What to Know Before Sewing Masks for Hospitals
Many quilters have decided to put down their quilting projects and shift their focus to helping out those in the medical field and service industries by sewing face masks. Now, before you turn off your computer and jump right into sewing masks to donate, we want to share some essential info with you. First and foremost, not all medical facilities are accepting homemade masks. Using homemade masks are a last resort for those who are completely out of sterile N95 masks that are typically worn. Sewing masks out of tightly-woven cotton fabric is certainly better than nothing, but they aren't anywhere near as protective as N95 masks. This is why it's important to check with local organizations to make sure they're accepting homemade masks.
For those facilities accepting cotton masks, they intend to use them until medical-grade sterile masks are available again, which could take quite a while since this is a worldwide issue. Once you've checked with local organizations to see if they're accepting masks, your next task is selecting a pattern and materials. Some organizations are very specific about the types of masks they require and might even provide specific patterns. Other organizations are less specific about patterns. If you've been on social media lately, you've probably seen a handful of different masks styles pop up in your feed. So, how do you choose which pattern to make?
eQuilter.com has created an excellent blog post linking to various patterns that are available for free online. They are continuing to update this blog post as they get new information. They spoke to a nurse, who said pleated masks work best because they make for better absorption, durability, and the ability to accommodate various nose shapes and sizes. She also recommends using fabric ties rather than elastic, as fabric will hold up better through washing and sterilization. Again, make sure you check with the place you're donating to see what style of mask they prefer. Some organizations prefer elastic ties so that the masks are easier to put on and take off.
Another great resource to check out is masksforheroes.com. This website is constantly being updated with PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) needs across the country. If you are working in the medical field, you can also use this website to put in requests. The website has great links to how-to videos and tutorials for different styles of masks.
Keep in mind that it's not just those in the medical field that are in need of masks. Plenty of people in the service industry are still out there working hard and interacting with others. You can reach out to nursing homes, postal workers, food delivery drivers, etc., to see if they would like homemade masks for an added layer of protection. We spoke to a friend who is a veterinarian, and asked her about her thoughts and needs on masks. She said their clinic still has a supply of them, but depending on how long the pandemic lasts, she could eventually run out. It's a good reminder to keep checking for updates as the days and weeks go on and supplies continue to dwindle.