Stitchers Stop the Spread

Creative Stitches Workshop has facilitated the creation and donation of over 2,000 masks for distribution in underserved areas.

Stichers stop spread
Tasha Nettles is one of more than a dozen sewists that have contracted with Creative Stitches Workshop to make masks.

“Last winter I grabbed the most beautiful studio at North Art Studios in Peoria,” recalls Janice Zagardo, president of Creative Stitches Workshop (CSW), a new local nonprofit. “I roped in American Sewing Guild member Suzy Baker Bachman to sit on our board of directors, and we established 501(c)3 status. We outfitted the workshop with large cutting tables, comfortable couches, sewing stations and huge conference tables. The goal was to show off the new space to the public on First Friday, April 3.” 

While their vision for a “playground for fiber artists” was sidelined due to the pandemic, they watched as sewists around the world began sewing reusable, washable masks and donating them to friends, family and organizations. “We started to think about how we could multiply those efforts,” Zagardo explains. “Clearly it was unsafe to gather with any type of assembly-line fabrication, so we turned the workshop into a space to cut materials to create mask-making kits. We pay for materials and then we pay sewists to make masks in the safety of their own homes.”

With grant assistance from the Community Foundation of Central Illinois, CSW has contracted with more than a dozen sewists and donated over 2,000 masks to a range of organizations for distribution in underserved areas. Later this fall, thousands of additional masks will be needed. “The demand is escalating as the economy reopens and evidence confirms mask wearing can reduce the spread of COVID-19,” says Zagardo. “We can provide those masks if we have sufficient additional funding.”

With their founding vision on hold, CSW continues to raise funds for mask-making through a tax-deductible GoFundMe campaign. “Once it is safe to gather together again, we look forward to providing opportunities for people who love fiber arts to gather, share, learn and create,” Zagardo adds. To donate to the project, visit and search for “Creative Stitches Workshop.” PM

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