An idea that started with 10 people five weeks ago on a Zoom call has morphed into an army of sewers, volunteers, and cheerleaders 3,400 strong.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, like most, Diana Coatsworth, owner of Diana Coatsworth Design in downtown Toronto, Ont. felt mixed emotions. All her biggest shows such as the One of a Kind Sale were cancelled. She was forced to close the doors to her store. She wondered, like many artisans and small business owners, what to do. After reading countless articles about the desperate need from the healthcare community for gowns, scrub caps, and face masks, the answer came easily: start sewing.
“Thank god I had the wherewithal to think let’s do this together,” Coatsworth recalls. “I knew there would be a whole bunch of people interested in helping, I just needed to find a way to organize and reach all of the home sewers.”
With the help of colleague Melinda Deines and countless volunteers, the fashion designer, former actress, and small business owner, used her entrepreneurial skills —and her network—to rally the troops. A Facebook page was created. Every day, as word spread, more sewers, from across Ontario, the rest of Canada, and even from other parts of the world, heeded the call. Hobbyists, children, senior citizens and professional sewers volunteered. The Sewing Army was born.