Using needle, thread, and a sense of fashion
to help in the war against COVID-19
by AMANDA LISK | photography by ALLISON POTTER
IN 1914, the popular tongue twister “Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts
for Soldiers” depicted the importance of seamstresses in the
war effort. “Susie on her Singer” became a mantra for those
providing much-needed clothing to troops during World War I.
World War II again called on sewers as demand for military
uniforms caused a nationwide shortage of fabric. On Feb. 17, 1942,
some 800 fashion industry rep-resentatives
led by H. Stanley
Marcus of Neiman Marcus met
at Manhattan’s Hotel Astor to
figure out how to help.
In 2020 we’ve experienced a
different kind of war — a war
on COVID-19. The troops on
the front lines are the medical
workers in the hospitals, and
our version of a fabric short-age
was for face masks.
From all parts of the
nation, private industry from
large to small stepped up
to meet the need.
New Hanover Regional
Medical Center posted
requests for face masks on their website along with a YouTube
tutorial on how to make them from home. The JOANN Fabric and
Craft Store in Wilmington handed out free mask-making kits to
anyone willing to stitch in for a good cause.
“Every day we gave away kits able to make 10 masks each,” says
Lynn Ethridge, the store’s inventory coordinator. “Many of our cus-tomers
have made hundreds of masks. One customer made over
Above: An American Red Cross poster, created by Wladyslaw
T. Benda and issued in 1918, encourages women to help the war
effort with their sewing skills. Opposite: Husband-and-wife
team Sergey and Lesley Tamaev make cloth face masks from
the Rove and Roam studio in downtown Wilmington.
july 2020 22