Claire loves to sew, and when combined with creative expression, it is a skill that produces meaningful and cherished gifts for others. Wouldn’t you love to receive a pair of home-knitted socks for your birthday? When someone takes the time and care to craft something for you, with your needs in mind, then even socks become special. When you know how to sew you can make whatever you want, however you want, with the simple tools of a needle and thread. Claire harnessed this power to create the Sew with Claire initiative that brought thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) to people in need in BC.
By day, Claire is a postpartum doula where she attends to new mothers and their babies, meeting their needs in a holistic way. Claire also supports the practice of midwifery, which provides holistic support and important health services to families before birth. Research has shown that women who have access to a midwife experience fewer maternal and perinatal deaths, less preterm births, fewer interventions during labor and shorter hospital stays.
When the pandemic hit, there was a serious shortage of PPE in BC and the local health authority would not provide midwives with PPE. Despite their value, midwives were not deemed a necessity and therefore were not given PPE during the start of the pandemic.
Claire noticed this problem and immediately took it upon herself to thread the needle. With her sewing gumption and passion for people in hand, she started sewing PPE for midwives so they could continue to do their jobs safely and take care of people in need.
She contacted NorthShore news to write an article calling for people in the community to join her in her mission. Throughout the next week, she received hundreds of emails from people eager to volunteer, donate and get involved. People were itching for a way to give back to the community, all they needed was a passage.
After lots of research, Claire came up with the design and materials needed for surgical gowns, laundry bags, masks and ear savers. You can find her designs on the Facebook group, available to anyone to replicate or build off of.
Each volunteer was assigned a different step of the design to complete. Like an assembly line in a factory, one volunteer would receive a bag of materials with instructions to cut or sew and their completed portion would be sent to the next volunteer to complete the next step. At night, Claire would drive around the Greater Vancouver area connecting the dots between volunteers, pulling finished pieces of PPE from the multitude of sewists in her track.
In 10 months, the volunteer sewing army created 1,200 gowns, 4,539 masks, 1,397 caps and 150 laundry bags. They were delivered to midwives, hospitals, homeless shelters and community centers. One bag of masks even made it to England for a family in need. From heart to table.
This successful production and delivery of PPE to fill a gap during a pandemic shortfall is a prime example of the open source ecosystem at play. Sew with Claire has displayed the power a community has to address needs that lie outside of the private system and the power that one individual has in being a catalyst for care and change, with only a needle and thread.
OSMS-BC connected with Claire to help Sew with Claire find resources, distribute masks, improve design and find new contacts, all in the spirit of open source. If you have an idea, design or project that you want to make open source, or if you are wondering what you can bring to the open source world, contact us today!