Former teacher uses sewing skills to make affordable custom masks


SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A Shreveport woman who found a second career making custom clothing is now using her skills to make custom masks after initially supplying them for close family and members of her church.

Patricia Whitehurst says she had to leave her teaching job after injuring her foot about a year ago, which left her wondering what to do next. She says the answer came to her one day as she was walking through the parking lot before a service at Morning Star Baptist Church.

“And I’m like, ‘So God, what am I going to do for money?’ And the question came back to me, ‘What’s in your hands?'” recalled Whitehurst.

Whitehurst said she didn’t know what that meant then, but when she walked into church, a young woman who knew about her sewing skills asked her if she could do a custom dress for her. Whitehurst often did this kind of custom work free of charge for the young women in her church. But from there, she knew she could use her talents to supply her financial needs, as well.

When the coronavirus arrived, Whitehurst started sewing masks for family members.

While Morning Star Baptist Church has moved Sunday services online, Whitehurst has made masks for members who are still working to serve their ministries.

After hearing about people hoarding masks and getting encouragement from friends, she started making custom masks for others. Her assistant, Deandrea Holloway, irons custom prints onto Pellon, which is a material that can be an added protection for the mouth and nose when worn. Whitehurst then sows the elastic strings on the side.

Her custom masks start at $5.00 but can cost more depending on the fabric, but she says she tries to keep to cost low.

“A couple of young folks came through and would say, ‘Ms. Whitehurst, you cannot keep charging only five dollars,’ so we tried to raise the rates but it didn’t feel right to me. I like sowing. It’s what I do. It’s who I am,” said Whitehurst.

Eventually, she wants to start teaching young people who don’t know how to sew. She has plans on collaborating with the Boys and Girls Club this summer depending on how long the pandemic

“I want other young people to know that there are things you can do and you can create your own business. You can be as creative as you wanna be and take it to whatever level you want to take it to and just pray your way through it.”

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