MASKS. We’re all going to need them, so I am making masks. I’ve been sewing since I was twelve-years old. Usually I sew fashion, cloths, wedding gowns, or even silk draperies, something I love having in my home, but this is most important now.
I have not been making masks for our heroes in the healthcare profession because I am sewing alone and can only produce about 12 to 20 masks in a day. So, I have been making masks for a different area of heroes, people who are working in food provisions: grocery stores, curb-side pickup food service businesses.
It started with a mask I made for myself before heading out on a trip from east coast to west coast before things went on lockdown. I designed my own mask from the masks often passed out in doctors offices for patients to keep their germs to themselves, or simply avoid the germs of others. My mask has multiple pleats, so that it opens comfortably from below the eyes to below the chin. I insert a wire across the bridge area of the nose so that it is easy to shape the mask to fit the shape of that area, and offer better visibility around the eyes. The mask has elastic straps, which make easy on-and-off with one hand, while the other is probably in a glove. Last detail I felt was important, is to line the mask with a white cotton lining so that it denotes clearly, the side that goes against the face, keeping outside germs, outside.
When lockdown began and panic hit, as to which businesses would be considered essential, it was clear to me that businesses that would continue to feed us, needed protection; protection in their work environment, having to encounter other co-workers, with an attempt to reduce some of the fear they would have in bringing a virus back into their home, and to their loved ones.
I gathered supplies, elastic being the most difficult to obtain but have finally resolved that problem. I began to sew and sew until word got out that I was making masks for people in the food service industry. Yes, of course, I have made them for family and friends as well but when a large order is requested for a grocery store or curbside pick-up restaurant, family and friends have to wait until I fill those orders first.
I feel a deep sense of gratitude for this little talent that I picked up as a kid, and that it can now bring some measure of comfort to those on the front-lines in this nightmare pandemic. It is only a small thing I have to offer, but every little bit helps.
While there are many different patterns you can access on-line, some are a bit complicated, I wanted to share with you, that the truth is… ‘you don’t need a pattern’ to make Hospital Design masks! You need only a bunch of 9-inch squares of fabric, making certain to keep the side going against your face a different color, than the outer side, so that you never put the exposed side of the mask against your face. I am using only white cotton to line the masks. It is as simple as sewing two pieces of fabric together (right sides together), attaching the elastic as you sew the seams, and sliding in a 3-inch piece of pipe cleaner up to the seam that will go across the bridge of your nose. In this way, the mask will bend nicely to fit under your eye area. The rest is simply fold, press and sew three pleats on the mask, bringing a 9-inch square to a finished 4-inch rectangle mask that opens easily to cover your nose and mouth area.
The video above will show you just how easy making these masks are for any novice sewer.
*A note about the elastic straps, which have completely sold out of any fabric or craft store across America… try searching instead for “Shock Bungee Cord” in the thickness you want to use. I found a company which will be sending my elastic by mid-week next week but you may find other places with this item.
Be safe and please share this blog post on your social media platforms because even if you are not savvy with a sewing machine, some of your followers may be and would welcome the simplicity of this approach to mask making.
What you need
- 9-inch squares of fabric, white cotton for the face side, any color for the outer
- 7 ½-inch elastic straps, braided elastic or shock bungee cord, no wider than ½ inch
- 3-inch pipe cleaner, the wire to bend across the nose
What you will do
- Cut fabric, elastic and pipe cleaners in advance so they are ready
- With right sides together, of outer in inner square of fabric, stitch across the top using ¼ inch seams
- Open to inside and pin elastic straps in place, 1-inch down from the top on either side, and 2-inches up from the bottom on either side
- Close fabric and stitch down each side, making certain to go back and forth over the elastic twice to secure it in place, using ¼-inch seams
- As you sew down each side, securing elastic, continue the stitch across the bottom about an inch from the sides, which makes finishing the final open-end easier to turn edges and press
- Turn square right-side out and press
- Slide pipe cleaner inside, to the top, center, and stitch around it to secure it in place
- Stitch the bottom opening closed (ends having been pressed neatly folded)
- On the ironing board make 3 folds (pleats) horizontally across the square of fabric as shown in video and press the folds neatly into place
- Stitch folds neatly into place on either side with a ¼-inch seam, and the mask is completed