free for them."

The class also makes blankets for St. Jude in Memphis and Hats for cancer patients. These young ladies may be getting a grade for the work they are doing. But they say they understand that it's more than just a class.

On the wall is a passage of scripture that really fits these young ladies, it states simply; "Do unto others..."

Holt, "You know you're doing it for someone that needs it. But we're not sewing just to be sewing. We're sewing for a purpose."

If you have a wedding dress or blanket material or notions that you would like to contribute to this project, you can contact Tracy Haas at Riverside High School. the number is 870-237-4328

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