Woman who sewed face masks during pandemic creates quilt for Lynnwood salon

Sharron McAllister, who sewed masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, repurposed unused fabrics to sew a quilt for the owners of Salon Celebrations in Lynnwood.

A woman who sewed face masks during the pandemic has found a new hobby: quilting using leftover face mask patterns. One of those quilts has ended up on the wall of a Lynnwood hair salon.

In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit its stride, Sharron McAllister said she wanted help. When health officials advised the public to wear face masks to curb the spread of the virus, McAllister — a Bothell resident — grabbed her sewing machine and got to work.

“When COVID first started there was a (mask) shortage and I was just trying to think of ways I could contribute,” she said.

Initially, McAllister – a retired bus driver for the Northshore School District – said she planned to return to driving as a substitute. After speaking with her daughter-in-law – a physician’s assistant – about the face mask shortage, she thought of another way to help.

“In the news, that’s all we heard about was the shortage of masks,” she said. “I initially began making some for (my daughter-in-law) but they couldn’t wear the cloth masks at the hospital.”

Instead, McAllister began sewing masks for those who could not find any due to the shortage and found a distributor in Kerry and Judy Smith, who own Salon Celebrations in Lynnwood. McAllister – a long-time salon customer – said the Smiths asked her for masks which they sold in their store.

“We sold hundreds of her masks,” said Kerry Smith.

The masks were not only a success at the salon. McAllister also made them for North Shore bus drivers, former neighbors at the apartment complex where she previously lived in Edmonds as well as family and friends. She also donated some to a local blood bank and a doctor’s office. McAllister stressed that she was not in it for the money and that she was just glad to have something to do with her down time during the pandemic.

“I enjoy sewing and I enjoy giving stuff away,” she said. “I’m not a very good businesswoman.”

However, McAllister said the salon remained her best customers and the money she received from the Smiths allowed her to purchase the fabrics and other materials for the masks. McAllister said some of the most popular masks included sports logos, like Seahawks and Kraken, and holiday patterns. Some masks, she said, were customized for people with hearing aids and another for one of her sons who had a long beard.

When selecting fabrics, McAllister chose patterns she said were meaningful to her or popular with mask wearers.

When choosing fabrics, McAllister said she selected patterns meaningful to her, like those for St. Patrick’s Day – the day she got married – and one with heart monitors, which she said was special to her after previously undergoing a triple-bypass surgery.

After the initial pandemic wave and things had settled a bit, McAllister said she wanted to thank the Smiths for their support. So she made a quilt with unused mask patterns. Before that, McAllister said she’d only ever made a baby quilt but she was up to the challenge.

“This was just a way to use a lot of the scraps and I always wanted to make a quilt,” she said.

Among the repurposed fabrics are embroidered pieces with health and safety guidelines repeated during the pandemic like “Elbow Bump” and “Mask Up.” One piece also recalls the toilet paper shortage and reads “Toilet Paper Anyone??”

“This just meant a lot to make it for Kerry and Judy because they kept me busy,” she said.

The project sparked an interest in quilting for McAllister, who has since made several more quilts that will be holiday gifts for each of her family members. She also recently took a quilting class, which she described as overwhelming but still enjoyable.

“It pushed me to challenge myself and to learn it,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed teaching myself how to learn new things.”

Those interested in a custom face mask can email McAllister at schoolbus23@comcast.net.

— Story and photos by Cody Sexton

 

  1. I’m a quilter and most of the people including me don’t want to go back to masks or even have reminders of this terrible time. Why would you want to work on something and spend so much time to keep reminding people of a very hard time in history…..people are still suffering from the effects of isolation…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.