Veiled in Vacationland, by Kennebunkport’s Old Bagzz
By Rachel Slade Photographed by Mark Fleming
Even before the state’s mask mandate went into effect, Maine’s cottage handcrafters and textile ninjas jumped into action, turning out an impressive variety of face coverings. These are five of our favorites.
For 30 years, Kennebunkport-based Pam Leblanc, of Old Bagzz, traveled to craft shows around the country selling bags made of vintage and custom textiles. When the country shut down in March, she found herself with a closetful of fabric and not much to do. She made and gave away 1,200 masks to health-care professionals and friends before launching her Etsy store. For want of elastic, Leblanc developed a cord-and-toggle system that nurses love for how easily it loosens and tightens, raises and lowers. $15. etsy.com/shop/oldbagzz
“I did this on a whim, and boy, am I glad I did,” says Pretty Flours’s Molly Thompson. The Portland-based artist, known for textiles and paper goods hand-printed with her garden-inspired designs, enlisted local seamstress Saya Cullinan to sew printed and precut cotton flour-sack pieces into delightful masks. The block-printed patterns hold up in the washer. $24. prettyflours.com
Ellen Anderson’s late aunt left her nearly 100 antique Singer sewing machines, along with a mess of parts and loads of fabrics. Some Singers she’s restored and sold. Others she’s put to work stitching masks, which she sells through her Singer Vintage Etsy shop. A former professor of German literature at Bates College, Anderson combed scientific literature for best practices: she uses finely woven linens, silks, and cottons in a minimum of three layers for maximum protection and offers several sizes to ensure a great fit. (Yes, traditionalists, she has red lobsters too.) Starting at $14.25. singervintage.com
Before the pandemic, Courtney Roberts, of Sweet May Company, was crafting turbans, headbands, and beanies for kids and adults. When she got an email from Etsy asking sellers to consider making masks, she heeded the call. Her ear straps are made of stretchy jersey fabric for an ultra-comfy fit. Roberts donates a mask for each one purchased, either to the buyer or to those in need in Portland, and she offers both adult and kid sizes (and a lot of fun, kid-friendly patterns), plus custom sizes. $9. etsy.com/shop/sweetmayco
As pandemic closures began this spring, Ben Waxman, co-founder of Westbrook’s American Roots, realized his business — custom corporate-branded apparel — was about to evaporate. He and his wife, Whitney, shut down for a week, retooled their shop to make personal protective equipment, then rehired their unionized workers. Within four days, they’d delivered 10,000 masks to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. As of mid-July, they’re shipping some 30,000 of their soft, snug-fitting cotton masks each week to private companies, universities, unions, and state governments. $72.50 for a pack of 10. americanrootswear.com