Sunday, 24 February 2013

Looking at Laundry Bags

I hope everyone has had a good weekend.  If you live in parts of NSW including Sydney, you may well have had a very wet weekend.  Good sewing weather if you ask me.  Bad weather it appears for mobile phone towers as my phone (and those of others) currently has no coverage at home due to the malfunction of one or more towers!  Bad weather also for getting the washing done!  LOL  
Which is kind of a good segway into the need for 
a good laundry bag.
  

If you are new to Aussie Heroes you may think that the quilts are the primary focus of what we do and the laundry bags are the secondary.   That could not be further from the truth.  In most cases every quilt that is requested is either accompanied by a laundry bag, or a laundry bag is arranged and sent separately.  The quilts seem to be the thing that goes straight to the heart but the laundry bag is what makes everyday life that much easier.   All the serving members are issued with the same laundry bags.  Now I don't know if the RAAFies get the same as those in the Army or Navy for example but either way, without our laundry bags there would be LOADS of laundry bags that all look the same or similar through which you have to search to find the one that has your initials on it.  
Can you imagine how frustrating that is at the end of a long day?


When we sent over the very first laundry bag, way back when, I received a thank you email from one of the recipients saying "I have been clothesless twice, but that is now a thing of the past".


Have a look at the photos above.  There is a yellow laundry bag with green initials and a grey coloured one with initials on it.  They are two of ours.  But look at some of the others.  I can even see a plastic bag!  One fellow we heard from was carrying his laundry to and from in his arms!

A friend of mine, Gordon, recently visited an old student of his and his parents.  I will call the student Thomas.  Gordon was telling Thomas and his parents about Aussie Heroes and explained how we make quilts and laundry bags.  Unwittingly Gordon had glossed over the laundry bags and was focusing on the quilts.  Thomas all but took him to task and was at pains to point out the value of your own individual laundry bag.  Gordon was quite taken aback at the seriousness with which Thomas spoke.  He said "You don't understand just how essential it is to have your own easily identifiable laundry bag".  Days later when Gordon related the story to me he was still surprised at Thomas' reaction but he said he finally "got it" with regard to how valued the laundry bags are.  Incidentally, Thomas and one of his colleagues are deploying in a couple of months and will be taking with them a couple of shiny new laundry bags that Gordon collected from me on Thursday!  Quilts will follow.

I know a few of you are intimidated or nervous about making laundry bags but there really is no need.  There is a very clear, printable set of instructions available here and if you have any questions you are welcome to email me though it is probably better if you call me or ask me to call you as it is much easier to talk you through it that way.  

Recently we had a laundry bag challenge for Australia Day.    The challenge was to make a laundry bag and send me a photo but there had to be something Australian on it.  I didn't give much notice but we ended up with around 90 entries and eventually some lovely people in Tarin Kowt made the hard choices and came up with three winners.  I have sent off prizes and am waiting to hear that they have been received before I show you what they all were.  I can show you the first place prize though as Gail collected it yesterday.  She received these gorgeous little hand made shoes (only about 6 inches long) and a really pretty pashmina, donated by one of the judges.


I think all of the laundry bags from the challenge have been sent off now and as they have arrived they have been snapped up quick time because of their Aussie flavour.

Recently I started sending Aussie flavoured laundry bags along with each Wounded Warrior Quilt.  I figure if nothing else it gives them something to brighten their hospital room and something to carry their quilt home in.  These three made by Judith were used for that purpose. 


So, a little about making the laundry bags.  You have more choice of fabric when making laundry bags than you do when making quilts.  Sturdier heavy weight fabric than that you use for quilts is acceptable, even desirable but ordinary patchwork fabric is fine too.  All our laundry bags are lined so that no raw edges are showing and that makes them double thickness so the patchwork fabric is perfectly acceptable.   If you have any doubts as to how colour fast your fabric is please prewash it.  If you are making multiple laundry bags from the one fabric please remember that our bags are supposed to be distinctive so maybe you could vary the fabric you use for the cord channel in each one or put a different coloured patch on each.


Feel free to have some fun with the laundry bags.  I have sent some made from robot fabric, curly fries, puppies, you name it.  There is a good mix of zany and outrageous as well as more toned down bags for the more sedate tastes.  Every laundry bag seems to find itself a home.


Don't assume that when they come home the laundry bags sits in the corner alone and unloved.   Just recently we received word that this laundry bag now gets used back here in Oz for PT gear and still brings a smile to the owners's face.  One curly fries bag I made travelled to NZ with the family to collect their dirty laundry over there.  Another fellow told me that he had not thought to pack a laundry bag but was so delighted to receive it and now that he is back in Oz with more deployments coming up it will be one of the first things he packs.


So, can I encourage you to please consider making a few if you haven't already.  Or make one to send with your next quilt.  I have various addresses in Dubai, Kandahar and Tarin Kowt for people who are happy to receive boxes of laundry bags to pass on to others.  Every now and then I get a request for a box of laundry bags and just last week I sent four boxes off to two addresses for guys and girls who requested some especially as they had seen one a mate had received and were really envious.  I even received a thank you phone call from TK after an earlier box arrived!

Now for a change of pace, more lovely thank you messages arrived over the weekend.  I am really pleased to say that more of our quilts have arrived on Toowoomba to rapturous responses.  If you sent your quilt early on and haven't heard back just send me an email and I will chase it up for you.  You probably need to allow about three to four weeks for it to have arrived though some of these made it in less time.

Dear Gail

Wow, you have blown me away with your wonderful Quilt and Laundry bag.

It is already pride of place on my bunk (nautical word for bed, lol).
I am at a loss for words to say how much I appreciate you taking the time to make this for me.  I will/do treasure it. And yes 'My name in flags is so cool'.
My cabin mates are envious of me.
Sydney is without doubt the best harbour in the world, to sail in those heads whether after a lengthy deployment or just fishing on the weekend is amazing. That is saying something as I am a Perth boy through and through.
My wife is a Sydney girl and we have spent considerable part of my/our Navy life 'now coming up to its thirtieth year in Sydney. So I appreciate your love of the harbour and the joy of sailing there.
Thank you again,

This is the front of Gail's quilt which you have seen



and this is part of the back.  Can't show you the whole name but part of it should be okay.


The following message is for a quilt that Lousie made

Thank you for my awesome quilt it looks great and I will get a lot of use out of it and its really great just to get some mail up here.   So its my 3rd time up here I have  been in the navy for 9 and a half years.   I do love my job.  I am a cook on board.  I run the galley.  I love cooking but it is a full on job we get very busy as our work can't wait, we still have meal times to follow so it can get quite interesting at times, anyway betta let you go thank you very much for the quilt and the lollies also it is all greatly appreciated, everyone gets very excited when mail comes to see if there quilt is there thanx again.


This message was left on facebook  and it relates to a quilt that Karen B sent.

Today my husband received his quilt and laundry bag and he is stoked and so happy. Thank you for making him feel special. Keep up the amazing work.

I'm currently on HMAS Toowoomba, I have received my quilt and I love it. Thank you so

 very very much I really appreciate it and all the support you and your team provide.


And just before I go - the next Penrith Sewing Day details are as follows

Sunday, 17 March 

Penrith Patchwork
97b Henry Street Penrith
Plenty of parking at the rear.
10am to 2pm.
BYO machine, mug (if you want tea or coffee, lunch and snacks.  I provide all the material required and will try and bake if I have time.  You just need to being thread, scissors etc.  
We will be making laundry bags galore!

I should add that Geoff from Penrith Patchwork has been extremely generous, donating the rooms for the sewing days and bolts of fabric!
Thanks Geoff, You are the best!

Till next time..................keep sewing and happy stitching!

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