One thing I love about this sewing community is their good hearts and wanting to help put the sewing machine pedal to the metal for a good cause wherever possible to help. I’m sure you’ve seen lots of information about making fabric face masks – we’ll talk about that.
But first: How is everyone holding up under a life of new circumstances. My guess is we’re all doing the best we can.
I’m trying to just allow myself to feel what I feel, to take life one day at a time, and to not get weighed down by unrealistic expectations. And to allow everyone to process this situation in their own way.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Do the best you can and give yourself (and others) lots of grace.
Charity Sewing + Fabric Face masks:
I know there are SO MANY thoughts and variations on this information right now. Should we make masks? Should we not make homemade masks? I’m not a medical professional and I don’t have all of the answers – and in fact those answers change based on where you are – but I thought I’d share a couple of things that might help if your community is requesting handmade masks.
Before I do, I just want to add, this isn’t something you have to do. If this project makes you feel productive and energized like you are helping with this collective cause: go for it! If this adds stress to an already stressful situation, then it’s okay to let others pick up the cause right now. For example, if you’re trying keep your act together while you figure out how to manage entertaining quarantined kids at home, and the only minimal sewing time for you right now needs to be a stress reliever, then that is your primary goal right now. I’ve shared 10 of the best practices and lessons I’ve learned how to pace your charity sewing and a big one is no guilt.
We’re all processing this differently – nothing productive comes from comparing (or judging) how others are doing the best they can. Remember – lots of grace for ourselves and each other right now.
And if you’re feeling unsure about making masks, but still want to put extra sewing time to good use, remember there are still other charitable sewing needs that may also be exacerbated in this unusual time of stress. I have a list of charitable sewing ideas here.
Tips for Fabric Face Masks:
If you ARE making fabric face masks, as with ALL charitable sewing contributions, before you start, make sure you know the needs and specifications of the entity receiving the donation. While handmade masks are obviously not medical grade, other first responders, care facilities, non-essential health services, etc may use them in times of desperation, to allow the medical grade supplies to be saved for more critical needs. Or make one for yourself or a friend in need.
I am making a few masks today both to have on hand and to donate to a specific request in my community. I dug through all of my sewing notions and miraculously found some elastic! After reading a little about what fabrics are most effect for face masks, I decided to cut up an old sheet as the fabric weave is tighter. I lined some with cotton flannel and leaving a gap to insert a filter if needed.
I used this tutorial from Dana at Made Everyday. She has a simple PDF printable pattern. Simple Simon & Co has 5-minute version made with a serger.
Lee Monroe has been helping make and collect masks in her community. She has mask tutorial of her own with step by step photos and offered to share some helpful tips for making ties for when you can’t find elastic.
Some hospitals/clinics/etc. are requesting masks without elastic as the elastic does not hold up as well to the high-heat washing and sterilization. Here are some alternatives for you:
Elastic Alternatives – Making Ties and Straps by May Chappell
Hello! It’s Lee from May Chappell and I’m excited to be back over here with you. Amy and I were chatting about how the sewing community is coming together to provide much needed masks during the pandemic. The mask making has quickly led to a shortage on elastic…I’m here to show you a few ways to make ties. These are a few of my go to options!
Most straps are made with bias strips. These are fabric strips cut along the 45° angle instead of along the straight of grain. It’s ideal to cut bias for straps and ties. However, if speed and ease is your game, then cut along straight of grain. I did for all of these samples.
Making Bias Strips Using a Bias Tape Maker:
This little tool is a game changer. It allows you to quickly press the fabric to make a tie. The only con is that it makes a specific size. Cut your strips four times the finished size you want. You’ll need the proper bias tape maker for that size.
The bias tape maker will fold the two edges to the middle. You’ll take this and fold it in half again, then press.
This is the goal. You can get here using a bias tape maker or you can go old school and just fold with your fingers. This proves time consuming and dangerous for your finger tips. Here’s a way to create bias tape using long straight pins.
In order to finish the ends, fold in the edge for a clean finish.
Stitch along the open edge to finish the tie.
Using a Serger: If you’re making utilitarian straps that don’t need to look perfect, then you can use a serger. Cut your strips two times the finished size you want. If your finished size is narrow, you might want to add extra and set your serger to trim it off. For example, for these to finish 5/8”, I cut them 2”. Then I pressed in half to 1” and set my serger to trim to 5/8”. To finish the ends, fold in twice and stitch.
A lot of sewing machines offer overlock stitches; check yours out and use an overlock stitch for this method. You’ll want to cut to the exact size as your machine will not trim.
Using a Ribbon: You can also source an existing material such as twill tape or ribbon. There are a few things you’ll want to consider. What material is the ribbon? This one is a cotton blend twill tape. If I’m not sure about the material, I run a test. If I know the finished product will be washed in hot water and dried on high, then I do that to the ribbon a few times. It’s better to test in the beginning then to be sorry later. I knot the ends for a neat finish, but you could also stitch it.
Thanks for sharing your expertise, Lee!
Reader Cyndi sent in another suggestion for making straps using a Self-Binding foot on her Singer Featherweight. If you have a self-binding foot on your machine, that may be a great option too!
- Make fabric face masks at your own discretion.
- This information is in no way meant to replace medical expertise or medical grade supplies.
- Before you begin any charitable sewing, make sure you have the specifications required from the entity where you plan to donate.
- I am most definitely NOT an expert in anyway, on any of this. Just trying to help where I can. As are we all.