Area sewing enthusiast urges others to make masks

Friday, March 27, 2020
Cindee Batey has personally delivered masks to everyone requesting from nurses to those with cancer. She recently encouraged others to make some simple ones and help their neighbors in need.
Submitted photo

Two essentials during the coronavirus pandemic— two items certainly more crucial than toilet paper — are face masks and shields.

Observing the need, seamstress Cindee Batey fashioned last weekend about 30 masks in her Manchester home; she said it takes only about 15 minutes of her time, per mask.

This week, she’s delivering them like hotcakes. Well, as fast as she can sew.

In addition, she’s been sharing sewing tips via social media with everyone in the area interested in lending a hand, or two in this case.

“I have a very well-stocked sewing room. Who knew I would need all this one day when all the fabric stores closed,” Batey said.

Donations needed


The 1/4-inch wide elastic she uses is one sewing notion she’s needing donated. Friends from this entire area and many on social media are trying to help Batey out on her mission-one which she assures isn’t for profit.

“I am donating to whomever needs them most, starting with healthcare workers and ones who are in a high risk category,” she said.

While dropping off mask requests from those in need via her car last week, Batey became emotional.

“I spent the whole morning, dropping off face masks that I’m making for the general public. I’m getting out there and seeing how this thing is . . . in our little communities. I delivered masks to people’s homes . . . went to fancy and beautiful ones that needed this little thing that I do. I went to homes that were tiny where people don’t have a lot.”

A widow since 2018, Batey’s late husband, Dean Batey, was a Duck River Electric lineman who died in the line of duty; she believes he’s one who would have been right by her side helping with this project.

Still, she’s willing in his absence to shoulder the brunt of all this to help her neighbors, whether they’re nurses or elderly needing one of her colorful masks.

This week, she received supplies and monetary donations from all over the area-enough to make about 200 more masks.

“It’s just a little thing we can do to fill a desperate need in our community. I’m hoping others who sew will also start donating to those in need. We’re all in this together. I hope you take this serious and help out your neighbors.”

College and tech students

Tennessee’s community and technical college students are also playing a major role in supplying faceshields during the coronavirus pandemic-those which will hopefully protect Tennessee health professionals.

Using 3D printers, students with Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology at Shelbyville, Elizabethton, Jackson, Morristown, Murfreesboro and Jackson State and Pellissippi State community colleges manufactured 858 headbands from Saturday through Monday afternoon that will be used for plastic face shields.

Other campuses are supplying 3D printers, materials and supplies for the ongoing effort.

The shield project was announced by Gov. Bill Lee Monday afternoon, as part of his office’s work to find new and innovative ways to serve Tennesseans during the COVID-19 crisis.

Recently, Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), in concert with the Tennessee Board of Regents and respective universities, began to locate 3D printers for the production of the personal protective equipment (PPE) face shields. After only three days of intensive efforts that included a range of community and business partners, the overall effort has produced a total of more than 1,500 critically needed pieces of PPE for health care professionals.

THEC stated the work will continue in the coming days and weeks. The headbands are being sent to Austin Peay State University, which originated the prototype and where the headbands will be attached to transparent plastic face shields.

The first batch of assembled face shields are expected to be delivered this week to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) for distribution to healthcare facilities and professionals facing shortages of the equipment, according to THEC.

Healthcare professionals wear face shields over masks as further protection from infectious diseases while working with patients. Other Tennessee universities are also planning to participate in this collaborative effort as Tennessee continues to battle the coronavirus.