NOTE: There are some updates to this post below.
Our Inland Empire region of California hit print yesterday (New York Times), when speaking about the many quilters and sewists who are making facemasks:
“Sewers, we’ve always stepped up and done this thing,” said Denise Voss, the head of the Inland Empire chapter of the American Sewing Guild. “We’re made for this time. We’re happy to stay home and sew. And we all have stashes of fabric.” Her group, with about 130 members in Southern California, is making hundreds of face masks at the request of the Riverside University Health System Medical Center.” (New York Times)
Today I’m here to pass on information about face masks. I mentioned I was going to use the mask pattern from Dora of Orange Dot Quilts, as I think it seals up higher on the cheeks and nose. I see so many mask posts on Instagram, that I’ve started a Favorites tab for them. I’m most drawn to the stories of people who are making them, as I’m sure you are too.
Tamara, who commented on my last post, alerted me to JoAnn Fabrics’ kits for making face masks, also detailed in the publication Business Wire. An examination about whether or not we should even be sewing face masks came across my feed; The Craft Industry Alliance article says proceed, but with caution, making sure you have a place to send/bring your facemasks in this time of social distancing.
Our efforts as sewists across the nation were also covered in a couple of national news outlets:
The New York Times covered it from a more human interest viewpoint, telling the story of an army of sewists, from nearly-out-of-work costumers to those who have chosen to set aside their regular work to make masks:
“But the D.I.Y. pieces — generally stitched together with a few layers of cotton, elastic straps and, on ambitious designs, a flexible bridge over the nose — offer at least some protection. “Better than nothing” has become a popular phrase in the tight-knit sewing community. Some doctors are wearing the homemade fabrics over surgical or N95 masks, trying to prolong the coveted masks’ limited life spans. Other masks are being handed out at health clinics and nursing homes.
“It frees up the surgical masks for the people who are the highest risk,” said Dr. Nicole Seminara, a doctor at NYU Langone Health who is volunteering in the coronavirus ward. Dr. Seminara started a social media campaign, Masks4Medicine, to solicit homemade masks from the public.
“Are they effective like an N95? No,” she said. “We’re not claiming they are. If we had all the N95s in the world, it would be wonderful. But there’s a shortage right now.”
The Huffington Post covered Face Masks For Personal Use, and Face Masks For Medical Use, listing sources and quoting experts.
Generally it seems to be that we can make masks for those who don’t have direct contact with patients, perhaps front office workers who still could use the masks — thereby saving the short-in-supply N95 masks for critical care use.
One last thing: please write to your senator/congressman as well, telling them how you feel about the fact that we are tasked with providing masks for critical care usage. While we all are happy to do our part — as we have generous hearts — I’m sure we’d prefer that our nurses and doctors on the front line are well-protected as our nation struggles through this horrifying disease.
UPDATED NEWS ARTICLES/SOURCES:
- Some hospitals are not collecting masks, some are. Should we be sewing them?
- Deaconess Hospital list of Where to Donate Face Masks Use the filter for your state, and scroll down. It’s not always apparent to me that they are wanting home made masks, as some list N95s as their request.
- Liz wrote in with these tips: “Using a modified Deaconess pattern, starting with two 7×10.5″ instead of 6×9, and stitching seam binding across the top and bottom of the mask (40″ piece for top, 36″ for bottom). Also very important to make an OBVIOUS FRONT and BACK side to the mask, by using two different fabrics or the reverse side of the main print on the back/inside portion.” I think her caution to make an obvious front and back side, if you are using the Deaconess pattern, is a great idea. If you are using the Orange Dot Quilts pattern, the shape of it denotes a front and back already.
Below is a little graphic I found while browsing IG. I have no source on it, but it looks believable and makes me feel better about our efforts. While it does say that fabric masks do not filter viruses, they may offer some protection against the droplets that carry the viruses (according to other sources).
I saw one video where the maker cut up a HEPA filter to use in the mask. I have no info on that one! I’ve also seen people suggest lining them with coffee filters, nonwoven interfacing and used dryer sheets. That last one sounds pretty dubious, however I do like this one:
Kidding! But looking at all the humorous memes has helped my mood a lot (my daughter posts a ton of them), as did all your very kind letters from the last post. I still seem to be distracted a lot, and my mood goes up and down too much, but in hearing from other friends I realize I am not alone. Finally, my sympathies go out to those who all of a sudden have children home. Here’s a meme for you: