THOMASTON — Melanie Dobos opened her little shop, Stitch on Main, in Thomaston just five months ago, after working many years as a seamstress. While she was planning how to create elaborate wedding gowns and doing alterations for prom dresses, the coronavirus pulled her into a very different path.
“I read about the scarcity of face masks for medical staff and I realized I have the store and equipment to do this. I couldn’t just sit by and do nothing when the need was so great,” she said.
She researched how to make the masks to hospital-specifications since that was her first focus, and then investigated how to most affordably manufacture them en masse since her intent was to give them to those who desperately needed them. She settled on using white cotton only, and purchased in bulk. The most difficult component to find was the elastic to attach them, she said. “I had a small supply of elastic, but quickly used that up. A friend donated her own supply of elastic to help me until my back-order came in.”
The masks are all the same size and are washable. She decided to sell the masks as well to individuals as a fundraiser to pay for her expenses. When asked if she is also working as a seamstress, she shook her head. “There are no Proms now, and everyone understands that what I am doing is the important thing. I am a one-woman show, and although alterations are my main business, I can’t squeeze those in right now.”
Melanie lives in Thomaston, just around the corner from her shop. Since her two sons — Everet, 8, and Simon, 5, — are home from school. They help their mother by sweeping up and watering her plants.
“They both like to organize and color code my fabrics,” she said. “I do this all assembly-line style, so their help is appreciated. My mother, Judy Olsen, also comes to the shop to help out.” She is grateful that her husband Geoffrey is still employed, mostly working from home, so the two of them can take turns watching the children.
She has purchased 80 yards of fabric as of mid-April, and 6,000 yards of thread, equating to 3-½ miles worth and resulting in 1,000 face masks. Nurses from Bristol Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital and Waterbury Hospital have come to pick up the masks, and they have been donated to the Thomaston Fire Department and senior housing.
“I will give them to first responders, and anyone who is on the front lines. I only ask that everyone call me first at 860-283-1330.”
Stitch on Main is located at 310 South Main Street, Suite #6 in Thomaston. Contacts are @Stitchonmain on Facebook or call 860-283-1330. For those unable to leave the house, donations to Melanie’s Venmo at stitchonmain will help her continue this mission.