British Columbia

Volunteers vow to 'sew the curve' by making fabric masks

A group of volunteers in B.C.'s Interior have started making fabric masks to assist in response against COVID-19.

Dr. Bonnie Henry says cloth masks won't protect you from COVID-19, but could help prevent spread of droplets

Tamara Vukusic has organized a group of volunteers in Kamloops to create handmade masks, like the ones pictured on the right. (Tamara Vukusic/Facebook)

A group of volunteers in B.C.'s Interior have started making fabric masks to assist in response against COVID-19.

Tamara Vukusic, who lives in Kamloops, got the idea from her sister who has a pediatric practice in a community in South Carolina.

"They were completely out of masks, and so she was up into the wee hours of the night cutting out fabric and making these masks for her staff," Vukusic said. 

She thought she could do the same in B.C., given the looming shortage in personal protective equipment

At her daily news conference on March 24, Dr. Bonnie Henry said cloth masks are not known to be effective to protect against COVID-19.

"They can be effective in keeping your droplets in. So for those people who are having mild illness and need to seek medical attention then those fabric masks may be helpful," she said. 

Watch how COVID-19 has changed how a family clinic operates:

The National’s Nick Purdon visits a family doctor’s clinic to see how they have had to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2:48

Vukusic said the cloth masks she is preparing are not meant to replace N95 masks traditionally used for infection control, but can help in other ways, like helping her stop touching her face.

"The hand washing I'm good with, certainly the social distancing I feel like we've mastered in no time at all. But it's that keeping my hands out of my mouth [I struggle with] ... [and] this can definitely help with that."

Vukusic has started a Facebook group called 'Sew the Curve' for interested volunteers and says she has received over 100 phone calls from people interested in helping. The group, which is open to all, already has over 60 members who are sharing sewing patterns and tips.

Brandy Maslowski, a quilter based in Summerland, is also preparing her community of quilters to start making masks should the need arise. 

"We know that if they run out [of N95 masks] completely, it's better than nothing. And some hospitals in the U.S. have done just that — they've run out," Maslowski said. 

But she said she'll wait until there's a need.

"Although quilters are poised to act, we don't want to do anything that's unnecessary."

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at  impact@cbc.ca.  

With files from Daybreak South, Daybreak Kamloops

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

now