Meet our Auntie Sanae! This picture was taken by Auntie Allison who is one of our caring Aunties during a socially distanced meeting they had. They were strangers to each other before the pandemic, but are friends now! We have a lot of friendships that have formed like this within our group.

Read Auntie Sanae’s sewing story:
“On March 31st, alarmed to learn how difficult it was for healthcare workers to find the protection they need to perform their work during the Covid19 pandemic, I looked for a way to help. I had lots of free time and nowhere to go so I decided I would sew masks. I warmed up my industrial machine that hadn’t been used in 20 years and got to work. I have been sewing masks every day since, inadvertently finding my forgotten happy place, my old comfortable sewing cocoon… I went to school for fashion design and worked in the industry for a few years before burning out and switching careers. I’ve been working as a creative in advertising agencies ever since. I would sew for myself and then later for my daughter in my free time but in the intervening years the time for sewing slipped away. I haven’t sewn for pleasure in years but for some reason (and fortuitously) I had my old machine refurbished just last summer.

Originally I found a small organization that was supplying handmade masks to local hospitals. They had very specific requests and although supplies were hard to come by I rose to the challenge, first making my own bias tape then later arranging elastic purchases like illicit drug deals on random corners in the city! It felt good to be doing something not only productive for myself but also filling in where the government was failing and keeping people safe! I would sew and sew and sew. Every day. I was in a sewing bubble. When I had a pile of masks ready I’d arrange a contactless pick-up.

Then a friend told me about the Aunties Sewing Squad she belonged to and my world changed (is that too melodramatic?) But really, rather than sewing in solitary confinement I suddenly belonged to a community. It was so wonderful to be virtually surrounded with like minded people but also be able to communicate with them and share knowledge and experiences.

And then there’s the whole Auntie Care aspect of the group… One day one of the Aunties offered me some soup (it was delicious). Later we discovered after we had commented on someone’s Facebook post that we were both recent widows. We shared our stories via text and then met up in person. I never expected that finding a friend would be a by-product of making masks! It’s amazing. So now not only am I making masks for the essential workers (those working in hospitals and medical centers and others) but also the vulnerable populations in shelters, detention centers, farms, and tribal nations. In between the masks I make to donate I also make ones for friends and family members to keep them safe and healthy. And I fantasize about the clothing I will make when the need for these masks finally dwindles…”