When U.S. leaders began to recommend fabric masks to protect against the spread of COVID-19, Midwest makers were ready. It was inspiring to watch talented sewists across the region (and the world) spring into action — in many cases weeks earlier than the official recommendation.
This is an evolving list of makers in the Midwest who are crafting fabric masks to meet an unprecedented need. I will be updating it weekly for as long as the pandemic lasts in the region. It’s organized by state so you can choose an option close to home to reduce shipping time.
Most of these shops are prioritizing masks for essential workers. In many cases, they’re donating them directly. (There are even options where you can pay it forward and donate a mask too.) And they’re all making fabric masks as fast as they can.
Sourcing supplies during a pandemic
Because so many people are creating fabric masks for friends and neighbors, elastic, interfacing, and even certain kinds of fabric are in short supply. (If you have elastic to sell or donate, please let me know in the comments and I’ll pass the word along.)
A network of stitchers has popped up, with people (mostly women) trading supplies and tips to keep the fabric masks coming. It’s been incredible to watch.
So please be patient if the vendor you prefer is restocking. There are enough small businesses listed here to get us all the masks that we need. Please note that fabric masks are not a medical device. Those are reserved for the medical professionals that need them the most.
If you’re financially able, I encourage you to donate a mask to an essential worker or a vulnerable person. Many of our neighbors can’t stay home and and stay protected, so some of the shops let you buy a mask to help someone in need.
Or buy an extra mask or two and send them to your great aunt, your favorite gas station clerks, your elderly neighbors, the bus driver on your route. Not everyone has internet access and they may not know that fabric masks can be purchased this way. It’s something simple we can all do to help instead of feeling helpless.
The Grand Forks-based Beckamade brand is primarily known for sassy vintage inspired magnets, stationary and other goodies, but owner Rebecca Sefcovic Uglem has added masks to her arsenal. She offers two options, a fitted fabric mask with a nose wire and a pleated version. Both styles feature adjustable elastic for a customized fit and a pocket for a removable filter.
Her website also includes a pattern and instructions, so you can make your own mask in a pinch. You can also purchase button headbands.
Bismarck maker and Bison Booties owner Erica Hager has shifted her stitchers focus from her regular product line (cute fabric booties for babies — and adults to pleated fabric masks. They come in a variety of patterns and colors, including plaids and florals.
Each mask also includes a card with care instructions, which is a nice option if you’re sending it as a gift. Your purchase helps fund donations to essential workers in North Dakota.
I’ve always liked the vintage map fabric Melissa uses to create one of her pillow lines, so I was pumped to see that she’s offering it as an option for fabric masks. Look for lots of other (mostly modern and gender neutral) prints like chevrons, plaids and dots.
Each 521 Handmade fabric mask is made of three layers of cotton and features adjustable cloth ties for a custom fit. She’s adding new inventory about twice a month. West Fargo pickup is available.
Fabric masks from HelloLucys in Fargo feature two pleated layers of cotton fabric and cloth ties to adjust the fit to your comfort. There’s also a pocket for a removable filter.
Shipping is free and masks come in a two different fabrics. While you’re there, be sure to browse the collection of coasters and signage. (That’s normally what the shop specializes in.)
Remade to Remember
Fargo residents remember Ashley Dedin’s upcycled accessories from her AENDEE storefront. She’s now repurposing her customer’s loved ones’ clothing into pillows, pouches, earrings and scarves under her new Remade To Remember banner. She’s also making fabric masks.
You choose your size (small or medium) and she whips up a layered cotton fabric mask with either fabric or elastic ties, depending on availability. The fabric you receive is a surprise, which is fun. (I’ve ordered several for myself and friends and family and received stripes, florals and muted solid colors.) Fargo pickup is available.
Poppy and Pippa
Laura from Poppy and Pippa usually makes key fobs and badge reels in colorful and whimsical patterns. But now she’s studying busy using those some fun fabrics to create playful cotton masks.
As with many of the shops on this list, the masks often sell out very quickly. Sign up for an email alert so you’ll be among the first to know when they’re back in stock.
Emily Brooks of Taea Made is taking a break from creating beautiful and quirky embroidered items at the moment. But her Fargo studio is still busy.
She’s currently crafting a limited number of fabric masks as well as bright button headbands to relieve the inevitable ear pressure that comes from wearing an elastic mask all day. Her fabrics and color selection jive with her shop’s overall crafty cute vibe.
Fashion designer Michelle Uberreste hails from my tiny, rural hometown of Hendrum, Minnesota, but instead of being pastoral, her designs are tough, androgynous, and post-apocalyptic. The fabric masks she’s making fit perfectly with her aesthetic — and they’re popping up on Instagram feeds all over the U.S. already.
They’re streamlined and impeccably fitted, with adjustable elastic. There are several fabric choices to choose from. The color palette is mostly black with neon or red accents. (A biohazard design provides a little dark humor.) You can also donate a mask to a medical worker or immune compromised individual.
Julie Meyer Leather Goods
I’ve coveted the gorgeous leather bags produced Julie’s Minneapolis studio for months. It turns out her fabric face masks are just as beautiful. Each pleated mask from Julie Meyer Leather Goods has a nose wire for a custom fit and contain a filter pocket.
For every mask you buy, one will be donated to a healthcare worker and 10% will benefit the Artist Personal Emergency Fund through the Springboard for the Arts. Shipping is free.
Minnesewta Handmade usually focuses on embroidered hats and towels. But right now the Anoka shop is also making and shipping two layer fabric masks.
The shop’s design includes a nose wire for a fitted shape. (This also helps prevent a wearer’s glasses from fogging up.) They also contain a filter pocket for removable filters. Fabric masks are available in a variety of fabrics and colors, including basic solids, unicorn and paisley prints, Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers colors and a northwoods classic, buffalo plaid.
Sassy Fras Design
Lindsay Hindman of Siouxland Families told me about maker Melissa Chambers, who runs Sassy Fras Design. Normally, the shop stocks items that promote Down Syndrome and Autism awareness. But like the other makers on this list, she’s pivoted to meet a new need.
Sassy Fras Design offers two layer pleated cotton masks in a variety of solid colors. But the patterns really make these stand out. Choose from camo, dragons and superhero motifs.
StitchNStream usually makes cute and colorful baby clothing and accessories. But the Stanley, Wisconsin vendor has added pleated masks to its inventory.
A variety of patterns are available, from bright prints to neutrals to outdoorsman-friendly options. The selection varies depending on what’s in stock.
What about you?
Where are you getting your masks?
Are you or someone you know making fabric masks?
Which style do you prefer?
What items have you purchased from these vendors before?
Who is making fabric masks near you? Send me a link and I’ll add them to the list.
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