Seven women sew and give away 1,000 masks

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 23, 2020

A team of seven women in Pearl River County have sewn and given away 1,000 facemasks to anyone who needs one.

The Velveteen Rabbits, a Christian sewing group who normally sew items for widows, decided to turn their sewing skills to making face masks for churches, medical professionals, nursing homes, a senior center and anyone else in need of one.

Peggy Carr, Diane Maguire, Charlotte Maguire, Gail Jenkins, Jeanie Walker, Carolyn Champagne and Vickie Huber have all been hard at work at their sewing machines creating pleated facemasks with elastic ear loops and a piece of fabric sewn inside to act as a filter.

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“I usually spend five hours a day in my sewing room making them and I can make two to three dozen a day,” said Huber.

The masks have cotton fabric outside that can be made in a larger size or cut much smaller to create a facemask for a child. Huber is a quilter, so she already had a lot of cotton fabric on hand.

Most of the masks have a layer of thin pellon as a filter, although Huber was waiting on a shipment of more pellon she had ordered online. Pellon is the material used inside men’s dress shirt collars to make them stiff.

In the meantime, Huber used a soft lightweight flannel from baby clothes or blankets for the internal filter layer.

For anyone sewing facemasks at home, adding a filter layer is important, said Huber. She has experimented with using normal flannel fabrics or heavier pellon, but those materials made the facemasks too hot for the wearer.

Other materials are sometimes slow to arrive as well, like the 260 yards of elastic that Huber was supposed to receive in April. Fortunately, someone donated elastic to keep her mask making efforts moving forward.

After Huber sews a mask she steam irons it in an effort to sanitize the mask, then wraps it in plastic to keep it clean until it reaches its new owner.

“If it saves just one life it’ll be worth the work,” said Huber.

The women have made 15 dozen for one nursing home, 13 dozen for another, a dozen for medical professionals in Hammond, a dozen to Hillcrest Baptist Church and 36 for Unity Baptist Church, 70 masks for the Senior Center of South Pearl River County, along with masks for individual people in Pearl River County, McComb, and residents living in the states of Alabama, Texas and Indiana.

The group does not charge anyone for facemasks, although they do accept donations to help support their mask making.

“In this day and time it’s not right to sell them,” said Huber.

The group is trying to get ahead on their mask making in case there is a second wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in winter, said Huber.

Anyone in need of a facemask can contact Huber at 769-926-9697.