Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Face Masks

Have you been making face masks? It seems to be the thing to do during this coronavirus crisis. 

I've been looking for places that need masks. I contacted the two hospitals that we use but neither has a call out/need yet. I signed up with Relief Crafters of America and was trying to figure out their mask pattern and how to sign up to make masks when an urgent plea came my way.

An anesthesiologist that live in the greater Chicago area contacted a friend who immediately set up a group of sewers. The doctor grew up in out village so we all know her. The 50 anesthesiologists in her group have been told to wear bandanas when their masks run out in the near future. Any masks will be better than a bandana; so the sewing began.

We are under a Shelter-In-Place state order in Illinois, aka house arrest, so we could not get together to sew. I was very lucky to have Ray around - he was VERY helpful!

He cut, turned and pressed most of the straps, traced patterns, cut out pieces, pressed masks, measured and cut elastic, threaded elastic, and fixed meals for a couple of days!

I made my prototype out of one fabric for both the front and back. My research says one should easily be able to tell the front from the back so I made all of the donation masks from two fabrics. I used softer, less bright fabrics for the inside/back of the mask.

The pattern I was using has a pocket for an N95 mask or a filter. That took a bit more time but I thought it might be useful.

Then more research said that a non-woven inside layer helps to filter germs. It still is nowhere as good as an N95 but I'll do what I can to help so I added a piece of a t-shirt inside each mask. Maybe you can see it in the picture. This one is  yellow. Sewing the t-shirt in really slowed me down but again, if it helps,...

The first 13 masks have straps. Yes, more research said straps are preferred by most doctors. So 13 masks means 52 straps - that took some time! I'm so grateful for Ray's help.

Late yesterday at about hour 16 into this project, we found out we had another 24 hours. So today Ray and I made 7 more masks. These all have elastic that goes around the head, not just the ears. I did use elastic instead of straps and I do know the pattern so these only took the morning to make!

People in our group used a variety of patterns. I like this one which I got from Relief Crafters of America but it was strange to understand at first. I caught it in the middle of changes. It works well but I will tweak it before making it again. I also might investigate other patterns.

I hope you are doing well and handling the social distancing.  I really didn't think it would be this hard and maybe it's just knowing that you can't go see a grandchild or a friend or take a drive. In any event, it really helped me to do something that was useful and needed. My mental state is much better and it looks like there will be more mask making.


  1. What a wonderful contribution your masks will make. Your masks will be so effective, but they are also so pretty! Good for you and Ray. Guess the ironing is like physiotherapy for him! Glad to hear the pain is starting to subside. Stay well and stay safe!

  2. Good job by both of you. So glad you took the challenge to fill the needs. So many patterns around, and yours looks very detailed.

  3. Your masks are great. Mine are much more simple. I have requests from 3 different people/groups for masks so far. Hopefully my little guild will make some, too. Stay safe!

  4. Those doctors are going to LOVE your cheerful masks!! I'm glad to see that you were able to recruit a competent assistant to help with your efforts. :o))



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