With every day of quarantine that drags on, I get more and more emails and messages from fellow sewers and crafters asking me for a protective face mask sewing pattern. Nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals have requested these handmade fabric masks because of a shortage of medical grade PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).
Why don’t these professionals have enough professional gear, you ask? Overseas factories shutting down, civilians buying out supplies, global needs surging – there are multiple reasons, but it can all be boiled down to one – coronavirus.
You’re probably thinking that a handmade cloth mask won’t offer the same protection as genuine hospital equipment. And you’re right! For those on the frontlines working with the virus, these masks will be placed over certified PPE so that the small quantities of PPE left in hospitals can be stretched for multiple uses. In other situations, though, professionals will only have these cloth face masks to help protect them from catching and passing on the virus.
Just yesterday (April 3) the U.S. federal government recommended that we should all wear protective face masks in public to prevent the spread of the virus.
Does this situation sound ideal? No. We can all agree that nothing about 2020 has felt normal or ideal. But will we band together and make the best of the situation? You bet. We are makers, creators, and helpers at our core. So let’s do this!
How to Sew a Protective Face Mask
One talented and quick-thinking maker, Holly DeGroot, owner of Michigan-based fabric store, Bijou Lovely, has created a huge ripple effect through a project she started just a couple weeks ago called 1 Million Masks. On the site you will find a free protective face mask sewing pattern.
Below is Holly, mask-free, and her beautiful store.
Are you sitting at home with the kids and a video would be more entertaining for the group? Holly read your mind. She filmed a video tutorial just for you! Thanks, Holly!
Fabric Face Mask Supplies
Ready to make a face mask? Great! I have one tip to pass along. Use a high quality woven quilting cotton. New research finds that some fabrics are better than others at filtering out viral particles.
A recent study by Dr. Scott Segal in partnership with the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine found that the best face masks were constructed with two layers of quilting cotton (I'm not making this up! The research says "quilting" cotton.)
High quality woven quilting cotton is perfect, but don't use knit fabric because the holes between the loops that make up knits are larger than the spaces between threads in a woven fabric. So, were you thinking about tearing up an old T-shirt and whipping up face masks for the family? Don't. Stick with your quilting stash instead.
Materials to sew two protective face masks...
- 1 Fat Quarter (18" x 21") of Quilting Cotton
- 1/4" Flat Elastic (28" length) OR 2 1/2 yd. Cotton Twine/Twill Tape/Ribbon/etc...
- Polyester Thread
Get OR Give a Fabric Face Mask Kit
If you're new to quilting and have yet to build up a fabric stash, Holly is currently selling face mask kits! You can buy one to have shipped to your house or choose the "Pay It Forward" option to buy a kit for someone else to make the masks.
Where to Donate Protective Fabric Face Masks
Your local hospitals are the best place for your sewn face masks. To find a contact person or drop-off location, do a quick internet search with your city and the phrase "donate face masks."
I just Googled "donate face masks Chicago" and got a lot of great options. If you know the name of your local hospital, go to their website. Chances are there will be a call to action on the homepage which will lead you to the drop-off location and/or a mailing address.
Are You Sewing Masks?
Tell us your mask-making stories! We want to hear about what you're making and how you're helping your community. Share in the comments!