Capital Region

Many in Capital Region putting sewing skills to work on face masks

Organizations, businesses and residents change focus
Denise Eagan, owner of Eagan’s Alterations in Schenectady, picks out fabric for the next batch of face masks.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Denise Eagan, owner of Eagan’s Alterations in Schenectady, picks out fabric for the next batch of face masks.

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See a need, fill a need. That’s what Denise Eagan has been doing for the past few weeks. 

The Schenectady resident owns Eagan’s Alterations and has been sewing most of her life. So when COVID-19 started spreading in the Capital Region and it became clear that masks might soon be in high demand, she immediately thought of all the fabric she had tucked away in storage.

“I thought, ‘What better way to get rid of it than make masks?’ ” Eagan said. 

Then she looked up a YouTube video on the basics of mask making and went to work. 

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“Mine are kind of different from the majority of masks that are being made because I have patterns for a pocket inside. We have HEPA filters going inside the pocket,” Eagan said. 

The HEPA filters are provided by All Brand Cleaners and Sewing Center in Schenectady, and once the masks have been worn the filters can be removed and the masks washed.  

Rising to the Challenge: Faces of the COVID-19 crisis in the Capital Region

Eagan offers the masks for free on her Facebook page and she’s been making at least a dozen a day for several weeks. Since Eagan’s Alterations closed to the public, she’s had more time to dedicate to the project. 

“I have the skills, I have the fabric and I know how to use YouTube,” Eagan said. 

Eagan is one of many in the Capital Region who have been working to sew masks for others.

 

The MoonCatcher Project, a Schenectady-based nonprofit organization, usually makes menstrual pads to help ensure that women in some of the world’s poorest regions can go to school.

Lately, they’ve switched to making masks. More than 250 volunteers have sewed and donated thousands of masks to people in the community, Ginger Ertz, a Niskayuna resident and MoonCatcher board member, told The Gazette in March. 

“This is a great project that we can do at home by ourselves.” 

Rising to the Challenge: Faces of the COVID-19 crisis in the Capital Region

Many quilters and sewers have also taken it upon themselves to start making masks for their friends and family since the Centers for Disease Control recommended people wear them while out shopping or running errands and Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated that all New Yorkers wear face coverings in public when they can’t social distance.

Local companies such as Schenectady’s Tough Traveler, which makes backpacks, fanny packs, etc., and GTS Clothing, a Ballston Spa-based company that specializes in designing and sewing athleisure wear, have pivoted to making and selling masks. 

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