Face masks are the new must-have item as we adjust to living with Covid-19. And the sewing class in The Donahies Community School in Dublin 13 has been right on trend with its production of cotton face masks.
“During the lockdown and over the summer, most people made face masks for friends and family,” says sewing tutor Mary Coonan.
“With things in short supply and shops closed during the lockdown, people made do with what they had. They were able to make face masks from pieces of fabric that they had left over or collected over the years. So, there was a lot of upcycling and recycling.”
Mary is an experienced designer, and her sewing class is so popular that it runs on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights, along with Wednesday afternoons, Saturday mornings and Saturday afternoons.
Some of the facemasks made during lockdown by Donahies Sewing class participants
Upcycling, recycling, creativity
“People looked online for face mask patterns,” says Mary, who trained at The Grafton Academy of Dress Designing in Dublin. “And, during the lockdown, when people had time, they altered clothes using patterns again that they had time to research online. People got into the habit of using what they had.”
The pandemic also brought out people’s creativity and highlighted the value of the personal touch. “We had people making toys for children’s birthdays. When the restrictions were lifted, another woman made masks for her neighbours when she got to her holiday home – it was a great way of getting to know people. Others made bunting for events in people’s gardens.
“It was invaluable to be able to do something during the lockdown and to be doing something useful.”
Donahies Community School Sewing class participants made facemasks from friends and family.
Inspired by Covid-19
Classes start back in September and will be in line with Covid-19 guidelines. “We’re all getting used to social distancing but we’ll be able to deal with it because we want to be back. It will be different but we’ll manage it.”
The class is open to people of all sewing abilities and is a great way to destress. “No matter how bad the day, you’ll forget it when you start sewing!”
Mary’s always coming up with innovative ideas and, naturally, Covid-19 will inspire a lot of them. “I’m thinking of face masks for Hallowe’en and Christmas. And a bag with space for a hand sanitiser, a mask, and gloves. As gifts for children, we’re thinking of washable pencil cases, reusable and washable lunch bags made with oil cloth.
“We’ll concentrate on recyclable, reusable, and washable - everyone is moving away from the throwaway culture.” And that’s why this sewing class with its finger on the pulse will thrive.
You’ll find information about the night classes offered by The Donahies Community School on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or the Internet.