They may be sewing in isolation but this army of quilting queens has answered the call to serve the community by crafting hundreds of laundry bags and scrub caps for frontline health workers in our hospitals.
Island Quilters’ members move to the hum of a sewing machine, and when required, they move pretty quickly.
In the past month, they’ve made 200 laundry bags, 150 scrub caps and 36 face masks which have been donated to staff at Caboolture, Gold Coast University, Gatton and Gympie hospitals and some were even sent to Tasmania.
President Toni Curtis says the group would normally meet at the Bribie Island Community Arts Centre each Wednesday morning for friendship, sewing and community projects.
But social distancing measures had forced them to now sew alone at home.
Toni was sitting in front of the computer trying to keep in touch with members, particularly ones who don’t use social media, when she decided they needed a project.
A woman named Brenda Wood from 2 Sew issued a callout for sewers to make scrub caps after she received an SOS from a Caboolture Hospital staff member.
“I saw that and thought, ‘Bribie’s just down the road, let’s get going and make scrub caps’,” Toni recalls.
“The response from members was so overwhelming,” she says.
The scrub caps are not for use in surgical theatres, but offer staff additional protection when carrying out other duties.
As news started to spread that hospital staff were being targeted by people fearful of the spread of COVID-19, it was decided they needed laundry bags so they could change out of their uniforms at work and safely carry these clothes home.
For an experienced sewer, a scrub cap can take 30-45 minutes to make and the laundry bags take about 20 minutes. Island Quilters members have provided their own materials, including fabric and elastic.
“Our members sew for the community – 90 per cent of what all our members make is donated to the community,” she says. “It gives them purpose. I’m constantly overwhelmed by what they do.”
They might help people after a fire or flood, or create items that can be used to raise money for charities.
The group celebrates its 30th birthday this year and Toni hopes members will be able to get together at some point to mark the occasion and swap mug mats they have been making. These are a quilted mat designed to sit under a cup of coffee, or tea, and a small side plate.
The members will put their creations in a basket and will be given one at random. For a group of sewers who usually give their handiwork away, it’s special reward for years of toiling for others.
Island Quilters has about 70 members, including 10 life members, and they range in age from in their 40s to 90s.