Rightfully Sewn Makes PPE Fashionable

Rs Fashion Mask

Rightfully Sewn’s fashion masks. // Photo by AP Visual

Over a decade ago, I met one of my best friends at a modern dance class while attending KU. I remember it was raining the very first day of class, and he arrived late with his soaking wet umbrella, giggling loudly, and apologizing for being tardy. I knew I had to be his friend. (I would like to note he completely aced the class, while I barely made it alive.) Fast forward to today: I’m blessed to still be best friends with one of the coolest guys making waves in Kansas City, Godfrey Riddle. Godfrey works at Rightfully Sewn, which provides seamstress training for individuals so they can thrive in a specialized workforce aiming to reestablish Kansas City as an epicenter of garment manufacturing, while at the same time, propelling Kansas City fashion designers to market so they can supply the burgeoning demand for high-quality, American-produced garments.

On March 24, Rightfully Sewn began its mask initiative and shifted its operations to produce 40,000 non-medical grade fabric masks to be donated to area hospitals to help protect frontline hospital workers. They are publishing patterns, fabric suggestions, and sewing instructions and asking for help from volunteers to sew non-medical grade fabric masks. Some hospitals are using this type of mask for non-COVID-19 patients in order to reserve N95 masks, while others are wearing them over the top of their N95 masks or under their face shields while working with COVID-19 patients because they are in “crisis capacity,” as described by the CDC in its Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks.

Hospital Mask 1

Donated hospital masks in the works. // Photo courtesy of Rightfully Sewn

Rightfully Sewn seeks support to purchase supplies and cover seamstress wages for nonmedical-grade fabric mask manufacturing in response to COVID-19. Masks will be donated to hospitals in need. Rightfully Sewn has confirmed mask needs and design preferences with Children’s Mercy, Liberty Hospital, North Kansas City Hospital, Saint Luke’s Health System Kansas City, and Truman Medical Center.

Hospital Mask 2

Dropping off donated masks. // Photo courtesy of Rightfully Sewn

Earlier this year, Godfrey underwent cancer treatment at the University of Kansas Health System (he is doing well). Individuals receiving chemotherapy are at high-risk for complications should they contract COVID-19. Though medical personnel at the University of Kansas Health System have sufficient N95 masks, they requested Rightfully Sewn provide fabric masks for each of their cancer patients. It costs less than $7 to produce one mask, and Rightfully Sewn’s seamstresses are paid a living wage with benefits. If you feel called to donate for masks needed for hospitals or for those patients receiving chemo, please visit RightfullySewn.org/donate.

Rightfully Sewn also plans to sell fashion masks to the public. They have considered the environment, every person involved in the fabric production process, their team members, and customers at every step. Fashion masks will be produced on a separate production line from the non-medical grade masks, and will be priced accordingly to fund the additional labor and material costs to create them. Learn more at RightfullySewn.org/Shop.

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