Coronavirus: Volunteers spring into action with DIY mask movement

Project encourages Singapore residents to sew reusable masks for themselves, others

Punggol West volunteers at the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) in Punggol with cotton masks they made in February. The nationwide movement sprang from a project that began this year in the ward, where volunteers made over 300 masks for
Punggol West volunteers at the Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) in Punggol with cotton masks they made in February. The nationwide movement sprang from a project that began this year in the ward, where volunteers made over 300 masks for children from vulnerable families. PHOTO: PUNGGOL WEST COMMUNITY CENTRE
Above: Primary 6 pupil Adriel Wong, 12, started making masks not long after the virus spread here. "My lines are a bit crooked so I often need to unpick the stitches and start again," he confessed. Below: Teck Ghee volunteers making masks at the CDAC
Primary 6 pupil Adriel Wong, 12, started making masks not long after the virus spread here. "My lines are a bit crooked so I often need to unpick the stitches and start again," he confessed. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MY AH MA'S ATTIC
Above: Primary 6 pupil Adriel Wong, 12, started making masks not long after the virus spread here. "My lines are a bit crooked so I often need to unpick the stitches and start again," he confessed. Below: Teck Ghee volunteers making masks at the CDAC
Teck Ghee volunteers making masks at the CDAC in Punggol in February. PHOTO: MASKS SEWN WITH LOVE/FACEBOOK

As Singaporeans stay indoors to help stem the spread of Covid-19, some people have started to sew their own masks at home - wearing them on grocery runs or giving these colourful fabrics to friends, family and charity.

More people are ready to hop on the do-it-yourself bandwagon as a new nationwide movement takes hold on social media.

Called Masks Sewn With Love, it features an online tutorial video that shows people how to stitch them.

These cloth masks have two layers, with room for extra material like a dry wipe or paper towel to be inserted in between.

The People's Association project was launched online by several women grassroots advisers yesterday.

Volunteers across the island will make masks at home, and people are invited to join in.

"Anyone can sew and learn to make cloth reusable masks, including those with a pocket to insert a filter," said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development Sun Xueling, who is also an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.

She said Masks Sewn With Love was launched "as a way to encourage everyone in the community to make use of their time at home to create a reusable mask they can use to protect themselves and their family".

"These masks can also be given to those in need... We are targeting to complete 50,000 masks in the next four weeks," she added, referring to the volunteers making the masks for residents and vulnerable groups.


A Punggol West volunteer handing out homemade masks to residents. The Masks Sewn With Love project features an online tutorial video that shows people how to stitch them. Volunteers across the island will make masks at home, and people are invited to join in. PHOTO: PUNGGOL WEST COMMUNITY CENTRE

People who want to donate their masks can put them in an envelope addressed to “Masks Sewn with Love”, and drop them off at their nearest post box from April 15. No postage stamp or address is necessary.

People should indicate their name, housing estate, the total number of masks enclosed and the size of these masks at the back of the envelope.

The collected masks will be given to a range of beneficiaries, including crisis shelters for victims of domestic abuse, and voluntary children's homes.

The movement sprang from a project that began this year in Ms Sun's Punggol West ward, where volunteers - guided by home-based sewing studio founder Jacquelene Pang - made over 300 masks for children from vulnerable families.

Punggol West volunteer Kitson Leonard Lee, 43, has been making child-sized masks at home with his family.

It is a sleek operation, with him doing the cutting, his wife in charge of the sewing, and their 12-year-old son responsible for the templates.

It takes them about 20 minutes to complete a mask, and they can make as many as 10 every day.

"We need to rally together as a community," said Mr Lee, who is head of the Centre for Non-Profit Leadership and a grassroots leader.

Others - from nimble-fingered children to local apparel firms - have also been making masks and handing them out for free.

Primary 6 pupil Adriel Wong, 12, started making cotton masks with his sister Beatrice, 16, not long after the coronavirus spread here.

The duo, who have a handicrafts Facebook page called My Ah Ma's Attic, have donated dozens of their homemade masks.

Beatrice does most of the sewing and Adriel helps with the measuring and cutting.

Their mother, housewife Lin Jin Ting, 41, guides them if they need help.

"My lines are a bit crooked so I often need to unpick the stitches and start again," Adriel confessed.

Beatrice added that the project has drawn the family even closer together. "It helps us bond better. We're working together as a family."

• To volunteer or find out more, e-mail sewnwithlove.sg@gmail.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/1133616816975991

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2020, with the headline 'Volunteers spring into action with DIY mask movement'. Subscribe