COVID Couture: Designer Donates Mask Covers
For providers on the front line of the fight against COVID-19, a N95 mask is essential protective equipment. These masks, however, can be difficult to wear for the many hours they are needed.
Enter Janice Martin, a couture designer in Ardmore who was already ahead of the curve. In 2018, she had established Sewn For Good, an adjunct passion project that creates cause-related clothing and accessories.
When Martin learned of the shortage of medical protective wear and masks in the fight against COVID, she jumped into action. With established ties to industry sourcing and Jefferson University (which incorporates the former Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science), Martin designed a cloth mask cover to extend the life of surgical grade masks and make them more comfortable to wear.
She then canvassed the tri-state area to locate newly unemployed industrial seamstresses to make them for hospitals in need.
“When this crisis first hit, our business basically came to a standstill,” explains Martin. “So, several home sewers and I began making masks for ourselves and a few friends.
“At the same time, as word of mouth spread about the availability of these masks, I was trying to figure out a way to support health care providers and also help the seamstresses I normally work with to execute my designs, who saw most of their work dry up.”
For Martin, the response to meeting all these needs crystallized quickly. Reaching out to her client base, she solicited donations for masks made by volunteer home sewers. Then Martin turned those funds into salaries for the seamstresses who created mask covers made to medical specifications to donate to area hospitals and other health care facilities.
“People have been so generous, we have been able to create and donate more than 3,000 masks so far,” reports Martin. Recipients include Main Line Health hospitals Lankenau and Riddle Memorial and Beaumont at Bryn Mawr.
Most recently, Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia received more than 1,100 beautifully crafted masks.
“The masks were a huge hit with our staff,” says Jennifer Rodriguez, RN, Director of Nursing, Women and Infants, for Einstein Philadelphia.
“They have been deployed with staff in our Neonatal Intensive Care, Labor & Delivery, and Mother/Baby Units. Everyone loved how the N95s will fit so nicely in the pocket. The cow pattern was definitely a favorite!”
Martin continues to raise funds to support the effort as the steady stream of those impacted by COVID-19 continue to require the highest level of PPE precautions for health care staff from hospitals to nursing homes.
“Anyone who would like to receive masks made by our home sewers may make a donation, which will in turn be used to support the purchase of supplies needed and support the work of our professional seamstresses,” explains Martin. “We are so thrilled to be able to make this small contribution to the work our health care heroes are doing on the front line of this pandemic.”