BRIDGMAN — Country Stitches Alterations & Embroidery, located at 9794 Red Arrow Highway in Bridgman, doesn’t have the words “face masks” in its name, but since the coronavirus pandemic hit they’ve been the main product.
Owner Kerry Bolin said she made a couple of masks “when the whole thing started.”
It didn’t take long for “a whole bunch of orders” to come in when the CDC recommended that people wear face masks in public places. The recent state-wide executive order mandating masks in enclosed places of business brought another wave of orders in.
“Honestly it’s kept me going this past month,” she said.
Other that hemming some jeans on May 5 and putting a zipper in a leather jacket on May 6, Bolin said she has only made face masks “since this all started.”
Bolin said she looked at several designs before finding one she liked and tweaking it to make the production process more streamlined. Her masks consist of two layers of cotton with a cotton filter sewn in between. They are washable, but not meant to go through a dryer cycle.
She later designed a more fitted face mask with a pocket where a filter can be inserted that she makes mostly on the embroidery machine.
Although Bolin had made more than a thousand masks, as of May 7 she was still filling orders and hadn’t been able to have face masks available for walk-ups.
At the start she had a lot of fabric, but has since done curbside pick-ups at Joann Fabrics after her inventory had dwindled down to plain grays and greens.
“People want print if they’re going have to wear it every day.”
On May 7 she was working on a set of face masks sporting pizza and hamburger designs for Lake Street Eats.
Bolin said it’s getting difficult to find elastic for the ear straps (she recently got some off eBay).
In addition to customers stopping by to pick up their masks, Bolin shares the Country Stitches shop with her Corgi puppies “Eddie” and “Finley.”
One of those picking up an order of face masks on May 7 was Beth McNeil of the nearby Paws to Wash.
She said groomers are currently doing curbside appointments only (“We just come out and get your dog and bring it in”).
Bolin said her customers have been “amazing.”
“I’m very grateful.”
Country Stitches has been in business for 29 years. Bolin said she usually brings her hand-made goats milk soap (she has goats at home) to a summertime Antiques on the Bluff show in St. Joseph that has been cancelled.
“I just hoping that the ones in the fall aren’t cancelled.”