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Masks made by local group, Home Sewing Central PA

We Can Do It!

art by Toby Maurer of The Branding House Asheville

Recently, I joined a group called Home Sewing Central PA, Defending the Front Line Defenders, on facebook. You can view group here.

Organized by Steve Elfelt, this group was started as a response to the great need for getting face masks out to the public, and especially to medical professionals. With PA requiring people to wear masks in general, it is extremely important to have access and if possible, the ability to make masks. There are many no-sew masks that are easy to make, such as using a “https://www.foxnews.com/health/no-sew-coronavirus-face-mask-surgeon-general-video”>tee shirt as well as safer materials that could be used. Currently, there is a need for 1200 masks for local medical personnel. This group is about 500 members strong with around 30 dedicated “makers” who sew and distribute the masks. They are accepting donations and new members to help aid Blair county as well as Chambersburg, Huntingdon, State College and Bedford. Additional groups are springing up which share their mission of providing free and professional masks. They have the ability to take requests using forms on their page.

The mask design is based on the deaconess pattern either with elastic or fabric ties. This can be adjusted for children or those with different sized heads as well.

A big part of the work is directed by Megan Jones-Steinbugl, who was trained to be a volunteer coordinator/leader at the Junior League of Baltimore. There, she served on the board for two years as the Treasurer. She kindly sent me an email with detailed information about the process:

My role: creating packs for makers that contain 30 pieces of 6 x 9 cotton, 30 pieces of 6 x 9 flannel, and a “driveway width” of elastic, as well as instructions specifically for the Deaconess mask design, and my contact information.

From there, the makers pick up from my home (24/7) – I have a camera on the supply box so i’m able to identify if someone is picking up – and seeing if I’m low on supplies (even though it’s just on my front porch).

The first 500-600 were cut from fabric that my mother and I had on hand. My mom is a registered nurse at the Veteran’s Home in Altoona. She’s been helping to go through our massive fabric stash as time allows, as well as making masks for her coworkers and our family out of town.

When masks were first becoming a “thing” I was able to order quite a bit of elastic from a seller in NYC – as you can imagine, that was terrifying. I had to let the elastic sit in the sun for several days – and then I was very apprehensive to share it as we didn’t know if the virus was able to be spread through materials. I’ve been able to source elastic through a few other vendors – but I’m out again. This is the most costly and difficult to track down piece of the puzzle. I’ve played around with using elastic like this. (This)…is typically used to make hair ties, hair bands, etc. One of our makers was brilliant enough to fold it length wise and to make a hybrid elastic. So far, I’ve cut over 1,500 masks – I kind of lost track of how many at this point. My goal is to ensure that makers can sit at their machines and have all of the materials in their hand, vs needing to stop and cut. I’ve had many makers reach out to me saying that they aren’t able to cut anymore (things like rheumatoid arthritis).. and this is a lifesaver for them.

I feel that cutting and coordinating the pick up of materials, and drop off of the finished masks is the best and highest use of my time at this point. I have also been helping Steve get the website/google forms/facebook groups to a consumable level. My background is sales and IT, and I work very, very closely with the majority of the healthcare professionals in Blair County. Because of this, I’m able to have a real conversation with practice managers or other medical personnel about their needs and to ensure that they are receiving product that is the highest quality, so it will last through several washings.

As far as donations – I have accepted donations via Venmo (@Megan-Steinbugl) & PayPal (paypal.me/megjones2) – and those donations have been put straight back into purchasing additional material from Joann Fabric to cut to create more masks.

Additionally, Meghan has been washing the materials. She uses hot water, with bleach, and drying on the highest setting to ensure that if a maker is carrying something, she is the last/only person to touch the donation before delivery. She is accepting donations for fabric as well as using resources such as water and electricity in maintaining quality. You can donate directly to her paypal (paypal.me/megjones2) or do a live donation to her email (megancentralpamasks@gmail.com>).

Artist: Toby Maurer

Masks of Love

Branding House to purchase merch by Toby Maurer

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