Our frontline workers in this unprecedented time we find ourselves in need our help! There is a critical shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and many medical systems around the world have put out the call asking for handmade face masks. If you know how to sew, it is time to dig out your machine and start sewing.
Homemade face masks ARE NOT enough protection for those treating COVID-19 patients, however certain patterns can be worn over the N95 masks to extend their life. They can also be worn underneath face shields to further protect against splatter. Also nurses in medical offices and clinics not treating COVID-19 patients are finding themselves without masks to run routine tests on their patients, and handmade masks can be helpful in those scenarios. Masks can also be helpful to our other frontline workers - mail carriers, grocery store clerks, public transportation operators ...
Where to Donate:
The best option is to find somewhere nearby to donate your masks. Post on Facebook and ask your friends. Chances are you know a nurse or medical professional who would be thrilled to receive a donation. Or call your local hospital non-emergency number and ask if they are accepting donations of handmade masks. Leave a mask for your mailman or drop a box off at your local grocery store when you go out to stock up.
What Fabric To Use:
Researchers at Cambridge University did a study to try to identify the best fabric for handmade face masks. Their conclusion was that the best option is 100% cotton tightly woven fabric (i.e. high thread count sheets, pillowcases or quilters cotton fabric) or cotton t-shirt material for the best combination of protection and breathability. You can read more about the study here.
What Pattern to Use:
There are hundreds of patterns & tutorials being put online right now for making face masks. A great resource is the Facebook Group called The Free Mask Project. Personally, I am making 2 different kinds of masks.
The Red Heart One is intended to be worn over N95 masks and is the pattern written by Jessica Nandino called AB Mask for a Nurse By a Nurse.
The Monkey Mask is an adaptation of Maker's Habitat Face Mask Tutorial that features a filter pocket. I changed out the elastic ear bands for tie on straps because in my research I read that the tie on masks stand up better to the intense washing and sanitizing temperatures needed to keep these masks in regular use than elastic, which can start to degrade after several washes. Also tie on masks can fit a variety of head sizes.
(As I continue to make masks I will update this post with notes on the modifications I've made to these patterns. )