The fabric has been flying at Sandra Bradbury’s home lately.
For the past month, the Chilliwack woman has been sewing up a storm of masks, headbands and surgical caps for frontline workers, essential service workers and the general public.
So far she’s made about 500 masks, more than 100 surgical/scrub caps, and approximately 50 headbands. The latter two items have buttons on either side where the elastics from the masks hook onto to relieve pressure and prevent rubbing behind the ears.
“I’m having fun with it,” she said.
The making of masks started with requests from her coworkers.
Bradbury is a meat hygiene supervisor with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture’s meat inspection program for the Lower Mainland. She started by making masks for fellow inspectors while working in meat processing plants, and it took off from there.
Now the masks and other items have been sent across the province.
Some have gone to people who have connected with her on Facebook while others have gone to Chilliwack General Hospital. She’s sent them off to Air Canada’s flight attendants, Comox Fire Department, and the radiology department at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. Eighty caps have gone to the Vancouver General Hospital’s surgical team via a nurse and friend of hers whom she grew up with.
Some of the caps have even been machine embroidered with the words “nursing is my super power.”
Although she gives them away for free, some people have donated money to help her purchase more supplies.
Bradbury is a “self-professed fabric hoarder.” She loves to buy fabric and for decades has enjoyed quilting and sewing things like pyjamas for her family.
This new initiative has seen her dip into her stash of cotton fabric she bought for quilting over the years, and put it to a new use.
And the variety of colours and patterns she has seems endless. The fabric is floral, checkered, cowboy-themed, coffee-themed, polka-dotted, or covered in things like maple leaves or cartoon animals.
“This has given me an opportunity to pull out some fabrics from 25 years ago and be able to use them and do something nice for the community,” Bradbury said.
One of the hardest things to find right now has been elastic. With fabric stores closed, Bradbury had to order elastic online, and even then it took three weeks to arrive.
While she was waiting for that elastic to arrive, she found some thin elastic cord at a dollar store. She describes it as shiny elastic used for wrapping up presents, and has been pleasantly surprised with how well it’s held up even after it went through the washer and dryer.
She’s been using the less-expensive elastic for masks for the community, and then more durable quarter-inch elastic for masks for firefighters and health-care workers.
Bradbury can whip up the masks at a surprising rate.
|Sandra Bradbury has made more than 500 masks. (Submitted)|
“Once you get a system going… I can do about 20 in an hour.”
Working a full-time job, it’s hard to fathom she’s made hundreds of masks, caps and headbands in just one month. But it turns out she recently found some spare time for herself. Bradbury is the commanding officer with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets 147 Airwolf Squadron in Chilliwack, and after it shut down due to COVID-19, her schedule opened up.
Now, sewing masks is her new community involvement.