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How Sewing for Kids in Need Restored One Woman’s Shattered Self-Esteem

Finding a way to give back made all the difference.

Kathleen Gamble was browsing in a local San Antonio craft store with her husband, Ben, in 2014, when she spotted a floor sample of a little girl’s handmade dress. Immediately, Kathleen was reminded of the little yellow dress her grandmother had made for her when she was just a year old. She’d had the dress preserved and kept it in a shadowbox. It was a cherished keepsake.

As she gazed at the dress on display, Gamble felt an old dream bubble up from the depths of her heart. Since she was a young girl, she had longed to learn to sew as well as her grandmother had.

Sadly, her beloved grandmother had passed away when Gamble was just 5, so she’d never had a chance to teach her granddaughter. And not long after, a teacher labeled Gamble “developmentally challenged” and “severely dyslexic.” She was actually just extremely shy, but the misdiagnosis led to bullying and instilled a fear of failure that she couldn’t shake, despite encouragement from loving parents and a doting grandfather. There’s something wrong with me, so why bother? she’d think to herself when tempted to try something new, including sewing.

Ben hated seeing his wife deprive herself of joyful activities. Seeing the wistful look in her eyes now, he noted that the store offered sewing lessons and suggested she sign up. Even now, in her mid-30s, Gamble could hear that voice of doubt. But this time, she decided not to listen. It’s time I believe in myself, she thought.

A Loving Nudge

Gamble began taking weekly sewing classes, and although her fears and self-doubt reared their ugly heads when she made a mistake, her instructor was encouraging and patient. So she became excited about the work — and quite skilled. It distracted her from painful memories and made her feel good about herself. Best of all, she felt a connection to her grandmother. When she completed her first dress, Gamble filled with pride. I made this! her heart whispered joyously. I absolutely CAN do this!

Soon, Gamble was creating a wardrobe of clothing. Then one day in 2016, her father, a hospital chaplain, contacted her with a request. “The hospital needs clothes for the youngest patients to have an outfit to go home in. I thought you could make some,” he said.

Gamble broke into a smile, once again remembering the pretty yellow dress her grandmother had made for her. I have a chance to give that same gift of love to other children, she uttered to herself.

A Passion With Purpose

Before long, Gamble was making regular drop-offs of children’s clothing at the hospital. Staff and parents were so grateful, and her heart filled with so much joy that she decided to expand and began making kids’ outfits for 22 different nonprofits, foster homes, and other charitable foundations.

Gamble soon realized she had the makings for a blossoming business and opened “Too Kute to Sleep In.” The name was inspired by a saying of her beloved grandmother. The “K” in Kute is in honor of her name: Katherine.

To date, the 40-year-old seamstress has sewn more than 600 kids’ outfits for charity, and her sewing machine continues to hum along. And while Gamble wishes she’d started sewing years earlier, she accepts that she can’t change the past and feels lucky to have found her life’s calling and that she is helping others with it.

“Don’t let anyone have power over you, because living in a mental prison isn’t worth it,” Gamble shares. “Be you. Be happy. Even the smallest act of kindness can change the course of someone’s future. Set your mind to anything you want to do, and it can happen!”

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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