Even before the Department of Health’s recommendation for everyone to wear face coverings when venturing outdoors, Vermont businesses and individual Vermonters have stepped up in a big way to boost the supply of non-medical face masks.
Several Vermont businesses have shifted their production to sewing fabric masks. Vermont Glove, a family-run business in Randolph, announced that they are now manufacturing protective masks for front line workers across the country. Vermont Teddy Bear of Shelburne and Fat Hat Clothing of Quechee are also sewing masks for healthcare workers. Bee’s Wrap of Middlebury has donated the fabric they usually use in their beeswax infused reusable wraps, and their sewers are now making masks for a local healthcare provider. Vermont Tent Company of Essex Junction is donating cloth napkins to the mask making effort.
Sewers throughout Vermont are also joining forces. Multiple face mask groups have blossomed on Facebook as individuals with sewing machines and a fabric stash have been producing handmade masks by the hundreds. From Brattleboro to St. Albans, the Upper Valley to Southern Vermont, communities are rallying, with non-sewers providing supplies and sewers pumping out masks that are soon claimed by healthcare workers and neighbors alike.
Most of these homegrown efforts are for the benefit of workers at local healthcare providers. Hospitals across Vermont have posted information on where and how to donate, including Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Central Vermont Medical Center, Porter Medical Center, and Rutland Regional Medical Center. Vermont Medical Mask Drive is a Facebook clearinghouse for mask donations, including for UVM Medical Center.
For those making their own masks, there are plenty of instructions online. The CDC offers simple instructions. Deaconess Hospital of Indiana has a popular pattern and video. And for those without access to a sewing machine, there are videos online for no-sew face masks too, including from the US Surgeon General.
Supplies for face masks can be challenging to find. Many Vermont fabric stores are taking online orders, some with curbside pickup. Stores like Middlebury Sew & Vac, Quilter’s Garden of Montpelier, and VT Quilter’s Schoolhouse of Troy are just a few of those offering this service. Craft supply retailer Joann Fabrics is offering free face mask kits that sewers can make at home and return the finished product to the store for donation.