Calling All People Who Sew And Make: Let's sew some masks + beat this virus!
Posted on March 22 2020
There has been a rally call to seamstresses and sewers. Are you on a mandated quarantine and staying at home to ensure social distancing? Me too! All the people that I know who sew, currently have a stash of fabric scraps of cute remnants that we all think may come in handy one day. That day is today!
There is a massive shortage of PPE for hospital workers and it is likely that you won't find any on the shelves of the businesses considered essential at this time. If you think homemade masks won't work, the CDC explains that as a last resort home sewn masks may be used. On the CDC page: Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks, they explain that as a last resort, a homemade mask is acceptable. That is the stage we are currently facing in this pandemic.
There are many patterns being shared for the making of masks. The instructions to the mask I will show you how to make step by step are here. There are two sizes, one for child and one for adult. If you know an adult with a large head like my husband you may need to make the adult pattern 1 inch longer on each side.
First, let's make a pattern for each size. The adult size is 9" x 6" rectangle and the child size is 7.5" x 5", cut two pieces of tightly woven cotton per mask. You will also need two cuts of 7" of elastic. I used 1/4" elastic and you can use 1/8" or rope elastic. If using rope elastic, tie a knot at each end, do not knot flat elastic.
1. MAKE YOUR PATTERN. We put our adult and child size patterns on tag board for durability to use over and over again.
2. CUT YOUR FABRIC. Cut 2 pieces of fabric to the pattern size for each mask. Make sure to use tightly woven cotton.
3. CUT YOUR ELASTIC. Cut 2 pieces of elastic 7" long for each mask.
4. PIN YOUR FABRIC. Take your two pieces of fabric and put right sides together. Put in a couple of pins so it does not shift when sewing. And start sewing from the middle of one of the long sides to an inch before the corner. Use 3/8" seam allowance.
5. INSERT YOUR ELASTIC. When you sew almost to the corner on the first long side, insert your elastic so that it is inside with one end diagonal in the corner. Sew over it several times. Raise your sewing foot and swivel fabric to sew the next short end. Stop close to the corner and grab the other end of the elastic so that the end can be sewn into the next corner. Go back and forth several times over the elastic. Sew the next long end and repeat the previous steps to insert and sew the elastic on those corners. Lift foot to make the turn and sew on the starting long end until you are 2 inches from where you started. Use the gap to turn fabric inside out.
6. Add 3 pin tucks to each side of the mask and pin. This maximizes the protection of the mask with the gathered effect. Pin identically on each side. Sew all the way around the mask closer to the edge, about an 1/8". Careful to remove pins before sewing over them.
Huzzah! You have completed the mask! I will be making masks until I run out of elastic. My 3 yard elastic pack was enough for 7 masks.
While news reports currently show a huge response from our maker community some hospitals are at capacity and others are starting to reach out. My fashion school, Apparel Arts is in contact with the higher ups in Bay Area Kaisers who will be working on getting the students medical grade supplies for ones we will provide to their hospital workers. The ones in this blog would be wonderful to share with your neighbors to use when out getting essentials until we hear where the need is next. Here is a great video from the CFO of Deaconess Health showing step by step instructions as she sews this mask.
I will be dropping off this first batch to friends and neighbors around my neighborhood, leaving them on the doorsteps and staying 6 feet away from the open door. Recommend that they wash on sanitary cycle prior and after use. After removing the mask, make sure to sanitize hands before touching your face.
Be well my friends. Stay home unless getting necessities, we're in this together.