My Lockdown Sewing Shenanigans

Warning, this post turned out to be a bit longer than I initially intended!

As the world was turning on it’s head and our lives changed, I felt the strong need to try to do something more than just continuing to do my normal job as a key worker. Luckily, I found a way to use my sewing skills in the process.

It didn’t take me long to find a local group of people who were sewing scrub sets, scrub bags or surgical hats for those working in the NHS in the area who were desperate for some and could not find them especially at beginning of the lockdown, which in UK started on 22 March 2020. Among those in the group there were many who offered to pick up and deliver supplies or finished items between us and those who needed them. I was amazed at how people who did not know each other found a way to work together towards a common goal. Something tells me that I might have found quite a few new friends among them.

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As the lockdown started, I searched on social media a group I could work with to help, that’s how I found the Manchester and East Lancs Scrub Hub – and my local mini-hub Bolton Scrub Hub.

My first request was to make surgical hats and some scrub sets for a GP practice in Stockport.

For the scrub sets, I made I used the NewLook 6857 I had in my stash (I am sure glad I did keep this one).

The first few sets I made with this pattern were views A for the Top with modified bottom pockets from view C/D and view B for the trouser including the pockets. I later modified the trouser pattern to not include the pockets and removed the waistband pieces to speed up the process.

As our group started getting many requests, I started making the scrub sets in different fabrics and ize. Cutting the fabric was a bit of a pain as well as washing all that fabric that came on the roll. On a few occasions, I thought I broke my washing machine as the fabric was too heavy, even though I had it cut into smaller pieces.

As it took a long time to get the fabric cut: I was cutting all the fabric on a roll into as many sets as I could and then sewed them. I tried working in batches, but since I had different sizes I wanted to avoid making mistakes a well a to motivate myself by seeing results faster, I constructed them one set at the time.

I even used the embroidery alphabet on my sewing machine to label the scrubs. Some fabrics were better than others. So what started with full word for the sizes became a letter and on some fabrics, I added DIY labels made out of ribbon with fabric marker writing (this only for the sizes) which are not as pretty.

The more sets I made the faster I got at making them. It took me about 10 sets to get that V-neck perfect. lol

I made them in a variety of colours depending on the fabric that was available. And took some pictures of me modelling them. Some of the sets were too big for me so they might look odd. But here is a little gallery of the colours I used to make scrubs out of, not quite the rainbow of colours I was aiming for, but a still good selection.

In total until the writing of this post, I managed to make 47 scrub sets of various sizes.

With the smaller pieces of fabric or leftovers from my own stash, I have been making surgical hats, scrub bags and face coverings. They were a welcome change, as sewing scrubs was beginning to get boring after a while.

Half-way through April, I asked for some leftover/smaller pieces of fabric from Minerva* who kindly donated some fabric to our group, after donating many many meters of fabric to other groups to make scrub sets. I was really impressed that they still managed to find some more fabric to spare. I shared the load with others in the group to make scrub bags, face coverings, comfort bags or surgical hats. (I made comfort bags – smaller than scrub bags and face coverings from the scraps).

On the warmer days, I took my sewing in my backyard. I wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather, but not stop sewing, so that was the best solution I could come up with.

For me being able to get involved in helping others at a time like this kept me so busy that the lockdown did not affect me a much as many other people. Knowing that my sewing skills are useful and by doing something as little as sewing a scrub set will help someone else is very important. It shows me that we can all do a simple action to help the community stay safe. It was amazing to see how many people got involved. Those who could not sew moved fabric or made-up items between us the suppliers, makers and those who needed what we made. Others who could not get involved by making, delivering or doing admin, have donated money or fabric/unwanted duvet set or just sharing the fundraising page. Together we managed to make millions of scrub sets around the country and donate them to the people who needed them.

I was really proud to hear that some friends of mine were inspired by my little mission and got themselves a sewing machine to make surgical hats or scrub bags.


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