Teresa Brownlee

Teresa Brownlee, a DuBois Area Middle School family consumer science teacher, is making masks and plans to donate them to healthcare workers at Penn Highlands Healthcare.

DuBOIS — Two DuBois area educators — Teresa Brownlee and Amy Short — have been busy making face masks to combat shrinking reserves as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Short, who is a retired DuBois Area School District math teacher, said she began making masks Sunday after seeing several articles about them on Facebook. She joined a group called the Pennsylvania Face Mask Warriors, where people posted different patterns and one woman was showing people how to make their own masks.

Short is making pleated face masks with simple patterns, using large hair ties on the ends that hook around the person’s ear. She has made around 25 so far, with it taking her 15-20 minutes to make each one.

Short is donating the masks to corrections officers working in local prisons, she said. However, she would make them for anyone who asked her.

The teacher in her would also be willing to teach someone else how to make the masks, Short adds.

“I feel like this is something I can do to help people,” Short said. “I would do it for anybody who needed them.”

Short is also creating a placket in the back of the mask, where people can place an extra barrier for protection, such as coffee filters, a dryer sheet or other items.

Teresa Brownlee, a DuBois Area Middle School family consumer science teacher, is making masks and plans to donate them to healthcare workers at Penn Highlands Healthcare.

Brownlee said there have been many posts about sewing fabric masks on social media. For example, she is part of a national Family and Consumer Sciences group on Facebook made up of more than 14,000 teachers across the country who share lesson plans and ideas.

“Many of us teach sewing courses and are using our skills to make these masks,” Brownlee said. “That group and other groups have been posting tutorials and donation locations. At first, I was thinking that because they aren’t n95, it would not be a good idea. However, there are many people asking for them all over the area and the country. There are tutorials put out by hospitals specifically asking for donations for these CDC compliant masks. I am guessing that because there is a shortage of n95 masks, workers are opting to use fabric masks instead of nothing or even wearing them over top of what they may have to get longer use out of them. However, I am not a healthcare professional, I will just make and give to the people asking for them.”

Because of social distancing, Brownlee said she is using fabric scraps that she has left over from sewing projects in her house and from student projects over the years. She said her supply of elastic at home is limited and is hoping Joann Fabrics can assist with supplies once they reopen on Friday.

“I have different fun patterns. Today I sewed some with breast cancer awareness patterns, a cute little monster pattern and another plaid pattern, hoping to cut out some others later today,” said Brownlee. “The need for people to sew masks really supports the fact that sewing and textiles are still useful in the country. Thankfully, we are still teaching basic sewing skills to students at the DuBois Middle School.”

She is hoping to make 100 masks by Saturday.

“I am having my 7-year-old daughter, Lucia, help cut out the pieces. She is learning measuring in first grade, so this is a great hands-on use of that skill,” Brownlee said.

Since she is a craft person, Brownlee said this a great way to put her skills to use.

“The tutorials are really easy so honestly anyone with basic sewing and measuring skills could make them,” she said. “If you have a sewing machine at home and the supplies, I would encourage you to make some too.”

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