Last August, I wrote about an army of women producing scrubs and face masks to address shortages during the pandemic.
They’re still at it but the focus of their activities has now changed. At the height of the crisis, they supplied scrubs for hospitals and medical settings and made around 18,000 facemasks but ceased that production, as things settled down, because they didn’t want to compete with commercial manufacturers and put people’s jobs at risk. That’s a lovely attitude especially when contracts and profits seem, for some, to have been almost as important as saving lives and supplying protective equipment.
Originally known as Brum Scrubs, the group now call themselves Sew Marvellous. They’ve evolved into a charity which promotes sewing as an act of kindness. They’ve been making bags for schools tackling period poverty, items for BAB (Baby Aid Birmingham), the Active Wellbeing Society and a group which provides women prisoners with a set of clothes which will fit them on release. More recently, they’ve been offering sewing classes and providing sewing machines for a women’s group in Africa.
The project has classic elements of self-help but with the emphasis on providing for others. They have a Facebook page where they regularly come together to offer support and share achievements. It can be a way of dealing with bereavement and loneliness and acknowledging each other’s self-worth.
As the success of Sewing Bee and charismatic star Patrick Grant has demonstrated, sewing has a much broader reach than many might have realised. Today, there are at least 400 of these sewing groups around the country, involving as many as 160,000 women.
As well as making personal gifts, the local branch is also producing panels for a Commonwealth Games display and has been ‘yarn bombing’ which involves decorating trees, in local parks, as part of an ‘In Memoriam’ project designed to remember those who’ve been lost during the pandemic.
Next month, their new website goes live and one wonders what next for Sew Marvellous. It seems, there’s just no stopping these wonderful women who are right up there when it comes to community heroes.