Local seamstress takes up mask making

By Taylor McClure, Special to Brome County News

With fabric masks identified as an extra precaution to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus, local seamstress Renée Morris, owner of local business The Hobo Train, has decided to take on the task of filling in the need in her community.
“I didn’t have it in my mind to make masks, but I had several people message me to say that either they needed a mask or that they know people that need masks. They contacted me of course because I sew and I thought what a great way that I can help out during this time,” Morris explained.
After announcing on her Facebook page that she would be making masks, people immediately started reaching out. “Literally less than 12 hours after posting it I had to shut down orders because I had too many.”
Morris has been selling masks to the people who want the extra protection as well as donating them to those who absolutely need them. “I am selling the masks and I am donating some to the people who are really frontline workers and essentials services. I have special cost pricing for them as well. The important thing is to get the masks to where they need to go.”
Morris is making masks for adults and children and they can either be customized or people can choose what she calls a grab bag. The grab bag includes five masks with different patterned fabrics for $30 while the customized masks are $8 for adults and $6 for children; this includes shipping.
People can specify whether they want the mask for men or women and they can choose between print and neutral fabrics.
“If people really need them and they can’t afford them, they are welcome to send me a message and I will do everything I can to get them the masks they need,” she added.
Since people aren’t used to wearing masks on a daily basis, Morris said she wanted the fabrics to be fun to help make people feel more comfortable about wearing them; especially young children who may not be able to completely process the situation. “The mask might put a smile on the kids face and anyone who sees the fun fabric mask it might brighten their day as well.”
While Morris is doing her best to get all of the orders out, it does take a bit of time as it is getting more difficult to order materials and demand is high. “In the business group that I’m in online there’s a lot of people making masks, they are business owners from all over the world, and they are experiencing shortages with elastics. It’s getting more difficult to find materials. I was lucky to buy a lot of elastics from a supplier but already they are selling out what they offer too. The fabric stores are taking longer to get the fabric but it goes to show there is quite a big demand right now.”
She had a request from a church in Boston that wanted to purchase 150 masks for the city’s homeless population, but they needed them in a few days and it just wasn’t possible. Morris reached out to members in her business group and found someone that was closer to Boston to make it happen. “It’s a time to work together and I’ll do what I can to fulfill the orders but if I can’t the most important thing is to get the masks where they are needed.”
She added that people can also easily make their own masks at home. “There are so many tutorials on YouTube that show you how you can make your own mask from fabric at home, they even have no sewing ones. It’s not something people should feel they need to buy they can do it themselves as well.”
“I’ll see what more I can do within the community after I get a hold on the orders. I’m doing what I can to get masks to the people that I know that need them but there is definitely massive demand so I would encourage anyone who knows how to sew to do what they can to help out to fill the need.”
For more information visit the Hobo Train VIP Facebook page or email Morris at thehobotrain@yahoo.ca.

Published in the April 21 edition of the Brome County News.

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