Shop Talk: APT Costume Shop Staff Builds Respirators for UW Health

Posted May 12, 2020

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, APT's Costume Director Scott Rött and his staff have been sewing masks in the costume shop for folks in need. That service has expanded, and now they're creating hoods and masks for respirators for UW Health to keep essential workers safe. Scott will tell you more about it in this new Q&A.

APT: Can you describe the project?
Scott Rött: We are working with Powered Air Purifying Respirators that UW Health received from the National Stockpile.

APT: How did the project get started?
Scott: I’m not really sure how it all got started and it involves many different people.  It came to APT through Nancy Horns who stitches for us in the summer.  She was working with Brian Ellison from Midwest Prototyping who was 3D printing new valves for the hoods. UW wanted a piece added so that it covered the neck and shoulder and tuck into the neck of a hospital gown. Nancy contacted me looking for help for the project and we were able to take it on. So we are putting together a 3 piece “poncho” of sorts and adding it to the original hoods.

APT: Who is working on it?
Scott: There are 5 of us working on this project – April McKinnis, Anne Louis, Caitlyn de Araujo, Katharine Engelen and myself. Nancy Horns developed the patterns which were then sent to New York Embroidery where they were laser cut and shipped to us in Spring Green. Nancy also made a video for us on how things would go together since she couldn’t come out to the theater and talk us through the process. Brian Ellison’s team delivered the hoods.

APT: What types of pieces are you sewing (masks, head covers, other?)
Scott: The original hoods are made from a plastic like fabric and have a clear face shield and it is gathered around the face with elastic. We are adding the “poncho” around that elastic and that is made from a non-woven fabric coated in plastic.

APT: Approximately how much time have you put into it? 
Scott: When all is said and done we will have put in 2 full weeks at APT. I know there was much time put into the development of the patterns but that happened before it arrived to us. There are 1250 hoods to do and on average we are able to complete 100-130 per day.

APT: What made you decide this would be a good project to take on?
Scott: This is a way to help so many – doctors, nurses – and also getting some employment for some of our staff that would have been part of our season.

APT: How does it feel to be helping keep essential workers safe?
Scott: It feels great to be helping with the greater community and especially that it’s for people on the front line of this. It’s one thing to make fabric face masks for our small community, but know this will be used on the front lines.