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Service Through Sewing

UMD student Ailee Lepp sewing face masks
April 13, 2020

Mother-daughter team use sewing skills to make masks during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Ailee Leppi is a junior in the UMD Public Health program who is currently quarantining in her hometown of Blaine, Minnesota, with her family. In her free time, she has been working with her mom, Kathryn Leppi, to create protective masks for healthcare workers.

Kathryn is an elementary school teacher and a UMD alumna. She graduated in the 1980s with a degree in elementary education.

Each mask has been handcrafted in an “assembly line” fashion from a variety of patterned fabrics and elastic materials. Each mask takes them about 15 minutes to make in a process of cutting, pinning, sewing, ironing, pinning again, and sewing again until the mask is complete.

The two also utilized Joann Fabrics’ free mask kits to create about 60 of the masks. Over the course of three weeks, they have has produced over 200 masks that have gone to local hospitals in the Twin Cities, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Sanford Hospital in Bismarck, North Dakota, and more.

Ailee had this to say about her experience making the masks: “This experience has been nothing less than extremely rewarding for both of us. My mom has many years of experience on the sewing machine. While I have less experience, I still know the basics. We decided to start making masks because it was something that would keep us busy and we felt it was a good way to give back while we were at home. As a junior in college, I was not planning on being home for a few months at the end of my junior year. However, this experience has provided a good amount of time for me to spend with my mom, dad, and dog, Angus while doing something for the greater good.”

Learn more about UMD's Public Health program.