How to help: Vanderbilt officials call for mask donations, provide instructions on how to make them at home

Local hospitals are calling for residents to sew and donate medical masks. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Local hospitals are calling for residents to sew and donate medical masks. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Local hospitals are calling for residents to sew and donate medical masks. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Residents in the Middle Tennessee region can help medical professionals treating those with coronavirus and can do so from the safety of their homes.

Officials with Vanderbilt University Medical Center have released instructions on how to make hand-sewn face masks to donate to local hospitals.

"Vanderbilt University Medical Center has an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) currently on hand to protect its employees and patients from COVID-19," officials said in an announcement on the VUMC website. "However, the global supply for this equipment continues to be uncertain and we are actively taking steps to secure more supplies."

While VUMC officials said hand-sewn masks are not a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended way to defend against coronavirus, cloth masks can work well for other conditions, which can help conserve existing respirator mask supplies. Masks will be donated to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, the Vanderbilt Adult Hospital and the Vanderbilt Wilson County Hospital.

Masks can be dropped off from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Entrance A at Vanderbilt One Hundred Oaks. Those interested in donating masks can email volunteer.services@vumc.org.


Instructions from VUMC are listed below:

What you will need:

  • Tight-weave cotton fabric or quilting cotton that has not been used, was purchased in the past year and has been washed without fragrances or dyes

  • Rope elastic in 1/4-inch or 1/8-inch width

  • Sewing machine or needles and thread


One adult mask, which are the kind most in need, requires two 9-inch by 6-inch pieces.

How to make the masks:


  1. Put right sides of cotton fabric together horizontally.

  2. Starting at the center of the bottom edge, sew to the first corner and then stop. Sew the elastic with the edge out into the corner. A few stitches forward and back will hold this.

  3. Sew to the next corner, stop, and bring the other end of the same elastic to the corner and sew a few stitches forward and back.

  4. Now, sew across that top of the mask to the next corner. Again, put in elastic with the edge out.

  5. Sew to the next corner and sew in the other end of the same elastic.

  6. Sew across the bottom, leaving about 1.5-2 inches open. Stop and cut the thread then turn inside out.

  7. Pin three tucks on each side of the mask, and make sure the tucks are the same direction.

  8. Sew around the edge of the mask twice.


See the full announcement from VUMC here.
By Wendy Sturges
A Houston native and graduate of St. Edward's University in Austin, Wendy Sturges has worked as a community journalist covering local government, health care, business and development since 2011. She has worked with Community Impact since 2015 as a reporter and editor and moved to Tennessee in 2019.


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