Experienced and inexperienced sewers alike have found their way to a sewing machine in recent times. For some, sewing is their hobby or passion and they have a love affair with their machine. Others, have dug an old machine out of the back of the closet, dusted it off, oiled it, and once again have learned how to thread it. And still others who have never owned a machine and/or perhaps have never used a machine, have purchased one or borrowed one from a friend, and are experiencing the joy of using (or frustration) of having a sewing machine. What all of these sewers have in common is a drive to help others by making masks and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that is in short supply as we combat COVID-19.
MY HAT IS OFF to all those who are giving of their time, talent, or donations to help our frontline workers as well as friends, neighbors, and loved ones. While many do it in the quiet of their home and donate as they desire, others have achieved some fame for their outreach. There have been numerous stories of this selflessness including Iowa 4-H members who have exceeded their goal of 10,000 masks.
I, too, opened my sewing machine and made several dozen masks for a local group. As I started this venture in March, I was frustrated by the mixed information that was coming forth from varying agencies and individual groups. Each had a different idea of what was the best mask and each wanted a given style which in most cases was unlike someone else’s. As the need grew, so did the number of mask styles and the formation of groups, locally and nationally. As I write today, there is an unknown number of mask styles available online with YouTube tutorials showing how to make them. Really anybody can do it! And for the most part, most groups are now accepting masks regardless of pattern as long as they meet CDC guidelines.
So if one is interested in joining the cause, here’s some basic information:
- Masks should meet the latest CDC guidelines. If masks are to be made for a designated group, check their specific guidelines to be sure that your work will be used.
- For open donations, the exact style is entirely up to the donor. Masks may be made with elastic, ties, nose pieces, or pockets for filters. After trying many different patterns, the one I found to be the fastest and easiest for me was shown on YouTube by The Brick Ballroom. When elastic ran out, it was easy to convert to ties. It is also easy to add a channel for a nose piece and accommodates a filter if desired. JoAnn Fabrics has mask kits available free of charge.
- Fabric used must be new, washable, tightly woven, cotton or cotton blend. Quilting fabrics (scraps or yardage) are perfect.
- Masks should be made in a coronavirus-free home.
- Use clean hands and sew in a clean, smoke-free place.
- Package donations in clear plastic, zipper lock bags.
If one is unsure of where to send or take their masks, one place is Mask Helpers, a clearing house created by Keokuk, IA brothers who help connect those who need free, non-medical grade, reusable masks with those who are able to make and donate them. They also provide information on how to send the masks without leaving the safety of your home.
Again thank you to all the Mask Makers. We LOVE you!