Back in April, I joined a nationwide army of home-sewers to make PPE for the NHS and care services here in the UK. Co-ordinated by hundreds of volunteers via a collective known as For the Love of Scrubs, fabrics, patterns and materials were all generously donated and distrubuted through networks of sewers across the country to quickly supply local trusts that were desperately in need.
I sewed for the South London local authorities where scrubs were made for hospitals, GPs surgeries, care homes and the prison service. It was a real privilege to offer my equipment and skills to help the cause, but I was also blown away by the sheer volume of sewers of all different skill levels, some complete beginners, all wanting to pitch in with making scrub bags, headbands, ear defenders, as well as complete sets of scrubs.
It created a real sense of community spirit as locals reached out to each other to raise funds, share cut fabrics lengths and act as drop-off points, whilst also working around the difficulties of social distancing. When fabric supplies became short, it didn't slow the effort down as resources were found in locally donated bedsheets, which made for some vibrant alternatives to the usual scrub blues! I hear these went down very well with local NHS staff.
As I usually work with stretch fabrics, doing this project was way out of the norm for me, but it's been amazing to work alongside all these determined sewers. A daunting 25m of fabric was dropped at my doorstep, and batch cutting and sewing it in volumes was no mean feat! However, it gave me a real focus during these uncertain times and I learned a lot of new skills along the way, which I will definitely use in my other sewing projects in future.
Although this is a nationwide effort, I want to give a special shout out to the administrators of my local Facebook group in particular, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes, creating endless spreadsheets and communicating with health trusts, as well as graciously answering questions that we all had, whilst maintaining an upbeat and motivational approach to the cause.
It just shows that even in a crisis, people will pull together to make things happen. As the effort for home-making scrubs winds down where regular PPE supplies start to come in, it's been such a great experience to have been part of a home effort that worked tirelessly to fill the gaps in the interim.
Update May 24th 2020 - To date my local group has sewn 4,100 scrubs and still rising!