Professor Puts Hobby to Good Use

    World Languages and Cultures Professor Emerita Linda Ledford-Miller, Ph.D., has made more than 150 cloth masks needed by responders to the pandemic and others to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
    April 15, 2020

    When World Languages and Cultures Professor Emerita Linda Ledford-Miller, Ph.D., began sewing at the age of 9, she never imagined that one day she would be home-bound, making masks to be used by healthcare workers and others responding to a worldwide pandemic.

    Yet, that is what the recipient of four Fulbright fellowships finds herself doing almost on a daily basis.

    “To date I have finished 150 masks, and I have another 33 ready for the pressing and pleating and stitching that I'll probably finish today,” said Dr. Ledford-Miller. She first began making masks on Mar. 21 in response to a Facebook post by a complete stranger calling for cloth masks. She found a pattern for masks on the website of Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, Indiana, and went to work. Initially, she made about 6 masks per day, but then refined her approach to more of a “production model” she said – prepping materials one day, then pinning them for sewing, etc. on another. “So somedays I make none, then have 25 finished the next day,” said Dr. Ledford-Miller.

    Dr. Ledford-Miller has sent her masks to a number of organizations and places, including Friends of the Poor, the Mulberry Street Fire Station and Masked Bandits, which is a combined effort of the Luzerne and Lackawanna Medical Societies to collect donated cloth masks. She has also sent masks to friends and family members and even to the daughter of a faculty member who is serving as nurse at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee.

    Dr. Ledford-Miller recalls her first sewing project, at the age of 9, was “a ‘broom skirt’ – a piece of fabric with a hem and elastic waist. My next project was a suit – a matching skirt and blouse with scotties on it. My mother said it was too advanced for me, but I was stubborn and made it anyway.”

    Today, health professionals and others affected by the Covid-19 pandemic are benefiting from her hobby – and her tenacity.

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