Community Joins Together To Sew Dresses For Lexington’s Little Girls

By Patrice K. Muhammad, Photos by LaMaughn S. Muhammad

Joyce Gray (left) instructed nearly 150 people to sew dresses for girls in Lexington.

LEXINGTON- Lexington’s Lyric Theatre & Cultural Arts Center has embarked upon the first social service project under the direction of Executive Director Yetta Young.

The project is “Lyric’s Little Dresses For Lexington”. Nearly 150 community members signed up on Monday, January 16th, The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, to make pillowcase dresses for underprivileged girls in Lexington. After dresses are given to local girls, it is Ms. Young’s plan to teach them to make dresses and those will be given to girls in Africa or Haiti.

Yetta Young, Director of the Lyric Theater

“We have a lot of people doing good work for the people of Africa. I believe that charity starts at home and Lexington is my new home and the home of the Lyric so I thought this would be a great first project. I am passionate about women and girls and projects to bring the community together. The dresses made in, what I’m calling Phase I, will remain here in the community,” explained Ms. Young in an interview after the successful project launch.

Only 35 people pre-registered for the initial workshop, so organizers prepared for 50. However, 134 people took materials to make dresses that day and there were nearly double in attendance during the 2-hour launch. The crowd included women, men and children.

Local stores and community members donated all supplies needed to construct the dresses. Ms. Joyce Gray, who is from Detroit and has made more than 100 of the dresses as donations for girls in Africa, gave a detailed demonstration and instructions.

Ms. Gray said that even those without any sewing experience at all could help. “There are enough steps for people to help along the way. You can cut, measure, do quality control, packaging or ironing. It all will help us get to 250 dresses,” she said.

Sewing machines are available on the first Friday of every month during the project.

There is still plenty of time to participate. There are meetings on the first Friday of each month (February-May) at 5:30 p.m. in the Lyric Cultural Arts Center. For about 2 hours each month there is guidance, instruction and motivation. Also, there are irons, cutting boards and sewing machines available for use at that time. Participants, who have them, are asked to bring their own sewing machine and return any completed dresses during those times.

Yetta’s initial goal is to have 250 dresses completed by May and during June and July give sewing instruction to the girls who received dresses, so that they may make something for the underprivileged girls in another county.  Ms. Gray said that is an important step. “Girls have to learn to give and not just take,” said Gray.

A now retired schoolteacher, Ms. Gray spends every day of the week sewing items to give away. “I started making quilts for babies, I make the pillowcase dresses for girls in Africa, then I began making bags for wheelchairs. I just drop those off at veteran’s homes and nursing homes. I don’t charge a thing because someone made one for my father when he was in a nursing home and it was an anonymous gift. So I’ve done the same.”

Yetta agreed and said that the underprivileged in America are rich compared to the poor in other countries.

To make a donation of pillowcases or other materials or for participation information contact the Cultural Arts Coordinator for The Lyric, Rasheedah El-Amin at 859-280-2201 or