Sembawang Family Service Centre’s sewing group produced this year’s NDP limited-edition bag.
by Goh Eck Kheng
CCMC members will be familiar with the sewn products, including totes made of up-cycled PVC street banners, made by the Sowers of Sembawang Family Service Centre (SFSC). The Sowers Project is an effort to provide SFSC clients from challenged backgrounds and circumstances with an avenue to supplement their family income.
The high-quality of the Sower’s products has resulted in their making this year’s limited edition book bags for National Day.
In December 2021, the Sowers participated in a sustainability Christmas pop up store and were ‘talent-spotted’ by LampPost, an initiative by global advertising agency DDB's Singapore office which has organised the recycling of National Day Parade (NDP) banners into bags since 2017. This year’s LampPost Project is co-presented with the National Library Board.
The largest of these banners, by illustrator Lee Xin Li (also known as Pok Pok & Away, see leexinli.com), is entitled “In Our Time”. The 120 m2 piece, first done for the “Imaginarium: Into the Space of Time” show at the Singapore Art Museum in 2018, is chockful of details and images of Singaporean life and culture.
Lead seamstress, Irene Chua, and a crew of five cleaners cum assistants started preparatory work in May 2022 with actual production beginning in June 2022.
Much logistics and co-ordination were required, such as taking delivery of the very large banners and creating storage space in SFSC’s modest offices. The rainy June weather made the banners wet, making them difficult to manage given the size and weight.
Even more challenging was the unfolding and cleaning. The banners had deep creases and the team had to use several methods to straighten the creases as much as possible to maximise the materials for making bags.
Once cleaned, the next step was cutting to highlight the beautiful details such as the Jewel @ Changi Airport, the Esplanade and the Merlion. Finally, the bags were sewn using the industrial-quality sewing machines in SFSC.
That LampPost had a clear design helped the Sowers to produce a prototype quite easily. Once the prototype was approved by the project’s partners, it was smooth-going even though mid-way into the sewing of the bags, the additional job of producing bookmarks with the remnant of the banners was assigned.
All in all, the process of cleaning, cutting, sewing and packing for delivery took about 3 months. A total of 200 book bags and 50 bookmarks were made.
Reflecting on her involvement in the project, Irene, the lead seamstress, who was not born in Singapore, said she came to have a better awareness of Singapore’s history and culture. She likes many bags, including those that feature Singapore Airlines and famous people like the comedic duo, Wang Sa and Ye Fong (王沙, 野峰). She hopes that her efforts can help other Singaporeans better appreciate Singapore and its landmarks.
SFSC is grateful for this opportunity to work with the NDP Committee, NLB and the DDB Group. The Sowers are quite awestruck by the national-level publicity and give God all glory and praise for this wonderful opportunity.
The unique book bags, which will be distributed randomly, are available at S$28 each at https://www.lamppostyle.com/.
All purchases must be collected from Jurong Regional Library on 6 or 7 August between 12 – 8 pm.
In addition, the first 50 buyers who borrow a book or e-book from the Singapore collection at Jurong Regional Library will receive a limited edition bookmark on a first-come-first served basis.
Profits from the sale of the book bags will go to the kidsREAD programme.
A showcase of the Sower’s other products is found at https://www.facebook.com/GiftsThatSupport/.