These are some of the 125 cotton masks that Rochelle Coulombe of Chilliwack has made. (Facebook)

COVID-19: Fraser Valley crafters are busy sewing cotton masks for health-care workers and others

One Chilliwack woman has made 125 masks so far, and is still going strong

A group of Fraser Valley crafters has been sewing up a storm lately as they make masks for health-care workers and others in need.

Rochelle Coulombe and Julie Connelly are two Chilliwack women who are part of a Facebook group called Fraser Valley Craft Guild where they’ve been chatting with fellow sewers since Saturday about how to make the cotton masks and get them to people who need them.

Coulombe, who is a professional sewer and runs her own online children’s clothing business Tickle Me Trendy, has switched from sewing kids’ hoodies and baby dresses to masks.

“I have stopped orders temporarily to help out with the sewing needs of the country these days. [It] allows me to feel some control on a time where I think we all feel a little helpless and at the mercy of the virus,” Coulombe said.

So far, she’s made 125 masks.

They must be made from 100 per cent cotton material, and the tighter the weave of fabric the better to allow for maximum amount of filtration. The cotton masks are not replacements for N95 masks, which are more form-fitted to the face and offer more protection.

But “with the supply demands they are better than nothing,” she said.

“Currently I am seeing requests from health-care workers who are not dealing with COVID-19 patients directly, but are using them to assist with keeping stock of proper PPE [personal protective equipment] for those that are,” Coulombe said. “I am also seeing requests from frontline workers (retail grocery and airport staff) as paper masks get harder to buy.”

Coulombe has already sent a batch of her homemade masks out to a paediatric ward nurse in Abbotsford, a nurse at Peace Arch, and a health unit nurse in Surrey.

The next batch she’s sewing has no home yet, but she’s working with the Fraser Valley Craft Guild group to get them to where they can be used.

That’s where Connelly comes in. She is helping to organize where the masks will go and how to get them there.

One of the problems with the cotton masks is that they have to be laundered after use, Connelly said. With a centralized laundry system in place for the hospitals, once any cotton masks leave to be laundered, there’s no guarantee they’d be returned to where they came from.

Currently Connelly, who works in home support, brings her own masks home every day and washes them herself. Her mother, Kathryn Vodden-McKay who lives in Abbotsford, made them for her out of scrap material.

Connelly has even heard that some people are making masks out of bedsheets.

Others with the Fraser Valley Craft Guild group have made things like cotton drawstring bags for workers, who do bring their masks and scrubs home, to put their soiled clothes in.

FabCycle, a fabric recycling company in Vancouver which repurposes scraps of material and damaged fabrics, has also joined the movement. They hosted an online mask-making tutorial on Sunday and will be hosting another one this Sunday, April 5 at 10:30 a.m. Search FabCycle on Facebook to find the link, or see the video of their first tutorial below.

Those who wish to help can join the Fraser Valley Craft Guild group.

Click here for a link to the blog where you can find the pattern.

READ MORE: Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

ALSO READ: Chilliwack companies offer free meals, discount on gas for health-care workers and first responders


 

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on?
Email: jenna.hauck@theprogress.com
Twitter: @PhotoJennalism

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CoronavirusHealthcare

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19 case confirmed at Highstreet Walmart in Abbotsford

Fraser Health sends out letter to those who might have had contact with individual

Racism wasn’t dealt with properly by school, says Chilliwack graduate

Woman tells story of being verbally assaulted at school for being black

Stray dog with duct tape around muzzle spotted in Abbotsford

Pooch has been spotted over two days, but has escaped capture so far

Call for support of Black Lives Matter movement in Mission

Over 200 signs hung around city showing solidarity with victims of police brutality

Investigators comb through Chilliwack house following standoff

RCMP say investigation involves report of an early morning shooting

March dental conference key to many of B.C.’s COVID-19 cases

Early infections from China, Iran were quickly contained

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

New platform allows readers to make a one-time or ongoing donation to support local journalism

VIDEO: Pitt Meadows dentist gets grand welcome home after two-month COVID-19 battle

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Seniors to receive up to $500 in promised COVID-19 emergency aid in early July

The Liberal government first promised the extra help in mid-May, but had to create a new system to deliver the aid

VIDEO: Revelstoke bear wanders into Animal House pet store

Staff got ready to chase it out with a broom

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

Most Read