Face Masks

Renowned Hartford Quilter Puts Skills to Work Making Face Masks

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A Hartford quilter with work that’s been showcased around the world is using her talents to make something we all need right now – masks.

She has a focus on getting them to frontline workers in our state as long as there’s a need.

Sewing together quilts has been a passion for Ed Johnetta Miller for 25 years, and she said when she realized there was a need for masks, she knew she could make beautiful ones for the people who needed them, so she started sewing and hasn’t stopped.

“I love to sew.  I love to work with people and I love giving back to my community,” Miller said.

She is using her new passion to make a new necessity a little more beautiful.

The celebrated quiltmaker from Hartford has put a pause on spending her days sewing together beautiful textiles to make magical images on fabric in favor of making masks to donate to people working through the pandemic.

“St. Mary’s Home,” Miller said, listing off those in need. “Yale New Haven Hospital, nurses at YNHH, Bridgeport traveling nurses, private clients around the world.  It’s been so many people.”

Miller’s quilts have been recognized internationally – one is even in a permanent collection at the Smithsonian. She realized the need for everyone to have a face covering was becoming a reality. She and other members of the Women of Color Quilters Network sat down at their sewing machines and got to work, sewing brilliantly colored masks.

“What I’ve been finding out from healthcare workers… when they come into the room with one of my improv face masks on, all the patients get so excited.  They say oh my goodness, all the colors,” Miller said.

Now, with help from her daughter Ayisha, she’s made more masks than she can count.

Miller said in just the last three weeks demand has grown like she never expected. She started selling masks to people who ask for one. She charges just $5, and uses it to do more good.

“What I do with the money, $3 will go to food share and $2 will go for the cost of fabrics.  And if you don’t have it that’s fine,” she explained.

With so much sewing, the aches in her hand and shoulders are real, but she said she’ll keep working to create a little more beauty in this uncertain time.

“It makes me very, very happy.”

Miller said she’ll keep making masks as long and she can and is also now focused on helping a new generation learn more about the craft she loves so much. She’s set to teach an online mask making class to middle school students.

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