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Fabric, sewing skills in high demand as Moree residents turn to homemade masks

BUSY: Nola Kite has been busy making face masks and trolley covers, while Sylvia's Fabrics owner Sylvia Broderick has been flat-out selling material and elastic to people to make their own masks. She's preparing to send a second batch of fabric (pictured) to Melbourne for 500 masks to be made.
BUSY: Nola Kite has been busy making face masks and trolley covers, while Sylvia's Fabrics owner Sylvia Broderick has been flat-out selling material and elastic to people to make their own masks. She's preparing to send a second batch of fabric (pictured) to Melbourne for 500 masks to be made.

If it wasn't for selling ready-made curtains, Sylvia Broderick from Sylvia's Fabrics and Accessories would have shut shop years ago.

However, a resurgence in the number of people dusting off their sewing machines lately to make in-demand face masks has seen Sylvia busier than ever over the past few weeks.

"It's gone mad," Sylvia said.

"I'm in the process of sending my second lot of fabric to Melbourne to be made into 500 masks.

"People have been coming in and buying everything they need to make a mask - the fabric and elastic. I've even been cutting the pattern off for them if they need it.

"I put away 71 rolls of fabric yesterday before I even opened the shop.

"This just shows some good comes out of bad things."

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With masks now mandatory in Victoria to limit the spread of coronavirus and people in NSW encouraged to wear a mask if social distancing is impossible, the demand for the face coverings has surged over the past week.

And with many pharmacies in limited supply and the cost of buying disposable surgical masks unaffordable for most people, many have turned to making their own.

Even in Moree, more locals have turned to making their own homemade masks, rather than spending money buying disposable ones, Sylvia said.

"I've had a lot of people come in that I haven't seen for years," Sylvia said.

"It's something they can manage."

One of Sylvia's former employees, Nola Kite has been busy making masks and even trolley covers for relatives, friends and for the Moree Visitor Information Centre to sell.

Some of the masks Nola has made recently, as well as a trolley cover.

Some of the masks Nola has made recently, as well as a trolley cover.

Nola, who has been sewing since she was a young girl, began making masks a few months ago when the pandemic first started.

"I made about 10 originally and gave them to a lady who does physio - she wanted some," Nola said.

Since then Nola has made about 50 masks, mostly for friends and family.

"I made some for my great grandchildren and embroidered them with animal faces," she said.

She said it only takes about 10 minutes to make a mask.

Nola said she is happy to make masks for anyone who is interested. If you would like to order a mask, call Sylvia at Sylvia's Fabrics on 6752 2844 and she can point you in the right direction.