Northeast Times

A lifetime of beautiful creations

Dorothy Maminski, 97, has two sewing machines to make dresses for girls 3- to 12-years-old who live in the impoverished Parish of Child Jesus in Chimalhuacan, Mexico.

  • Helping hands: Dorothy Maminski makes dresses out of pillow cases, lace and ribbons for young girls who live near Mexico City. She sews in her Wesley Enhanced Living Pennypack apartment for three to four hours a day. JOHN LOFTUS / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Helping hands: Dorothy Maminski makes dresses out of pillow cases, lace and ribbons for young girls who live near Mexico City. She sews in her Wesley Enhanced Living Pennypack apartment for three to four hours a day. JOHN LOFTUS / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Helping hands: Dorothy Maminski makes dresses out of pillow cases, lace and ribbons for young girls who live near Mexico City. She sews in her Wesley Enhanced Living Pennypack apartment for three to four hours a day. JOHN LOFTUS / TIMES PHOTOS

  • Helping hands: Dorothy Maminski makes dresses out of pillow cases, lace and ribbons for young girls who live near Mexico City. She sews in her Wesley Enhanced Living Pennypack apartment for three to four hours a day. JOHN LOFTUS / TIMES PHOTOS

Dorothy Mam­in­ski went to work at 14. By 17, she was work­ing in gar­ment factor­ies and stayed in that pro­fes­sion for 50 years. Mam­in­ski is now re­tired, but only in that she’s not work­ing for a liv­ing.

She’s 97 and is still hard at work on her sew­ing ma­chines in her Wes­ley En­hanced Liv­ing Pennypack apart­ment for three or four hours a day, mak­ing dresses for chil­dren in Mex­ico.

Mam­in­ski has two sew­ing ma­chines to make dresses for girls 3- to 12-years-old who live in the im­pov­er­ished Par­ish of Child Je­sus in Chi­m­al­huacan, Mex­ico.

The raw ma­ter­i­al for the gar­ments might be sur­pris­ing. The dresses, trimmed with lace, rib­bons and braid, are made from pil­low­cases, Mam­in­ski said. You would nev­er guess that to see them be­cause they look like brightly colored sun dresses that could be bought in any Amer­ic­an de­part­ment store. And at good prices, too.

She uses one pil­low­case per dress, she said, and does all the work without any help.

“I was the only one who wanted to sew,” she said, but it’s work she can do with the fa­mili­ar­ity that comes from dec­ades of ex­per­i­ence. There’s not a ma­chine in the gar­ment in­dustry she doesn’t know how to use, she said.

“To me, noth­ing is hard as far as sew­ing goes,” Mam­in­ski said dur­ing a May 21 in­ter­view in her Roosevelt Boulevard apart­ment.

What’s a little dif­fer­ent for her re­cently is that a sew­ing ma­chine she had used for 72 years fi­nally gave up the ghost and she’s had to get used to a new­er mod­el. The res­ults are still amaz­ing.

Mam­in­ski’s dresses were sent to the Trin­it­ari­an Sis­ters who min­is­ter to the par­ish out­side Mex­ico City, said Wes­ley spokes­wo­man Kar­en Dol­er.

Sis­ter Grace Ray­mond Tighe on May 15 sent Mam­in­ski a let­ter de­scrib­ing the dresses’ dis­tri­bu­tion.

The first little girls who re­ceived the dresses “lit­er­ally were in ec­stasy,” Sis­ter Grace wrote. “They live sev­en chil­dren with their moth­er in one room of grey brick and a roof of card­board shingles. I am sure they nev­er dreamed of hav­ing any­thing so beau­ti­ful.”

The second home the nuns vis­ited housed two fam­il­ies of cous­ins — three girls and four boys. “These little girls jumped up and down with glee,” Sis­ter Grace told Mam­in­ski. “They were so proud. … This nev­er hap­pens ever.”

Mam­in­ski said she buys all the trim­mings that turn pil­low­cases in­to such stun­ning gar­ments, but could use some help with pil­low­cases if she is to con­tin­ue.

Dol­er said new pil­low­cases are pre­ferred, and they can be dropped off at the re­cep­tion desk at Wes­ley En­hanced Liv­ing Pennypack, 8401 Roosevelt Blvd., dur­ing busi­ness hours. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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