Who wants to hear a story? (It's long but has a happy ending)
Late last Monday, I received a call from a friend and local ER doctor, Dr. Garrett Sutter. Like hospitals around the country, his ER staff was running out of gowns to treat Covid19 patients, and asked for help creating makeshift isolation gowns.
After expressing the urgency of the situation, Dr. Sutter dropped off a disposable gown for me to understand what they needed. Together with my family, we brainstormed how to make this. Friends dropped off rolls of building paper (Tyvek) we thought we could use. At 10pm that night, I dropped off two samples: one made from Tyvek and one from lightweight muslin fabric.
From making these two samples, we knew that Tyvek was too noisy and not flexible enough; muslin too thin. We thought garbage bags would be a good option but didn’t want the plastic waste. Heavyweight fabric was the best option: expensive but durable enough to be sterilized and reused over and over again. After that, the design came together quickly and I sewed a single makeshift gown sample.
Dr. Sutter took the samples the next morning to the hospital and consulted with admin, doctors, and ICU nurses. After their input & recommendations, we revised our pattern. With an approved pattern in hand, they now wanted hundreds of gowns made as soon as possible. What?
I have a small sewing studio for The Patchwork Bear, but we aren’t able to produce hundreds of gowns- we make memory bears! It was a challenge to find a cut/sew manufacturer that wasn’t closed due to the coronavirus pandemic– until I found Switlik Survival Products. As a military contractor, they were deemed essential and more importantly, OPEN! They agreed to help sew the gowns with us. Yay!
Now all we needed were the fabric & materials, in stock and available for immediate delivery. Large fabric companies were quoting 6-8 weeks before we could get the fabric. That would be too late.
After more phone calls and a bit of luck, I found a few small NJ businesses who could supply our materials– and deliver them quickly.
I'm so excited to share that thanks to all these local businesses, today– just 7 days after the ER staff tried on our first sample gown, we will be able to deliver the first batch of isolation gowns to the hospital and expect to produce hundreds more that are needed in the coming weeks!
Thanks for taking the time to read my little story. Please support small businesses- we need you now more than ever. xo- Jen Cura, The Patchwork Bear
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