Excerpt from information Laurel sent her young students:

We are on lock down, of course. But not much has changed for us. Our son is working full-time from home as he is in publishing. He lives one mile from here and comes over. He and I have just made a video that shows how to mass-produce masks at home using fast, industrial procedures.

A sewn mask

A  mask sewn for CoverAid PHL.

I have to catch you both up on the latest Philadelphia fashion news: Members of the Philadelphia fashion industry are working as volunteers, making masks for CoverAid PHL. CoverAid PHL is home-based, factory organized.

I’m sewing up masks because I know factory production – all that matters is speed, as the Philadelphia medical community needs thousands.

Here’s how I’m using factory-production procedures to speed cutting and sewing the masks:

Chaining masks through to speed the work.

I’m sewing the masks at top speed, chaining through one mask right after the other to speed the work. The machine shown is a 260 Pfaff, manufactured in the 1950s for professionals to use at home. It combines home and industrial sewing machine features.

Remember how fussy I always am when I am showing you how to sew? You should see me sew now. This is factory production, like you have NEVER seen me sew. All of that fussyness is out the window. I’m steam-rolling these masks out at rapid fire. All that matters is that they function. Too busy to time my work, I estimate that, cutting time included, it takes me 10 minutes or less, total time, to produce one mask. See how I do it.

Laurel's studio s

Laurel’s studio showing masks in all stages of production.

Supplies: The amount of supplies needed are calculated before they are bought. For supplies I either call Fleishman’s on Fourth Street and they ship, or I order on line from Gaffneys in Germantown and my husband drives me there and I pick up.

Procedure: As I finish the masks I call my coordinator – tell her how many I have finished – she connects with someone else who picks up the packaged masks from my front doorstep, who then takes the finished masks directly to an assigned hospital. If I have questions about supplies or other production problems I email another coordinator and she finds out what I need to know.

Instructions: I wrote the instructions that are up online on the CoverAid PHL website, My son and I are making a how-to-video for the organization. Hopefully we will have the video finished this weekend. It will then be approved before it goes up on the CoverAid PHL website.

feather-weight-sewing-machine

The video Andrew and Laurel Hoffmann are making features a feather-weight sewing machine manufactured in 1941. All it does is sew forward and back. Why are they using this machine? To show that ANY sewing machine can be used with industrial sewing procedures.

Note: The video shows the masks being sewn on Laurel’s feather-weight sewing machine. That way anyone watching the video will know that, no matter what sewing machine they have, it can be used with industrial sewing procedures. Demonstrating on a feather-weight makes it easy for the viewer to understand how to sew the same procedures on their personal sewing machine.

A little history:  Laurel worked in the industry in the late sixties and early seventies as a production patternmaker/grader/layout artist/fit model. The factories were going off-shore. When Laurel retired from industry she began writing and diagramming the industrial skills she had learned in industry to preserve them. She knew that some day those skills would be needed again. Unfortunately this crisis is proving that to be so.

© Laurel Hoffmann, 2020.

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