Linda Lehman Sews for Children

This sweet lady came to my acquaintance a few months ago when I wrote her story for the Senior Living magazine. She has since offered me names of other people in her area that would make good profiles. Thanks for that, Linda! I’m sure you’ll see your friends’ stories in print soon! Linda’s story reveals the joy in volunteering. I hope it inspires you to do volunteer today.

Linda Lehman of Berne has stitched more than 100 dresses for little girls in Africa.

Linda Lehman’s home in Berne, Indiana, is filled with family photos and mementos showing her love for people. It is an inherited trait from her mother who passed away in 2010.  “Mom made quilts for each of her grandchildren,” said Lehman.


When Lehman began cleaning out her mother’s home after her mother’s death, she found many yards of good material leftover from her mother’s projects. “Mom never wanted anything to be thrown away,” Linda added. “She loved being creative.”


Lehman shared some of the material with a nearby church, knowing her mother would have liked it going to religious projects. She brought the rest home and stored it. Less than a year later, Lehman was happy to discover a purpose for it which she knew her mother would have approved.


“A friend had made dresses for little girls in Africa from pillow cases,” said Lehman. “When I admired them, she said so many children in Africa do not even have one set of adequate clothing.”


Lehman asked for the website with the pattern and mailing address. She immediately started making dresses from her mother’s leftover fabric and notions.


The dresses for girls are sometimes referred to as ‘pillowcase’ dresses because they are simply constructed from fabric pieces that lie across the front and back of a body and are tied together at the shoulders. Besides pillowcases and fabric yardage, dresses can be made from curtain panels. Lehman adorned her dresses with rickrack, lace, hem binding and bias tape to make them prettier. Lehman has applied special stitches from her machine for added touches. Most have elastic around the necks and are sleeveless to accommodate Africa’s hot climate.


She has also sewn dresses for little girls in Haiti which a missionary to that country delivered. When a member from her church who works as a nurse at an orphanage in Africa heard about the dresses, she asked for and received dresses from Lehman. Thus far, Lehman has sewn more than 100 dresses.


Linda and her husband Luther attend First Missionary Church in Berne. The church has a sewing group called Hearts and Hands. According to Linda, members of the group have contributed to the cause. “Four ladies in the group agreed to make dresses for Africa,” she said. The group has made quilts, bears, blankets for other projects.


Born in Celina, Ohio, Linda Lehman moved to Indiana with her family as young child. She graduated from French High School in Berne before it closed. She and Luther, a Berne man, married in 1958. They have four children and 12 grandchildren. Linda worked as a secretary for 32 years at South Adams High School.


Linda is pleased with the way her mother’s fabric is being used to help children in third-world countries.  “I think about Mom when I’m working on a dress,” she said. “I know she would be happy with how we’re using her materials to help needy children.”


Information on how to contribute items for Little Dresses for Africa can be found at


The End



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