Face Mask Sewing
We are so glad you are wanting to sew face masks for our first responders. Thank you for your interest!
Here are some steps to get started. At this time, we cannot provide materials. When you have finished sewing some face masks, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. April will coordinate a time with you to pick up your masks and deliver them to our first responders.
Let’s get started!
- Review the supplies list and get them together.
- Please wash & dry the fabric, using hot settings to pre-shrink, before cutting and sewing.
- Review the pattern instructions. Links to the suggested patterns are below. If you already have a pattern and are confident with your process for making the masks, you may continue with your current pattern.
- Fabric. The fabric should be primarily cotton, in a tight weave, but relatively lightweight for the individual wearing it. It should be able to hold up to washing in warm/hot water for reuse. If possible, please choose solid colors or muted prints, and avoid patterns if you can.
- Elastic that does not contain latex. If you do not have elastic, see pattern tips and tricks below for some alternatives. New shoelaces are suggested as an alternative.
- Flexible lightweight wire (optional). The fit for the masks will be greatly improved if a flexible wire to bend over the nose is sewn in. See pattern tips and tricks below.
- Normal sewing supplies – thread, machine, scissors, pins, etc.
- It can be helpful to the person wearing the mask to know what is the inside of the mask and what is the outside, so that they don’t inadvertently put the contaminated side against their face.
- One idea is to use two different fabrics, so the user can determine which side is the one that will be seen outside.
Pattern tips and tricks:
If you are unable to find elastic for the ear loops, you can either use narrow ribbon for the loops or sew a longer length of ribbon or seam binding or even shoe laces to make ties for behind the head. For fabric ties, if you aren’t using elastic:
- Cut 4 rectangles 18″ long by 1.5″ wide. Fold the long sides to meet in the middle, then fold in half again to encase the raw edges. Stitch down the length of the rectangles along the edge to create the ties.
- Sew a tie into each corner of the mask as you are assembling it so that when you turn it right side out, they will come out from each corner.
Wire for over the nose:
- The wire should be about 5-6 inches long. Plastic-coated ties used to wrap the cords of electronics items are ideal, but floral wire with the edges bent to avoid sharp ends also works well. We have heard of using pipe cleaners, but fear that they would not hold up well to repeated washing.
- If you use this technique, you’ll probably be putting the wire inside a binding that is sewn to the top of the mask after it is assembled. Tack the ends of the binding so the wire doesn’t shift place.
- The most basic pattern is known as the “Deaconess” mask, for the hospital in Indiana that publicized it. Here is a link to a webpage with both the instructions and a quick video demonstration.
- Another pattern includes a pocket for the wearer to insert additional filters, and includes instructions for putting the nose wire in a top binding.
- Another pattern, using fusible interfacing, also includes instructions for the nose wire and a filter pocket, with illustrations.
View this post on Instagram
This is my favorite face mask pattern so far. It’s well constructed, offers a good fit, is comfortable, and has a pocket for filter media. I made T-shirt yarn from an old T-shirt. It’s a lot more comfortable than elastic bands. The pattern can be found at the link in my profile.
When your items are completed:
- With clean hands, place the masks in a clean plastic bag.
- Email email@example.com when you are ready to schedule a pickup. April will coordinate with you directly.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you have.
Guidance on whether to wear a face mask has been evolving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently changed its guidance and now advises people to begin wearing masks when out in public in light of a new belief that as many as 25 percent of people infected with the new coronavirus may not show symptoms.
It is still most important to limit trips outside and wash your hands frequently. Civilians should not use medical-grade masks, which are in short supply and must be reserved for health care workers on the front line.
But those who are sick with the new coronavirus can help limit the spread of respiratory droplets by wearing a mask, and that applies to those who are asymptomatic or undiagnosed as well. Plus, some organizations are using fabric masks as a temporary stopgap.