If you are still reading the news and haven’t abandoned it in favor of instagramming cleverly framed social distancing pictures, you know that our healthcare system is facing a precipitous, uprecidented shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the coming days. Yes, days.
We haven’t even begun to feel the true impact of COVID-19 on our communities, and we already don’t have enough PPE to adequately protect our healthcare workers.
The shortage of N95 face masks is going to result in a deluge of sick healthcare professionals – people who will not only get sick themselves, and no longer be able to take care of us and our family members, but whom will bring COVID-19 home to their own families, increasing it’s impact on our community.
If you have a sewing machine and some spare cotton fabric, please challenge yourself to make 100 masks for your local healthcare workers!! And not only for them, but for your UPS driver, mail delivery person, grocery store checkout people, and family members.
Below I’ve listed a number of face mask making tutorials that I’ve collected from various sources. I will be adding my own tutorial to this website soon as well.
Once you make your face masks, contact any healthcare professional you know – a nurse, doctor, paramedic, etc. – and see if they have a need for them. While N95 masks are still currently required in order to enter patient rooms in the hospital, these cloth masks can be worn over the N95 masks in order to extend their life, and/or they can be worn at the nurses station away from patients, at home with family members, etc. They will also be given to patients entering the hospital and sitting in waiting rooms in order to free up N95 masks for those who truly need them.
Very soon, these masks might be all our healthcare workers have. Let’s be sure they have enough!!
What Materials Should Masks Be Made Of?
This is a question that has different answers depending on which site you look at. The general consensus seems to be 100% cotton woven fabric, like quilter’s cotton. Additionally, using new fabric will allow your mask to possibly be used in a healthcare setting, depending on what a specific hospital requires, while using material from around your house (t-shirts, sheets, vacuum bags, etc.) will work just fine for “regular” people who are not working in a medical setting.
This important article outlines the different types of materials that can be used to make masks and their various abilities to filter out contagions. It’s a great read before you get started.
Crafters Against Covid-19 *PDX*
This is a facebook group for local Portland, OR crafters that has uber clear instructions on how to make face masks that can be used specifically in a healthcare setting (rather than for the general population). For instance, only new, unused fabric can be used (rather than sheets or random fabric from around your house). They also provide clear instructions on how to package and deliver the masks so that Coved-19 does not accidentally end up being transported from your house to a hospital (package the masks in a box, tape the box, write the time and date on the outside, etc. Please join their group and read their guidelines thoroughly!).
This is the number one place to start if you live in Portland and want to contribute masks to local hospitals and healthcare professionals.
Mask Up America
A local Portland homeschooling mom put together these two DIY video tutorials to encourage public participation in mask making. She focuses on masks that can be made with materials that everyone has at home: cotton sheets, electrical wire, duct tape and t-shirts. Her tutorials include one for making a sheet/wire mask and another for a t-shirt/duct-tape/wire mask. These masks are not for healthcare professionals – they are for the general public. By passing these out to everyday people we can help reduce the use of medical masks that our healthcare workers desperately need! (Thank you, Mighty Mom, for putting these together!)
How to Make a Face Mask Video
This YouTube tutorial by Lori White is also super straightforward. I learned some great tips and tricks from watching this one, such as how to tie knots at the end of the thin elastic in order to prevent slippage. She is making masks specifically for a hospital near her, whom provided her with fabric requirements. I highly recommend this video.
Make to Give
JoAnns Fabric and Craft Store has put together a website with multiple tutorials on how to make face masks. They are also offering free mask making supplies while they remain open, although I am personally adhering to a strict stay-at-home protocol, as I imagine you all are, so I’m not sure how feasible it is to pick up materials at this point. Either way, their website offers some great tutorials!
This tutorial from Button Counter illustrates how to sew a two-layered face mask with elastic bands. The elastic bands can easily be swapped out for ties, if that’s your preference. You can also alter this pattern by adding a piece of wire across the bridge of the nose if you’d like. Overall, it’s a very straightforward tutorial and I personally used it as the jumping off point for making my own masks.
This tutorial from Craft Passion is another one of my favorites. She provides patterns in three different sizes: small (children’s size 3-6), medium (children’s size 7-12), and large (teen/adult). Her directions are easy to follow and she includes info on how to insert a filter into a double-layer mask (using cotton flannel).
100 Million Mask Challenge
This plea for help posted by the Providence Healthcare System provides two helpful mask making links – one is a template for making face shields, and another is a Vimeo video for making face masks. Providence is encouraging people to sign up for their mask making challenge by commiting to making 100 masks each. Together we can do this if we all do our part!
And last but not least, I really like the tutorial posted on Kootenai Health’s website. It is a mask you can make with bias tape for mask ties – a great alternative considering that elastic is sold out all over Portland and Amazon.
These links should provide a thorough starting point if you are willing and ready to participate. I will update this post with additional links as I find them, and post my own tutorial pictures here if/when I can.
Let’s all do everything we can to keep each other safe … if you can’t sew yourself, please, please, please pass this information on to someone who does!! And if you have additional mask making tutorials to share, please share them by putting a link in the comments section. Thanks so much!