“Half of Fauquier County is wearing my masks,” joked Erin Beauchamp of New Baltimore, as she sat at her sewing machine in the basement of her home.
Since April 3, when the Centers for Disease Control began recommending the use of non-medical-grade masks in public to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Beauchamp has been producing masks for anyone who needs them.
She had made 1,787 by noon on April 27. “Today I’ll break 1,800 for sure,” she said, adding she can make about 100 in a day.
Some masks go to specific organizations – she was planning to take 350 to Fauquier Hospital on Monday – and some are picked up by friends, neighbors and passersby at the end of her driveway, where Beauchamp hangs masks on clotheslines each day, so long as it’s not raining.
Beauchamp, a former professional seamstress, runs a day care and teaches sewing out of her home. Her day care business has struggled recently. “I’ve lost most of my income due to the pandemic,” she said.
When the CDC began recommending everyone wear a mask in public, “I said, ‘All right, I can sew, I have some fabric,’” she said, later summing up her situation with a smile: “I have the skills and I have the time.”
Her new sewing operation is set up in what is usually a classroom for her day care. “My play dough should be right here!” she laughed, pointing to the table now used for her sewing machine.
Beauchamp said she has paid for someof the material herself, but most of her efforts are made possible by donations of fabric or funds to purchase fabric. Quilting fabric that is 100% cotton is the best material for masks, she said.
The designs on the donated fabric sometimes make her smile – she was sewing cloth imprinted with a Christmas-themed pattern on Monday. “Sometimes it’s a really fun surprise to see what’s going to be out on the line.” In an April 24 Facebook post she referenced a picture of one of her masks emblazoned with graphics from the Doctor Strange comic. “I really hope a doctor with a sense of humor gets the Doctor Strange mask,” adding a tongue-sticking-out-face emoji.
Donations for the purchase of material can be made via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org or at the mask pickup site, at the 6700 block of Kelly Road, Warrenton.
Reach Coy Ferrell at email@example.com