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Crafty Face Coverings for Social Distancing

Duke employees stay safe (and fashionable) with homemade cloth face coverings

Rebecca Doll, clinical services coordinator for Duke Audiology, wears a mask she sewed. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Doll.
Rebecca Doll, clinical services coordinator for Duke Audiology, wears a mask she sewed. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Doll.

Rebecca Doll’s sewing machine has been humming steadily for the past month. 

A few nights each week, Doll sits in front of the Janome Memory Craft 6500P, measuring, cutting and sewing fabric into face coverings. Doll is using her stockpile of quilting fabric to make masks with flowers, tartan, tie-dye, stripes and houndstooth patterns.

She’s made about 30 reusable masks for coworkers, friends and family members to wear during stay at home orders and continued social distancing.

“It’s a way I can contribute during this hard time,” said Doll, clinical services coordinator for Duke Audiology. “Making masks with a fun pattern or color can hopefully spread some cheer.”

Durham requires the use of face coverings any time a community member is in contact with people who are not household members where it is not possible to maintain social distance. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers guidance on face coverings, and you can learn how to make your own every Monday through June during Duke's live webinar "Mask Making Mondays."

Meanwhile, check out the creative non-medical face coverings made by some Duke colleagues. 

A Pawfuct Covering

Donna Wilmoth's friend made her a dog-covered mask. Photo courtesy of Donna Wilmoth.
With four dogs at home, Donna Wilmoth wanted a face covering that showed off her favorite animal.

Wilmoth’s friend Erica fulfilled her wish, making a mask covered with images of a golden retriever, beagle and other dogs. While the images are not of Wilmoth’s dogs – she has a bulldog, two hound dogs and a mastiff-German Shepherd mix – the mask always brings a smile to her face when she puts it on to go to a grocery store.

“Animals make people happy,” said Wilmoth, administrative assistant for the Duke University Hospital Trauma Center. “I get a lot of compliments on the mask. People want to know where I’ve gotten it from.”

Showing Off Duke Pride

Selden Smith repurposed an old Duke Technical Services T-shirt into a face covering. Photo courtesy of Selden Smith.
Selden Smith and his wife Ann teamed up to make 10 face coverings with a guide on YouTube. Smith cut and folded cotton T-shirts and quilting fabric while Ann stitched the material into masks. Smith’s favorite mask is a repurposed Duke University Technical Services T-shirt from the mid-1990s. 

“I’m not someone who is normally expressive with my clothing, but I wanted to show my allegiance to Duke,” said Smith, manager of Duke Technical Services. 

Smith wears the Duke mask for grocery shopping and when he works at Duke’s Goodson Chapel to live stream the Duke Catholic Center’s weekly Mass. 

A Mother’s Protection

Katie Mrozowski's mom made her 10 masks that she wears to work. Photo courtesy of Katie Mrozowski.
When Katie Mrozowski was little, her mom sewed her dresses, jackets and, most memorably, a poodle skirt for a production of “Bye Bye Birdie” with Mrozowski during middle school. 

Twenty years later,  Mrozowski’s mother, Betsy Brown, is once again sewing for her daughter. This time: face coverings.

Brown, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pa., has made and shipped about 10 masks for Mrozowski to wear. They come in various floral patterns that Mrozowski matches with her outfits.

“Mothering never stops,” said Mrozowski, a device support team lead for Duke Health Technology Solutions. “The masks are a reminder that my mom is thinking about me and wants me to be safe.”

Getting Masks to At-Risk People

Eric Westman, right, a physician at the Duke Outpatient Clinic and founder of Covering the Triangle, makes a delivery to Willie Patterson, staff member at a Crest Street neighborhood senior home. Photo by Sam Miglarese.
In addition to making masks, Duke community members are working to get masks into the hands of people who aren't able to get or make them. 

Launched in mid-April and led by Dr. Eric Westman, a physician with the Duke Outpatient Clinic, “Covering the Triangle,” has distributed cloth face coverings to at-risk groups free of charge.

Word about the initiative spread and medical students and other physicians, including Dr. Larry Greenblatt, medical director at the Duke Population Health Management Office, got involved in the effort. Those sewing the coverings include the owner of Prime Cleaners in Durham, as well as the costume director and seamstresses who sew for the Carolina Ballet in Raleigh. 

“We've been able to purchase and distribute about 12,000 face coverings a week to at-risk groups we've identified with the help of local non-profits and city and county governments," Greenblatt said.

Covering the Triangle has provided face coverings to nursing homes, prisons and homeless shelters, among many other high-risk groups.

Morag MacLachlan, senior marketing communications content specialist for Duke University Health System, contributed to this story.

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Help share the proactive and extensive work being done by all Duke community members. Send ideas, shout-outs and photographs here or write