Quilters across the nation have come together to create patterns for hand-sewn face masks because of the global shortage of personal protective equipment due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
As the spread of the virus continues, it is likely local healthcare workers will see a shortage in face masks needed to protect themselves from the virus.
Public Health Officer Tom Locke divides face masks in two categories: There are the professionally made filter masks healthcare workers need, but there are also droplet masks, which prevent sick people from expelling droplets into the air and contaminating surfaces and other people.
“DIY masks are perfectly adequate as droplet masks,” he said. “That way, we can conserve surgical masks for healthcare workers who need them.”
Locke encourages people to start making masks and conserving them for a time when there is a shortage.
Ashley Portilla, owner of District Fabrics, is selling fabric and elastic as well as distributing patterns to help at-home sewers take on the project.
The best fabric to use for an effective mask is 100% cotton that is fairly tightly-woven, she said.
For quilters, this might mean tightly woven quilting cotton, but DIY-ers can also use sheets, pillowcases or even T-shirt fabric, as long as it is definitely 100% cotton.
To be sure she adheres to the state’s safety regulations, Portilla’s shop is not open for business, but she will make deliveries by appointment only.
She is also still trying to determine a method to distribute masks to healthcare workers, should the hospital ask for them. To learn more, email her at email@example.com.
Whether or not Jefferson Healthcare will need hand-made masks in the future, sewing them is still a good at-home activity for those who are following state rules and savoiding public places. Make one for yourself, make some for your friends, make one for your local grocery clerk, should they ask for one, or make some for the workers at the boat yard.
See the pattern below, or watch the tutorial.
Draw three pleat lines. The first should be 2 inches away from one long edge. The next will be 3.5 inches away from one long edge (down the middle of the piece). The third will be 2 inches away from the other long edge.
With an iron, press the 2 inch line by folding the right side of the fabric together on the line you marked. Bring that fold to meet the center 3.5 inch line and press to create another fold. Repeat on the other side to create a box pleat on the right side of the fabric.
Finish the short edges of your fabric using a serger, zig-zag stitch or pinking shears. You will have to unfold your pleat to do this. It will remain unfolded until the mask is turned right-side out.
Fold the fabric in half, right sides together matching your short edges.
Leave a hole to turn out the mask and insert a liner. Mark a line 2.5 inches down from each edge. You will start stitching at one corner, stop at your first mark, jump to your next mark and sew to the other corner. Sew this with a ½ inch seam allowance.
Press this seam open as nicely as possible using the tip of the iron. Fold your mask in half so the seam you just stitched is on one side, use a pin to mark the fold; that is going to become the center front. Fold the mask so the pin is on top of your seam and lightly crease the two sides. These are going to be the sides of the mask.
Mark 5/8th inches away from each fold on each long edge of the mask. Start and stop sewing at these marks. These openings will allow you to string elastic through once you have turned the mask right-side out.
Stitch from one 5/8ths inch mark across the seam to the other 5/8ths inch mark and repeat on the other side. You can turn the mask out through the hole we left in the seam.
Find the creases you created at the beginning and re-press the box pleat all the way around the mask.
We are going to create a channel for the elastic on each side of the mask. Using a 5/8ths inch seam allowance stitch down the box pleats on each side of the mask.
String each piece of elastic through the casing you created using a safety pin. Tie the ends of the elastic together and pull it until the knot is hidden inside your casing.