Davin Healthcare Workforce Solutions
Caregiver Resources | 3 min read

Help the Healthcare Community with DIY Facemasks

Date published: April 3, 2020

From novice to expert, learn how to make facemasks and volunteer your sewing to help the healthcare community.

When Stat Staff Professionals transitioned to a fully remote office a few weeks ago, some of our more stitch-friendly employees and family members took to their sewing machines and started making masks to donate to local caregivers.  Many in the office wanted to join in but weren’t sure where to begin.

To help us out, we reached out to online sewing teacher, Tova Opatrny from Professor Pincushion, to talk about her new facemask tutorial and MasksNow.org, an organization where you can volunteer to help caregivers in need. 

Professor Pincushion is a website and YouTube channel that teaches people how to sew through video tutorials. It was started in 2010 by Tyler and Tova Opatrny. They’ve created almost 400 free sewing video tutorials. 

What is Masks Now?

Masks Now is a coalition started for the purpose of making handmade facemasks for hospitals due to the shortage caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Currently, MasksNow.org has 128 hospitals from 36 states requesting handmade facemasks.  There are over 2400 volunteers spanning all 50 states.

The organization is made up of several groups who’ve merged together to create one central group. When the need for handmade facemasks first became a call-to-action, many people wanted to help. But it soon became clear that there needed to be some organization. People can’t, for example, sew masks and then just drop them off at their local hospitals. Most hospitals have specific requests on where and when donations will be accepted. Masks Now is creating a database of hospitals making requests and then finding people who can make masks and fulfill those needs.

How did you get involved?

When we, the Professor Pincushion team, started to see more and more stories about hospitals requesting handmade facemasks, we reached out to our local medical center to see if we could help. At the time, they weren’t accepting any yet, so we just started doing online research to see if there were other groups we could join. We saw this as a bigger contribution we could offer because it wouldn’t be just one individual making facemasks, but rather we could reach out to Professor Pincushion followers and YouTube subscribers to broaden the reach and hopefully bring in more volunteers. Through our search, we found the website RosieSews.org which eventually merged with the Masks Now Coalition, along with other groups. Because of our experience at creating sewing tutorials, we volunteered to create the video to show people how to sew their facemask. 

Why did you feel it was important?

Professor Pincushion has been creating sewing tutorials for ten years now. Our main goal has always been to create clear step-by-step tutorials so anyone can make anything with direction and patience. When you put out a call-to-action, you’re going to get people from all skill levels wanting to help. Even with the best-written directions, you’re still going to have people who won’t understand them, and with social isolation, people can’t go out and find someone to show them. Even before this crisis, people have sought out YouTube to learn how to do things. It felt like a natural fit for us to create an in-depth video tutorial for Masks Now, so the outcome of the masks will come out as standard as possible, and also the people sewing can jump into the project with confidence even if they don’t have a ton of sewing experience.

If someone wants to help out, what should they do?

People should go to MasksNow.org to volunteer. There’s a Volunteer Here button to make it easy. And they need more than just people to make masks. You can volunteer to help with coordination, outreach, and also teach. If you work for a medical center and want to request handmade supplies, you can also make a request through the website. To get the pattern packet and find our video tutorial, you can click on the pattern button at the top of the MasksNow.org webpage.

If you want to volunteer, head over to MasksNow.org to sign up.  While you’re there, you can download the instructions and face mask pattern.

Then watch the video below to learn how you, too, can help while social distancing and staying at home.

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