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Dresses worn worldwide

Iola woman sews for 73 years

By Holly Neumann

For Rita Tuxhorn, who has been sewing for nearly 73 years, what started out as a hobby of making doll clothes has now turned into making a difference worldwide.

“I was living in Wisconsin Rapids at the time and decided to do some crafts,” said Tuxhorn. “So I started making dolls clothes. That is when my daughter Pat (Loken) said I should start making dresses for orphans and poor children that could use them.”

And that is just what she did.

“My daughter Kathy was going on a mission trip,” said Tuxhorn. “She took some along on her trip to Myanmar. I was so excited when she returned and had a picture of some of the children wearing what I had made. It was nice seeing some of my work being put to good use.”

To date, Tuxhorn has made 212 dresses that have been shipped around the world, and she currently has 62 more hanging in her closet, waiting for homes.

“It feels like this is what I am meant to do,” she said. “It seems like I hardly ever have to purchase anything. God is providing me with what I need.”

She smiles when she shares how fabric and thread sometimes just show up on her doorstep. Her patterns come from Goodwill.

The dresses are made in all different sizes and patterns.

Tuxhorn began sewing when she was 15 years old.

“I remember the first time I tried to sew,” she said. “I laid the pattern on the fabric the wrong direction. I was so upset, I thought I had ruined it.”

She finds sewing to be relaxing.

Once she married, and was not only raising 11 children but also busy on the family farm, her time to sew was limited.

“Now I have the time,” she said. “I would not attempt a wedding dress, but making these dresses is quite simple.”
She is proud to be making a difference.

“That makes me happy,” she said. “It gives me a feeling of accomplishment.”

Tuxhorn hopes to continue doing this for as long as she can.

“You have to remember that I am 88 years old,” she said. “I hope my eyes will keep on seeing well enough, so I can keep sewing.”

She hopes her story will inspire people to do something good to help others.

“Use some of your spare time to do something good to those around you,” she said. “We need a little more of that in this world.”

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