Up until about a week ago, Holly York Bartman made memory quilts.
Hand-crafted from favorite t-shirts, jerseys, and other clothing, the quilt business was a full-time venture for the Farmington resident. Then a friend who works for Beaumont Health contacted her with an idea.
“She said they were really low on masks,” Bartman recalled. “She was given one N95 mask for the week, and it didn’t fit her. She asked, is there any way you can make some?”
Together, the friends came up with a design, and Bartman got to work.
“I had the materials… that’s what quilters do, we collect fabric,” she said. “And I have industrial (sewing) machines that go very fast.”
A former partner in a business that made superhero capes for children, Bartman is geared for “assembly line” work. The first day, she made 50 masks. The second day, she cranked out 75, and then 100.
On Monday, she hit 1,000 masks. And as fast as she can make them, the masks are flying out the door. To date, seven hospitals have requested deliveries, and Bartman keeps a bin outside her front door stocked for friends who need them.
“I’ve recruited friends who I know have been quarantined,” she said. “They have started ironing for me, which is the most tedious job. I can make 250 to 300 masks a day with their help.”
Friends and supporters have also helped financially, with donations through Venmo and some left after they’ve picked up masks from the bin. Bartman said she uses every cent to buy more material and elastic bands.
The mask-making project will continue as long as it’s needed, even though other projects are on hold.
“I have a bunch of quilt orders,” Bartman said. “Everybody I contacted said keep making the masks.”
To learn more, visit Bartman’s Mi Chickadee Facebook page.
Correction: Holly Bartman’s last name was misspelled in the original version of this post.