One of the first things I really liked to make was a little drawstring bag. Once you get into sewing bags, there really is no way to stop. From simple gift bags to cosmetic pouches, to kids backpacks and even sturdy travel bags there really is a bag project for every sewer and every level of sewing!

The simple drawstring bag really is such a useful pattern to have at hand. Need a birthday present – throw some smellies in a handmade bag. Need something for the kids/grandkids – give them a drawstring bag to fill with their favourite toys. A thank you gift for a friend or collegue – wrap a nice note book and pen with a drawstring bag in a fabric they will adore. It really can be used in almost any scenario!

I’ve made many, in many sizes and for many reason but in 2019 I’m making them for a very important reason.

In early January, GT Quilters jumped at the chance to support The Red Box Project. It’s almost unbelieveable that here in the UK young women and girls are facing period poverty with one in ten young women (aged 14-21) having been unable to afford sanitary products. Young teens are staying home from school and missing their vital education due to a lack of sanitary supplies. The Red Box Project was founded in 2017 with the very simple aim to provide the products needed and in turn keep girls in school. After starting in Portsmouth, it soon became clear the need was nationwide and currently there are over 200 volunteer run Red Box Projects right across the country, supporting over 2000 schools and colleges with sanitary supplies including pads and tampons along with clean underwear & tights.

Each project organiser places donation boxes in their community – in local libraries, supermarkets, pharmacies and other locations and invites the public to place donations in the boxes. These are then collected and made up into boxes to be delivered to schools and colleges with a wide range of supplies for girls to access and take whatever they may need, be it an emergency supply for one day or enough to cover their cycle. There are no questions asked and girls can return as often as they may need.

Hearing about it got me thinking. Having to ask for sanitary supplies might be embarrassing, carrying a packet of sanitary supplies through a school would likely make most girls uncomfortable. Would a simple drawstring bag perhaps provide a little discretion to these young girls? I spoke with one of the co-founders of The Red Box Project who seemed really excited by the idea that we might be able to make some little bags which could be gifted to students for carrying their sanitary supplies. Chatting with other members of the group, someone kindly volunterred to write up a quick pattern, I decided to try out a little pocket and soon we were off.

We now have a pattern for both a drawstring bag (many thanks Anne-Marie!) and a ‘Period Pocket” in our group with hundreds being made so far. These are being given to Red Box locations right across the country, some already filled with pads or other supplies that young people might need. We have a little tag which allows each maker to put their name on the items they make and we hope that these bring a little smile to these young women and help them to get through their period knowing that support is there whenever they might need it.

If you work in a school, from primary right through to senior school or college please get in touch with The Red Box Project and request a Red Box for your school. You can also locate your closest Red Box Project here and find out where there may be a donation point close to you.

A simple drawstring bag filled with sanitary supplies will help a girl stay in school. It will help to ensure they receive the education they are entitled to. To join us in supporting young people across the country, serch GT Quilters on Facebook and join our group.

Friday 8th March is International Women’s Day. On this day will you support the women of the future by perhaps donating some sanitary supplies? Or maybe you could make a drawstring bag and find a Red Box coordinator in your area? Find out how you can support The Red Box Project with either supplies or a financial donation here.