Due to COVID-19/Corona Virus, we are all at home and looking for additional activities to keep busy. After reading online and watching some videos on making masks and face coverings, I decided to make some for my family and friends. The only sewing that I have done has been quilting, so this was a bit of a departure. I decided to use a basic face-covering pattern and create a mask that is functional but with my spin. My mask is not of a surgical grade or N95 rating. There are so many videos and styles on how to make a homemade mask that I am not going to share my specific process but rather what I found that worked along the way.
My creation process required “MacGyvering” of the materials in which I had in my home and to my ability. In my craft cupboard, I had some leftover pieces of printed and solid cotton, elastic, and jewellery wire to use in place of twist ties. Instead of having pleats, I decided to use a different fabric on either side of the mask to make it reversible so my wearers could use whichever side went with their outfits.
When I started this process, I had forgotten the challenges of my arthritic fingers and the lack of gripping strength between my thumb and forefinger. To thread the needle on the sewing machine had to put the thread between my second and third finger, get the thread partially through the needle head, and then use a pair of closed scissors to hold the thread to my thumbnail to get enough traction to pull it through. Tasks, such as twisting the wire ends into a loop and squishing them flat, were clumsy and took longer. Needless to say, while some of the online videos shared five-minute masks, my process was hours per mask, but my process and ability to move faster grew with each mask.
There were a few things that I learned along this process.
1. Bend the wire into a loop on either end and squish flat so the wire strip easily squeezes into the small pocket at the top of the mask, and so it doesn’t catch on any of the threads or go through the fabric.
2. Ensure there is enough space between the seam securing the top pieces of the fabric together and the edge of the material to make a secure pocket for the wire.
3. Leave a 2-inch space open in the centre at the bottom of the mask for ease of sliding in and out the filters.
4. Use the tip of a pointed object to press the corners of the mask right side out.
This sewing journey was not about how fast each mask could be made or how perfect they were, but about empowering myself and my friends and family.
Please take into account that masks are not always one size fits all. I used ¼ inch seams for mine.
Here are the items I used to make my masks
- Two pieces of 100% cotton fabric (6” by 9”)
- Two strips of 6” elastic (1/4 inch)
- One 4” piece of non-tarnishing silver artistic wire 20 gauge
- One flat cone coffee filter (cut to fit)
- Wire cutters
- Needle Nose Pliers