On the fronts, we are protected by combat companies, and Dnipro City has a "sewing company." Dozens of women united to sew clothes for the soldiers. Thermal underwear, undergarments, T-shirts, and bucket hats are some of the items in the assortment. But the most important thing is that everything is sewn with care for men's and women's health.
Now Sewing Company has gone beyond the borders of the Dnipro. A network of 140 female volunteers works throughout the country and even abroad. Read about how this endeavor saved women from panic, calluses from work, and the most exciting orders from soldiers on Rubryka.
Sewing Company emerging: what was and is the problem?
On the eve of the full-scale invasion, Maryna Palchenko from Dnipro was preparing for an important meeting. On February 24, she had an interview scheduled for her dream job as a financier at a sewing company. "I love money and adore sewing, so I was looking forward to February 24. But that day, they canceled our meeting," says Maryna Palchenko.
After the start of the full-scale aggression, the woman panicked, was afraid, cried for a day, and then "went crazy and started doing something." Maryna says that she reacted to the war like a true Ukrainian with a desire to help.
In 2015, the woman was in the Sewing Battalion, where she sewed clothes for soldiers on the front lines. In 2022, she understood that it was necessary to adjust production as soon as possible. "It will be difficult until the state turns around with the supply. The boys will need everything."
The premises were provided by a businessman whom Maryna met. He liked the idea, so he rented a room and helped organize a sewing space.
Maryna gathered the team for the initiative among her acquaintances: she called those with whom she went to sewing courses, and they already involved their acquaintances or acquaintances of acquaintances. Ksenia Samoilych responded willingly; now, she and Maryna are the heads of the Sewing Company. The girls brought their machines and equipment.
"One woman left for Slovakia and gave us her overlocker. I also brought my sewing machine. Another one was given to us for the summer by our courses. Later, we received an industrial machine from a seamstress from Ivano-Frankivsk, who had her sewing school there. We bought it for 4 thousand hryvnias. Together with her, the woman handed over a pile of cloth and a steam generator," Ksenia Samoilych says about the equipment.
So little by little, they began to work. Maryna counted how many women managed to get involved in the volunteer initiative. It turned out that Sewing Company would be a great name.
How does Sewing Company work?
The women were the first to sew balaclavas. The patterns were found on the Internet. "At most, we sewed 495 balaclavas in one day. Twelve girls sat in a row and worked as a conveyor. Someone sews hats, and someone applies a label. Time and time again, someone passes the hat on. It was excellent teamwork," says Ksenia Samoilych.
When they got more fabric, they began to sew thermal underwear. It turned out to be very appropriate in the early spring because the room was cold. The girls were covered from all sides with the warm fabric they were working on, so they warmed up.
While working, the women talked to each other. According to them, a women's club formed where volunteers support each other. They also improved their Ukrainian, says Ksenia. "We tried to speak the state language, but sometimes it happened that a girl would run in and say: 'I'm sorry, I'll say in russian. I will quickly tell you the story, and then I will switch to Ukrainian."
Later, the volunteers added T-shirts, bucket hats, helmet covers, and underpants with ties and buttons to Sewing Company's assortment. The undergarments are for the wounded in the hospital. It was emotional to sew them because the girls understood that the soldier they were sewing for was not just in the trenches but was injured. For example, if he's recuperating on the Ilizarov apparatus, ordinary shorts and underpants are unsuitable. He needs things with additional fasteners.
"We all cried about those underpants. When we sewed other things, we realized they were for the front line, military unit, and elsewhere. The bottoms with ties or buttons are for boys already in the hospital," says Ksenia.
The work was massive: the women spent the whole day at the Sewing Company. Sometimes they even got calluses because of the work! It was challenging to cut several layers of fabric with ordinary scissors for hours. Ksenia says: "You handle this process. You cut and give the blanks to your colleagues. An hour or two passes, and you are tired, but the girls need more. The fabric flew off like candy."
The women took large batches of future clothes to colleagues in workshops to be cut, and they took turns with small batches until Maryna was given a cutting knife: "I came to my husband and said: 'Can you make me a present for my birthday?' And it's okay that it's in a few months. It will be a gift in advance.'"
While the girls sewed clothes one by one, Maryna ran around the city searching for fabric. "I didn't sit around here at all. I ran into our small room, threw away the rolls I found, and sped around Dnipro again. In the evening, I may say: "I have 30 minutes. Let me sew something.' Then I see it is almost curfew. Then I bring the cuttings to the Spiders of the Dnipro—they make camo nets for defenders. At last, 5 minutes before the curfew starts, I say in the parking lot, 'Phew, I made it all the way,'" Maryna says.
Because of the curfew in Dnipro, the women could not work as much as they wanted. For some time, the building where the room is located worked only until five o'clock. They still had strength, so Ksenia carried a 10-kilogram sewing machine home: up and down to the fourth floor.
The women took the first things they made to the volunteer headquarters. Then volunteers and fighters began to contact the Sewing Company directly.
"We gave the ones sewn from green fabric or pixel camo to the military and the multi-colored ones to the territorial defense. Then the defender came to us and said: 'Give me something.; And I have nothing. He then looked around our little room: 'What is this?' pointing to bright thermal underwear. I told him: 'It's red.' 'That's fine. The most important thing for me is that my boys are warm,'" Maryna recalls.
Many clothes for fighters had prints: baby elephants, bears, or coconuts because they used whatever fabric they could find.
Half a year of work at Sewing Company: did the women succeed?
At the beginning of the full-scale aggression, it was easier to sew clothes, although many stores with fabric did not work. People had a strong urge to help: they willingly donated rolls of cloth. The entrepreneurs gave consumables at purchase prices. "One production of children's clothing has closed. They sent us everything that was left there. The parcel of 30 kilograms had rolls of good quality fabric. We cut the fabric for many shorts for the boys," says Maryna.
Many Ukrainians have already run out of stock, and shops have begun considering earnings. There have also been fewer female volunteers. About 30 girls came to the Sewing Company in the first months, and there were as many as 50 during the six months. But at some point, many seamstresses went to work.
"At some point, I was told I could go to work. I'm a geological engineer. In the first months of the full-scale war, the company didn't work because it was dangerous. Then the fuel ran out. As it got better, the company director told me to come back. And I can't do it. There are many needs. If I go to work, I will have no time to help. I will work to rebuild cities," says Ksenia.
For a girl, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kramatorsk, Mykolaiv, and many other cities are not just marks on the Ukrainian map. Ksenia visited many of them on business trips during her work. Her company is engaged in the construction of enterprises and roads. The news about these cities being shelled and destroyed was painful, but the thought that she was doing everything possible for our victory was reassuring. That's why she couldn't quit Sewing Company.
"At some point, we realized that only two of us left—Maryna and me. And the requests came and came. How to complete them? I thought we had a lot of sewing girls all over the country who could sew too. We decided to invite them to join us," says Ksenia.
The volunteer took on the development of the Sewing Company's extensive network. She attracted more than 140 sewists across the country and beyond—women from Poland and Slovakia joined.
How does it work? From Dnipro, Sewing Company sends a semi-finished product: cut clothes, all the parts, and details for sewing them. It is sure to include notes on how and what to do with it. Seamstresses at home work with it, create ready-made clothes, and then send them directly to the volunteers who care for the defenders. Those women living abroad hand over things to volunteers who bring humanitarian aid across the border.
Variety of Sewing Company
Maryna wanted to focus her sewing production on a few types of clothing, while Ksenia, on the contrary, wanted to cover a more extensive assortment.
"It was like in the anecdote!" Maryna laughs at her friend.
Volunteers and the military applied with completely different requests. One major always comes to the girls with exciting ideas: he has already asked to sew balaclavas, thermal clothing, aprons, and hats for chefs, bucket hats, sew winter jackets for everyone who has torn theirs, and make a blue band on the arm pixelated.
"At his request, we even made a helmet cover. We sewed it, and we had to check how it reflects the sun and the light of a flashlight at night," says Ksenia.
Another exciting thing is that the women fulfilled an order for tailoring bucket hats for intelligence officers. The volunteers only had a picture of what the finished product would look like. The dressmakers themselves were thinking about how to implement the idea.
"This bucket hat looks like an ordinary one, but it has a special net that masks the face, and there are several sewn-on straps next to it. It's a very cool thing. We just had a blast when we worked with it," Ksenia shares.
During the bucket hat work, a problem arose with the mesh. The volunteers didn't find a suitable one in Dnipro. They tried to paint it white, but it did not mask the face. An incident helped: Ksenia was in Stryi during her vacation and went into a small local shop with several rolls of fabric: "I look, and there among them is the dream net. So I told Maryna I'm buying it and sent a parcel to Dnipro."
Volunteers fulfilled the order and produced ten bucket hats for the intelligence officers.
"We sewed bags for machine guns for other boys. We stuffed sand inside and sent photos to the military. And they asked, 'Are these bags for weapons? So beautiful.'"
Girls are always happy to receive photo reports from boys and volunteers. It is very encouraging.
How to help Sewing Company?
First, volunteers always need knitted and cotton fabrics. The color is not important. You can send materials even with children's prints. "'Can I have baby elephants? And roses? And with cubs?' Everything is possible! The guys at the front are happy to wear printed or red underpants. The main thing is that they are clean and fresh," the volunteers say.
Second, they require the equipment. The Sewing Company dreams of an industrial overlock. It can cost about 15 thousand hryvnias, and the volunteers don't have that kind of money.
Third, the women ask for help organizing humanitarian mail delivery so it would be cheaper to send parcels through Ukraine. Seamstresses of Sewing Company work all over the country and send goods daily, which is not cheap.
You can also always send money to the Sewing Company. We leave details:
UAH – UA553052990000026208733366656
Monobank account: 5375 4141 2553 9402
Help the Ukrainian army and save yourself
Currently, Sewing Company works all over the country: their items are sent to defenders in Dnipro, Vinnytsia, Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Poltava, Mykolaiv, Kropyvnytskyi, and field hospitals in the Donetsk direction.
The women helping others every day say this project also saved them. They had no time left at work to constantly read the news.
"I was so tired that I came home and collapsed. I didn't have the strength to scroll the feed with the sad news. I only asked my husband: 'What's up?' and fell asleep," says Maryna Palchenko.
Ksenia Samoilovych adds: "During the work, we were protected from the panic, pain, and horror that unfolded in Ukraine. When you are at work, you don't think about it."
Photo: Oleksandra Tkach, for Rubryka
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