As the pandemic took over our lives in central Pennsylvania, I decided to put down art quilt making and take up mask making. My initial efforts were a tucked mask with ear elastic but I quickly realized that keeping the mask on ears for the periodic community user was kind of hard…no easy way to take it “down” when you were back in your car. So, I found a design with a circle of elastic that went over the head and behind the neck and the other end up and over the head, holding the mask very securely on the face. These masks I made for family and friends which expanded to several employees in local stores. I used two pieces of quality cotton quilt fabric with fusible non woven interfacing between. From some information in the NY Times, I’d say effectiveness was around 60-70% at keeping the virus out or from getting out (if wearer was sick). From the first over the head model I’ve since moved to a simpler design for mass production (picture of 4 masks below). Many people who sew are making masks in our community for free distribution.
A few weeks ago a few of us reached out to others for home made masks with simple criteria: at least two pieces of quality cotton fabric, pre washed in hot water and dried in dryer (totally washable), could be elastic or ties, any pattern but must cover nose, mouth and chin. Our first outreach brought in 1100 masks! (our whole town’s population is about 5000!) We gave those away in two events,
drive throughs in which we gave people masks through open car windows carefully keeping our 6’distance from each other. We also gave a 1/2 sheet of instructions so they knew how to keep the masks sanitary. With this initial mask collection we also gave two masks to every family getting weekly food from our school district and two masks/family to the local food bank distribution last week. Finally, we gave our local grocery store about 100 masks to keep at the entry for people who didn’t have one (masks are now required for shopping) figuring nothing should prevent someone from being able to buy food.
Tomorrow we are doing a third distribution drive through event. We don’t know how long we will need to do this but we want everyone to be safe and stay healthy. Our local very rural county in PA has had less than 35 cases so far and no deaths in our county as of this morning. We’d like to keep it that way.
I’ll be back to making art quilts soon but in the meantime, I’m using up those fabrics that were taking up space, bought for projects that didn’t work out, or just crazy purchases years ago. We all need to do our part as we shelter in our homes and only go out if needed.