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Free Makespace mask kit for you to make at home

Makespace mask kit is just a few stitches away from a free mask
Makespace mask kit is just a few stitches away from a free mask

Makespace’s latest Covid-19 response activity – reusable cloth mask kits – are now available for free for people to make at home.

Volunteer-led not-for-profit Makespace launched the kit for those who wish to wear a mask while re-engaging with the outside world.

The community organisation, which began in 2013, has 400 members – all “people making things”, including electricians, entrepreneurs, pensioners, engineers and fashion designers –and one part-time employee.

“It’s a very unusual organisation – entirely volunteer-led,” says member Julia, who works at Cambridge University Press. “When the pandemic started, members were seeing links to open source equipment including ventilators, gowns, masks, visors, and booths for treating patients.

“We decided to mobilise as a community and set up a spreadsheet collating ideas. We had a member in a clinical engineering role at Addenbrooke’s. She said the first priority was PPE, and she then worked with Makespace to choose designs for a plastic visor and revised it to a high specification, all in a matter of days.

“We had 80 volunteers working 12-hour shifts with materials sourced from the community – the plastic came from a cake factory – and made 5,000 visors. They went to care homes, hospices, GPs, funeral homes and schools, with our drivers dropping the boxes off.”

Though Makespace offers its designs to others to build, it likes to get production started from its base on Mill Lane - so after the initial rush the designs were passed over to be made in a factory.

“We work with partners to help them scale up,” says Julia. “ We have an unusual ability to prototype solutions to problems – and we can do it quickly and for free. There’s no red tape.”

A Makespace mask kit produces an excellent mask - for free
A Makespace mask kit produces an excellent mask - for free
A Makespace mask kit creates a comfortable item
A Makespace mask kit creates a comfortable item

Next up after visors were masks.

“Production of visors tailed off as the scale-up people were taking care of it,” explains Julia. “Our director Simon Ford said ‘we should do something very scaleable to stop the spread of the virus in the community and it won’t be long before everyone needs a mask,’ so the response team made the initial kit for five masks.

“It’s just elastic, instructions and a pattern, so you cut out the paper and put the fabric around it, and it needs a couple of stitches to sew it together. It’s a very scaleable way to get a lot of masks for people. We had £5,000 set aside for the visors, but we made all of them for £3,500, so we had some money left over for the masks. We offered the first ones for free then, when the money ran out, we reached out to sponsors to be able to continue.

“We got going quickly with some initial funding but Arm, TTP and Amazon heroically kicked in with £30,000 of funding to support our Covid response activities and keep it free for the public.”

Dominic Vergine, Arm’s VP head of sustainability and corporate responsibility, said: “As part of Arm’s response to Covid-19, we have been engaging with our local communities, national governments and key global partners to better understand what resources and expertise we can provide, including helping to address immediate issues in the communities in which we operate. Supporting the Makespace community will enable the team to continue to use its wide network of skills and talent to provide critical support in Cambridge.”

The Makespace workshop is on Mill Lane
The Makespace workshop is on Mill Lane

At TTP, managing director Sam Hyde said: “TTP is proud to support Makespace in its Covid-19 activities that are leveraging the wider Cambridge talent pool, community and spirit.”

And Amazon Cambridge director David Hardcastle noted: “At Amazon Cambridge we are very proud to support Makespace, helping a diverse and innovative group of volunteers make a big difference in our local community.”

“The skills, ingenuity and enthusiasm of the Makespace community has been amazing,” says director Simon Ford. “We’re proud to have been able to adapt to make such good use of Makespace during these times, and thankful to the sponsors who have helped us catalyse the willingness and efforts of so many Makespace volunteers.”

The mask kit contains:

 120-thread cotton poplin material for the outer layers

 120-thread cotton poplin material for the inner layers

 Five bendable metal nose formers to help with snug fit

 Elastic to make five sets of straps

 20 beads

 Pattern (large/adult and teenager, small/child)

Request your mask here.

Makespace mask
Makespace mask

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