Sewing Support from Home
Before the threat of COVID-19 hit Buncombe County, seventeen-year-old Jo Gratz was ready to take the official driving test and obtain her driver’s license when the DMV suddenly closed and a Stay Home Stay Safe order was put into effect. She began to see the call for fabric masks online and shifted gears with an early knowledge of sewing and a stock-pile of fabric at home.
“My mom taught me how to sew when I was four or five,” she said. “I made quilts and things with straight lines. I saw a call online for masks and thought, I can do that in my afternoons or evenings. It’s not a hardship to me and it might make a difference to someone else.”
Goal: 10,000 Masks
She quickly got to work on a pattern of her own, which you can find on her website 10,000 masks, which is her goal during this COVID-29 crisis. Her mother, Wendi Gratz, saw a call through the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County volunteer center and Gratz delivered the first batch of 130 masks which we then distributed to community partners in need. Wendi said she has supported by providing the fabric and helping to modify the pattern, yet Jo has really taken this on as her own.
“She recorded a tutorial video, created a website and has been reaching out to encourage others to make masks,” her mother shared. “She's even been working by text with middle school students, trying to remotely help them to use their sewing machines.”
While there has been much speculation over the protection and usage of fabric masks, the CDC does recommend “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”
300 Masks and Still Sewing
As of last week, Gratz had finished just over 300 fabric masks total since she began her project just a few weeks back. You can monitor her progress on her website. “The day that I was actually going to go and take the test to get my license, the DMV closed, so I was looking for something I could do instead from home. And I thought, well I can sew all day long,” she said. “So, it’s a good way to help from home. You can practice good social distancing and good self-isolation while being helpful and making a difference.”
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