AUSTRALIAN BUSH FIRE CRISIS
As I type, Australia is in the midst of a bushfire crisis. There is an overwhelming amount of loss. Loss of life (both human and animal), loss of property, loss of livelihood and loss of habitat. It’s overwhelming.
THE CHARITY SEWING ARMY
Thankfully there is an active team of kind and generous people that sew for charity. I like to think of them as charity sewing warriors, they stand shoulder to shoulder to form the charity sewing army. In our time of need they have assembled from all walks of life and all corners of the world to help sew for Australia. These kind warriors, armed with their sewing machines and selfless good intentions are helping those suffering by harnessing the healing power of handmade. It feels like a beautifully handmade quilt has been lovingly placed over Australia’s shoulders by a friend, and that somehow, despite the devastation we will make it through.
ANIMAL RESCUE CRAFT GUILD
They are many groups rallying to help the injured wildlife, I have been following the work of the the Animal Rescue Craft Guild. In their own words, the ARC Guild says ‘Our group coordinates the making and supply of craft items that can be used by animal rescues’. They are 100% run by volunteers who work together to supply carers with a range of handmade products. The ARC Guild has actively stepped up their efforts to provide for the animals that have been impacted by the fires. It’s been a massive undertaking, you can read all about the incredible achievements of the ARC Guild’s sewing and crafting community in their FB group Animal Rescue Craft Guild FAQ’s and Important Announcements.
SEWING WHAT THEY NEED MOST
The ARC Guild releases an updated list of ‘What We Need Most’ every few days to their Facebook Group. They work in closely with carers to ensure that they receive the items they need. They also advise when they have sufficient stock. If you are keen to help, be sure to check out the list and find the right pattern here Patterns for Injured Wildlife. The patterns are tried and tested and ensure the wildlife are kept safe and secure to aid their recovery. For example, tiny claws can get caught in exposed seams, or small animals can choke on loose threads!
NEW SEWING WARRIOR RECRUITS
After talking about the bushfire’s impact on the animals,my children, Miss 13 and Mr 11 decided that they would like to help. They looked at the current ARC Guild list, and saw that they needed XXS Joey Pouches (perfect for possums) and printed and cut the PDF pattern. Just like that, I had two new recruits for the charity sewing army. Did I mention Mr 11 has never had an interest in sewing before?
CUTTING (IS BORING APPARENTLY)
So the kids gathered all of the supplies for the project and printed the pattern. Together began to cut the first few pouches. The first pouch was interesting to cut, the 3rd was boring, and by the 5th one it was unanimously voted that Mum should do the all the cutting. The kids were keen to bypass the cutting step so they could sew with Betty the BERNINA B435 instead.
LESSON IN SEWING
Initially I thought Betty the BERNINA B435 might be too complex or too powerful for the kids to use, but it turned out that Betty was a fabulous sewing teacher indeed. It was my first time adjusting the Slide Speed Control, I like to sew with all Betty’s speed! However, Mr 11 slid the control to the left and the speed was reduced – perfect for overenthusiastic learners!. I explained how to sew, and gave them safety tips and then they just sewed, it took all of 20 seconds! In just a few minutes they were confidently using the foot control, quick reverse, presser foot lifter, thread cutter, they could adjust the stitch length and use the needle up down function without help. Mr 11 was heard to exclaim loudly “Why have I never sewed before? This is so awesome!”.
Betty the BERNINA B435 allowed them to learn at her slowest speed, and as they gained confidence they adjusted the Slide Speed Control to increase the speed. They quickly took pride in their work, aiming for straight lines and neatly trimmed threads. I decided while they were on a roll, I would teach them how to press their completed pouches neatly with the iron. Just in case they ever feel like ironing a school uniform or two.
LESSON IN LIFE
After successfully making their first joey pouch and liner they decided to make more. Off to the cutting bench I went and they sewed, ironed and chatted happily. They talked about what animals might use the pouches, discussed how many more they should make, and reflected about how they enjoyed working as a team to help the animals. Their compassion was heart warming. I hadn’t realised that sewing for charity with Betty the BERNINA B435 would be a gift to them as well. I guess at these stressful times children can feel powerless to help, and sewing was the perfect way to channel energy into a worthwhile project. Nice work Betty!
This weekend we will take the pouches to a local rescue hub collection point for distribution to local carers and their fostered animals. Needless to say I am super proud of my new charity sewing recruits and their new sewing and life skills.
TIPS FOR JOINING THE CHARITY SEWING ARMY
As a former Craft Donation Coordinator for a large charity here are some tips for joining the charity sewing army and making your kindness count.
- Find a charity that resonates with you personally. What are you passionate about? Would you like to sew for animals, babies, children, elderly, hospitals, deployed military, foster children, homeless or a women’s shelter. Perhaps a small local charity needs your help or you feel passionate about an international cause? The need is great and the list of charities is long.
- Research your chosen charity website, Facebook page or join their Facebook group to learn more about what they need.
- How do your skills match their needs? Do they need quilts, drawstring bags, gowns, dresses, covers for medical equipment etc.
- Follow the pattern and use the recommended sewing techniques.
- If appropriate, consider using recycled or pre-loved for animals. Good for the environment and soft for the animals.
- Ensure fabrics are clean and the correct type of fabric for the intended purpose. Do you need stretch, cotton, flannelette, all natural or synthetic fabrics?
- A charity sewing group is a positive places and will give you a strong sense of community purpose. Sewing shops, or community groups sometimes hold charity sewing days. You could invite your sewing friends over for a sewing morning and create together.
- If you can’t find time to sew, or have fabrics you no longer need you might consider donating some fabric or thread. You could even help with distribution or collection of handmade donations in your area.
- Handmade items for charity are needed all year, with demand increasing in times of crisis.
- All items are gratefully received, one item or one hundred items, together you and your BERNINA can make a difference.
HOW DO THEY KNOW HOW MANY ITEMS THEY NEED?
Charities work in close consultation with organisations to meet the demand. It may seem like a charity is receiving a lot of donations, but donations ebb and flow over time. The charity may be looking to stockpile items in anticipation of upcoming needs, or need to have stock on hand to replace items that are being used quickly. They may be supplying a growing network of demand due to a crisis. Surplus stock can be redirected to a similar charity.
Do you sew for charity? What are you making? What is the name of the charity/group you are sewing for?
Pop details or pics in the comments below so people can link up with organisations that need handmade items.
Happy sewing 🙂
PS. A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE WORLDWIDE CHARITY SEWING ARMY! YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE WITH EVERY STITCH YOU SEW FOR YOUR CHOSEN CHARITY!
Big thank you to wildlife carer Georgia and her lovely mum for all that they do for injured animals, your kindness and hard work is truly inspiring. Thank you for allowing me to share pics of your special possums xx
If you would like to become a wildlife carer you can find information on the WIRES website by clicking here.