People from all over the world are finding ways to say thank you to the healthcare workers, the first responders, people who are keeping the essential stores open. It’s one way they find that they can make even a small contribution to the pandemic that has hit our world. My daughter is an ER doctor. She had a malfunction of her protective gear while performing CPR on a COVID 19 patient. She is now in a 14 day quarantine and cannot leave her bedroom.
Friends came by and wrote this thank you on their sidewalk . She could see it from her window. Other friends brought cookies and left a thank you note. She’s receiving thanks in many ways. As quilters, we also look for a way we can do something and make a small contribution to what is happening all around us. There’s not one of us who hasn’t been touched in some way by COVID 19.
In the past when national disasters have occurred, we’ve gotten together at the Studio and had sew-ins making quilts for the victims of the disasters. We are not able to get together this time. We all have to stay home. We have been told that everyone should wear masks for protection when they are apt to encounter other people. Many of my extended family members do not sew and do not have access to purchased masks. So, I asked a simple question of my staff “is anybody making masks and if so what pattern are you using.” I received back a barrage of emails. They are ALL making masks…for friends, neighbors, family, health institutions, homeless shelters, nursing homes, etc. There is a wide variety of patterns that have been used and styles and techniques. If you feel inclined to make some masks (I know many of you already are) I hope you find this information helpful.
I can’t tell you the best mask pattern to use. It all depends on what the needs are, how much time you want to take, what supplies you have available, etc. But I can pass on to you some of the staff comments and tips.
There are basically two kinds of mask patterns available: ones that are molded to fit the face and ones that are pleated rectangles.
Securing the masks:
There are also different ways to secure the masks. Some have elastic bands that fit behind the ears. Others have ties that go around the head and neck. Ties can be made of bias binding, cording, ribbon, etc. My favorite (and easiest) is to cut ties from old t-shirts. Cut one-inch strips running parallel to the hem. Pull them and they curl into a cord. The stretchiness helps to make a more secure tie. I keep the tie all in one piece. The loop goes over the head and the ties are tied behind the neck.
Fabric to use:
Quilting fabric has been recommended by many experts because of the high thread count. Amongst quilting fabric, batiks are especially good because they are made with fabric with an even greater thread count. Either type will work very well.
Here’s what some members of my staff have been doing.
I’m using the pattern for the Olson mask. There is even a pattern for a child aged 2-5. The Olson mask is made up of 6 pieces. The insides should have two different colors to identify the place where you can insert a heppa filter.
So far, I have not gotten beyond making masks for family and friends. I’m using a combination of two patterns with pleats, primarily one from Erica Made Designs. So far, I have lined them with a lightweight interfacing and will be moving on to flannel lining next. I’m impressed with the studies which say that these masks made of quilting fabric have a 70 to 79% filtration rate.
Here is mine and my husband’s. I’m sure you can tell whose is whose.
I’ve made two styles of masks so far for friends and family. They’ve been shipped as far as Atlanta! Both of them have two layers of fabric (I’m using a batik and white sheeting, both of which are the higher thread count recommended and the inside/outside is obvious); both have nose wires (also recommended); one has a pocket for a filter. Both patterns call for elastic but I’ve been using WOF double-fold straps (cut on the straight- grain) which is apparently more comfortable and can allow for a better fit.
The first pattern is the fitted style; very comfortable. Takes a bit longer to make. Second is the pleated mask; I think this will be my go-to pattern as it is faster.
Pleated mask: https://www.jenniemaydew.com/sloane-mask
I have joined the mask making brigade also but am working on family and extended family (workers at our family’s restaurant) for now. Some of the ones I make are custom ordered like the Willie Nelson bandana and the wolf mask. Each family member is as unique as their mask.
One quick tip I found to make it easier is to zigzag stitch the wire or pipe cleaner in the seam allowance on the top of the mask BEFORE you turn the mask right side out….this makes the placement and guidance easier so as not to worry about hitting it with my needle. Doesn’t matter which pattern you are using.
I have used several different patterns and have modified most of them to reduce the cutting and numbers of seams to sew. The ties seem to be better for fitting.
I am using muslin or colored cotton for the inside lining. Most of them have the pocket to add some kind of additional filter if needed. My stash is finally serving a valiant purpose although it may not make a significant dent. Having fun and sewing with a purpose: the 2020 version of Rosie the Riveter with a sewing machine
I am using T-shirts for straps – really a time saver.
I have been making masks for Johns Hopkins Hospital (pattern here), where my son-in-law works, my allergist’s practice, as well as family, neighbors and friends. To date, I have made over 400!!
I did have to try one with border print fabric. I centered the mirror image motif of the fabric in the middle of the rectangle.
I have made some masks for my family and some friends who have asked. I tried to find some “manly” fabric scraps for the guys and fun fabrics for the girls! Although, I did have to make a mask for my husband and he wanted cats – go figure! I will probably be making more for him to go to work (he is a DC police detective) as they are not providing these essential things due to the lack of resources and will be sending along any extras for other people in his office as needed.
I used quilting cottons for the outside and a Jinny batik for the inside (coordinating of course)! I had read that using batiks was good as the weave is tighter than other fabrics. I also had some extra interfacing that I added to the inside as an extra layer of protection.
I tried a few patterns but found that I liked this one the best. It can be secured around the neck and head without having to take it off and constantly be setting it down or touching it.
I have been making masks for family. I am using the Olson Mask tutorial that Diane used. I have found the long loop is more comfortable than my ancient, scratchy elastic. I made my loop tie from cotton fabric cut at 3/4” then I fold it in half lengthwise, iron it flat, then run it through my serger. So far, it is working well. I use one layer of quilting fabric and the lining is from a sheet.
I am using the patterns from millionmaskchallenge.com, which was started by a group of women in our area. There are two kinds – one is a cover for an N95 mask, and the other is a basic mask for people in their daily lives. (How weird is it that this is part of our daily lives?!)
Two indispensable items: Wonder Clips and the ByAnnie stiletto!
I started by using some old bias and twill tapes I got from my mom, but have run out of those. After two painful evenings making bias tape, I read about the T-shirt strips. Genius!
Here is a photo of the masks I made for family in Colorado, a mix of the Olson Mask using ponytail holders for the ear elastic (more comfortable and readily available at my grocery store), and pleated masks with ties made of cross grain cut 2″ strips.
Yesterday, I received a phone call from my contact at Operation Homefront, a non-profit to which my quilt guild donates baby blankets for the baby bundles they give to new military moms. I was asked if I could ask my quilting friends to make masks (any kind, ties or elastic, formed or pleated) for distribution at Walter Reed Hospital.
Off to the loft to make more masks.
I’ve been making masks for my family and friends and both my sisters are doing the same. I have found doing the masks very calming and a way of thinking about each person as I sew for them. My son is a woodworker so he got hammer and nails, my husband sails so boats on his, my friend is a gardener, so gardening tools for her. My granddaughter, Ruthie, is learning how to ride her new bike so hers has bicycles! Here’s the pattern I’m using. I’m making version #2 in the video but not doing the pocket, just one whole piece replacing it.
Now for me…
I used the same video that Lura used above and also made #2. I have so far made the masks for family and friends. I used fusible interfacing inside for extra protection. I have a couple of tips.
- Cut the interfacing about 3 inches shorter on one end then center it over the rectangle and iron it down. The extra bulk won’t be a factor in making and sewing the pleats and casing.
- If you are going to make a casing to run your ties through, it can be difficult to get a safety pin through all those folds. I decided to use a medium-size metal crochet hook. It went through the casing easily and I hooked the t-shirt ties and pulled it right through.
- I folded the pipe cleaners over about half an inch on each end so that the metal wouldn’t cut through the fabric with repeated washings.
Happy mask making!