While sitting at home for the last month and a half, I’ve made over 300 fabric masks. So I guess I am Sweatpants and Coffee’s resident mask expert. Why am I doing it? Because I have the luxury of not working, while my husband, thankfully, works from home. And my kids are safe at home, managing their own online school work. So I’m doing what I can to help, with fifteen years of unfinished projects and cotton fabric. Who knew my hobbies would be a solution in the Zombie Apocalypse. It has been therapeutic.
Despite what many hospitals have publicly said, nurses and doctors do not have all the equipment they need. Luckily social media allowed nurses to reach out to crafting communities for help. The fabric masks that thousands of crafters are making and donating, do not replace the N95’s that medical professionals use. They simply cover the N95 to keep the N95 clean over the week or more that it is in use. Fabric masks can be changed for every new patient, when the N95 can’t be changed.
Fabric masks have the benefit of being reusable, after washing. And they offer partial protection against the virus by themselves. Mask makers are now able to shift supply to the second worst hit workers, nursing homes. These para-professionals are often left to supply their own protection. The fabric masks are great for essential personnel who aren’t face to face with potential Covid-19 patients.
I live in the area with the most infections and deaths. In New York, everyone is now expected to wear a mask if they can’t maintain six feet of separation and need to get out for essentials. Some stores insist all customers wear masks to enter. I expect this to go on for a long time here.
You can help in this fight, even if you can’t make masks for nurses or nursing homes. Soon, some states will start to move away from “shelter in place”. While other areas aren’t as densely populated as the New York City/Tri-State area, I implore everyone to wear a fabric mask when out in public or at work. Our healthcare professionals need a break. And you don’t want to catch this. Nor do you want to infect a loved one.
Everyone should understand that fabric masks are NOT a 100% guarantee that you will not contract or spread the Covid-19 virus. Nothing is 100%. Even the N95 masks are not a guarantee, especially when worn improperly. So why do we need them? Because you are protecting your own life and potentially others you love. If we want to get back to some level of normal, masks can help.
Here are how masks help:
1. BACK OFF!
Masks act as a visual reminder for people to stay back at least six feet. Humans have a built-in survival instinct to move away from the unknown. In this situation, it is a huge benefit.
2. Protects you from others
If someone with no mask, coughs in your vicinity, the virus is less likely to make contact with your face if you have a mask.
3. Protect others from you
If you are sick and cough in public with a mask on, the virus is less likely to reach someone else’s face. Remember, they now know asymptomatic individuals can spread the virus.
4. DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE!
Most importantly, a mask is a reminder to NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE! You can wear a mask and gloves. But if you touch things and then you adjust your mask, or remove it to speak with someone, you defeat the purpose of the mask. Gloves act as a barrier to the virus making contact with your hands. If you touch your face with gloves on, you’ve defeated that protection. So wait until you remove your gloves and wash your hands to touch your mask.
5. Always Be Batman
Masks make everyone a super hero.
Masks should not be put on babies and young children, unless a doctor advises it. Babies can’t tell you they are having difficulty breathing. And you can’t prevent them from touching their face.
Stay safe, wash your hands and make a mask! Below are a number of links for no sew mask and regular patterns. I’ve made each sewn mask and they can all be sewn by hand.
Great No Sew Masks
Patterns for Cotton Masks
Note for those wishing to order fabric online: You will have better luck picking up an order from a local store. Right now online suppliers are weeks behind on orders.
Also note that elastic is in short supply right now. You can use elastic from hair ties, or fabric ties. Fabric ties are more comfortable for longer wear and last longer. Simple ties from ripped up t-shirt works well too.
Olsen Pattern with pocket for filter:
Basic Cupped Pattern without filter pocket:
Deaconess Pattern without pocket: