Nestled in the quiet paniolo town of Makawao in Upcountry Maui lies a powerhouse of volunteer sewists. Jennifer Oberg, a dressmaker who specializes in custom wedding gowns, opens her studio on a weekly basis for The Sewing Hui to gather, create, and talk story. On most Thursdays, you’ll find people from Upcountry, Kihei, Kahului, Lahaina and even visitors sewing together.
This group came together as the Maui Face Mask Project in the spring of 2020. The project was started to address the critical shortage of N-95 face masks on Maui. 10,411 high quality filter face masks were created for Maui’s healthcare providers. Since then, the volunteers wanted to continue sewing for the community, and became The Sewing Hui in June 2020. The Sewing Hui maintained a core group of volunteers, mostly retirees. Friendships have been formed and good work has been accomplished.
Past initiatives include 13,000 fabric masks for organizations and community members, fleece blankets for kūpuna in long term care facilities, shorts and bags for the unsheltered, costumes for local dance schools, garments for May Day celebrations, and walker bags for kūpuna. The next big project is costume design for the December 2023 production of The Nutcracker ballet by Alexander Academy of Performing Arts on Maui.
Current projects are helping those displaced by the recent fires. The studio is buzzing with people cutting and sewing pillowcases and walker/ wheelchair bags. We’ve put the word out to other sewing organizations around the world, and they have responded with donations and support. We appreciate all the love and concern everyone around the world has for Maui. Contact the hui for more information, to volunteer, or to make a supply or monetary donation to our cause.