Time for PPE Update!

Well here it is May already!

We were hoping to take this quarantine time to get a few projects done around the store, but that soon went by the wayside when we received requests to coordinate and sew personal protective equipment.  Tidewater hospice requests have been filled.  A huge thank you to all the willing volunteers who cut and cut and cut more isolation gowns from the fabric we provided.  We started with 400 yds of muslin, then 400 yds of seersucker, and 400 yds of a printed fabric.  We were able to purchase the muslin and seersucker at a very good price from Marshall and Robert Kaufman; the printed fabric was provided by Tidewater.  After the pattern pieces were cut, they came back to us and we assembled the gowns into "kits" by adding the neckline bias tape, elastic for sleeves, and twill tape for the ties.  Again, many thanks to Sam, LeRoy, Irene, Mary, and the two Teresas for all the hours spent in packing up fabric and patterns to hand out to gown cutters.  Tidewater lined up the seamstresses who zipped through the gown kits.  We were able to provide more than 250 gowns to distribute among their 8 locations.  

It hasn't stopped yet!  We now are trying to get some gowns to All Childrens Hospital in Tampa.  If you are willing to sew we have dozens of gown kits assembled and ready to hand out to seamstresses or anyone who can sew them.  Serger sewing is a great and fast way to finish the seams.

Next on the list is a request for scrub caps and headbands for Sarasota Memorial.  We have the fabric cut, just need someone to help sew them.  If you can help with this project, call 941-330-0993 and talk to Teresa who is coordinating that effort.

Now for the face masks.  I have heard individuals say we no longer need face masks - I guess that is the impression because Tidewater's need was fulfilled.  But we need them more than ever!  Since Tidewater we have provided masks to doctors offices, chiropractor offices, senior centers, neighbors, restaurant carry-out workers, and Red Cross volunteers.  We will not sell masks since they were stitched by volunteers as well as ourselves.  Much of the fabric and elastic to sew them was donated by Alma Sue's.  Initially we gave away about 1,000 yds of elastic and bolts of fabric to make face masks.  We are down to about a dozen face masks.  Irene and I spent the last 3 days sewing masks all day so some restaurant workers can have them as they open for business again.  This will be an ongoing need.  Thank you to all those sewing folks who made the masks and brought them back to Alma Sue's. 

Good news!  The Atwood rope company in Chesterfield Ohio is now making elastic - Go Buckeyes!  Numerous other sites are also making elastic for face masks.  So now there is an abundance of imported elastic available online and their price has dropped.  What is in shorter supply is elastic Made in the USA!  I located several sources so hopefully we will always have USA-made elastic available.  Next Monday we will have black and blue colors as well as white.  The elastic made here is a soft knitted type that doesn't chafe the ears. 

To summarize the PPE needs:
Isolation gowns:   seamstress needed to sew kits (cut and assembled)
Surgical caps:   seamstress needed to sew caps and headbands
Face masks:  seamstress needed to make face masks.  For masks that come back to Alma Sue's we will give you the elastic and fabric!  Any pattern is ok.  Personally I favor the one given by Tidewell and approved by the Dept. of Health because it doesn't pull on the ears and looks neat and professional.  It is also faster to sew that pattern than the accordion pleated mask.  If you need the this pattern email me and I will send it to you.  (EllaMillerToy@AOL.com)

Yes, we will give you free of charge the elastic and fabric necessary to make face masks if they come back to Alma Sue's.  We will not hand out supplies free of charge if you are making face masks to sell!  
I know its been a great opportunity to start up a cottage business, what with the masks selling on Etsy from $12-35, and that is great!  Our goal right now is to get the masks to those in need and to those who don't sew.

A group of dedicated volunteers started the Sarasota Manatee Community Response Team (SMCRT) - check out their activities on FaceBook.  An army of seamstresses, quilters, delivery people, etc. volunteer their time to make face masks for hospitals and anyone who needs them.  We donated bolts of fabric to their efforts, as have other quilt shops in the area.  They take orders for masks in volume.

Yes, we are open to the public.  Right now open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday from 10-3 pm.  Social distancing is easy in our large 4300 sq ft space.  Wear a mask if you wish.  Sanitizer is available at the register.  If you have a pickup and wish to stay outside, just call and we will deliver it to you.  
Daily we are in the shop quilting, shipping online orders, and sewing.  If you need help with a quilt or want to shop other than the hours above, just call and we will be happy to assist you.  

So how has this quarantine impacted any and all business in general?  A commentator said the following:  "Many stores were in the 7th inning; the quarantine just pushed them to the bottom of the 9th."

My guess is that business has changed forever - probably was on the way to this end, but quarantine just made it happen faster.  Amazon is the new department store, selling whatever you can imagine, just like the Sears Catalogue.  Once on the Amazon website it is easy to just click on whatever you need instead of getting offsite and onto another one - literally from soup to nuts and bolts.  They sell pharmacy, hardware and tools, fabrics and quilting supplies, electronics, clothing, and groceries and whatever you can think of. . . .there it is.  What is the guess for retail quilt shops?  The next several months will tell the story.

For the time being Thursday open sewing is cancelled until further notice.
We will hold the One Block Wonder class in late May or June.  No classes are scheduled beyond that time as of now.  
Community supplies are no longer available for classes.  Each student must bring own sewing machine, ruler, rotary cutter, seam ripper, scissors, small iron, etc.  Sanitizer is available to clean your items at the shop, before and after class if desired.  Nitrile gloves are available for your use. 

Friday the staff is doing a SWOT analysis of the business to see how it has changed in the past year and especially the past 6 weeks.  Then we will move forward with recommendations as to how we proceed for the rest of the year.  Hopefully we can accomplish a few projects this summer that were sidelined in the last month!