News: Sewing is free to soldiers
Story by Sgt. Austan Owen
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The squad leader yells out, “What is going on around here? Private, why is the nametape on your cold weather jacket missing and why isn’t the Velcro on your pockets working? You need to get these items addressed as soon as possible.” The private with his face turning red and slumped shoulders responds with, “I can’t afford to fix it sergeant.”
This scenario should no longer be an issue for soldiers on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
The soldiers of the 295th Quartermaster Company are experts at what they do. Many of them are laundry, shower and clothing repair specialists. The soldiers at the Clothing and Repair Shop say they can fix and sew almost anything that has to do with a uniform. Perhaps the one thing that is better than having a nice uniform is having it put together for free.
Not only does the shop work on uniforms for small repairs and sewing needs, the soldiers there work on Army issued individual equipment as well. The sew shop will attach nametapes to almost any equipment that a soldier has. They sew helmet covers, PT belts, ruck sacks and just about anything that needs sewing according to Capt. Michael Watkins, commander, 295th QM Company, 593rd Sustainment Brigade.
Soldiers can stop by the shop to have individual sewing needs for their uniform completed during normal operating hours. If a unit is going to the field or deploying and would like to have all its Soldiers present a uniform appearance, units can coordinate with the shop for a bulk turn in.
Watkins said that his shop was able to save between 85 and 90 thousand dollars for the soldiers of 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, when it had its soldiers complete a mass turn in before the soldiers deployed. The soldiers had to meet a brigade standard for their equipment. The soldiers could have taken their equipment off base but saved some hard earned money by using the Clothing and Repair Shop.
The sew shop usually has a turnaround of 72 hours on most orders, said Sgt. Deshanda Gonzales, Clothing and Repair Shop noncommissioned officer, 295th QM Company. She added that they usually see between 150 to 200 soldiers a week bringing in items.
This is a lot different than when they first opened their doors at the new location in March 2012. The shop previously operated out of an expandable trailer in the battalion motor pool with very limited capabilities. Watkins said that soldiers are definitely taking advantage of the free service the shop provides, and that the number of soldiers coming in has increased dramatically over the past year.
A lot of things have changed since March. It has increased the workload it’s able to handle by doubling the number of sewing machines to eight and adding two embroidery machines. The team is now able to make nametapes on sight and embroider special skill identifier badges.
The shop is also able to repair soft-skin Humvee doors where the zipper commonly tears away from the fabric. This is yet another way the repair shop is able to save units money. It can now repair the doors free of charge instead of ordering new ones, Watkins said. If the soldiers have enough fixed doors in stock, units can often do a one for one trade reducing the wait time.
As the shop expands its capabilities, Watkins said he would like for the repair specialist to start working on the Army Service Uniform. But for now, soldiers can still save about $20 per uniform by having their Advanced Combat Uniform worked on at the repair shop. The repair shop is located in building R0221 near the corner of D and 22nd Street.
Phone number: 253-968-6866
Hours of Operation
Monday: 1 p.m.- 3 p.m., pickup
Tuesday: 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., turn-in, 1 p.m.-3 p.m., pickup
Wednesday: 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., turn-in, 1 p.m.-3 p.m., pickup
Friday: 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., turn-in