Sewing Masks


As I feed another mask under the sewing machine needle, I pray for the one whose face it will protect. Lord, heal this person if they’re sick, protect them if they’re not sick, give them a heart for seeking You.

When Sally asked me if I’d like to join her in sewing masks for Archbold Memorial Hospital, I was delighted. Yes! Some way to help in this awful time. I’m not a seamstress but I have a sewing machine. I could do this!

The masks those on my team are making are strictly utilitarian, designed to be passed out in hospitals and doctors’ offices when someone shows up with no protection. They are very simple, though I took all day figuring out how to make the first one, using advice of Mary Alice who, early on, said beware of the rubber bands. My machine didn’t like the rubber bands used to go around ears. In fact, after nineteen masks, that machine made a very horrible sound and, like an old mule in the middle of a corn row, it said “Not a stitch farther.”

I learned “Jimmy’s Sew and Vac” was open in the afternoons, curbside service. So Charles loaded the sewing machine into the car and we took off to Thomasville. There, Glenn kindly said that since I was sewing masks, he would quickly look at my machine and, hopefully have it ready in an hour. When we went back he came out with a sad look and informed me my machine was hopelessly broken. Seeing my disappointment, he suggested that he had a used machine in his shop I might like for a reasonable price.

Back home, with a new old machine, I began again. That machine, a Kenmore, worked sweet as pumpkin pie–until the bobbin gave out. Faced with a different machine, directions like a Chinese puzzle, I struggled. I longed for my “sewing machine whisperer” friends who would have wound that bobbin and rethreaded the machine quicker than the snap of Mary Poppins’ finger. Problem was, my friends were all social distancing.

I took a deep breath, several deep breaths. I prayed. Charles, my veterinarian husband whose sewing is of a different nature, tried to help. Miraculously, the bobbin did finally spin neatly and we rethreaded the machine almost correctly. The machine sewed like a dream then and I knew I was blessed to have one that made prettier stitches than my old one ever had.

I think I’m starting on my 140th mask. I’ve lost track. This I know. It is wonderful to be part of this tiny force of help for our hospital whose brave and faithful doctors, nurses, custodians and all are working long hard hours to fight this war.

Though we are blocks and miles apart, there is a feeling of happy togetherness amongst those of us sewing. On my team are Sally Whitfield, Mary Alice Teichnell, Jane Poole and Pat Orr whose daughter Julie Padget in Valdosta gave us a good clear video showing how to sew these masks more efficiently. There are many, many other mask makers as well. When I called Jimmy’s with a question I was told he had 25 sewing machines waiting for repairs, all belonging to mask makers. Seems some other machines didn’t like those rubber bands!

Some people are sewing using their own materials. I’ve done a few of those, but I can’t make the pretty tailored masks like the ones our friend Myra Easom made for us. On a rare trip to Wal Mart I saw patriotic masks, camouflage masks, bandanas, some kind of sock get-up, all kinds. I’ve even heard one might turn a bra insert into a good breathable mask!

As I sew I think also of sewing machines humming around the world as we all try to make folks a little safer. I even feel a kinship with those who have so willingly served in multiple ways on the home front during many wars. I think of my mother who knitted sweaters for soldiers of two world wars. During WWI she was only a slip of a girl. During WWII she had nine children and would have one more.

I just heard the good news that many states, including Georgia, are “opening” back up. But we’ll still be practicing social distancing for quite some time. That includes wearing masks wherever we go. So I don’t think Archbold Memorial HospitalĀ is about to tell us “No more.”

A wise person said if you see the light at the end of the tunnel you’re still in the tunnel. So keep wearing those masks–tailored, camouflaged, or just plain utilitarian.

Enough talk about masks. I better start my sewing machine humming.



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