Make Masks Make PPE

Make Nashville Fabric Mask Blog

By Jenna Loofbourrow

What a difference a week can make 4/6:

I walked into Make Nashville this Monday, and had to catch my breath. Our table of finished masks was a mess. The piles we had neatly stacked and sorted Friday were falling over; there wasn’t any organization, it was simply a giant pile of hand sewn fabric masks. Will peeked his head in while two of us volunteers were moving the masks around trying to find a sense of order. He announced “Oh yeah, we had a bunch of nurses in over the weekend picking out masks for themselves & their coworkers. It was so cool!” 

Last week I walked into Make Nashville, not knowing what to expect; only that I wanted to do something good that day. COVID-19 has taken away a lot of people’s freedom, taken away jobs (like mine), and taken away people’s sense of security. But what it hasn’t taken away… The ability to do good. 

Here I was a week later, seeing the work done by the volunteers & knowing that without a doubt, we did good. Suddenly, cleaning up this mess wasn’t so frustrating anymore. We were picking up after the people we were here to help, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Cleaning up our act 4/8:

Today we spent the day cleaning and sanitizing our already sterile, but lived-in workspace. We’ve been working like crazy to fine tune our patterns, protocols and pieces of the puzzle that is our mask making process. After research done by our office staff we realized we needed to step up our game when it came to organizing and sanitizing our finished masks. I’d say that blood, sweat and tears went into our day; but given those fluids are “illegal” now, let’s just say that a lot of gloves, bleach and paper towels went into the day! 

I’m proud to announce that we now have a system in place to collect, organize, sterilize, date and store our fabric face masks. We even commandeered half of our fabric lab to store finished masks while they are isolating and wait to be distributed!! It might not look too fancy, but it’s our way of showing healthcare workers and first responders just how seriously we take protecting them from possible contaminants. 

One of my favorite parts about helping at Make Nashville is their willingness and ability to adapt. In just 10 days time, we have redesigned our process for making fabric masks, organized pick-up/drop-offs for dozens of volunteers and now implemented a sterilizing/cataloging system; all to meet a HUGE need for our community.

Podcast Social Media

Make Nashville Podcasting

Executive Director Will Harper and Media Lab Captain Chad Krash, have launched a podcast called “One Million Breaths” to be released this week. The podcast will feature the team giving updates on the makerspace and the COVID-19 effort.

They will also be sharing commentary on local and national news stories. ” There needs to be a sharing of information to inform the community about what’s going on in the Makerspace and a Podcast seems the perfect mode of sharing information in these times.” said Harper. The podcast has a Instagram profile @onemillionbreaths and the team will be posting updates there and on the website. The podcast will include interviews from volunteers and other people who have answered the call to join the battle.

If you are interested in podcasting or have a story we should cover, please email


Make Nashville and the COVID-19 Crisis

“I’m harnessing the power of social media to reach out for needed supplies and funds for essential equipment,” said William Harper,  Executive Director of Make Nashville, a Tennessee non-profit. “I’ve found a way to connect with a community of builders and thinkers worldwide, “One Million Ventilators”, which is collaborating on functional designs for mass production. It’s great to join citizens of many nations, embracing the call.” The idea for making face masks and face shields came from a desire to answer the cries for help coming from the local medical community.

NASHVILLE – March 26, 2020.  Make Nashville heard the call for urgently needed protective masks, face shields and ventilators for medical and emergency workers, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeking an army of 3D printers and sewing volunteers to come together and help fight this tragic epidemic!

Corona virus disease 2019, or COVID-19, is an airborne  disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).[8]. This highly contagious disease was first detected last year in Wuhan, China. It has since spread worldwide, infecting people of every nation.

Will Harper watched the COVID-19 outbreak unfold and spent many long days brainstorming a way to 3D-print ventilator parts and protective masks, realizing there was going to be a lack of supply. He is taking the lead as members and volunteers turn the Make Nashville Makerspace studios into a sterile medical equipment manufacturing site. The Makerspace will also serve as a donation center for supplies needed for the fight we are facing.

The pandemic decimated the national stock of many indispensable medical supplies. Some nurses started using garbage bags and bandanas to replace missing protective gear. The fear of the virus caused citizens to buy up and hoard anything they could get their hands on… it has become nearly impossible to purchase vital protective supplies like hand sanitizing gel, face masks, and disposable gloves at a local store.

The donated materials Make Nashville needs to carry out this mission can be as simple as empty clear plastic 2 liter soda bottles or overhead transparency film that can be used to make crucially needed protective face shields, or as specialized as 3D filament to print the shield frames. Bolts of closely-woven fabric, thread, metal wire (paper-clip thickness), and lots of 1/4″ elastic ribbon are needed to make sewn face masks. Monetary donations are welcomed as well so we can keep buying required materials as they become depleted. And if anyone has any unused sewing equipment, such as sewing machines, scissors, irons, rotary cutters, cricut cutters, etc. that you can spare, please let us know. We can find a good use for them!

Update: At this time, Make Nashville is also making packets of pre-cut fabric, elastic and wire available to people who wish to help out by sewing masks at home. If you want to be part of that effort, please stop by the Make Nashville Makerspace (620B Davidson Street) and pick up a package of mask materials. They are by the front door, where you will also see our “Giving Tree”. Please feel free to add a leaf with your name written on it to the tree — we deeply appreciate your help!!

On his show, Dr. Phil suggested that if folks are struggling with anxiety or depression, they could try to “…  get out of themselves and find some purpose, some meaning, whether it’s getting on the internet or the telephone and talking to someone who is still locked up, or an elderly person who can’t get away, or delivering food to their doorstep, or doing anything but sitting at home worrying. It makes all the difference in the world.” “And,” he continued, “… if you can’t get out of your apartment, [try] seriously listening to someone that’s stuck in a nursing home — just giving something to somebody else.”

The Maker community is embracing the call to “give something to somebody else” — by helping provide essential supplies in the fight against COVID-19 in Nashville and worldwide. “City officials need to call on companies and manufacturers to turn their facilities into production centers, so that they can fill the medical supply needs of healthcare workers worldwide,”  Harper stressed. He recently spoke with an employee of the Nissan manufacturing plant in Smyrna, TN, whose brother has tested positive for COVID-19, and is reaching out to Nissan management to encourage the auto giant to get involved in the making of ventilators.