Sew amazing: Local women sew 1,500 cloth face masks for LyondellBasell

MORRIS – Classified as an essential industry during COVID-19, LyondellBasell had to get creative early to find ways to continue to operate while keeping workers safe during the pandemic.

The LyondellBasell Morris site contacted Jane Carhart in March asking if she could sew 1,500 homemade face coverings for the company’s employees and contractors. Getting such a large order stopped Carhart in her tracks.

No stranger to sewing, Carhart has been crafting since she took home economics in the late 1960s, but even she knew she could not fulfill an order that size on her own.

So the Minooka native began calling local women known for their sewing abilities and willingness to lend a helping hand where support was needed.

“Quilters are used to making items for nursing homes, cancer centers, veterans, children’s hospitals, so when we hear of a need, the ladies step up to help,” Carhart said.

The team, which consisted of 12 local women, faced numerous challenges early on in the sewing project.

“Material was sparse,” Carhart said. “Supply stores were starting to close in March, and delivery of fabric and elastic materials we could obtain was very limited. We knew we had to get creative early.”

Part of that creativity included using shoe lace strings instead of elastic to hold the mask together behind the ears. Carhart said she spent a lot of time researching methods that would work with resources the group already had on hand.

“We sewed all day every day for 10 to 12 hours a day,” said Carhart. “That’s a lot of repetitive sewing!”

The group of 12 were up to the challenge because they shared one main objective: keeping the employees and contractors at LyondellBasell healthy and safe so they could continue to help others. Many would wonder, what’s the connection?

These ladies knew that efficiently running the operating units at the LyondellBasell Morris facility helped provide critical products for health care applications such as making medical devices, personal protective equipment, cleaning products and various pharmaceutical applications.

“This really is a story of people coming together through a time of uncertainty,” LyondellBasell Morris site manager Randy Tatum said. “Not only are their efforts appreciated, they deserve recognition. It’s because of these ladies’ willingness to step up that we were able to continue helping front-line workers who are fighting COVID-19 every day.”

The army of women sewing included Clara Bal, Jane Carhart, Gloria Hansen, Joanne Hayes, Bonnie Marchiniak, Sue Meadows, Carol Padovano, Kris Padovano, Patricia Rosenbaum, Kathi Sheets, Jayne Udstuen and Laura Valdez.

For information on LyondellBasell's continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit or follow the company on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.