Alliance Theatre costume designers sew medical masks

Costume designers at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre are used to creating life with their vibrant work.  But with their latest project, they're hoping to help save some.

"There are so many different patterns and styles and you can really tailor them to what the hospital needs."

Assistant costume shop manager April Andrew is talking about masks.  Right now, while the Alliance stage is dark, the theatre's twelve full-time costume shop employees are staying busy at their machines, sewing masks.

"We saw the need, and Spencer, our costume shop manager, put it to the management," says Andrew.  "He said, 'Is this something that we could do?'  And then Mike Schleifer, the managing director, took that idea and ran with it, and reached out to hospitals asking if they were interested."

Theatre staffers say Emory Healthcare was interested and plans to use the masks for a specific purpose:  "These masks are used to go over the N95 respirator masks, those are the ones that actually filter out the bacteria and the disease.  These are meant to lengthen the lifespan of those masks, because they're in such short supply.  You wear this washable cover over it, and you can use the N95 underneath longer."

Making the washable covers is a quick process for a skilled sewer -- about 15 minutes for each one -- and doesn't require too much material.  But the good the masks can do is immeasurable, something April Andrew feels with every stitch.

"It's definitely great to be doing something that's helpful because we have so many great, talented people at the Alliance.  And this is a great way to use their talents and help the needs of the hospital."