Local residents use sewing skills to serve community

by Laura Straub 

As soon as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released that personal cloth masks were effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, Bath resident Rachel Prescott got to work. 

Using the pattern the CDC released and two layers of cotton fabric in fun, colorful prints, Prescott started by making masks for herself, then for some family and friends.  

Before she knew it, her friends started requesting masks for their friends, and demand exploded. 

“If I were to include the 150 I’m making right now, I’m at about 450 masks,” she said. 

She sells them for $5 each through her Facebook page, Rachel’s Creations! She’s also giving away masks for free to frontline workers or those who may not be able to afford one. 

Prescott estimates that it takes 25-30 minutes to make one mask, but she makes them in batches to save time. A batch of 150 takes her about 40 hours to make. 

Her assembly line starts off with precutting the fabric, then sewing, flipping, ironing, and doing it all over again. Fortunately, she said, the rectangular pleated masks she makes are sewn in straight lines. 

Sewing used to be stressful for Prescott, so she stopped doing it. She picked it back up again when she began using cloth diapers for her son and has found that now, she really enjoys it. 

“If it wasn’t for the diapers, I wouldn’t have pulled my sewing machine out again,” she said. 

Prescott added that sewing the masks has been an escape for her. Her husband, JB, was recently in a serious accident, with a follow-up surgery scheduled for late May. 

“This has been my time to get away for a couple of minutes,” she said. “… With everything that’s gone on with my husband in the last couple months, it’s been really hectic. It’s nice to feel good about something. I’m not just helping my family, but I’m helping other people. Our life took a huge turn, and this just feels good right now.” 

Richfield resident Deb Kaminski also fired up her sewing machine to start making masks. In early April, Kaminski was approached by her sister’s employer, the Inn at Apple Ridge nursing home in Richfield, to make 100 masks. 

“I made a few for my sister, then the rest of my family and friends, at no charge,” Kaminski said. “When Apple Ridge called, I blurted out without much thought that I would do them for a dollar each!” 

Now, Kaminski has made over 300 masks. As word of mouth spread, she began selling them for $3, and eventually $4. She sells them on the Bath Area Banter Facebook group and has them available at an antique mall in Hartville. 

“I’ve donated to family and some friends, and now I sell them to anyone that contacts me,” Kaminski said. “It’s in no way a business, but more as a service to friends, family and community.” 

She custom-created a pattern for her masks, which are made of 100% cotton fabric, washed, dried and pressed. 

Like Prescott, Kaminski uses a production line to create bulk orders, first cutting the fabric and then sewing. She estimates that after fabric prep, it takes about 10 minutes to sew each mask. 

Since she is retired, Kaminski said she has plenty of time to sew. However, she does try to work around the warmer days, so she can spend time tending to her garden. Before retiring, Kaminski taught sewing for more than 30 years. She also worked as an assistant manager at JoAnn Fabrics and managed a Pfaff sewing machine dealership. 

Now, sewing has become her contribution to the community.  “I believe the masks helped serve the community for those who choose to wear them,” she said. “I’ve been told they are comfortable, and folks appreciate the packaging and extra filters that come with each mask.”

Feature image photo caption: Prescott sits at her sewing station with a pile of colorful masks.

Richfield resident Deb Kaminski has made over 300 masks for the community.