Thursday, July 9, 2020

Mask Making

 It seems that wearing a mask in the US during a deadly pandemic is a political statement. I honestly don't understand it. I am a nurse. I have worn a mask for hours at a time during surgery and when caring for patients in isolation. I never felt hypoxic or sick. So folks who claim that O2 levels drop and CO2 levels increase are full of shit.

I started making a three pleated mask in mid-March when a friend of a friend asked me to help make masks to send to her daughter in Michigan who was on the front lines there. I was absolutely appalled that there was not enough PPE. I was angry that they were making doctors and nurses re-use their N95s. I made twenty four masks right away. I had plenty of fabric and our masks were two ply; one cotton, the other flannel. We did not have elastic. I had ordered some from Amazon (don't judge) but it did not arrive for at least two weeks. We used elastic head bands, the narrow ones, for ear loops.

I made more than two hundred masks in the early days of the pandemic. My goal was to supply our town. I was an anxious, crazy, mess. I didn't eat, I didn't drink,  I lost 11 pounds in two weeks. One day my left leg hurt. The next day my left foot hurt and my greater saphenous vein was ropey and hard. That superficial thrombophlebitis halted my sewing for three weeks.  Had I been using my treadle, likely I would have avoided the clot. But I was using an electric machine and my left leg just sat there, hour after hour; day after day. In one position to balance myself, I guess.

So I got really good at that three pleated mask. I also got mask burn out. I started trolling Facebook and Twitter. Don't judge. Oh and I watched Andrew Cuomo every day. Three times a week, I watched Governor Scott and Dr. Mark Levine report on WCAX.  Cuomo is not reporting daily now and Vermont's pressers are twice a week. I watch in horror the reports from the south and west. We will need masks for a VERY LONG TIME. 

Two days ago I saw a post on FB about a new mask pattern. I watched the video and I tried it out. I love it. It is my new favorite pattern.  You can watch the video: Summer Face Mask Video. I think you should. The maker uses a pattern. I tried that. It works. I prefer to mark my fabric for the corners. You'll see.

I use three layers of fabric. One layer is 600 thread count cotton sheet. The other two are chiffon. Supposedly this combo has a good filtration for the very small aerosols that linger in the air indoors. You can read the article here:

The researchers found that a sheet of tightly woven cotton — of 600 threads per inch — plus two sheets of chiffon, made from polyester and spandex, seemed to make the most effective combination, filtering out 80–99% of the particles, depending on their size.

Cut your fabric
Small = 9.5 X 5.5 inches
Medium = 10.5 X 6.5 inches
Large = 11.5 X 7.5 inches. 

I am actually guessing at these sizes because the video posts the sizes in centimeters. You can do your own arithmetic. The conversion is 1 in = 2.54 cm.

Here is a screen shot from the video indicating what size triangle to cut from each corner. The edge of this pattern corresponds to the stitching line on my photo. Please note the copyright.  

I marked the cotton layer because it was easiest to write on. This mask is actually two of cotton and one of chiffon, as it was my prototype.


Stitch on the marking leaving about two inches in the center of one long side so that you can turn the mask right side out. Trim the corners cutting off the small triangle. You don't need to mark it. You can just trim the corner leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press the edges inward along the stitching. I didn't do this at first. It really does help. 

Turn it right side out and press. 
Cut a piece of garden wire just a wee bit shorter than the long edge. 

Than not that. 

Tuck the garden wire into the top edge under the seam allowance that has been folded over. 
Garden wire means that I garden. Dirty finger.

I pinned the garden wire in place and then stitched the top closed. 

And I sewed to the edge at the end of the seam so that the wire would not shift.

Choose which side is your inside. Fold along the long side at the corners and press. 

Do the same for the other long side. It looks like a burrito to me. I don't know why that long edge looks folded over. 

Stabilize the center. You don't have to pin it but I couldn't take a photo and hold it. So I pinned it.

 Fold back the corner to meet the edge. It actually should form a 90 degree triangle. Do this for both corners. Position your pins as shown. 

I used a long tie. You can use elastic or make your own ear loops from a tee shirt as shown in the video. The tie should be at least 45 inches long. 
Place the tie as shown. 
Fold over the end and secure. You want to make sure it is about 3/4 of an inch. Enough to cover your loops or tie. Don't sew the loops or tie to the mask. You want it to be able to move freely in the casing you are creating.

Do this for the other side. If you are using a tie, loop the tie so that it comes around the bottom and the two ends come out of the casing at the top. Ear loops (13 inches) can be tied together to size.

It is a good fit. The nose wire helps prevent foggy glasses. It is quite comfy. I find that the two layers of chiffon are a bit less breathable than the two layers of cotton and one of chiffon.

I made this one with silk, chiffon and cotton. It is very breathable. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you good friend for sharing your mask making techniques and photos. I am a seamstress and collector of vintage and antique sewing machines. I sew almost every day. I wear my designer (handmade) masks wherever I go. Would you consider being my penpal? I think we are "cut from the same cloth". Pun intended.