Gainesville fashion designer Skylar Raiyn Johnson creating hundreds of face masks for local health care system

The 12-year-old, who is the founder of Sew Fly Sky, has already sewn about 200 face masks, donating them to local doctors and nurses fighting the coronavirus on the front lines.

skylar raine johnson
Skylar Raiyn Johnson (Photo by Christin Boggs Peyper)

Seamstresses and sewists across the nation are joining the fight against the coronavirus, creating homemade face masks for doctors, nurses and first responders on the front lines, including a local 12-year-old fashion designer.

Skylar Raiyn Johnson, a Gainesville resident, is the designer and seamstress behind fashion brand Sew Fly Sky. This week, she became one of the many seamstresses across the world sewing face masks for health care workers to wear at hospitals, doctor’s offices, senior centers and wherever else there is a need, as the supply of protective face masks is depleting due to the rapid coronavirus outbreak.

“My mom was talking about how all the hospitals were running out of masks and supplies, especially the 24-hour ones, because they’re open all day and they have more patients now,” Johnson says. “I thought we could make masks and donate them to local hospitals and doctor’s offices.”

Johnson began sewing face masks the weekend of March 21, and in less than a week has already made around 200 masks. She also took to her Instagram account on March 23 to post an Instagram Live video, virtually teaching others how to make the masks themselves. 

Her biggest tips for at-home seamstresses looking to help the cause? “You want to have 100% cotton,” Johnson says. “And, a lot of people trying to make the masks are running out of elastic. You can actually use hair ties instead. If you go to the dollar store to get a pack of a hundred hair ties, that’ll make 50 because you can use one hair tie for each side of the ear.”

The budding fashion designer, who also recently shadowed under Baby Phat designer Kimora Lee Simmons, is hoping to create 500 or more masks to donate to local health care workers. “I’m happy to have a skill that I’m able to use to help the community and other people,” Johnson says. 

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