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Local Quilters Pivot to Facemasks

by Michael Boyink/

“Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”

The internet likes to attribute that quote to former US President Theodore Roosevelt.

It sounds like something he’d have said.

But it’s not.

The quote does come from his autobiography, but Roosevelt attributes it to one Squire Bill Widener, a millwright from Virginia.

No matter who spoke them first, they are wise words.

Especially in times where you might otherwise feel helpless. When the problem is too big for one person or group to solve.

Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.

The folks at Dogwood Quilting of Ava are doing just that.

Facemasks aren’t just in short supply.

They’ve been impossible to get. Even for the first responders and medical employees that dearly need them.

And with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)updating their position to now recommend Americans wear face masks when in public, the demand is even greater. 

But what’s a non-surgical facemask, other than some fabric and a bit of elastic?

Stuff any quilt shop would have.

“We started with 30 for the local nursing homes,” says Connie Sherrill of Ava’s Dogwood Quilting. “Then it was 20 for a nurse in Denver. Then 12 for a place in Springfield. After that 12 they called back with an order for 200.”

The quilters have had to adapt their design to use supplies that are still available.

“Elastic is the new toilet paper,” chuckles Connie. “So we started using hair bands for the ear pieces.”

Sherrill is quick to point out this isn’t a money-making venture for the store. 

“We’re just trying to help out by doing what we know how to do,” she said.

She was also quick to credit the others who’ve helped:

Janie Streight, Donna Alcorn, Cindy Wigham, Debbie Stone, Pat Henry, Linda Duncan, and Tanya Silvey.

Dogwood Quilting can be reached at 417-683-4700.

Facemask Tips

The CDC recommends that cloth face coverings should:

  • fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face
  • be secured with ties or ear loops
  • include multiple layers of fabric
  • allow for breathing without restriction
  • be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.
  • The CDC goes on to recommend that cloth facemasks should be washed routinely. A home washing machine should suffice in keeping the facemask sterile.

Facemask wearers should not touch their eyes, nose or mouth when removing a used facemask.

The CDC has instructions for both sew and no-sew face coverings online at:

DIY Disposable Facemasks

Blue shop paper towels have also proven popular as a source material for do-it-yourself facemasks. Some tests indicate that double-layers of blue shop towels held in a tight-fitting facemask can block 95% of particles, much better than simple cotton layers. 

View a tutorial for a shop-towel facemask on YouTube: