TCC Employees Pivot from Designing Costumes to Making Masks

April 21, 2020
Two Tulsa Community College employees, who typically have a hand in costume design and construction in the College’s Theatre Department, are using those skills for a different purpose.

Emily Westerfield, Assistant Professor of Theatre and Alyssa Yepez, TCC Costume Shop Assistant spend their spare time making masks.

For Emily, the lack of personal protective equipment hits close to home with a mother as an ER Nurse in Colorado and a younger sister as a Pharmacy Technician at a Wisconsin hospital.

Hearing about the lack of supplies or shortages prompted her to begin making them for her family and their co-workers.

“I found a tutorial video and pattern online,” said Emily. “I already had most of the supplies I needed. As a costume designer I tend to hoard fabric. But I did buy a few more yards of fabric with fun patterns on our weekly grocery store run.”

She’s made about 50 and expanded to include surgical caps for her mom’s ER and headbands with buttons to help relieve the pressure from wearing the masks all day.

Making masks has grown into a passion for Alyssa, who began by making one for herself and one for her boyfriend.

“I realized disposable masks shipped by businesses were taking close to a month to arrive,” said Alyssa. “Seeing as how people need immediate protection, I decided to take on the task of selling as many high-quality reusable masks as possible and I am successfully getting them to individuals within a week.”

Alyssa believes she’s made more than 70 masks. Both women plan to continue making masks as long as material and supplies hold out.

“It's really been an awesome family activity during this time,” said Emily. “Both my husband and my stepson, Jordan, have been helping me with the cutting and ironing, etc.

Jordan even assisted with the sewing as well.”