The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command’s safety director has fashioned her love of sewing into a craft that is helping protect others in the time of COVID-19. Even before face masks were recommended for public wear, Pat Vittitow was creating them for family members who have compromised immune systems.
Vittitow has been sewing since her junior high home economics course – making all sorts of clothing, costumes, slipcovers, drapes and stuffed animals. About five years ago, she branched out into quilting – a skill that produced nearly a dozen gifts so far, mostly for family members.
“When I gift a quilt, that is exactly what I am doing – giving it as a gift. I sew from the heart,” she said.
Quilting is the reason Vittitow is well-stocked with all kinds of material suitable for the masks. From superheroes to collegiate sports, she has a vast and colorful supply. She has also made headbands with buttons on them so medical staff required to wear masks all day don’t have to loop the elastic around their ears. So far, she’s sent several masks and headbands to her sister who works at Norton’s Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, while also supplying her other siblings and their families.
After supplying her siblings, Vittitow’s daughter asked for a mask to wear to work. Her daughter’s co-workers were impressed – and Vittitow made 10 more for her to share.
Through her involvement with a local quilt guild, Vittitow’s creations are among those donated to area hospitals and healthcare workers.
“All told, I have made about 50 masks,” she said.
As she leads AMCOM’s safety team, most of whom are now working from home, Vittitow ensures aviation safety messages continue to go out and explosive material hazard classification documents are produced for shipments of AMCOM-managed parts. The team also continues to conduct site plans.
Her work, family and other obligations generally keeps her busy. Under normal circumstances, Vittitow said she could often be so distracted that she would go a week or two without sewing.
“But now, there’s nowhere to go,” she said. It’s not uncommon for her to sew for a couple hours each weekday evening and even more on weekends. “I have been sewing almost every day. I think I’m averaging about 20 hours per week.”
And for now, Vittitow says that is OK.
“I’m in my happy place,” she said.