The Pontiac-based sewing outfit, Detroit Sewn, has announced that it has restructured its entire production operation to produce masks for workers in the healthcare field who are currently working to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. In operation since 2015, Detroit Sewn ran as a full contract sewing facility working to make home goods, pet products, and some industrial applications, but as of the past few weeks, they have been working in part with the Arsenal for Health Care in an effort to produce around 300,000 medical masks that will be donated to hospitals throughout Metro Detroit.
According to a press release, Detroit Sewn aims to produce 50,000 masks a week by adding a second shift for sewers, acquiring four more high-production sewing machines, as well as outsourcing work to seven additional Detroit-based subcontractor groups. At the moment, they are currently producing 10,000 masks a week.
“We were approached by a hospital group for the first order. It was a very immediate urgent need. So we jumped into it very quickly. We were fortunate that we had proper materials. And we knew how to be able to quickly make prototypes, the very same day, which the hospital group was able to take to clinicians and get approval on,” shared Karen Buscemi, CEO of Detroit Sewn, when asked about how they became involved with the Arsenal for Health Care effort.
These masks are not meant to replace the much needed N95 masks needed by medical professionals. These masks are meant to act as a reusable replacement to standard masks worn by patients and healthcare professionals.
“What’s important to know is these are not alternatives to N95 masks, nor are they alternatives for surgical masks, they are considered standard face masks. They would be the washable reusable fabric equivalent of the disposable paper masks you would see everybody else use in a hospital, including patients,” shared Buscemi, “So, our specifications is to use 100% cotton, with a tightly woven weave. It can be attached either with elastic or twill ties, and it has pleating so that it fits different size faces. It has a plastic-coated wire at the top to form around the nose, and no gaps between the mask and the face.”
In addition to the masks, Detroit Sewn has also teamed up with the Glamorous Moms Foundation to organize a volunteer hub to accept homemade masks. The work of home sewers will be placed into 10-packs for free distribution to non-hospital groups including senior centers, soup kitchens. The donated masks can also be given to first responders upon request and will be distributed curbside by volunteers in proper safety gear. Those interested in volunteering can find more info here.
Another component of the project launched by Detroit Sewn is being headed by G1 Impact, a 501(c)3non-profit fiscal sponsor, and it aims to acquire machinery to make the much needed N95 masks in the United States and also aims to purchase N95 masks in bulk from China. The goal is to strengthen the current supply of medical personal protective equipment [PPE] in the United States, as well as provide much-needed jobs to American workers.
At the moment, masks are being donated in orders of a minimum of 1,000, and are available to healthcare professionals. Any non-hospital organizations looking to order less than 1,000 masks can do so by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more information on the work being done to produce masks here at the Detroit Sewn website.