Westport woman uses sewing skills to help during coronavirus crisis
WESTPORT — Deborah Johnson’s eye for design and decor is a testament to years of running her own drapery business, but a growing need turned her talents toward one particular item — face masks.
The lifelong Westporter said her business typically revolves around fabric for homes. Over the years she has assembled an abundance of extra fabric. When the novel coronavirus struck the state, Johnson saw an opportunity to put the fabric to use.
“A couple weeks ago, I thought I should make masks,” she recalled. “Eventually, everybody is probably going to want to wear one because this is not going to go away very soon.”
Johnson has joined the growing statewide effort to provide the much-needed resource.
Over the past 10 days, she has sown and donated around 200 masks. The self-described fast sower said she is able to make 20 to 30 masks a day.
“As fast as I make them, they’re gone,” she said. “They’re pretty popular.”
For now, she has reached out to customers, fellow designers, and friends inquiring if masks were needed. After finishing the masks, she packages them and leaves them in her mailbox so there is no person-to-person contact.
Johnson said if a friend or customer inquires about a mask, she tries to make more than enough so they can pass it along to those in need. By doing this, she hopes her masks can reach beyond her immediate network.
“I can’t really reach all of the people I would like to reach plus it would be hard if everybody were to come to me,” she said. “I’m only one person, so I’m trying to slowly get these masks out there.”
A couple of days ago, she came across American flags on sticks typically used in celebration of memorial day. She quickly saw a unique use for the flags.
“I thought this would make for an interesting mask,” she said. “Now, I have stars-and-stripes masks and just about anything else anyone can come up with.”
With her expertise through her drapery business, Johnson said transitioning to making craft-items like masks was easy.
“Besides window treatments, there are pillows, cushions and other things I end up making,” she said, adding before she used to donate her extra fabric.
With a dire need for homemade masks across the state, Johnson said she felt it was important to contribute any way she could.
Johnson said she hopes the unique and stylish designs will encourage people to wear them and help slow the spread of the virus.
“These are really beautiful pieces of fabric,” she said. “There’s some pretty nice looking face masks out there now.”