Seamstresses Needed

Join Us From Anywhere In The World, Start Today!

Step 1, Download The Purse Pattern & Make Purses

We’d love your help with our program designed to keep girls in school all month and provide jobs to seamstresses in Lusaka. Scroll down this page and download the Cross Body Purse pattern and begin making purses. It is a printable PDF file so you can begin using the pattern right now. Make as few or as many purses as you’d like. Take your time and make them as nice as possible. We want quality purses! To learn more about how these purses create academic achievement in Zambia be sure to watch our videos and learn about the issue of Menstrual Hygiene Management. The girls like cute and colorful purses.  If you need help with the pattern be sure to watch our free sew-along training video.

Step 2, Download The Note Card

Download the message card and include a kind greeting in your purse. Write something special to the girl who will receive your work. Maybe a poem, scripture verse, prayer, or word of encouragement.

Step 3, Spread The Word On Social Media

Share this project on Facebook, Tumblr, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and yes – even in actual conversations! Follow our Facebook Page and join our Facebook Group. Get excited and show you care about keeping girls in school by telling everyone they need to get onboard with the program and sew some purses!

Step 4, Mail The Purses To Us By The Priority Deadline Date (February 1st or October 1st)

Be sure to finish your purses and mail them to us by our priority deadline dates. Our priority deadlines each year are February 1st and October 1st. Mailing the purses by the priority date will help ensure they get to the girls in a timely manner. Of course we are happy to receive them all year long if you miss the priority deadline.

Step 5, Give $5 For Each Purse You Make To Cover Shipping and MHM Supplies (Optional But Greatly Needed)

It costs us about $5 to ship the purse you make to Zambia and have the Sewing Cooperative there fill the purse with all the supplies the girl needs. So we’d love your financial support. Give your gift now. (Note – please don’t put money or any gifts in the purses it causes all sorts of problems.)

The Sew Powerful Purse Story

Send Your Completed Purses To:

Sew Powerful

C/O Cally Leighton

16640 SE Old Petrovitsky Rd, Renton, WA 98058

719 Toward Our Goal Of 3,000 Purses (As of May 19th)

Help us reach our goal by making as many purses as you can, but take your time, we value quality over quantity and want each purse to be a beautiful gift.

  • Progress To Date…
  • 2016 Goal Of 3,000 Purses

Get The Free Purse PDF Pattern

To get the purse pattern simply click the “Download Now” button and you’ll be asked to enter your email address and then confirm it in your email account. Once you confirm your email you will receive direct access to the pattern. Yes – we will also keep you updated on projects and share encouraging results. You can unsubscribe at any time. If you don’t see the email in your inbox please check your spam (or junk) folder!

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Get The Note Card Now

Simply click the “Download Now” button and get the note card. Print it out, write a word of encouragement, and include it inside your completed purse.
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The Problem

In Zambia it’s the common cultural practice in both poor urban and remote village areas that girls stay home when they are on their period. This is because they don’t have a reliable product solution that they can afford. So to avoid the risk of social embarrassment – they simply stay home. Disposable products are not the solution because there is no garbage solution and the cost is an impossible barrier to overcome. A well made reusable product that replaces their traditional method is the best solution – and they love it.

Girls Miss 6 Weeks Of School On Average

6 Weeks Equals 30 Days Of School

The Consequence

Girls at the Needs Care School in Lusaka are failing the 7th Grade Exams at more than 10% higher rate than boys. Based on our data, there is a real problem that can be measured. If a student (either girl or boy) doesn’t pass the 7th Grade Exams, they cannot go to Secondary School (what we call High School in the U.S.) and their academic career is over. There is no ‘remedial high school’ or back-up plan. They are done with school forever.

  • Boys 7th Grade Exam Pass Rate 83.3%
  • Girls 7th Grade Exam Pass Rate 73.2%
  • Pregnancy Under 17 Would Drop 60% If Girls Attended Secondary School 60%
  • Girls That Go To Secondary School Have 70% Fewer Teenage Marriages 70%


The purses you provide are used in local schools and clinics in Lusaka Zambia as part of Menstration Hygiene Management (MHM) programs. This simple gift – combined with re-usable sanitary pads and health information can make a tremendous difference in the lives of adolescent girls. Read about our Sew Powerful Purse Project here. Our ministry partners work hard to educate and inform the girls in their community so that they stay in school and grow in confidence and self-esteem. It really is sew powerful!


Education is the most effective investment socially and economically for a nation. Did you know:

  • Girls in rural Africa generally stay home from school while they are on their period.
  • It’s been documented they miss up to six weeks of school each year – a massive systematic disadvantage. 
  • ZanaAfrica has reported that providing sanitary pads and MHM training reduces absenteeism by 75%.


Girls in developing countries have a lack of materials, services, and facilities to help them manage their periods resulting in many school dropouts. Did you know:

  • Girls that drop out of school before completing a secondary education have a 40% pregnancy rate.
  • Educated women have 3.9 children on-average compared to 5.3 children for those who drop out.
  • A Girl in secondary school is 4 times less likely to be HIV-positive than one who drops out.

Self Esteem

Girls of all ages and in all countries deal with challenges to their self esteem. And in cases of extreme poverty the challenges are even more complex. Did you know:

  • When a purse is used strategically as part of a MHM – it gives girls a new-found confidence.
  • A purse is a simple item, but having a personal keepsake – something that you consider your private space – something that was a gift from a caring friend – can mean a lot to a young girl, empowering her to have higher self esteem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I mail my completed purse in after October 1st?

A. Yes, we’re happy to receive purses any time of year. Our Priority Deadlines February 1st and October 1st.


Q. Can I Donate A Purse I Make To A Local Girl In Need?

A. Yes – we’d love to have you use our pattern as a ministry tool in your community.


Q. Can We Make Purses As A Group?

A. Yes! If you have a women’s ministry program at your church, a Girl Scout Troop, or another type of club – we’d love to have you coordinate a group effort.

Q. I Don’t Sew – How Else Can I Help?

A. If you don’t sew – you’ve got a great opportunity to become an advocate for the program. Simply march into your local fabric or sewing store and begin talking to the employees about the “Sew Powerful Purse Project”. Ask them if they’d be willing to help you announce it – and work with them to create a movement in your town. Be a bold voice for the poor and share your passion for the project with people – it will be contagious.

Q. I can sew, but not very well, is the pattern hard?

A. The pattern has an easy option for beginning sewers – it allows you to skip a lot of steps – that should help! There is also a video tutorial you can watch here.

Q. Can I just collect random purses and send them to you?

A. No, we are only interested in receiving the Liberty Jane Cross body Purse!

Q. Can I Sell The Purses I Make?

A. Yes. Our hope would be that you’d donate the money you raise to support our project, but if you need it for other reasons – that’s okay too!

Q. Can You Pay For Shipping?

A. Unfortunately at this time we cannot cover your cost of shipping the purses to us. So we consider it part of your donation. Once we receive the purses we coordinate the shipping to Africa, which is a significant expense.

Q. I Live In Seattle – Can I Drop Off My Purses?

A. It’s simplest if you just mail your purses to the address listed. Unfortunately we cannot accept local deliveries. However, if you’re doing an event in Seattle, let us know! Maybe we can come and speak to your group. Use the contact form to get in touch.

Q. What happens after you receive the purses?

A. We coordinate shipping in partnership with a large non-profit organization. The purses go on a cargo container on an ocean liner, which can take several months. We strive to get the purses to Zambia as quickly as we can.

Q. Can I send you a box of my leftover supplies?

A. Unfortunately at this time we cannot accept donations of random items. If you’d like, you can sell them and send us the money 🙂

Q. Do I have to use a specific fabric for the purses?

A. You can use any fun material you’d like as you make the purses. Denim is good or any heavy weight material that you like. It’s up to you!

Q. Can I Keep A Purse I Make?

A. Yes – we’d love to have you make a matching purse and keep one and send one to Africa.

Help Us Spread The Word!

Use The Hashtag #sewpowerfulpurse & Share Images Of Your Work on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or just use the “Upload Your Photo” option below these examples!

Let’s share this on Pinterest with as many sewing and charity focused boards as possible!

Download And Share Our Flyer

Download this nice 1-page flyer and give copies to your church, community groups, teachers, Girl Scout troop leader, and even post copies at your local JoAnns Fabrics, or other local stores.

Download It Now

Have A Question?

If we didn’t answer all of your questions, feel free to drop us a line anytime.
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The Sew Powerful Purse Unboxing Party Live-Stream Replay

On Wednesday night November 11th we unboxed, counted, and prepped the 2015 Sew Powerful Purses. We received 1,619 purses! We did our best to give each purse maker a “shout out”. We want to thank everyone who participated in our Fall Priority Deadline. The next priority deadline is February 1st – so keep sewing! Finally, we invite you to give in support of our program. Join us and help enable the expansion of this program so we can reach more women and girls in Zambia.