Pullman resident channels passion for sewing to help others

Former WSU student made 83 masks for family, Pullman residents so far



Juliann Yusko started sewing at the age of 10. She has created a prom dress, fixed WSU’s Marching Band uniforms, and sewn masks for the Pullman community.

CHERYL AARNIO, Evergreen reporter

Pullman resident Juliann Yusko is the type of person who helps others in any way she can. When she designed costumes for drama in high school, she worked for hours on end to make sure every costume was ready and comfortable.

That supportive and caring side of Juliann has not changed. During the pandemic, she made masks for others.

Juliann’s sister Kari, 22, said she herself has chronic heart conditions, which makes her immunocompromised. Juliann — with her knack for sewing — made a few masks for Kari in April. 

Before she was able to send masks to Kari, who is also 300 miles away, Juliann taught her how to make her own masks over video chat, Kari said.

“I’m extremely grateful,” she said. “I’m petrified of going outside in the first place.”

Juliann said she is a former WSU Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles major who is planning to come back to the university for her senior year.

While Juliann made her own masks and gave masks to her sister and other family members, she said she also sold some for low prices on Facebook and Etsy. Most of the masks have been sold to people in Pullman.

She said selling the masks helped bring in a little extra money since her boyfriend lost his job due to the pandemic. So far, she has made 83 masks. 

“She has all these new projects that she’s getting into that she wants to share with people. Making the masks is one of them,” said Kayla Brown, WSU teaching graduate student.

Another one of Juliann’s projects is her Earth conservation efforts, Brown said. Juliann posts about conservation on social media to educate others. She also actively works to reduce her plastic use.

Once COVID-19 hit the Palouse, Juliann Yusko sewed several cloth masks, including one for her immunodeficient sister. (COURTESY OF JULIANN YUSKO)

Her masks also tie into those conservation efforts because they are reusable, she said.

Sewing is not new for Juliann. She has been sewing since she was 10 and learned how to through a mix of JOANN’s classes and YouTube videos.

Juliann said she is mainly self-taught. As an AMDT major, one of the designs she created — a black dress with a layered skirt and satin top — was worn by a model on the runway during the Mom’s Weekend Fashion Show in her junior year.

Creating designs for sewing is like a puzzle to her, she said, because she might have to change a pattern to get a design to fit a certain way, but she enjoys showing off what she creates.

“I love making things. I love being able to make my own clothes,” Juliann said. “In high school, I made my own prom dress. I made my own homecoming dresses.”

Juliann made Kari’s then-boyfriend’s vest and tie before prom with very little time left to finish making her own dress, Kari said. She had fewer than 24 hours prior to the dance before she was asked to make his vest and tie, but she finished them either way.

“She has always tried to do what she can for people in the moment,” Kari said. “If anyone asks her if she can make something, she’s typically going to say ‘absolutely.’”

Hannah Califano, senior music major, met Juliann when they both held student-staff positions in the marching band, Califano said. They were in charge of, among other things, repairing uniforms. Juliann has fixed tears or broken zippers, sometimes in as little as 15 minutes.

When game days rolled around and something went wrong with a uniform, there was not a lot of time to fix them, Califano said, but Juliann got it done when it was needed.

She said people were surprised at the repairs Juliann could make, saying they could never do what she did.

”I think that this project for her was really right up her alley, with her experience in service and her experience in sewing,” Califano said. “It’s just like two worlds coming together.”