Sewing masks

Area residents are putting their sewing skills to work and making masks for local health care workers. (Photo provided)

In generous Northwest Oklahoma style, pioneer women won’t be just sitting around bemoaning lost jobs or quarantine restrictions.

No, they’ll be found preparing and donating food, running errands or making phone calls to check on neighbors and even sewing face-masks for their community and beyond.

After hearing of shortages and hospitals in the state calling for handmade face-masks, women in the area began searching Pinterest for free patterns and YouTube for directions.

“There's so many different patterns and stuff,” Sally Smith of Quiltworks said. “And I tell people just pick one that you think you can do and just do it.”

Sally has offered to donate scrap fabric to anyone who wants to try their hand at sewing some face-masks. She’s offering curb-side pickup for those who call the store as long as her supply of scrap fabric lasts.

“The important thing is to just jump in and make some,” Woodward Public School Librarian Dawn Castor said. “Quit worrying about the pattern and prints and whether to use elastic or ties. There are many patterns posted by many hospitals. Just pick a pattern and sew!”

With a sister, daughter and many cousins who are nurses, Castor’s family is making this a group project with her husband, mother and mother-in-law involved as well. Her daughter is a nurse at AllianceHealth Woodward, where Castor is donating her masks. The hospital prefers four layers of cotton fabric in their masks.

Laverne EMS Director Bobbie Mitchell has her sewing machine out and is sewing masks in between ambulance runs.

“We don't know if we will get more supplies and something is better than nothing,” Mitchell said. “We have masks for the crew for awhile. But we also need masks for the patients. Literally you cannot buy a mask.”

According to Mitchell and Castor, elastic is in short supply. Some patterns call for hair-ties. Mitchell is using boat upholstery fabric. While ties could be used instead of elastic, Mitchell said that would not be the best way.

“Elastic is easier to put on and reduces exposure if they end up being needed for workers,” Mitchell said. “I figure I could make 30 to 50 a day if I don’t get paged out and had more supplies.”

Smith is making hers from two layers of cotton and one layers of heavy-duty interfacing. The pattern she is using takes an 8 inch by 14 inch piece of fabric folded in half with the interfacing sandwiched in between.

Smith has been sending some of the masks she has made to friends and family members in areas of the country where the virus is more prevalent and there is a great need.

“If you are making masks, please take care of those that are higher at risk first in the community before contacting us for donations,” Emergency Management Director Matt Lehenbauer said. “There are many with respiratory ailments, etc. that are in need.”

According to Castor, she’s had messages from other local medical entities such as The Lighthouse, nursing homes, home health workers who could use them. The Hope Center is also asking for donations of masks.

“ I pray that there are hundreds of unused fabric face masks boxed up in a hospital closet,” Castor said. “And somewhere in the future someone opens that box and wonders what the heck they were thinking.”

For information on scrap fabric, call Quiltworks at 580-254-0464.

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