Many hands may make light work, and with the right hands they can make quality stitch work.
In the past two months, members of the Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club worked together to create thousands of masks, and hundreds of other items like gowns for health workers.
“Being quilters, we have stashes of fabric like you can’t believe,” club member Marilyn Williams said.
Their call to action came from Avamere Olympic Rehabilitation of Sequim to club president Sharon Clayton for 100 masks because their personal protection equipment was running low as regulations began to grow for the 2019 novel coronavirus.
Clayton reached out to fellow club members on March 17, and a week later more than 200 masks were donated at a special drop-off location.
Williams said Clayton then reached out to more facilities and word-of-mouth caught on about the club’s efforts. As of last week, 52 club members have created 4,627 face masks, 112 gowns, 75 mask extenders, eight surgery caps and 962 kits cut for masks or gowns.
“This was a really neat project to do,” Williams said. “It felt good to be involved in the community. It’s part of why I’m a Sunbonnet because we give back so much to the community.”
One health facility administrator told Clayton she would have given her a big hug, if she could have.
“They sure appreciated the masks, and we got to reach a lot of people we normally wouldn’t have,” Williams said.
Philomena Lund led the effort to make kits after hearing Clallam County officials ask for medical masks. She issued a challenge online and via email to make 1,000 masks.
Using her own fabric, Lund made kits with 10 masks each and put them at the end of her driveway. Kits included pre-cut fabric and elastic, and directions.
She made 50 kits the first day and people kept coming, and she’s averaged making five kits per day.
Many people have donated supplies and sewing too, she said.
Lund, while working at a brisk pace, accidentally cut the tip off a finger with a rotary cutter but said it’s healing.
The kits keep getting made and picked up by community members, she said.
“It has been a community effort for sure and it has been incredible to be part of something so rewarding,” she said.
Lund said she feels people became so involved because they might have been scared and wanted to do something to help.
“Making masks was something many people felt comfortable enough to dos,” she said, “so making masks was good for the makers as well as those who wear the masks.”
Joy and bells
Another Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club member Loretta Bilow said she quit counting how many masks she’s made after finishing 60.
“It has meant a lot to me,” she said. “I haven’t stopped making them. I still make a couple a day for family, friends and neighbors.”
Bilow continues to make Joy Quilts with others through the club too where a small quilt wraps a stuffed animal to go to first responders and medical professionals to share with children experiencing trauma or unwelcome transition in their lives.
“I’ve been with the club for 20 years and (Joy Quilts) is one of the best things that has happened in my life,” Bilow said.
She last delivered 42 Joy Quilts two weeks ago to local agencies.
Along with sewing masks and Joy Quilts, and working on quilts for her newest great-granddaughter, Bilow has kept a tradition of ringing a bell every night at 7 p.m. to honor people who help the ill. Her son, granddaughter and several neighbors participate, too.
Hold and efforts
Williams said the club placed a hold on creating more masks for the time being as they await word on a potential second wave of demand for face masks if COVID-19 concerns escalate again.
Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Club has not been meeting in recent months at the Sequim Masonic Lodge with its temporary closure and because many of their members are at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus, Williams said.
For their efforts, club member Toni Kline found and shared a pattern for long sleeve medical gowns, and initial donations of fabric was donated by the Community Quilt group, and Irene Snodgrass and Williams.