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Durango sewing boutique puts needles, thread to work for first responders

250 gowns and over 600 masks donated to medical professionals
A stack of more than 600 completed face masks to be donated to local medical personnel with materials and patterns provided by Stitch.

A Durango sewing and quilting boutique may be closed to in-person customers, but that hasn’t stopped employees and loyal patrons from putting their needles and thread to work for first responders battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Stitch, near the north end of downtown Durango, has been helping to provide protective medical supplies by providing patterns, materials and instructions to a team of volunteers working to sew cloth face masks and protective gowns, said owner LeeAnn Vallejos.

Stitch is part of a growing movement of businesses and volunteers stepping up to help produce medical supplies that are in short supply. Personal protective equipment, such as masks, gowns and gloves are in high demand as supply chains break down under the coronavirus outbreak. Local hospitals Mercy Regional Medical Center and San Juan Regional Medical Center have begun asking the community for donations of supplies, including handmade face masks.

To help streamline the mask-making process, Stitch created kits with all of the parts needed to create a mask, including the donated materials, written instructions and a link to an instructional video. The kits are in batches of 10 or 18 masks and are provided by the store free to anyone who wants to volunteer to sew them. The store is asking people to pick up or drop off completed kits from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday at its back door, 153 E. 15th St.

Tyvek protective gowns donated to Mercy Regional Medical Center. Stitch, a Durango sewing business, donated the materials and pattern to people who volunteered to sew.
A completed Tyvek protective gown sewn with material donated by Stitch and provided to Mercy Regional Medical Center.

Vallejos is also providing the patterns for masks and gowns and recruiting for more rotating volunteers at the store’s website.

Stitch also partnered with the MakerLab to create patterns to make Tyvek protective gowns. Vallejos estimated 250 gowns for emergency room doctors were produced, with the help of Fort Lewis College. Last week, Stitch had about 40 volunteers pick up the medical gown kits, which were returned a few days later and delivered to hospital personnel in the area.

After the initial delivery of gowns, the production is on hold until more Tyvek, or a replacement material, can be found and purchased.

To date, more than 150 volunteers have signed up to help assemble the donated fabric into sewing kits and to help sew the masks. Vallejos also estimates more than 750 completed masks out of 1,000 kits distributed have already been returned. Throughout the process, Stitch has emphasized the masks and gowns are meant for medical personnel only.

With the mask and gown kits, Stitch estimates it has donated hundreds of yards of fabric to help create the personal protective equipment provided to local groups and outlying communities asking for materials and kits.

To help offset the cost, the store asks community members to help by buying fabric from the store to be donated to the kits. People can purchase online at stitchonline.net by the yard, and the fabric will be cut and added to the next round of face mask kits being assembled.


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