Lillian Weber had no plans of retiring.
Matter of fact, by May 6th of 2015, by the time family and friends celebrated her 100th birthday, Lillian Weber had sewn and donated her 1,000th handmade dress for young girls in Africa.
Lillian began a new dress every morning at her home in the small town of Bettendorf, Iowa, to benefit Little Dresses for Africa, a Christian registered 501c3 nonprofit that sends dresses overseas to impoverished girls in Africa and beyond, including America.
She soon discovered that her very popular dresses were much more than clothing. Reports were received that the girls wearing the new dresses were much less likely to be harassed or abducted on their way to draw water because they obviously looked like someone cared for them. The sense of honor and pride was planted in the hearts of the young girls. (source)
Each dress took Lillian four hours to complete from start to finish, and was her daily hobby for three years.
Lillian Weber, Role Model
Along with investing in her family, Weber said the dresses were a big part of her life’s mission. “I think that’s very important to have something different for these little girls,” she says. “I imagine four or five of them standing in a row, and they got a little dress on and they’re all different.”
“I feel the good Lord has given me this to do.” ~Lillian Weber
The people at Little Dresses for Africa, named Lillian their ‘sewing celebrity.’
Rachel O’Neill, founder and director of Little Dresses for Africa said, “She’s my hero. When someone like Lillian goes the extra mile, it shows.”
Lillian’s daughters helped cut out the fabric, and Lillian took it the rest of the way. “She could thread a needle at 99; I can’t thread a needle and I’m not near that old,” said Linda Purcell, one of Weber’s daughters. “She made the dresses because it helped her stay busy and staying busy kept her out of a nursing home.”
She had no intention of slowing down or retiring.
Lillian’s pattern is super easy. Here are 3 more patterns that are similar in design.
“If I’m still able to do it, I’ll continue all the way through because I know I’m making little girls happy. And that is very, very important to me.”
What a better place this sad world would be if all of us who were able-bodied said ‘No’ to retiring to the TV set or some other inwardly-focused pastime and decided to re-tread to serve others. Oh, that our hands would be used to love a neighbor, near or far, as we would want to be loved ourselves.
What an amazing, solid role model.
Lillian Weber was the kind of woman I want to be when I’m 99!
Lillian Weber went to the Lord Jesus on the eve of her 101st birthday on May 5, 2016.
Find Little Dresses For Africa’s Facebook Main Headquarters’ page here.
You can learn to sew and teach your children, too! Here are some helpful links:
- Sew Mama Sew, “Seven Essential Sewing Skills“
- Martha Stewart, “Sewing Basics“
- Martha Stewart, “Easy Sewing Projects“
- Teaching Your Child To Work With Her Hands: 4 Benefits of Early Training
“Our hearts of stone become hearts of flesh when we learn where the outcast weeps.” ~Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” ~1 John 3: 16-18
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Such an awesome lady! 😀 Great post. She reminds me of my Grandma. She is 82 and while she is financially stable to retire, she chooses to walk to work (she never learned to drive) everyday, works 7a-3p, Mon-Fri, and tells us she will retire the day the Lord takes her Home. 😉
That is an amazing lady. GOD BLESS her!!
What an inspiration! I can see why she is your role model.
So much comes down to making our faith practical enough that it fills our days with purpose and energy.
Thank you for this post, dear friend, and may you also continue to use your energy to inspire the rest of us.
I love this Jacque – thank you so much for sharing her inspirational story.
What a godly woman..and an inspiration to us all! Thanks for sharing her story, Jacque.
Hope you’re having a blessed Lord’s Day. 🙂
What a lovely post. This dear lady reminds me of a woman I met in a tiny town in Arkansas once when we were travelling through. We stopped at a little Christian bookstore and a dear elderly lady was asleep in her rocking chair with a lap full of a crochet project. She woke up and told us she was crocheting baby blankets for children in Romania. She worked steadily on them and sent them off to a missionary she knew in Romania when she finished one. What a lovely reminder of the dear older ones who continue to “seek wool and flax and work willingly with their hands.”
Where can I donate fabric to her
I would contact the Little Dresses For Africa people. Here is their ‘Making A Difference’ page link: http://www.littledressesforafrica.org/blog/making-a-difference/
God bless you, friend!
I love this story! My great-grandmother is 99 years old and we just visited her last month. It was amazing to see how well she was doing in some areas, but in others I was sad for her. She is pretty much home alone all the time. I wish she had a project like this to work on. I think that things like this are what keep people going. What a great thing she is doing with her time!
I have been making crafts for the orphans and children in shelters and Villages in Moldova, a little county beside of Ukraine . This is a place known for sex trafficking. Where 7 out of 10 girls are sold in to sex slavery. At age 13 most chilren are put out of the orphanages and have no where to go unless they have sponsors that would pay for transitional living to the age of 18. This is alsyo where they could further their schooling and learn a trade that could help them get a job and not turn to the streets. I have been crocheting scarves and wash clothes blankets and making crafts for our churches mission team to give out when they go each year. Their next trip will be on December 27 2014. They will be going to share the Word of GOuuD and give Hope to so many children without hope and let them know they are Loved. When I saw the article on Lillian Weber, it sparked a fire in my heart to add to my collect of crafts for children around the world. I am disabled and in pain daily and have very little income but I am dedicated to do all I can to help others until GOD takes me from this earth. I don’t do a lot of sewing but I used to sew sheets in a factory years ago. So Im going to give it a try once more. If you have a simple dress pattern, not the pillow case pattern. One like Mrs. weber makes, could you send it to me. I would love to make some of these dresses for little girls in Moldova and other countries too. Also do you know of anyone who donates material for missions like these. I am struggling to find anyone to help me with getting supply’s and material and with limited income I can’t do as much as I would love to do. Please contact if you can help out at [email protected].
Well, God bless your heart! I think this pattern and instructions are wonderful and are very close to what Lillian Weber uses to make all her Little Dresses For Africa: http://sewlikemymom.com/peasant-dress/
I will ask on my DRAH FB page to see if anyone would donate fabric to you. If they message me privately, may I give them your email?
Thank you so much! I can’t hardly wait to get started! GOD answers Prayers through HIS people. Thank you so much for helping me.
This is the 2nd time I’ve read this post and I still feel my heartstrings pulled! She reminds me of my grandma…and I can’t sew a lick! It’s a lost art. Thanks for the encouragement!
Also, just wanted to tell you what an encouragement you are to so many! Thanks so much for all that you sacrifice! Love you!!
I want to be like Lillian Weber when I grow up. This is awesome!!
Great post, so inspirational! Thanks for sharing on the HomeAcre Hop, hope to see you again tomorrow! – Nancy The Home Acre Hop
I’m feeling all sorts over here… admiration, encouragement, a good conviction (to look at helping others!) and more admiration for Mrs Weber. I want to be like her when I grow up!!!
I got so much flak for a comment I made on a fb ad about mending our own clothes. How sad that so many said they are too busy to sew, or don’t know how to sew. I hadn’t for years until we “needed masks” and I fell in love with that creative productivity all over again. Thank you for this inspiring article!
Janet, I agree with you! So many have no idea how much their lives are diminished and increasingly, rapidly becoming narrow.
I feel sorry that our children are cheated out of things that taught skills, creativity, finishing a job well done, and the confidence of learning new things!
Sending peace to you,