Medical scrubs, which doctors and nurses wear under their protective gear, have been hard to find recently. Some orders are taking weeks to fill, and physical stores have been shut, creating shortages.
Many Aussies – from amateur sewing whizzes to professional clothing manufacturers – have stepped up to the sewing machine to ensure frontline healthcare workers have the scrubs, gowns and caps they urgently need.
Here are four groups helping out, and how you can get involved.
The Social Studio
The Social Studio, a refugee-run not-for-profit that ordinarily makes stylish clothes in Melbourne’s inner north, has started making scrubs.
The Collingwood-based social enterprise supports young migrants and refugees through education and work at its fashion school and shop. But lately the studio has been sewing scrubs to sell at cost price to local healthcare workers.
The price tag covers the cost of materials and labour, so the studio can support its workers, but it’s also donating scrubs with support from the public. For $73, the studio can make and donate a set on your behalf – but any amount will help.
The Scrubs Co-op
The Scrubs Co-Op is an Australian Facebook group founded by a doctor from Melbourne’s Austin Hospital.
Dr Louise Parry started the group when she realised the scrubs she ordered would take six weeks to arrive. The page functions like a buy, swap and sell group for scrubs – connecting workers who need them with people who can make them. At the time of writing it had more than 4000 members Australia-wide.
Many sewers offer scrubs for free, but healthcare workers can also compensate sewers for the time and costs involved through the group. The direct-ordering model means that colourful, quirky fabrics are in-demand – turns out dinosaur scrubs are pretty popular.
Join the group here, and start sewing.
The Happy Scrubs
Moth Design is a collective of young Melbourne designers specialising in retail fit-outs and events. With events on hold for now, they’ve turned their production skills to running a Victoria-based sewing group making scrubs, gowns and caps, and distributing them to healthcare workers.
It’s called the Happy Scrubs. A Moth Design producer came up with the idea after meeting a panicked healthcare worker in a fabric shop. Within a week of launching, the group had 400 sewing volunteers, from grandmothers to drag queens.
Funds to meet the costs of materials and delivery are raised via donations. The group has plenty of volunteers but welcomes donations here. A donation of $30 will pay for one pair of scrubs. Find more information here.
Founded by Dr Charlotte Ogilvy over a Zoom wine date, Rona Scrubs is a not-for-profit currently piloting in Melbourne that connects experienced sewing volunteers with healthcare workers. The system is simple – when a set of scrubs is ordered, Rona Scrubs assigns the order to a local volunteer, helping them access patterns and fabric if needed. Then the scrubs are sewn, washed and sent on their way. Right now, Rona Scrubs needs more fabric to keep sewing. If you can help with either fabric, money or your sewing prowess, you can get in touch here.