The last time I sewed I was in primary school and I had to get the big plastic needle through the big gaping hole. I think my teacher and I were both in agreement that I should stick to colouring in. Last weekend that all changed, at the ripe age of thirty something, I made a bag, not just any bag, a Boomerang Bag.
Twice a month Boomerang Bags Port Phillip hold a sewing bee and having heard so much about this great initiative I thought it was probably time that I found my thimble and my inner seamster. Boomerang Bags works to reduce the use of plastic bags by engaging local communities in the making of reusable bags – community made, using recycled materials. Boomerang Bags provide a free, fun, sustainable alternative to plastic bags.
I was warmly greeted by Mandy Burns and Megan Gourlay, the driving forces behind Boomerang Bags Port Phillip and lovely people to boot. Pleasantries completed I was whisked off to a table full of unwanted and unlikely materials that were to be transformed into something beautiful and sustainable; from hospital bedding packaging to rice sacks, items that otherwise would have found their way to landfill.
In keeping with the bee theme, the room was buzzing with activity. Fabric was being cut, pockets were being pinned, badges were being sewn and I was staring blankly at templates. Feeling a little out of my comfort zone I was delighted when a lovely volunteer called Joan asked if I wanted to have a go on the sewing machine. I took a seat, pressed the pedal, created a perfect line of cross stitch, and suddenly sewing made sense.
Joan, a regular volunteer at Boomerang Bags sewing bees, was a former sew sceptic too. But an environmental conscience and a community mind brought her along to a Boomerang Bags sewing bee and she hasn’t looked back. “I love meeting the different people who come along, knowing that I’m helping to create something that benefits the environment and our local community.”
I chatted with a young family who found out about the sewing bee through the Port Phillip Volunteer Portal. Whilst mum and dad were keen to meet some new people, their 7-year-old son was happy to learn a new skill during the school holidays and spend time as a family.
This is what initiatives like Boomerang Bags do, they bring people together who otherwise would never have met. It was hard to say goodbye to the bag I made, it was a thing of rare beauty. Knowing that it would be used time and time again by South Melbourne market shoppers, since it’s gone plastic bag free, softened the blow.
Whether you want to learn something new, meet new people, give back to your community or do your bit for the environment, I encourage you to give up a little of your Saturday to do something fantastic. You never know, you might even enjoy sewing as much as I did.
Find out about the next sewing bee here