Flat out and inundated.
Both Taree Craft Cottage and Deborah Atkins from Milligans Shower Screens in Taree and Forster say they have been unable to keep up with the demand for reusable face masks over the past few weeks as people seek to protect themselves and others from COVID-19.
Deborah began making reusable masks back in April, but it was only in the past two to three weeks that demand has really started to peak.
"In April I started making them and playing around with style and design and making prototypes. I threw a few in the bin because they were no good," she said.
Once Deborah had masks ready she had them sitting at the Milligans stores in Taree and Forster (she works at the Forster store) and while she sold a few, she thought perhaps it wasn't going to take off.
"About two or three weeks ago I started making them again. I thought, no, this is what we need. I put a little article up on Facebook and have been inundated.
"On Saturday the phone was pinging every five minutes. I had to put it on silent - I needed to sew."
Deborah said she has been fully booked up with orders and has been working to fill them.
On Saturday the phone was pinging every five minutes. I had to put it on silent - I needed to sew!Deborah Atkins
"I work here at Milligans full time and (sewing) is my hobby I do after work. I love it. People are coming in and saying how comfortable they are. People are even buying them and sending them to family in Melbourne. They're going everywhere."
She's making at least 40 a night and over the weekend made more than 100 and is still working towards filling orders.
"I have about 60 orders. I've been flat out. It's wonderful."
Formerly a sewing teacher, Deborah went to Sydney Teachers College. Sewing has always been her hobby.
"Lock me in my sewing room and I'm in my happy place. There's not one thing I don't love about it. It's brilliant."
She said she honed her skills over many years, especially when she was a single mum and would do piece work, for example, making board shorts for 50 cents.
"You cut out once, make one more. I've got a system going."
Her face masks are made of cotton, are fully washable and she does sizes for adults and children.
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The smaller adult size (generally a size for women) has been good for people with glasses.
Deborah said had been a demand for black and navy masks but she had made a few pretty ones too.
"Black does look smart... but I don't want the face masks to be a barrier. You can protect yourself but be friendly at the same time. They can be an expression of your personality."
Masks are $10 each and are selling out quickly. On Monday this week two stores had sold them all by 10am.
"I recommend you preorder because if you aren't here first thing, they're gone.
We're putting on an extra lady. We're running out every day. This will be ongoing and people can place orders.Pam Eyb, Taree Craft Centre.
"It's good. People are looking to protect people when they go out in public, and if you have to wear them, it has to be comfy."
Milligans is located in Muldoon Street, Taree, and Kularoo Drive, Forster.
Taree Craft Centre is struggling to keep up with demand as well.
"We have five ladies sewing now," the centre's Pam Eyb said this week.
"We're putting on an extra lady. We're running out every day. This will be ongoing and people can place orders.
"They're doing a very brisk business."
The ladies are making them at home for sale through the craft centre, located on the corner of High and Pulteney Streets in Taree.
"It's bringing a lot of people in and it's only going to increase," Pam said.
"We have two different styles and we're bringing in a third, which is what the fifth lady will be doing. A shaped face mask."
Of the masks that have been selling already, Pam said one had a pocket where you could put in your own layer, an extra filter, like paper towel or a coffee filter or a "wet one".
The other is three ply, made with three layers of cotton fabric.
"They are all pure cotton, which is more comfortable for people to wear. They seem to be what people want. We've got a couple of different styles."
The Taree Craft Centre has been making the masks for three weeks now. Both adults and children's sizes are available.
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All the adult masks are $12 and the children's masks are $10.
The Nabiac Nook is also selling handmade face masks. If you would like any custom made you can contact Jenny Fletcher on 6554 1201, who is donating all profits to the Mid Coast Quilters (which donates hundreds of handmade quilts a year to charitable causes, but relies on fundraising money to purchase wadding etc).
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