RETAILERS such as Wonthaggi Fabrics and Beads in Graham Street and Leongatha Sew and Knit off the IGA carpark in Leongatha, might once have been considered olde worlde stores.

Although not among the knitters, sewers and crafty types.

If you wanted a ball, of wool that is, it’s no trouble at all, they’ve got it whatever the style is… to paraphrase A.A. Milne.

But a metre or two of fabric suitable for making masks, and a few lengths of elastic to go with it… well that’s an entirely different kettle of fish.

A reader of the Sentinel-Times phoned to say she bought the last few metres of elastic in the town earlier this week at Leongatha Sew and Knit, although more is expected in, and the same goes for Wonthaggi Fabrics and Beads.

“I sold 200 metres by lunchtime yesterday and opened another roll after lunch,”  said Kerryn Drennan at Wonthaggi Fabrics and Beads today.

“We do have a limited amount left, which we’ve been selling at 5 metres max but we have a shipment coming in later next week.

“We’re just pleased we have been able to supply local needs up until now to save them going to Melbourne and also to be able to supply the project, making masks, at Bass Coast Health.

“A volunteer team here and over on Phillip Island are doing that work right now, making 500 fabric masks for non-clinical and administration staff for Bass Coast Health.”

Kerryn was quick to point out the masks won’t be made out of the novelty cotton fabric in this photo (attached) but a DHHS/hospital grade fabric selected specially for the job.

“I can’t show you a piece of the fabric they chose but I expect the hospital will want to show what the volunteers have done when they’ve finished. It’s a great community effort. Our role was just supplying the fabric which we were delighted to be able to do locally,” said Kerryn.

It’s a project that has been two weeks in the planning and coordinating by staff at the health service and the local sewers have only been too happy to get involved.

That’s the spirit we need to beat this thing!

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown up many anomalies.

Like the inexplicable run on toilet paper, flour, spaghetti and some other non-perishable food items.

But who’d have thought it would put the old haberdashery store on the front line!

And in between cutting fabric and elastic there have been pairs of new dressmakers’ scissors got out, needles and even a few new sewing machines and overlockers.

It’s all about the drive to make face masks, scarves, bandanas and other face coverings for their reusable qualities and also after retailers sold out of surgical and N95 style masks.

And in the case of Wonthaggi Fabrics and Beads, the opportunity to supply the fabric and elastic to make 500 masks for non-clinical and administration staff at Bass Coast Health has been a pleasure.

The general demand for fabric locally isn’t about local people gearing up for a trip to Melbourne, under the new mask requirements in the metro area, well we hope not anyway, but a sign that many people have already switched on to the need to use masks in the local setting as well – up at the supermarket, when meeting friends, for work or whenever the social distancing requirement might be compromised.

It doesn’t, however mean we should stop the other safe practices of maintaining social distance, washing hands, disinfecting surfaces, isolating and getting tested if symptoms emerge and working from home where possible.