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Mask Making With Cheslye Ventimiglia

Cheslye Ventimiglia, former director and a long time faculty member in Continuing Studies, has been working in her home studio to create masks for healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. We interviewed Cheslye to learn more about the mask making efforts in Maine. Cheslye's responses are in italics and all of the photos are taken by her in her studio. 

Many of us have been delving into our fabric stashes and stitching face masks for healthcare workers here in Maine. It is a way to show our thanks for the work they are doing. Requests from healthcare providers are increasing dramatically —— we are working to match a current need for over 6000 home-made masks.

Can anyone sew masks?

All who have basic sewing skills and a sewing machine can help in this effort.

Is there a certain type of fabric that the masks should be made out of?

Masks are designed to be re-used and washed repeatedly in hot water, so we are making them of 100% cotton that we pre-shrink by washing and then drying on a hot dryer setting. Fabric ties are preferred to elastic, which does not hold up well to hot temperature washing. 

Can you share your pattern with us? How do you get the masks to the people who need them?

I am one of many volunteers stitching for "Sewing Masks for Maine." This volunteer group gathers and fills requests from healthcare organizations that need masks.Their new website, www.sewingmasksformaine.comhas links for the patterns we are using and lists drop off points for once you've completed a batch. Patterns include photo tutorials for constructing the masks.

Approximately how long does it take you to sew one mask? 

It takes me 15 - 20 minutes to make a mask - cutting, pressing, stitching. That does not include time for pre-shrinking the cloth or for the time I take choosing pattern combinations. This design time is fun, especially if you are using fabric left over from quilts or things that you have made for your loved ones. You may be stitching some nostalgia into your masks. 


If you are someone who sews and you are getting requests for face masks from family and friends, you will find many patterns to choose from on the internet. I recommend a pattern that was designed by a nurse. It has a nice fit over the nose and chin: Mask - for a Nurse by a Nurse. 


We thank Cheslye for taking the time to talk with us, and are so appreciative of the work of all of the volunteers who are sewing masks. 

Cheslye will be co-teaching Intro to Draping for Apparel Design, a Fashion + Textile Design Continuing Studies class this summer along with Susan Thomas from Portland Stage. Susan Thomas is also making masks for healthcare workers. 

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