Carol Wood, director of the Theatre Department costume shop, calls it the Massive Midd Mask-Making Movement.
It began a couple of weeks ago, when President Patton and Mark Peluso, Middlebury’s director of health services, came to Theatre Department Chair Alex Draper ’88 with a request related to the COVID-19 pandemic: could the department’s dedicated costume shop sew cotton/flannel face masks for healthcare workers at Porter Hospital, which had a limited supply of standard masks?
“They jumped on it,” Draper said.
The costume shop, like the rest of campus, was closed, so Carol and her mother (and sewing mentor), Nancy Wood, as well as shop manager Robin Foster-Cole and Alex Draper’s family, started sewing at home.
But that wasn’t all. Soon after, the College made another request: would the mask makers be able to make two each for the students and staff remaining on campus? No problem.
Carol said streamlining the production process wasn’t hard; with professional experience including 11 years as a draper and stitcher at the San Francisco Opera, she “knows production sewing.” But with so many people around the country joining the mask-making effort, materials are in short supply. “Flannel, elastic, and twill tape are sold out from here to eternity!” Carol said.
Yet in just a few days, using ties made from sewn cloth strips when their supplies of elastic and twill tape ran out, the mask makers had produced an impressive 104 masks, which they delivered to Round Robin, the local nonprofit overseeing mask collection and distribution to Porter and other local organizations. And as of Monday, they had produced 350 masks for use on campus, with more on the way.
Right now, Carol and her crew are spending every spare minute at their machines. How long will the workers behind the Massive Midd Mask-Making Movement keep turning out masks?
“As long as we’re asked to make them,” Carol said.
The CDC is now recommending that everyone wear masks when going out in public. Here is the pattern Carol Wood and her crew are using: Dartmouth/Hitchcock instructions and here is a video tutorial from Deaconess Health Systems.