AURORA — Even though Allisha Suing and her family have made more than 2,500 face masks, she doesn’t just throw them together.
She is careful about doing a good job.
The first three months of her work, Suing used ribbons for her masks instead of elastic. A friend of hers found his mask uncomfortable. “And I didn’t want that for my customers,” said the Aurora woman.
Eventually, she switched to elastic. But she kept looking until she found a soft version of elastic.
Suing wants her masks to be comfortable, and to fit her customers’ faces. That’s why she makes her product in five sizes — adult XL, adult, youth, teen, toddler.
If a customer says his mask doesn’t fit, she sends him a better one.
How picky is she about materials? She finally found a pipe cleaner that fit her standards.
“I’ve gone through a lot of different brands. But I finally found one I liked,” she said. Pipe cleaners go into each mask to form across the nose.
Suing’s work began when she made masks for her family. She and her husband, David, have two kids, Zee, 9, and Zolee, 4.
Then she made more masks for the friend who’d found his mask uncomfortable — an emergency room nurse who lives in Suing’s native state of Ohio.
He helped Suing design the mask that was outfitted with ribbons. She sent 10 masks to Toledo for the nurse and his friends.
Suing hadn’t sewn on a sewing machine since she was in a seventh-grade life skills class in her hometown of Defiance, Ohio. But she did well in that class, and she’s doing well today.
She kept her nose to the sewing machine when people started asking for more.
Suing has sold a good number of masks at the farmers market in Aurora, but she has sold even more online.
After the initial batches, she has been charging $5 for each mask. She said she didn’t want to gouge customers like some people do.
Suing is making money off of her work, but her bigger desire is to help people.
“I wanted to be somewhat of a positive influence in this crappy situation,” she said. “And if I have this skill, then why not?”
Young people like to wear her masks because they’re cute. One woman bought 18 masks for her child.
People like her face masks not just because they’re comfortable. They also like the fabric she chooses.
She has offered more than 70 fabric choices. She buys the material at the JoAnne and Hobby Lobby stores in Grand Island.
Suing found a pattern that had a law-and-order theme. She used that fabric to make 50 masks, which she sent to a woman in Arkansas whose husband is a corrections officer.
Suing started putting her masks online “just to show what I can do,” she said. The masks were “something that I was proud of.”
As it is for many people, sewing is an outlet. “I can channel my anxiety into it,” she said.
Suing, 29, is a student at Central Community College in Grand Island. She’s taking five classes, one of which is in-person. Her classroom focus is information technology.
At one point, she was making 100 masks a week. Demand increased when Grand Island Public Schools decided on a mask mandate.
Suing’s still making 10 or 15 a week.
She started slowing down in late July and early August, just before school started.
But she still likes to fulfill her orders.
“Even when I don’t have the time, it’s extremely difficult for me to tell somebody no,” Suing said.
Her masks, which are pleated, have to be handwashed.
She uses material from 3M Filtrete Advanced Allergen filters.
Suing’s husband, who was in the Nebraska National Guard for 16 years, helps her cut fabric and elastic.
Her son also helps.
She also has gotten a lot of help from her best friend, Nikki Finch, who lives in Grand Island.
Suing has lived in Nebraska since 2012. She and David, a native of Fordyce, have been married and Aurora residents for five years.
Through her studies at CCC, Suing is a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.
She’s happy to be part of that group because it brings together “people like myself who are go-getters,” she said.
The members of NSLS want to be successful in life “and they give us the tools” to succeed, Suing said. She is “not somebody who can sit still.”
Suing’s house smells good because she also sells Scentsy products.
The Aurora woman calls her business Suing Sewing.
For her next project, she’s thinking about making neck gaiters, to help keep people warm.
To find her products, go to Allisha Ljunggren Suing on Facebook. Her phone number is 402-817-9266.
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