A layer of protection

Zoe Ujcic works on sewing protective masks from materials she has on hand. (Courtesy photo)

ROCHELLE – As healthcare facilities and providers across the country face a shortage of protective masks, one local seamstress is doing her part to help keep them supplied.

Zoe Ujcic began sewing at a young age, but it was not until the end of high school when she began to take it seriously. After high school she went to the College of DuPage taking tailoring and alteration classes to become a fashion designer.

Once she completed her classes, she worked as a seamstress focusing on alterations, fixing clothes to get away from fast fashion. Doing this is more sustainable than always buying something new rather than repairing it.

“If your zipper breaks, come to me and I will fix it, rather than buying a brand-new coat,” said Ujcic. “It is just a little bit more efficient.”

Recently, Ujcic has seen the shortage of available protective masks on the news and decided she wanted to do something to help. She did research and learned that she did not have the resources necessary to make N95 respirator masks, but that did not stop her.

After doing more research she learned that by using a three-layer blend of materials, she could make a reusable, surgical-like mask. The masks are made of two layers of cotton, one layer of woven material, such as Kevlar and a wire to help keep it snug against the face.

mask 2

All masks are machine washed, dried and immediately put in Ziploc bags. While the masks are not manufactured in a medical facility, they protect against multiple substances.

“I have so much extra fabric and will be home for the next two weeks just like everyone else, so why not do what I can to help,” said Ujcic. “They are pretty heavy duty and protect against aerosols and liquid from getting in. It is much better than nothing.”

Currently she is making them for those in need, such as medical facilities, nursing homes, and a few nurses that have reached out. She plans to continue making masks until either supplies run out or the demand is met.

If anybody has extra one-eighth-inch elastic or 20-gauge wire to donate to help continue making masks, reach out to [email protected] or Yvonne Brass on Facebook. All donations are greatly appreciated.

 

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