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Local sewist designing masks during COVID-19 pandemic

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Leslie Smith works on masks at her sewing studio called the Pajama Factory Sewcial Circle Friday. Smith, who is a retired dental hyginist of 35 years, considers herself as a "sewist" or an artist who sews. Smith currently is taking a break from her passion of "thread painting" or creating beautiful pictures on clothing to sew masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Smith has made over 600 masks so far patients of doctors offices as well as an eldercare in Massachusetts.

Leslie Smith, a “sewist” and retired dental hygienist, has made over 400 double layer cotton masks from her personal sewing studio in the Pajama Factory and given them to locals, health care workers and others in need of a facial covering.

“I always knew how important the masks were to keep me and the patients safe,” Smith said of her days as a dental hygienist. “It was natural for me to use my knowledge.”

Smith described herself as a “sewist,” a relatively new term that combines the words “sew” and “artist” to describe someone who creates sewn works of art.

The sewist is producing and designing these masks in her studio and working daily to meet the needs of people who need to be covered during the outbreak.

“I am trying to keep up with it,” she said.

She added that she uses a method to produce them in mass quantities including making them in a long line and then cutting each apart.

She makes each mask with two layers of cotton and a flannel lining.

“If everyone wore a mask, it would dramatically help stop the spread of the virus,” she said.

Additionally, Smith has found a common size that fits most people but she also makes a child’s size for more petite people and children who need to go out with parents.

“I see my job to cover as many faces properly as I can,” Smith said.

Smith is also providing contact-less pick up for the masks after ordering through her on Facebook.

She said that anyone who orders masks may go to her studio where she will leave it outside the door in a bag with the person’s name on it.

She also said that these masks may be washed and worn over again. She said that you can take off the mask, put it in a plastic bag with hydrogen peroxide or Lysol and let it sit for 10 or so minutes and then throw it in the washer and dryer like normal.

Her hopes with these masks is that those who are in need may get them and be properly covered like the CDC and other agencies suggest to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

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