Thanks for visiting and I hope you will spread the word and come back often.  This blog is dedicated to all our Aussie serving members in all three arms of our Defence Forces, Army, Navy and Air Force.  We need them and this is a call to all of us to say thank you to them for the sacrifices they make every day to do their duty.

To try and catch you up on what has happened to date this will be a longish post – so grab a cuppa and a cake and sit back and relax.

About a year ago I started a blog – Cherry Red Quilter – to give me somewhere to share what I was sewing and crafting in my own little world.  That lead me to follow lots of other blogs and I discovered a wonderful new world of friends and connections.

One of the many blogs I follow is one called Posie Patchwork, written by Jennie, who often made references to her handsome soldier husband (in future posts I will refer to him as The Lovely Warrant Officer) and, being ex-military myself, that catches my attention.  Back in the middle of October I was reading a post in which Jennie told us her husband was now in Afghanistan.  I was prompted to write to her and ask if there was anything I, or my quilt group and I, could make and send over for him and his mates. You see, I am always reading American blogs which talk about the Quilts of Valor Project .  Such a wonderful project and I always wish we had something like that here, so when I heard about Jennie’s husband it seemed a good chance to do something for at least some of our service personnel. 

As it turns out, Jennie’s husband is in charge of 15 soldiers and, believe it or not, a really useful gift would be a laundry bag.  Sounds like such a little thing doesn’t it?  Well not so.  You see the soldiers send their send their uniforms to an Afghan run laundry, in hundreds of plain white, navy & green ‘sacks’ with only marker pen initials on them for identification.  You can imagine how hard it would be to find your laundry bag among hundreds of similar ones and apparently emails go around each day saying “someone picked up my laundry bag”.  Jennie made her husband a colourful one with large initials; he finds his laundry very easily.   So, Laundry Bags it was.

I emailed my quilt group, the Gumnut Quilters, and as I hoped they were all on board as much as the different individuals were able to be.  I really don’t think they knew what I was getting them into.  We decided to make 15 very durable laundry bags (more on how that is done in a later post) and the hope was that we could get them over there in time for Christmas!  It was already the third week in October.
 After receiving his laundry bag one soldier wrote “I already use the bag and I must tell you that in a military base with approx 5000 service personnel all using their military issue plain green or white bags, I get some very funny looks. I put this down to jealousy of course and display my bag proudly.”  His is the one with the initials SM below.
Other soldiers wrote

“Many thanks for the fantastic laundry bag. I’ve been clothe-less two separate times due to laundry mix ups, but I have a feeling that’s a thing of the past thanks to you. Keep up the good work.”

“Cheers for laundry bag it couldn’t have come at a better time as my current one had sprung a leak.”

“Thanks heaps for the laundry bag and quilt. I had been using a pillowcase for laundry resulting in an inordinate amount of loose feathers in my bed from a slightly worse for wear pillow. Must admit, I’m tempted to use the laundry bag to cover it.” (this soldier doesn’t know it yet but he is about to receive a new pillow!)

In addition to the original fifteen laundry bags, as we heard of other soldiers over there we made more laundry bags.  So far about 30 have been made or are underway.

This one was made for a special soldier – the son of one of our Gumnut Quilt Group members – and he left for Afghanistan only a few days ago.  He had to have a Gumnut bag!
My butcher told me his mate’s son was over there so he got a surprise bag in the mail too.
And this one was for a soldier that I recently learned fills in for our current 15 when someone goes on leave.
 I heard of two soldiers going to Afghanistan around this time and only had the initials for one of them (who we have nicknamed Tin Tin!)  As I didn’t have the initials of his mate I added a plain patch so he can write his name.  The main goal with these bags is to make them distinctive so that they can easily be picked out from the generic military issue white, blue and green bags in the pile of hundreds.

The original plan was to send the laundry bags individually and fill them with goodies like a Santa sack.  If you post a parcel that weighs under 2kg to the AFPO address in Canberra you only pay for the cost of the box – just over $2.  I was concerned however that some of the laundry bags my get lost in the mail so I decided to pack all the bags together into one big box.  

Seeing as we were doing that we couldn’t fit any goodies into the box so we also send separate Christmas boxes.  Instead of sending the required 15 we sent 24 – that way we figured some of the boxes might get lost  but hopefully enough would turn up so all 15 could have a box.  More on that later.

I guess I don’t want to overload you at the moment – hopefully I have given you enough to whet your appetite.  This is just the beginning and I am looking for more quilt groups and sewers who would like to get involved.  If this sounds like something you would like to be part of please email me or leave a comment and definitely come back and read my next post.  I will be telling you all about the quilts we made and more information on how you can help.  There are all sorts of things you can do to help depending on your level of competence and confidence.

Till next time…………happy stitching!