Dee West goes into ‘mask production’

Sandra ClarkGet Up & Go, Powell

Dee West has been a dynamo since retiring. She quilts and reads and sings and cooks. Lately, she’s been making masks to protect family and friends from COVID-19.


Dee and husband Morgan West live in Hunters Crossing behind Beaver Creek Cumberland Presbyterian, their church home for 40 years. Dee sings in the choir.

And this week Dee won an iron. It was a reader-vote Facebook promotion sponsored by Mountain Creek Quilt Shop in Greenback. Her online comment: “I could have bought it but it means more to me this way.”

She’s taking today off to drive to Blount County to claim her iron. Morgan will probably go, too. “He’s the ideal husband,” she says, “for most quilters are crafters, too. He carts me around and totes materials.” Morgan is no quilter, but sometimes he “unquilts,” or rips out flawed design. Dee says he has a good eye for the random upside-down quilt piece.

 

Dee doesn’t dwell on it, but says she’s had several joint replacements and major stomach surgery. Friend Tom King says, “This woman has endured some major health issues in the last five years or so but will not slow down. Dee is a wonderful woman.”

Her Facebook page is crammed with funny stories, like the woman who ran into Paul Newman in an ice cream shop, and puzzled dogs wondering who those masked people bit to require such muzzling.

How did this high-spirited lady get into “mask-production?”

It started with her daughter, who works at Westmoreland Nursing Home. The staff needed masks. Dee quickly realized that one size (or even small, medium, large) does not fit all. “Some heavy-set people need super-sized masks, and little kids need masks for trips to the babysitter.”

She assembled her fabric and began. She made Harry Potter masks and cat masks, all in custom sizes. She posted free masks on Facebook and watched for messages. She’s shipped masks to family and friends from Texas and Colorado to Maryland and Virginia. She won’t take money, but has been thanked with a cake, Hostess cupcakes and a Chick-fil-A card.

For the Westmoreland team, she cut pieces for 60 mask kits. “Just stick them in the sewing machine.” Dee says she made ties because elastic has been hard to find. “Quilters can figure out the easiest way.” She’s learned a lot on YouTube, she says.

Dee is retired after 20 years in administrative work with NCR and another 12 years in property management. “I didn’t know what I’d do (after retirement), so I decided to cook for people who can’t cook for themselves.” She makes vegetable stew and chicken and dumplins soup eight quarts at a time.

Did we mention Dee West is a dynamo?

Want to join up? Dee says just visit a quilt shop or check a quilting guild on Facebook. Heck, she recently discovered 16 unquilted tops. Dee might take on an assistant.

Sandra Clark writes this “Get up and go” column each Wednesday. To nominate someone, email sandra.clark@KnoxTNToday.com.

“Lordy, I will make NO more king size quilts,” says Dee West. This one is an overdue anniversary gift for daughter and son-in-law, Tammy and Sam Paul.

Dee West stacked colorful masks near her sewing machine in a Facebook post. She sold out.

 

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