Sewing with Compassion
Sewing with Compassion
When Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper directed DoD personnel to wear cloth face coverings when they can’t maintain six feet of social distance at work, people at the Defense Media Activity in Riverside, California, were already wearing them.
That’s because a big-hearted woman with extraordinary sewing skills took the initiative to make them. Broadcast journalist Rolla Suttmiller sewed 160 cloth masks in a few days for her comrades, friends and neighbors …at no cost. She started making them last week when Riverside county mandated all essential service workers wear a cloth face covering as a COVID-19 pandemic preventative measure.
“I wanted to do it to protect myself at first,” said Suttmiller. “Then I got a call from someone from work with an urgent request for masks for people in the building. “I made 31 in four hours and brought them over the same day.
Suttmiller has been sewing since she’s 12, does crafts all the time and belongs to a multitude of sewing and crafts groups.
“I compiled a bit from all of them and did my own design with three layers,” she explained. “If you go to the CDC web site you’ll see they recommend a high weave cotton. You want that for breathability. But there are still tiny little holes in it. What I did is I have the decorative outer layer, a white layer that touches your face and a middle layer called interfacing. It’s made of something denser that doesn’t let light transfer through.”
She decided to sew scores of masks because of three factors. “I have thousands of pounds of fabric on hand. I have the skill. And three, it would be immoral of me to not to put the two of these together and make them for people.”
Suttmiller sews compassion into every mask she stitches.
“Those custom made masks, made with such attention to detail with an assembly line of just her are spectacular,” said co-worker Roy Mason.
Jordana Jacobs, a television master control supervisor, laughed and said, “She’s really got those Suzy Homemaker skills down…and I love the design!”
Suttmiller is continuing to make masks, already fielding improved versions with a narrow elastic band. One version has elastic loops that go over the ears, and another type ties behind the head.
While Suttmiller crafts face masks for teammates, she also continues to serve the overseas military, DoD civilians and their family members. Suttmiller is a senior editor, creating quality television messages informing viewers what’s airing when on American Forces Network (AFN) Television. AFN serves Americans serving in 168 different countries and territories and 200 U.S. Navy ships afloat around the world.
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