Denver fashion designers sew fabrics into face masks

Fashion Design students, faculty and staff at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design (RMCAD) are embracing their new e-classrooms by sewing their fabrics into face masks.

Stitch by stitch, these artists are networking regularly in their virtual environment with peers, professors and friends over at Athena Project for “Fashion in Action,” a collaborative partnership between RMCAD and the non-profit to create and distribute face masks for those who need it most during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chair of Fashion Design, Nicole Bartet says hosting these sewing circles are a way to stay connected while giving back to the community, “there are two goals in place, building community and helping the community. We, as artists all know that what we do is therapeutic. Knowing that, we were inspired to build our fashion family and do more for our medical professionals on the front lines.

As of today, Fashion in Action is helping senior care centers, home healthcare workers, police departments, homeless shelters, OBGYN workers and high-risk individuals in need. Bartet says she hopes her students gain a sense of pride for their philanthropy, “the skills fashion students learn at RMCAD are helping to protect people in this crisis. It’s a beautiful opportunity for everyone involved. Also, our students gain a connection with the fashion community virtually to feel a little less isolated, learn new sewing skills or practice existing ones.”

The face masks are made out of several different types of material such as cotton and various antimicrobial fabrics. Most materials are being funded by these designers’ fabric stashes, personal donations and funding by RMCAD.

These face masks are meant to serve as a last resort if hospitals and other essential areas of work have run out of medical-grade masks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that face masks are sanitized every four to six hours. Bartet says the plan is to make bundles of 10 to allow multiple mask changes throughout someone’s work shift.

The transition from on-ground to blended learning has been a challenge for most places, but overall smooth for RMCAD students and faculty. Bartet credits her faculty for keeping their students accommodated during this temporary time, “they [professors] have gone above and beyond to navigate the transition with our students. Additionally, online instructors, such as Dr. Darlene C. Ritz, have volunteered to mentor ground instructors who aren’t as familiar with the modality. It truly is teamwork at its best and I am so incredibly proud of the fashion team and the students. Everyone is working together in a time when we’re apart, it’s beautiful to be a part of.”

As it is common for artists to work from home, Fashion in Action has found its place in RMCAD’s Production Construction class since making face masks will be part of Fashion Design students’ final project. By the time students have completed the class, they will all have created their mini-factory inside their homes. 

These sewing circles are open to the public for those who want to help, create and be social. You can learn more about Fashion in Action by visiting Athena Project.

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