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Fashion face masks for sale at a small shop in Alkmaar, the Netherlands. Photo by Shelley Anderson.Fashion face masks for sale at a small shop in Alkmaar, the Netherlands. Photo by Shelley Anderson.Face masks are everywhere. At the beginning of the pandemic the news was full of how sewers and quilters around the world had rallied to produce face masks for medical staff, care givers and others.

Newspapers, including the prestigious New York Times, printed sewing instructions on how to make a face mask from a T-shirt, or from tea towels and shoe laces. Instagram posted photographs of brides wearing lovely satin and lace face masks. Fashion designers, including big names like Dior, were making chic face masks with bows and rhinestones, in a variety of colours to match with different outfits.

In some countries whether to wear a face mask or not has become highly politicized. While Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova has been lauded for her matching face mask and gloves, in the USA some grocery shops refused service to people not wearing masks—while a minority of others refused service to those that did. In Brazil President Bolsonaro was criticized for initially refusing to wear a face mask. He now wears one with his name and photograph printed on it, as do some of his supporters.


Fashion face masks for sale at a small shop in Alkmaar, the Netherlands. Photo by Shelley Anderson.Fashion face masks for sale at a small shop in Alkmaar, the Netherlands. Photo by Shelley Anderson.Some local charities have begun producing face masks as income-generating projects. In Kenya’s Wamba region, the conservation group Grevy’s Zebra Trust involves local women and girls to monitor zebra populations. The Trust had started an income-generating project whereby local women and girls produced sanitary pads for schools. They now produce about 700 zebra patterned face masks a week, using sanitary pads as a filter, which are distributed free to market sellers, taxi drivers and villagers.

In northeastern India, the Weaker Section Development Council trained local people to weave and sew shawls, sarongs and table runners to sell. They’ve switched to producing and selling hand loomed, turmeric dyed, face masks. In Bangladesh, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station employs some seventy local tailors to produce face masks, which are distributed free to Rohingya refugee camps, nurses, and fire fighters.

It comes as no surprise then that the TRC has started a corona collection (see another blog dated 29th May). So far we have a few commercial and domestically made face masks, T-shirts with relevant slogans, and an embroidery. If you have ideas of other objects to collect or would like to make a donation, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Saturday, 30th May, by Shelley Anderson

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The TRC is open again from Tuesday, 2nd June, but by appointment only.

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Stichting Textile Research Centre

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -27 August 2020: American Quilts

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
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