Bespoke COVID-19 masks: Combining fashion with engineering

  • Former Belfast Met student Mary Murphy is using skills she learned from her City and Guilds Creative Techniques for Fashion course, to design bespoke face masks for health workers in the COVID-19 crisis.

    Magherafelt-based Mary also has a Master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering and wanted to combine her love of maths-based design with her sewing skills.

    She said: “As there is a shortage of surgical face masks, one cannot underestimate the importance of making masks that are as safe as a cloth mask can possibly be, as they need to fit perfectly over the nose and face with for example, elastic straps around the head and not ears, so there are no gaps.

    “This design, using cotton material with space for a filter can offer safety to staff and patients in the absence of surgical masks, and can be reused and boil washed. They are designed for the best filtration possible and for longevity as they are such a limited resource.

    “It is concerning that many face masks don’t completely fit to the face, and that hospital staff are unable to use face masks unless they are surgical masks which are in very short supply. Our masks are donated from the project, and material costs are supported by both fabric donations and our Go Fund Me appeal.”

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    Mary set up the public Facebook group ‘Masks 4 All Ireland – Sewists Against COVID-19’ in March, where people could volunteer their time to sew face masks, and donate material or money to help care workers. 

    She hosts daily Facebook live videos where she gives manufacturing advice with another volunteer and has helped to raise over £10,000 with their Go Fund Me appeal.

    There are now over 3000 members in the group and over 500 volunteers sewing face masks, producing an average of 12,000 masks to date with a weekly output of more than 4000.

    These have been delivered to over 7000 care workers in multiple care homes all over the island of Ireland.

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    Source: Written from press release

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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