Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sew Much Comfort

My "Sew Much Comfort" package came in the mail last week. Sew Much Comfort is a registered public charitable organization that provides "adaptive clothing" to wounded service men and women. I first learned about this organization from Stacy. The basic idea is to provide clothes that fit over medical devices like casts and braces and are easy to put on and take off.
This is a large volunteer organization that, since its inception in 2004, had provided over 40,000 articles of adaptive clothing. As you might imagine, organizing hundreds or even thousands of sewers is a bit of a task, and reading over the material I see that they have some pretty strict rules. First, they have a set of patterns to be used, and those patterns may not be shared or altered in any way. Your design choices include (and are limited to) whether or not to add a pocket. Second, you must submit a sample for each pattern that you would like to use, and your samples are checked for quality control. If you pass, then you are authorized to use that pattern. Finally, all items must be sent through their distribution chain - no dropping by your local VA to deliver things by hand.
Oh, and they are also quite precise about things like pre-washing, sizing, acceptable seam finishes, and fabric types and colors, etc.
It would be possible to take these rules in a negative way, but I remind myself that this isn't about me and my wonderful creativity and incredible sewing skills (ha!), it's about doing something for people who put their lives on the line (and paid dearly) so that I can enjoy living in this wonderful country. And, as I said earlier, organizing that many unknown volunteers undoubtedly does require setting some rules on their end. After all, they can't all be as good as we are, can they? ;)
The kit comes with instructions for two types of outfits:
  1. Modifying an existing article of clothing - the modifications generally involve opening up one or more seams and replacing them with hook and loop tape.
  2. Making something from scratch
The things you can buy and adapt include:
  • Boxer shorts, swim trunks, athletic shorts and t-shirts
The things that you can make from scratch:
  • Pants and shorts
There are 2 types of pants & shorts:
  1. Full-Length Access Pants (FLAPS) - hook and loop tape runs the length of one (or both) exterior side seams, with a snap at the waist, to accomodate casts, braces and bandages
  2. Fixator Pants - an enlarged leg with hook and loop tape along the length of that leg (and waist snap) to accomodate external metal fixator devices
The packet includes detailed instructions for all of the above and pattern pieces for the two types of pants. It also includes some hook and loop tape, elastic for a waistband, tag and size labels and a heavy-duty snap.

They even provide ratios for how they would like the items distributed across different sizes and access on different sides of the body!

So, I think I am going to start by making shorts from one of their patterns. They should be relatively quick and easy to make. I'll show you my efforts and let you know if I pass the quality control check!


Claire said...

You never stop amazing me with your thoughfullness!

MD said...

This sounds like a very kind thing to do. I wish someone did that for me when I had a broken arm - and this is for the people who really suffered in the war

SunnyQ said...

Gwen, I think you are the definition of generosity! :) I look forward to hearing a lot more about this project!