Jane Morrow and her grandson, Asher, 7, model her homemade face masks at her Dalton home. She has made about 1,000 of the cloth masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
DALTON As a youngster growing up in 4H, sewing wasn’t one of Jane Morrow’s favorite activities. Little did she know as a child that years later she was going to use her sewing skills to potentially save lives.
As of last week, the 62-year-old had sewed about 1,000 cloth masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Face coverings are becoming the norm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores.
The CDC advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and to help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
As Ohio begins to reopen in phases, people will notice employees in businesses wearing face coverings. While the state does not require customers entering retail establishments to wear face coverings, masks are still strongly recommended to protect others from possibly getting sick. Individual business owners can still choose to develop a business policy requiring face coverings for customers.
“I first started giving them away to the health care workers,” Morrow said. “I gave dozens away (for free) to the local health field.”
Morrow now asks for $4 per mask – mainly to reimburse for materials.
Morrow sews from morning to night. She has sold masks off of her porch and now she is filling orders for businesses and can’t seem to sew fast enough. She hopes to be able to sell off her porch again soon. Of course, deliveries or pickup are contact-less. When she sells off of her porch, she stays inside – sewing – and people can pick up what they need and leave money in a basket.
Sewing cloth masks is a family affair for the Morrows. Jane Morrow’s husband, Mark, grandkids, and mother, who is 90 – and incidentally was Jane Morrow’s 4-H adviser who taught her to sew – all help out. The Morrows’ daughter helps to order fabric and elastics. Morrow said her sister, who is a respiratory therapist, was a big help in designing the masks. Morrow has a few different designs available, including a mask that has a pocket for a filter.
“It’s a fun family project for us,” Morrow said. “I’m very fortunate. Everybody’s helping me. My grandkids help me and they live beside me.”
Jane and Mark Morrow have lived in Dalton for about 35 years. Morrow had been a hairdresser since she was 17. The Washington High School graduate continued hairstyling for decades until retiring last year. While she found sewing difficult as a child, over the years she still hemmed or fixed items. She got back into sewing at the right time to help out when she began making cloth napkin gifts for family members this past Christ-mas. She gained some confidence through that project to embark on her next project – sewing hundreds of masks.
“It’s fun for me helping people,” Morrow said. “I’m used to seeing people and now that I’m retired I don’t get to see too many people now. It’s really been fun.”
More mask making
On April 24, P. Graham Dunn announced on its Facebook page the completion of 1 million infection control shields after a record-breaking day of assembling 100,064 face shields.
Meanwhile, a group of local makers also have kept busy. Schantz MakerSpace, Wayne College 3D Lab, and members who frequent these makerspaces are connecting PPE items to needed institutions through the pandemic.
Tom Hammond, lab support specialist at The University of Akron Wayne College wrote in his weekly 3D Lab blog about the importance of face shields protecting medical staff. The makerspace community ultimately modified an existing frame design to speed up production, have a better fit, and easier assembly, and they tried different materials for the clear protective shield.
“This truly is a community effort to provide the best PPE items possible in the fastest time,” Hammond wrote.
Vic Schantz, president of The Schantz Organ Company in Orrville, wrote in an email that makerspace volunteers have been working safely in their homes using 3D printers and laser engravers to make PPE for local agencies such as protective face shields and straps used for face masks. As of last week, volunteers had delivered about 450 face shields and several hundred comfort adjustment straps for cloth face masks, Schantz wrote in the email.
Hammond invites anyone who would like to help — no 3D printer required — by sewing cloth masks for community members and health institutions to contact him at email@example.com.
“We will supply the materials (cloth pieces and elastic strips) and distribution of the completed masks. The need for masks is great,” Hammond writes in his blog, which includes a link to a DIY video with instructions at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TL9D6ZFtZHM.