DMACC design, fashion merchandisers sew new masks

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Gretchen Bohling, DMACC adjunct instructor in fashion merchandising and design, assembles fabric to put into supply bags with other materials needed to make Olson masks. Bohling teaches garment construction. Photo courtesy DMACC

DMACC students of fashion merchandising and design are reponding to the COVID-19 epidemic by making Olson masks from their homes to support local health care providers.

The Olson mask, a new modular mask named after 1930’s legendary nurse Lyla Mae Olson, was developed by clinicians from UnityPoint Health and is currently being shared across the globe.

About a dozen DMACC students, under the direction of DMACC fashion merchandising faculty members Alecia Mintle, Courtney Conlin, Gretchen Bohling and Ann Gadbury, are sewing the masks from their respective homes.

“DMACC faculty members have created supply bags with the materials needed to create 15 masks,” DMACC Professor Ann Gadbury said. “These supply bags can be safely picked up by our DMACC Fashion Merchandising and Design students at a designated local business.”

After picking up a supply bag, students sew and return the finished masks to the same location. The students may continue to take additional supply bags each time they bring back a completed set of masks.

Gadbury said there has been very little expense so far because faculty members and DMACC students have been donating their own personal fabric. The only thing participants have needed to purchase is hair ties.

She estimates it will take about 30 to 60 minutes to complete each mask, depending upon the skill level of the seamstress.

“We will be delivering the masks to local health care providers,” Gadbury said, “and we’ll continue the project until supplies are gone or demand is met.”

Des Moines-area medical facilities will be the primary focus of the mask donations, Gadbury said, but requests have also come in from small businesses, such as chiropractic and dental offices.

“We currently have enough materials to make 300 masks, but we are working on collecting more material,” Gadbury said.

The DMACC Ankeny Campus Student Activities Council (SAC) and DMACC Fashion Club are also providing support for the project.

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