A Sewing Army, Making Masks for America

They are scrounging for fabric, cutting it up, stitching it together. They are repurposing drapes, dresses, bra straps, shower curtains, even coffee filters. They are building supply chains, organizing workers, managing distribution networks.

Most of all, they are sewing.

All over the country, homebound Americans are crafting thousands upon thousands of face masks to help shield doctors, nurses and many others from the coronavirus.

They are pulling together to meet an urgent need: Hospitals, overwhelmed by the fast-spreading pandemic, are burning through their supplies of protective gear, in particular masks, at an alarming rate. Doctors and nurses are getting sick and dying.

At the White House’s urging, manufacturing companies are beginning to ramp up their production of masks. But it could be weeks before the new supplies start rolling off the assembly lines.

In the meantime, some of the void is being filled by legions of sewers, called to duty in a matter of days via social media and word of mouth, their skills no longer taken for granted or dismissed as a mere hobby. They are working in living rooms, at kitchen tables and inside shuttered storefronts. They are making masks for America, much as a previous generation manufactured ammunition and tended “victory gardens” during World War II.

“Sewers, we’ve always stepped up and done this thing,” said Denise Voss, the head of the Inland Empire chapter of the American Sewing Guild. “We’re made for this time. We’re happy to stay home and sew. And we all have stashes of fabric.” Her group, with about 130 members in Southern California, is making hundreds of face

Keep reading this article on The New York Times Business.

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