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A multitude of mask makers has been popping up around the Wakatipu as a new post-lockdown resurgence of sewers get back onto the machine and make use of what they already have.
Fabric face masks may be the call of the day just now with a number of handy sewers now joining a handful of businesses making and selling them locally. They come in all manner of shades and sizes with some even offering custom-made designs and fabric choices. However, as demand has soared, for some smaller home-based operators it’s been a matter of hands to the machine with no time for individual fittings and fabric fussing.
All masked up, Indy Shea, 4, with her toys, Dolly, Bunny, Slothy and Couver Cat.
A shortage of elastic nationally caused a bit of a backlog for some orders earlier last month (September).
Young mother of three pre-schoolers under five, Leah Shea, of Moose + Co, only started making masks about a week before the Auckland lockdown, initially more for family and friends. Once Auckland went into lockdown and alert levels changed, Leah says she made about 190 masks and could barely keep up with demand. Fiddly to make and not big money spinners selling at only $14 (adult) and $12 (child), Leah was “so crazy busy”. With orders piling up from far and wide and a shortage of elastic she had to post an ‘on hold’ for orders on her website.
Even Leah’s tiny tots have their own custom-made masks, as do their dolls and teddies. She kindly made 30 masks for the pre-schoolers, dolls and teddies at the three local Gems Educational Childcare Centres, one in Lake Hayes Estate and two in Shotover Country, one of which her children attend. These were supplied for just $2 each to cover fabric.
At Nemo Workroom in Frankton owner Trudy Munro and her staff have been flat tack at the machine turning out masks for all shapes and sizes too. “We make four sizes – kids, women’s and men’s, and now a kind of intermediate size for larger or longer faces, and men with beards,” says Trudy. Getting the elastic just right has been the challenge.
“We do colour ways made to order as some people want them to match a uniform or outfit, while others are just happy with fabric off-cuts,” she says. Nemo has sold in excess of 300 masks.
“It’s tricky as there are so many takes on the design,” says Trudy.
Both Leah and Trudy say they’ve noticed a big resurgence in home sewers since lockdown.
“Lockdown has re-established a few priorities with some of the fundamental things that people once valued becoming important again,” she says. “We’ve noticed people are getting their sewing machines out and getting things circulating,” says Trudy. “It’s always been our motto to repair, remodel and recycle, promote pre-worn clothing and to liven up old favourites, rather than going out and buying cheap, fast fashion.” There’s been a rush on haberdashery sales with supplies of cotton and sewing materials all on the increase. “Our workroom has been really busy,” she says.
“People are getting back to the basics of gardening and pulling their sewing machines out,” says Trudy. “There’s been a huge resurgence.”