Resources for Making, Donating and Buying Face Coverings
Depending on where we live, current public policy advises us, and in some areas requires us, to wear masks when in public. That policy, and the difficulty of finding commercial grade protective face masks for sale, has generated an interest in creating masks from home.
We’ve compiled the following resources to help with questions on how to properly make, wear, and care for masks.
Making Your Own Mask
The CDC has published a helpful advisory on how to choose, wear, remove and care for a mask, along with tutorials for a sewn cotton mask, and no-sew t-shirt and bandana face coverings. They also provide a handy corresponding PDF for those who find it more convenient to download and print out.
Kaiser Permanente’s step-by-step instructions for sewing a face mask at home includes the sizing specifications they recommend for an effective and well-fitting mask, as well as information on the best type of fabric to use. An accompanying how-to video will be helpful for those to see the process in action.
Proper Mask Usage
Most of us are new to wearing masks, so there’s a chance some of us may be using them incorrectly. The New York Times has published an excellent dos and don’ts of wearing a mask with clear diagrams, and advice as to how to safely put on, take off and wash a mask.
Since different types of masks may have different ties to secure them, it is also important to ensure that you are wearing and securing your mask correctly to provide the best coverage and reduce the chance of its slipping off the face.
Masks offer limited protection, and work better when combined with hand washing and social distancing, as well as the following tips:
- Wash hands before and after wearing a mask.
- Use the ties or loops to put your mask on and pull it off.
- Avoid touching the front of the mask when taking it off.
- For apartment dwellers, put the mask on and remove it when inside your home.
- Wash and dry your cloth mask daily and keep it in a clean, dry place.
Face Masks for Donation
Many people with sewing skills have taken to sewing masks to donate to a healthcare community (or for family and friends.) Avenidas’ former CEO, Lisa Hendrickson, alerted us to this tutorial for a basic two-piece cotton mask, courtesy of Sewing Sewcial, which works well for sewing in bulk.
This type of mask may be fine for many healthcare facilities, but the author does advise reaching out to the hospital you are donating to for guidelines. She also points out that elastic may be in low supply (1/8″ – 1/4″ elastic), and includes alternatives in the tutorial.
For those not sure where to donate, a local quilt guild, Peninsula Quilters, recommends donating via My New Red Shoes, where sewing volunteers may sign up in response to the critical need for masks. The site provides information on arranging a drop off or pick up of completed masks, (or where to mail them), as well as a suggested pattern for making the masks.
The guild also shared two other useful resources:
- An additional pattern for a contoured mask with a nose wire with useful instructions on how to to adjust sizing for a child.
- Recommendations on the best fabric options to use for making the masks, along with interesting data on the efficacy of different materials in filtering different sized microns particles.
Different Users, Different Preferences
According to the E-Quilter blog, the doctors and nurses they’ve consulted with prefer the simple pleated mask with fabric ties, because elastic degrades quickly with hot washing and sterilization. A more robust version, designed by a nurse to optionally fit over an N95 mask, is also available.
However, elastic is preferred for masks for the average citizen to wear in public. Even so, sewers should consider adjusting the length of the elastic to fit the wearer, i.e. a large man would need longer elastic, and a petite woman or child would need shorter elastic. A video tutorial for a contoured fitted mask addresses this issue with instructions for adjustable ear elastic.
Who Else Needs Face Masks?
Granted, masks are critical on the frontlines. However, doctors and nurses aren’t the only professionals who need them. Masks are also important for:
- First responders and law enforcement: EMT, ambulance, police, fire, and other emergency workers
- Other healthcare workers, such as those working in senior living facilities, nursing homes, and home care workers
- UPS, FedEx and US Postal Service delivery employees
- Lyft and Uber drivers
- Meals on Wheels delivery, daycare workers, food bank volunteers
- Grocery store and cashier staff
- Nursing home residents, homeless communities, prison communities
- Food delivery workers – Instacart, restaurant delivery takeout services
- Essential city workers working for departments required to stay open during shutdown, such as transportation, public works, utilities, and airports
- Veterinary staff, animal shelters and pet boarding services.
Buying Face Masks
If you are not sewing your own, or simply need additional cloth masks, there are many options for purchasing. The well-known craft site Etsy is hosting many crafter and sewists who are turning out different styles, so one is likely to find something that suits. Closer to home, local sewists may be selling masks on sites like NextDoor.
Avenidas’ own manager of volunteer services, Jyllian Halliburton, was impressed by Family Face Masks, a company from whom she bought some supplies (they sell masks, filters and supply kits that include toilet paper.) They included some reusable, washable face masks to apologize for a delay, and are offering a 15% off coupon “THANKYOU15.”