Support Sewing School Construction ~ Win a Quilt

Construction of the vocational school in Beudet, Haiti is underway, but more funds are needed before it can be completed. Below is a drawing of the school sent to me by Pastor Cadet.


Mom and I are planning to send another donation for construction costs in June. Every person who sends a financial donation from now until the end of May will get their name put in a drawing for this awesome ISU quilt that mom made. It measures just under 4′ x 5′. (I realize this may not excite all of our supporters who are spread out across the US, but hey, it’s a great school…maybe you should consider becoming a Cyclone fan. 🙂 )

Checks can be written out to 500 Dresses and sent to 500 Dresses c/o Jan Nelson, 680 1st St. NE, Britt, IA 50423.



Vocational Sewing School

$1100 for the Sewing School in Haiti


We have $1100 to send to Pastor Cadet for the construction of a building for his sewing school in Haiti 🙂

That means that he will be just $230 short of his anticipated need for the project. We plan to send our donation in two weeks, so if you have any interest in adding to that $1100 number before then, let us know. The donation will be sent through Mission to Haiti, and the funds will be dispersed to Pastor Cadet throughout the project.

Thanks so much to everyone who has donated toward this very worthwhile project!

Gotta Love God’s Timing


I wrote this article about my experience with treadle sewing after I returned from my last trip to Haiti. I’ve had variations of it published in a couple devotionals, but I recently received this new copy of it as a full article in a magazine.

The issue of the magazine doesn’t technically come out until February, but I received my copy ahead of time.  It was perfectly timed by God to remind me that it’s not about me. Our service to him is never about us. I guess he wanted to be sure I have that in my thick skull before I hop on the plane next week.

By the way – for those of you who have heard of my ineptitude on treadle sewing machines, I would like to share that I am in fact still inept at it. I tried at my folks house last week with no success. I choose to blame the fact that I am left-handed. Yep, that’s what I’m going with.

Sewing is Hard

I spent Monday sewing with my mom.  It was a lovely, non-stressful experience. She has the patience of a saint. She explained each step in the process of our Haiti project, and I followed her instructions. In the end I had this lovely tote.


I spent Tuesday sewing by myself. It was an unlovely, stress-filled day. I have the patience of a three-year-old. I had to read the instructions by myself, and there was no one there to stop me when I was about to royally screw it up.

I cut one piece the wrong size, but didn’t realize it until I was almost ready to complete the bag. I couldn’t figure out the stupid zipper. When I do zippers with mom I’m like “Okay, I’ve got it. No problem.” When I do them by myself I’m like, “What the heck am I doing wrong?'”  Who needs zippers anyway?

I wanted to throw my scissors across the room, and I about tossed the half-finished tote in the fireplace and roasted some marshmallows over it. I will not even tell you how many hours it took to complete because it’s far too embarrassing.

But in the end, I did complete it. And it’s pretty cute as long as you don’t look too close. There is even a completed (albeit very ugly looking) zipper pocket on the inside.


By the end of Tuesday, I was wondering what in the world I had gotten myself into. I think I could probably go teach some writing classes, but sewing??? How am I supposed to teach a craft in which my skill level hovers at the lower end of mediocrity?

But you know what I think God is going to do with this? I think he is going to show me just how much this is not about me. It is about obedience to him.  I will work hard over the next two weeks to be able to sew a zipper with the best of them, but I will also trust that even if I am not a fantastic seamstress, he can and will use me. Because that’s what he does. He says,

“Hey girl. I’ve got this crazy task for you. And I know you think you can’t do it, and that’s okay. Because when I ask you to do something. I equip you to do it. I’ve got your back.”

The God of the universe has got my back. Why is that so easy to forget?

Needed: Sewing Supplies for Haiti

Photo courtesy of Mister GC at

Photo courtesy of Mister GC at

We are heading to Haiti in less than a month and are still taking sewing supply donations to use during the classes we will be teaching, and to donate to the vocational school for future use. Below is a list of suggested times

  • Fancy Fabric – satins, taffeta (anything you might make a bridesmaid or flowergirl dress out of.) We can take smaller pieces, but would prefer to have lengths of at least 4 yards.
  • hook and eyes and/or snaps
  • zippers
  • good quality thread
  • needles, both for machines and hand-sewing
  • sewing scissors
  • seam rippers
  • binding material and/or prepackaged seam binding
  • tape measures
  • rotary cutting board and rotary cutters
  • straight pins
  • misc. sewing supplies
  • cash donations to purchase new items

In addition, the head of the vocational school is interested in a serger sewing machine. If anyone happens to  have one of these they’d like to donate or knows of a way we could purchase one inexpensively, please let me know.

Feel free to email me at if you have any questions. Thanks!


Sewing In Haiti

Boy sewing

This boy was one of our students on the last mission trip to Haiti. This time around mom and I will teach a small group of more advanced students. Mom is working on lesson plans for a halter-type bridesmaid dress and a bag that will incorporate practice with zippers and binding. (Then she’s gonna have to teach me, so I can help her teach the students 🙂 )

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh. Rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13.

How You Can Support Us In Our Haiti Trip


Mom and I are heading to Haiti on November 14. We will be staying on the campus of Mission to Haiti in Port-au Prince, and will spend our week teaching sewing to a small group of vocational students in Beudet.

I am excited that mom is coming along for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that we will likely be working only on treadle machines. (If you want to know how well I get along with treadle sewing machines you can check out this old post from my last trip to Haiti – The Treadle Battle.)

People have asked how they can help us, pray for us, support us… Below I am listing a variety of ways you can join us in our adventure.

Provide Supplies – We will each take 2 checked bags which we will stuff with as many sewing supplies as possible; both for use in our classes and to leave for the women to use after we have gone. Here’s what we are looking for:

  • Fancy Fabric – satins, taffeta (anything you might make a bridesmaid or flowergirl dress out of.) We can take smaller pieces, but would prefer to have lengths of at least 4 yards.
  • hook and eyes and/or snaps
  • zippers
  • good quality thread
  • needles, both for machines and hand-sewing
  • sewing scissors
  • seam rippers
  • binding material and/or prepackaged seam binding
  • tape measures
  • rotary cutting board and rotary cutters
  • straight pins
  • misc. sewing supplies


  • travels – that we make our connecting flights and our luggage arrives with us (When Corey and I went in 2012, our luggage decided to come a day late, and we absolutely should have missed a connecting flight, but God chose to show us how big he is by getting us on the plane.)
  • health
  • the ability to teach in a way the students can understand
  • to be able to successfully use treadles – Mom is practicing on her old machine 🙂
  • that the devotions I will be writing to present at the beginning of each class will be understandable and reach the students for Christ.
  • that my hubby and three boys will survive a week without me 😉

Financial – If you are interested in providing support financially either to defray the costs of our trip, or to cover the expense of supplies we will need to purchase, you can send a check made out to 500 Dresses, to Kim Harms, 314 Centennial Dr. Huxley, IA, 50124 (These donations are not tax-deductible, as 500 Dresses is not an official NPO.) Make note in the memo line what you would like the donation to be used for.)

Thanks so much in advance for your prayers and support. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more info about the trip.


Cutting, Sewing, Pinning, Ironing



Last night a group of lovely people joined me at Grace Evangelical Free Church in Huxley to work on dresses, label some shorts and work on getting a box  of school supplies and toiletries ready to send to India. In 2 1/2 hours we completed 7 dresses and have a several more cut and ready to be sewn.

It was so nice to have people change some of my piles of fabric into dresses.

Now if you all could come to my house and change some of the food in my freezer and pantry into meals, life would be perfect 🙂


IMG_4754 IMG_4751

Easy Sundress Patterns For the Sewing Novice

One of our frequently asked questions is, what pattern do you use for dresses?

The simple answer is we use a lot of different patterns. My mom, who is a seamstress extraordinaire makes some super pretty dresses using patterns that I won’t touch.

I am mediocre on the sewing machine and prefer as few pattern pieces as possible. Plus I don’t do zippers and I try to stay away from buttons 🙂

Below are a couple easy patterns that I regularly use

siimplicity halter pic

Simplicity Halter #5531

I this #5531 may be discontinued because I can only find it for sale on etsy, but I did find a similar one that you could try.

Simplicity Halter 6478

Simplicity Halter #6478

Let me know if you give #6478 a try. I haven’t used it, but it looks very close to the one I do use.

For larger sizes I usually use the Butterick pattern below.

Butterick 3860

 Butterick #3860

Depending on the fabric, sometimes I add a little trim to this pattern because it can look very plain.

We also accept dresses made from the pillowcase dress pattern. The following is a good tutorial.


Pillowcase Dress Tutorial

We use the above patterns regularly, but will accept any sundress pattern you choose to use. It’s fun to have a variety of sizes and styles to ship.

Happy Sewing 🙂