It started as a Facebook group for sewing tips, but now it has grown to a non-profit selling hundreds of personalized masks.

“We’re able to collaborate and share ideas and problem solve, and all of us have different patterns that we use. We choose our own fabric, so it's just a nice way to kind of come together and help the community," said Tompkins Mask Makers Collective seamstress Stephanie Allen.

What You Need To Know

  • Tompkins Mask Makers Collective is selling masks to the community in bulk, or personalized

  • Free masks are available in a container on the 400 block of 2nd Street in Ithaca

  • Organization began the day state made face coverings necessary in April

Tompkins Mask Makers Collective is a group of eight seamstresses who saw a need for masks when they became necessary in the state.

“You couldn’t go to the store to buy a mask, but everyone had to have one, so we were really needed especially in the beginning of the pandemic," said Allen.

The group made masks to sell in bulk to businesses, individuals, and to be sold on local shelves. They sewed up sizes for adults and kids. Sewers also make masks with clear plastic for the hearing impaired.

“At first, none of us had sewn a mask before, and so it took some time to get our speed up, but now we’re master mask-makers," said Allen.

Allen makes 25-50 masks every week. So far, she has sewn hundreds.

“It's just really great to be a part of something in the community; to feel like you can help. I feel like so many of us feel powerless in the pandemic, like we can't really do much to help, and so it's great to have that purpose to be able to help the community in this way," said Allen.

The group doesn’t just sell masks if you’re in need of one. You can go to the 400 block of 2nd Street in Ithaca and get a free one for you or your family. The collective will hire and train teens how to make masks as well.