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Farmer sews masks for community

Farmer sews masks for community

Tammy Brink has sewed more than 1,300 masks since March

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A Highland, Ill. hog farmer has spent the last few months sewing masks for her community during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Tammy Brink, who raises Berkshire hogs with her husband Larry, estimates she’s produced more than 1,300 masks since March 22.

She started making the masks, which take about 20 minutes each to complete, after hearing about equipment shortages in her community.

“I had a retired nurse friend tell me the hospital where she used to work was looking for masks,” she told

Since creating her first set of masks, other hospitals, long-term care facilities, churches and neighbors have contacted Brink looking to place orders. Customers are only required to cover the costs of material.

“I have 20 masks on my table to finish today,” she said.

Brink’s introduction to sewing started as a young girl.

She got involved in a sewing project in 4-H when she was 11-years-old. She credits her mom and another family member with helping hone her skills.

“My aunt Jean was super picky,” she said. “If the hand stitches weren’t perfect, my aunt would tell me to rip them out and do them again. I was a little girl, I didn’t have anything else to do, so why not sit and make it perfect? That taught me patience and even today I don’t mind sitting down and looking forward to doing handwork.”

Brink’s sewing passion has spawned an off-farm career.

She left an administrative position to become a seamstress at a local retailer and started her own business, Vintage Farm Stitchery, where she specializes in christening gowns, bridesmaid dresses and other garments.

“Weddings, proms and other events that I would usually be busy for are cancelled, so why not do masks?” she said.


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