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Free Service

593rd sewing shop growing with installation

Uniform repair soon available to Airmen

Published: 01:07PM April 17th, 2014

Paying to have ranks and name tapes sewn onto your clothing? Haven’t you heard? Your fellow service members have you covered; sewing services will soon include all Soldiers and Airmen of all ranks at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Soldiers with the 295th Quartermaster Company, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, have been running a free sewing shop for about four years — and they’re here to help you out.

“It has really changed dramatically since we started,” said Spc. Jared Fleming, a clothing repair specialist at the shop. “All the new equipment and funds we’re getting will be able to keep our shop running smoothly for years to come. We want everyone to know that we’re here to provide free services for them; we’re proud to help.”

The shop started out of an expandable trailer in the motor pool with only four sewing machines.

“Two specialists researched on the Internet how to position badges (things they weren’t taught in-depth at Advanced Individual Training) and spread their skills and knowledge to others,” said Spc. Eileen Garcia, a clothing repair specialist at the shop. “We get trained by one another.”

The sewing specialists of the shop do more than sew. Their military occupational specialty, 92S, actually includes showers, laundry and clothing repair, but before the shop they weren’t able to do repairs.

“We really wanted to provide them with a facility to foster the sewing portion of their MOS,” said 1st Sgt. Ethen Thompson, first sergeant of the 295th QM Co.

Today they have 17 Soldiers; eight sewing machines; 3 long-arm sewing machines for thicker material; and two embroidery machines for creating name tapes.

They can sew on name tapes, patches and ranks; make Velcro or non-Velcro name tapes; repair uniforms, TA-50, tents, Humvee canvas doors and more, for all JBLM Army personnel, including National Guard and officers.

“As a matter of fact, we just did work for a two-star general,” said Sgt. Francis Daen, shop foreman. “Our mission is to help everyone.”

The sew shop can save service members, and units, a lot of money; especially if they need all their uniforms done at once.

If a Soldier is going to Ranger School, for example, he must have all ranks and name tapes sewn onto four pairs of Army Combat Uniforms and on two patrol caps, including cat eyes. That alone can cost the Soldier a pretty penny, not to mention all the other gear they must purchase out of pocket.

So the shop has a big impact on those it serves; so far that has included only Army, because of a lack of materials, but that is soon to change.

In the next couple months, Air Force personnel are partnering with the 295th to provide materials and training, on proper placement of ranks and name tapes, for the shop’s staff.

Daen said he is excited to work with members of the Air Force in the next few months.

“It’s going to be a learning process, as far as learning the measurements of ranks,” Daen said. “But it’s actually exciting, working with the Air Force is awesome. I worked with them downrange, when I was an 11B, and they’re awesome.”

And other improvements are on the way. Besides being able to welcome Airmen, the shop will expand by annexing the adjoining building, getting four more embroidery machines, and they will also open a new mobile sew shop.

The mobile shop will become available in mid-May. It will allow units to make appointments for the sewing specialists to come to them. They already allow units to do bulk turn-ins, but now they will be able to sew a unit’s uniforms and gear on the spot.

The sew shop is unique to JBLM and the military; a few other installations have shops, but JBLM’s sew shop is the largest and does the most.

“Fort Hood actually requested our help in modeling their shop after ours,” said 1st Lt. Alec Berg, platoon leader at 295th QM Co. “These guys are the model for everyone else,” he said, referring to all his Soldiers.

The sewing shop is located on Lewis North in building R0221 in the northeast corner of D Street and 22nd Street.