Libby Sutherland wanted to help fill the need for personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I decided I had to do something because I couldn’t sew, so I created this Facebook group,” Sutherland said.
She immediately met fellow Noblesville resident Mindy Riley, an administrator and co-founder of the Hamilton County Indiana Mask Brigade.
“She was able to put her skills, not just sewing, but marketing, to get things out,” Sutherland said. “Within a couple of days, we had 250 people. By 3 1/2 weeks, we have over 1,200 that are registered. We have members whose entire families are part of the (assembly line) chain. We have people who get material, people that cut the material, people that sew the masks, we have people that cut the ties and elastic so our sewers can just sew. “
Volunteers pick up and drive parts to different homes.
“Our motivation to start this was because we thought a lot of this could be curtailed if we could protect our people out on the front lines,” Riley said. “When there was a shortage of the N95 mask, we starting making an N95 cover.”
The group follows The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety methods for producing the items.
“We have 3-D (printers) and we need a lot more of them that are printing face shields,” Sutherland said.
The group has made deliveries to the Noblesville Fire Dept. and plans deliveries to other fire departments as well.
“The mother of a Westfield firefighter said what they really needed was barrier gowns,” Sutherland said. “It’s a single-time use if they are in (contact) with someone who might be infectious.”
Jenna Bowling at Costumes by jelebobo in Zionsville created the pattern for the barrier gown for paramedics and assists members with sewing instructions.
In addition, Sutherland said requests are starting to come from doctors’ offices and hospitals for cloth masks for their patients.
“We (will) feel the need for personal use once we step back into things at the end of the curve flattening,” Riley said. “We might want to wear masks once we get back in the swing of going around people again.”
Sutherland said the group has partnered with fabric stores to help them receive business while they offer a discount or donations to obtain more materials.
Always in Stitches in Noblesville, Adkins Draperies and Blinds in Westfield and Griffon Decorative Fabrics in Carmel have helped supply the fabrics.
An official Hamilton County Indiana Mask Brigade T-shirt is available for purchase, with proceeds going to a fabric store purchase.
There is a need for more volunteers as well as items such as 54-inch by 108-inch vinyl tablecloths, stretchy headbands, 1/4-inch-wide elastic, 1-inch buttons, quilting fabrics by the yard, transparencies for face shields, PLA or PETEG plastic for 3-D printers and double-stick tape with paper backing.
People not on Facebook can join by emailing email@example.com.
Riley’s daughters, Megan, Kate and Madison Riley, are all helping to sew, cut and button bands. They are Girl Scouts who will receive Emergency Relief Fund patches.
“Anybody who is in need of (protective wear), we try to cover as many people as we can,” Noblesville High School sophomore Madison Riley said.
Mindy Riley said they don’t allow people to purchase masks or gowns, but they are welcome to donate items
Sutherland’s children, Noblesville senior Alec Firanek (distribution preparation) and Noblesville junior Ellie Firanek (photos and videos), also assist.
Noblesville residents Sabrina Radke and Denise Woolen and Fishers resident Nicole Bachus are part of the group’s administrators.