Fairbanks seamstresses make face masks amid COVID-19

Nasuk Ahyakak uses her skills to make fabric face masks for the community. (John...
Nasuk Ahyakak uses her skills to make fabric face masks for the community. (John Dougherty/KTVF) (KTVF)
Published: Apr. 6, 2020 at 5:25 PM AKDT
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The CDC recently recommended that Americans cover their face when out in public due to coronavirus concerns. With these new guidelines, many people are needing masks. Fairbanks residents have stepped up to help make masks for the community.

Numerous Facebook pages like ‘Fairbanks Mask Makers’ and ‘Alaska Mask Makers’ have sprung up with people making and giving away the masks.

Alaska Native, Nasuk Ahyakak, learned to sew from her mother. She makes northern style Inupiaq summer wear and parkas as a side job. Ahyakak says she was working on a project when she realized she could help the community.

"I needed to stop because I needed more fabric. So that one I couldn't finish. And took the fabric that I was going to use to finish that and make masks for everyone," she said as she pointed to the unfinished kuspuk.

She said she saw the need.

"A lot of facilities were running out of PPE. The number one thing was being, they were needing face masks and so I just took my skills that I knew of a seamstress making parkas and all the materials that I have on hand and just started from there," Ahyakak said.

Since starting, she has made between 350-400 masks and is still going. She said she can make a mask in seven or eight minutes. One struggle has been finding the elastic to hold them to someone’s face and she said she will be making ones that tie on when she runs out of elastic.

After she makes them she sanitizes them and then puts them in bags to donate to the community.

She encourages anyone who knows how to make masks to join the Facebook groups and pitch in and help.

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