We have all made a mask or two (or 50, or 200, or…), and would like to share our favorite patterns, and some tips and tricks we’ve discovered along the way. (By the way, some of our customers are now offering completed masks for sale on our website, if you aren't interested in sewing one yourself.)
Fabric discussion: We all know that quilting cottons are the way to go! This has been reinforced by a recent study, specifying “high quality quilting cotton”. We love batik for masks, because it is thin, has a dense weave, and holds a crease beautifully (so important if you’re making pleated masks!). However, nearly any of the fabrics we have in the shop are suitable for making masks. If you have any questions as to whether or not a particular fabric we carry is appropriate, just ask! We are more than happy to help you with your needs. Please note: we (and the distributors) are sold out of non-woven interfacing. If you'd like an additional layer of fabric in your mask, consider our fine white batiste.
Ties or elastic: Masks with elastic are easier and faster to sew, but if the wearer must have one on all day, can cause irritation and pain behind the ears. If you really want to use elastic and cannot find any, try long hair elastics or hairbands. Ties, however, allow for a better fitting mask. You can make ties from a WOF (width of fabric – selvedge to selvedge) strip, and either run it through a bias tape maker, or fold and press the old fashioned way. Hate all that folding and pressing, and don’t have a bias tape maker? Try jerry-rigging one on your ironing board with a long straight pin, or use the index card trick posted on our FaceBook page! If making ties isn’t your thing (it isn’t ours), here are some alternatives you can use: twill tape (we have some in stock!), shoelaces (they are available super long, too!), grosgrain ribbon, or 1” strips of knit cotton jersey, gently pulled until they roll (nice because they're both stretchy and latex-free!). One of our recommended patterns calls for soft, thin, clothesline. Be creative! Just ensure that what you do is both comfortable and durable.
Nose wires: We all love a nose wire in the top of our mask! It allows you to form the mask around your nose, so that there is no gap between the mask and your cheeks. Many patterns call for a nose wire and have instructions on making them. Our favorite nose wire is the lowly twist tie! Other options: coffee bag ties (the king with 2 wires),floral wire, pipe cleaners, paper clips, and cut up soda cans (file the edges thoroughly to avoid injury to the wearer.) Gaffer’s tape or duck tape can be used to cover the wire or metal to increase both durability and safety. For personal use, rather than sewing a channel or pocket for the wire, you can – very carefully – zigzag/couch it into your seam allowance.
Tips and tricks:
Use your walking foot! It will really help feed multiple layers under your needle more smoothly. Also, sewing more slowly can help ease multiple layers under the needle.
Marianne made a jig to hold her pleats down while sewing, following instructions in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BA9vYsUHtHw
If you’re having trouble stitching through multiple layers, change your needle and lengthen your stitch! We recommend denim needles or topstitch needles for this, and a larger size than you might normally use.
Be sure to brush lint from the bobbincase and feed dogs often. Your machine will thank you later.
Our favorite patterns: There are a TON of patterns out there! These are just a few of what we have found, and like. Some of us are combining elements we like best from different patterns.
Our friends at Fit for Art have collaborated with a colleague to come up with a design for a very functional, well fitting, beautiful mask. Fitted, multiple sizes, ties or elastic, optional nose wire. https://fitforartpatterns.com/helpful-hints/step-by-step-directions-for-sewing-our-favorite-masks/?fbclid=IwAR0RIXbEPHzQL_tLMyc-U0GUWfMYcB4fF8DHTJgRpJce1wOAnUUU9dGoA1o
Johns Hopkins designed, pleated, ties, pocket for nose wire
Thangles designed (but no triangles, we promise), pleated, one tie, optional nose wire
Craft Passion fitted mask, nose wire, elastic or ties, optional filter pocket, Cricut and Silhouette cut files available
Nurse-designed, no pleats, one tie, nose wire, pocket for removable filter
AccuQuilt has several dies (3 different styles!) available, and patterns to go with them. Unfortunately, due to overwhelming demand, they are not making these dies available to retailers. If you are interested, order directly from AccuQuilt.
Of course, if you are masking masks to donate, please follow the pattern and instructions that they specify. It is also recommended that if you are making masks to donate to a medical facility that you NOT use solid blue or solid white fabrics. This makes it easy to distinguish the fabric masks from the manufactured masks at a glance. You should also use a different fabric for the lining than you do for the outside, so that it is easy to remember which side faces out.
Where do donate:
In addition to healthcare facilities and elder care, think about employees of other essential businesses, too: veterinary offices, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, animal shelters, etc.
Check out the (inter)national database by Deaconess by clicking here.
We recently donated fabric to the Million Mask Challenge (VA/MD/DC). This wonderful group collects fabric and other materials donations, sorts and washes them, then distributes to their "craftivists", who then sew them into masks, and return to the organization for final quality control before sending on to facilities in need.
AREA FACILITIES REQUESTING MASKS
The following are links directly to area hospitals and other medical facilities currently accepting homemade masks. Please pay attention to pattern and material requirements. Each page also gives directions on how to donate to that particular facility.
KEEP CALM AND SEW A MASK
We know that the entire sewing and quilting community is poised and ready to jump in and make masks for health care facilities. We have received tons of inquiries about this sew at home project. We are both delighted and completely unsurprised at your willingness to help! Your efforts will not only help the community at large; it can also provide you with an opportunity you to make a difference while you are sequestered in your home.
Deaconess Health Care in Indiana put out a plea for homemade masks, and within 24 hours had secured all the masks they requested and more. There have been a few official requests from other health care facilities as well, though none in our immediate area. Each of these had specified patterns, materials, and methods of construction.
To avoid confusion and ensure the masks you make will be actually used, we urge you to find a group already in the process of making masks and join their efforts. Relief Crafters of America is one such group; Days for Girls has started a "Masks4Millions" campaign, and we know there are more. You could also check with your local guild, to see if they have an organized effort and/or requests for masks.
By working with such a group, it streamlines the whole process, allowing hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities to have a single point of contact, rather than fielding hundreds of inquiries from individuals.
The Relief Crafters Group can be found on FaceBook at www.facebook.com/groups/reliefcraftersofamerica. They appear very organized, and have already received requests from 127 facilities. They have orders for over 10,000 masks.
Days for Girls is known for their committment to dignity, health, and opportunity. Find more information about Masks4Millions at www.daysforgirls.org/single-post/Masks4Millions
If you have personally been contacted by someone in the health care system regarding making masks, please pay close attention to the requirements they have. There are a ton of patterns out there, and every other article or tutorial has differing fabric choices. Should the masks be fitted, pleated, or have a pocket to insert an additional filter? Should they have elastic ear loops or fabric ties? Should you use tightly woven cotton, flannel, non woven material, or PUL? Whatever choices the recipient makes, please follow them to the “T”.
Join fabric icons such as Andover Fabrics, Modern Quilt Studio, and fashion designer Christian Siriano in this grassroots effort to supplement much needed personal protection equipment for health care professionals and patients.
Although these homemade masks are not effective for stopping the Coronavirus, they may be used on or around other patients. The recommendation from the World Health Organization is that healthy people need not wear masks unless they are caring for someone who is ill, and notes that masks are only effective in concert with proper hand washing and other disinfecting routines. Once put on, they should only be touched for removal, and even then only by the sides. They should immediately be washed and sanitized to as to avoid spreading any contamination. Of course, a thorough handwashing should take place afterwards.
We’d also like to remind people that the best defense against COVID-19 is the combination of proper and frequent hand washing, not touching your face, proper disinfecting, and social distancing. please visit the websites for the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, or your local health department for up-to-date information on this pandemic.
Because of the uncertainty of whether or not we will be allowed to remain open for online orders (curbsite pickup or shipped to your home), we will not spearhead an effort to sew masks, nor will we serve as a collection point, but we applaud your efforts if you are sewing some.