The Plum Creek Quilters Guild was challenged to make 600 fabric coverup masks beginning March 28 for distribution on April 9th. This was in response to support and salute organizations who are area frontline responders and health care providers as a way of expressing gratitude for their service. Members represented were from Elwood, Overton, Oconto, Callaway & Lexington. The challenge began when social media requests were posted by another guild for an area hospital, followed a few days later for requests for sewers for the Lincoln area for front line providers.
“I knew from the Plum Creek Quilters Guild site, members were commenting on making masks, but didn’t know where they were needed. I’d made some masks and had the same issue. That’s when I asked to lead a coordinated challenge for the fiber coverup masks,” stated Barb Vondras. “Most quilters are kidded for having a stash of fabric, but in this case it was such an opportunity as members could use their supplies, stay home, and keep their social distance.”
The CHALLENGE was a way to contribute to fight back at the COVID-19 nasty virus in an important way to support friends, family and the communities. Organizations were contacted for preliminary estimated count of masks & then a plan was developed to coordinate one central site for pick up, supply distribution, and drop off while always observing social distancing.
When organizations were contacted some of the critical questions asked were:
Will the masks be worn, even if the fabric is colorful & patterned? Yes to each call . One fire chief said we don’t care what they look like, we just appreciate the added protection.
Another question was do the masks need to be washed & how? No, each organization will wash according to their requirements.
The masks were thought to only be a barrier protector for wearing over the N95 masks for the workers. This was before the recommendation now for everyone to wear masks.
The guild planned to use elastic, but then no elastic could be found nationwide. Quickly the guild adapted a donated pattern from Sew Creative of Lincoln made entirely of fabric
“The all fabric masks by even experienced sewers were very time consuming to make due to the construction of making the fabric ties. So I put the word out if ANYONE had elastic, sewers were desperate as there was no elastic to be purchased nationwide, in the area or anywhere.” commented Vondras. “It worked as elastic started to trickle in. Chester’s Antiques put out a request for the guild for elastic through their website. Thanks to the generosity of her customers we were able to score enough elastic to make our goal and beyond. We switched designs from making a few masks per day to multiple runs of masks sewers could produce.”
Throughout the project Vondras kept thinking of the saying: We can’t do everything for everybody, but we can do something for somebody.
“Meeting the goal was fast and furious, but time was critical to get the fiber masks out to providers who are our really the super heroes in our communities. I want to thank all the sewers for rising up to this mammoth challenge and in addition the total count doesn’t even reflect the masks guild members made for their family, neighbors, and friends”, stated Vondras. “I’m so proud and humbled by their contribution and sacrifices. The guild did a lot of “somethings for a lot of somebodies”. Also I know one business who paid a guild member to stay home from their job to sew masks for co-workers. “
All the masks were delivered by April 9th. Masks sewn were 1,015 in 11 days. Masks went to 18 groups as the hospital, care centers, clinics, fire departments, law enforcement agencies, sheriff’s offices, EMT, Meals on Wheels, Handybus drivers, Dawson Co. Emergency Management & a library. The only request of the guild was for the groups to take a quick photo and email to the guild for their newsletter.