As people seek to social distance or quarantine in response to the coronavirus pandemic, certain services — like sewing and altering — have dropped in demand.
So much so that Alison’s Custom Sewing and Alterations, which has been in business in downtown Morganton for more than a decade, has had to close early or remained closed for the day at times due to a lack of customers.
But while her customers stay home, owner-operator Alison Muckle has turned her attention to something else, to a way to help with COVID-19 — she’s using her business, equipment and skills to make surgical masks.
“I had a customer come in who was a nurse, and she was very concerned about the lack of protection they had while they were doing their jobs,” Muckle said. “She was very upset about it. And it just kind of gave me the idea to start making them for the hospital community because they’re out front with it. That’s why I’m doing it.”
According to the FDA, a surgical mask is a loose-fitting, disposable device that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment.
If worn properly, a surgical mask is meant to help block large-particle droplets, splashes, sprays or splatter that may contain germs (viruses and bacteria), keeping it from reaching the mouth and nose. Surgical masks also may help reduce exposure of the wearer’s saliva and respiratory secretions to others.
Depending on the materials available, some of Muckle’s cotton masks are the standard solid light blue. But others are of varying colors and patterns as she uses what she can get her hands on to make them.
Muckle said she has made about 100 and can make about 30 per day, currently doing all the work herself. She had a few items of regular business to tend to Friday, but planned to get back to mask making after that.
“It’s not really much, so I should be able to get that knocked out (Friday),” she said. “And as soon as I’m done, I have collected a bunch more fabric to go ahead and make more masks. I’m going to try to make them until this thing has passed while there’s a need for them.”
Muckle plans to donate the masks to workers at local hospitals. She hopes those who need the masks will come get them, but says she will take them to the hospital herself if it gets to that point.
In return, Muckle is asking only for donations to help cover costs and keep her business afloat.
Alison’s Customs Sewing and Alterations is at 130 N. Sterling St. For more information, call 828-390-1653.