Seamstress, sewing community step up to fill a need

Susanna Makinson’s daughter Sasha takes her turn at the sewing maching making face masks for health care workers.

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

Face masks have been found to be in short supply across the country as the current health crisis has increased the demand. The Center for Disease Control has stated that disposable masks are recommended, but that during times of crisis, homemade face masks are acceptable.

Franklin resident Susanna Makinson has been sewing for as long as she can remember. In recent years, she has made children’s clothes and toys under the shop name “The Little Blue Barn” and sold them both locally and online. When emergency personnel across the nation began expressing a need for surgical masks to stay protected in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Makinson knew she wanted to help. 

“A friend of mine works in a respiratory clinic in Boston and she told me they were running low on masks last week,” said Makinson. “Then my sister-in-law told me the hospitals in Toledo needed masks. So I figured this was a small thing I could do.” 

Makinson and her husband Jonathan have six children ages 15 to 3. She has stepped back from her shop to focus on their homeschooling and sewing just for her family – but knows there was a need and she had the ability to help, she wanted to do just that. 

“It’s important for people to come together and do what they can…even if it feels small,” said Makinson. “Our healthcare workers are like our soldiers right now. They need all the help we can provide them.”

While Makinson is leading the effort, she said her friends and neighbors have also signed on to help – something desperately needed due to the high demand. 

“The sewing community has really stepped up to provide free patterns for these masks and tutorials online,” said Makinson. “Lots of other sewers are making these. I’ve had people donate fabric and supplies too. It’s been heartwarming to see the response.”

Since starting a few days ago, Makinson has made 65 masks and averages about 10 a day in her home, with the help of her family. She said that as of right now, she doesn’t have a set goal and doesn’t plan to stop making them.

“I’ll just keep going until there seems to be enough I guess,” she said.

While helping family and friends working around the country in the health care professionals, Makinson is also making masks for local professionals with employees at Angel Medical Center reaching out for supplies. For as many people who need help – Makinson has seen an equal number of community members eager to help. 

“Lots of people are interested it seems,” said Makinson. “But only two or three people I know are actually able to do the sewing. It’s very easy though.”

The Center for Disease Control has safety guidelines to follow for face masks and while disposable masks are recommended, even the CDC has stated that during times of crisis, such as the shortage of face masks currently occurring, homemade masks are acceptable. 

To join Makinson in her efforts, email her at